Friday 11 December 2009

Victorian Farm Christmas

The Christmas specials of the Victorian Farm start tonight at 9pm on BBC2. I love this programme - apart from the fact that Ruth is a good friend I think that they are really well presented and thought out. The whole team work well together, not just the presenters.

Why am I telling you about it - not just because I love the programme but also I am going to be in it! Not sure which of the 3 episodes it will be, but I was invited along to dye ribbons in natural dyes for the Christmas decorations and presents.

Here's Ruth and I during the filming, I actually really enjoyed it - I hate having cameras round me, can even be funny about having my photo taken, but Ruth was so good at leading and the crew were fabulous to work with.

The filming was back in June and I did mention in my blog then that I had been to Shropshire. What I would really like to express is my thanks to the Society of Dyers and Colourists for lending us the original sample of Mauvein that they have in their display at Perkin House, Bradford. You can see the wooden box in this picture - it is the original box that was posted by
William Perkin and still carries the stamp and post mark on the side. The yarns inside are silk and cotton. The colour is absolutely stunning, I may not want to work with the synthetic colours - but it is very obvious why they caused such a stir when you see them close up like this!

We had hoped to try out some new fangled chemical dyes as well as the natural dyes during the filming, but time did really run away with us, so I would like to express my thanks to Kemtex as well for supplying us with some samples to try. Everyone I approached was really helpful.

We used cochineal, weld and indigo in the ribbon dyeing. Ruth was made to work and I supervised, the colours we achieved I think you will agree are pretty fine!

Ribbon dyeing workshops are one of my favorites to run particularly round the November/December time as you can really personalize your Christmas presents with them. All done for this year - but there's always 2010!

Thursday 10 December 2009


After I don't know how long we have finally updated our braiding booklet! We actually managed to get it ready for TORM, but this is the first chance I've had to write about it!

A good friend of ours - Jane has become obsessed with braiding since she first bought a disk and spends endless hours creating and using them - all her Christmas presents are going to be tied up with hand made braids in Christmassy glizzy type yarns, she's even dreaming up her own designs by combining different patterns together -

Take a look as these -

She provided me with lots and lots of good samples of the various patterns in the book so I've been able to put photos of the braids with the instructions at long last! What a difference it makes to the appearance! I've also put a photo on the cover, and to crown it all there are at long last instructions for making a rik-rak braid!

If you have an orginal copy of the booklet then you can get an addendum sheet with the rik-rak braid on - just email me and I'll send it to you, or alternatively come and see us at one of our events and collect one! If you don't have the booklet - well.........Braiding Booklet

The price of the booklet remains the same - £3 (good value hey!!)

This picture shows you the squisk or the disk - the squisk can be easier to use for the flat braids like the rik-rak as you need to define the warp and weft threads more, but any of the braids can be done on either tool. John created the squisk because someone asked him to make a square plate, when he tried it out he decided it was simpler to make a larger disk with 2 sides cut off!! Some people prefer working with 1 and some the other!

The squisk is £12 and the disk is £9.50 the kits are £18 and £15 respectively and these include the booklet, overlay and pins and 3 naturally dyed wools. Braiding Disk Kit