Recently I gave up my real job. I have two young monkeys at a new school with no after school/breakfast club facilities, and Mr.Collins and I haven’t actually spent any time off together since the big one started in a vain attempt to manage the school holidays. I’ve just had my first book of crochet patterns published and the second is on its way, so I’ve given up the real job, can manage the monkeys, and in the wonderful world of dreams, all income can now come from crochet.
Two months in, a new collection was coming together, conversations have started with the publisher about another project, the purse strings are drawn verrrrrry tight, and I found myself becoming a little unstructured and erratic. In fact I found myself pulling over in a layby and spending 15 minutes digging croissant crumbs from the back of the car in an attempt to lure the local crows from the trees to become my friends and bring me presents. This is when I realised that I needed to pull myself together, get some direction and find some human contact.
The next day I was browsing ads in a local yarn shop and saw ‘spinning wheel for sale’. Having nothing better to do than befriend crows I figured it would be a good way to justify spending money we haven’t got (“I can spin all the wool to make all the clothes we’ll ever need! Perhaps I could get a goat, steal it’s fleece and learn to weave trousers!” etc) and add a new string to my craft bow. How little did I know…
The owner of the spinning wheel is an Audrey Hatch. She’s in her 80’s, twinkly eyed and full to bursting with a lifetime of the most extraordinary craft knowledge you can imagine. She took one look at me tentatively poking a spoke and said “you’re going to need lessons”. I’ve been going to see her once a week ever since and it’s amazing. Her home is filled with handspun yarns made from the usual sheep’s fleece to cotton wool and nettles, dyed with everything from Dahlias and to copper pipes. She can spin, sew, knit, crochet, weave, needle point, rug make, you name it, she’s a craft-witch full of archaic and magical knowledge. And she’s offered to share it with me, just for the love of it.
We’ve made my first, completely unusable, ball of unplied yarn and next week we’re doing 2 ply and dying with some dead flowers, I am ridiculously excited. So next time you see an ad for something obscure that takes your fancy, even if it seems frivolous, take it. You never know what journey it might take you on, and you might even find your own craft-witch.
Coreopsis Yellow Recipe
Now Audrey doesn’t believe in being too precise, she thinks it takes the fun and magic out of things. So this is what we used to make ‘yellow’.
With a mordant (the thing that makes the colour stick):
1oz cream of tartar
Large pot cold water
Soak your fleece/yarn in mordant over night.
If you can’t get hold of alum you can always add in a handful of sorrel leaves when you get to the dying part, this may change the colour but will act as a mordant.
To dye 2 skeins of yarn:
Handful of dried coreopsis flowers
Large pan of boiling water
¼ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
Boil flowers for roughly half an hour, drop the skeins in and keep the heat at a simmer for 45 minutes.
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