from-wool-to-beautiful-yarn
Other, yarn

From Wool to Beautiful Yarn (How-To)

Few days ago I started another project. I want to create a nice big blanket for my future home. I loved these shades of blue and purple of the merino wool that we purchased in this shop: http://skorpilova.cz/vlna/.

For me, the colors conjure up an image of sea. I can almost feel the breeze on my face 🙂

This article can also be a small recipe or how-to for people who would like to try creating their own multicolored yarn.

Merino Top
Different colors of Merino Top that I decided to combine together.

Before you start spinning it is good to know for what purpose you’re creating this particular yarn. Since I want to create a blanket with this one, I would prefer the yarn to be softer. But we got merino top in the shop.

“Top” is a kind of spinning fiber that is best suited to worsted or semi worsted spinning. All the fibers are aligned. Worsted fiber is more durable, but not as soft as woolen yarn. Woolen fiber traps more air inside.

Carding the Merino Wool
Carding the Merino Wool

To prepare the wool for woolen spinning you need to process it first. In the picture above, I combined different colors on the hand carder. I hold the fiber a bit strangely because I was taking photo with the other hand 😀 Basically, try to apply the fiber so that it sticks out on one side. After putting the wool on one carder, you brush it off on the other one. You roll the fiber into a “rolag”. The fibers are not aligned in one direction anymore and you can now use the rolls for woolen spinning.

Here is a good instructional video for the whole carding process: https://youtu.be/suv54MWlyUs?t=1m36s

You can also roll by using your hands only, you don’t really need that wooden stick in the video.

Merino Rolag
Merino Rolag – a fluffy fiber roll prepared for woolen spinning.

After you prepare your rolags, you can go ahead and spin.

Another video can help you: https://youtu.be/0HNrflq9sd0?t=1m26s

The woolen or longdraw technique can be more challenging than the worsted, but you’ll figure it out after multiple tries. I also think it helps you understand your spinning wheel more and there’s something very artistic about drawing the yarn like that. I have to say I just love it 🙂 The yarn becomes something flexible, almost like some sort of rubber.

Merino Yarn Woolen Technique
This might seem like the end product, but it’s not 🙂 You still need to do more stuff.

After the spinning, it’s niddy noddy’s time! Niddy noddies not only have fun name, they’re also very useful albeit simple devices. You can use them to create skeins out of the bobbins of the spinning wheel.

Instructional video here: https://youtu.be/wnOlraopQ74?t=37s

Niddy Noddy with Merino Woolen Fiber
Niddy Noddy with Merino Woolen Fiber. And the dog.

The skeins is not the end of the process yet. If you’re not gonna ply the fiber, it could do some funky stuff when you knit.

Skeins and rolags of merino wool, woolen technique
Skeins and rolags of merino wool posed for a pretty picture 🙂

What we do is we put the unwound skeins in a bucket of hot water and leave them for couple of minutes. Then we hang them up diy-style!

Fixing the yarn, diy-style
Fixing the yarn, diy-style!

My blue yarn is still drying up so I can’t show you the end product yet. Since I’m going to use this yarn pretty soon, I’ll turn the skeins into balls of yarn. Unfortunately I don’t own a ball winder so the nostepinne will have to do. But it’s ok, old-fashioned is cooler anyway!

 

ravelry-patterns
Amigurumi, Crochet, Home Decorations, Kitchen and Dining, patterns

My Patterns Are Now on Ravelry!

I decided to join Ravelry, because I want to share my designs with as many people as possible 🙂 My username is – surprise surprise – MatyldasBarn. You can find my profile here: http://www.ravelry.com/people/MatyldasBarn

I added two of my older designs to my designer profile, but I already published two new instructions.

One of them is the Spooky Crochet Ghost. It’s a free download, so don’t hesitate to try it if you like a little scare! 🙂

It might seem a bit strange that I designed a ghost at this time of year, but it was a special gift for my sister, who just happen to have “fear” in her surname.

I would say the pattern is for intermediate crocheters, because the bottom part and the hands are a little bit more complicated.

<< Download here >>

Spooky Crochet Ghost by Matylda's Barn
Spooky Crochet Ghost in all it’s scary glory!

The other pattern I recently published is called Betsy Crochet Coasters. It’s a revised version of my older design, which I sell on Etsy and in Crafters Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY.

This pattern is more beginner friendly. The most challenging part is the head, but I tried to make it as clear as possible by including a graphic chart.

It’s a fun project for sheep-lovers and a great gift for farmers or people who like animals.

<< Download here >>

 

Betsy Crochet Sheep Coasters by Matylda's Barn
Betsy Crochet Sheep Coasters – revised version. Created with Lily Sugar’n Cream cotton yarn.

If you decide to give any of these patterns a try, don’t hesitate to write me with any feedback you might have!

Farm Life, Other, yarn

Fun Times at the Farm

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, my parents have a farm. It’s not a big farm by any means, but it keeps them busy and I think it brings them a lot of happiness. I don’t know the exact count, but they have more than 20 animals running around, including sheep and goats. Right now, there’s a little bit more of them, because of the offspring.

I came back to the Czech Republic for the summer and it feels very relaxing to be home again. I’ll share some of the peace and quiet of my leisure days with you in the form of photos. Mainly because I love taking photos and I love to share them with other people 🙂

Matylda the Sheep - Merino sheep
I have to start with Matylda the sheep, because- well – it’s Matylda the sheep! You can read about how special she is in the About section. Matylda has two beautiful children now and they are just as curly and cute as she is. …Yes, I think sheep are cute. 🙂
Goat and the shepherd dog
Every time we come close to the animals, they come running and begin demanding food. I thought the pose of the goat in this picture illustrates that very well 😀 Of course our Australian shepherd dog has a lot of fun with this.
Cashmere Goats at Matylda's Barn
It was very hot lately, so the animals are trying to find spots where they could hide from the sun. Here is the cashmere goat Dorota and her offspring.
Bublina the Goat at Matylda's Barn
This goat cracks me up. She is probably the funniest animal we have. Her name is Bublina (Bobbles) and she is basically a pet goat. She will follow you everywhere, push her head underneath your hands to make you pet her. When she was little, she used to cry everytime we were leaving. Plus she makes these precious funny faces 😀
Funny sheep
“Oh, you want to take a photo of me? Ok, I’ll just casually lay my leg like that…”
Australian Shepherd Dog demanding a walk
And then there’s the dog.. “Hey guys…We need to go for a walk now… Please.. Walk now!”
Hand dyeing yarn at the farm
Of course, we never come home empty handed from a walk… My mom collected wild flowers to dye wool from our sheep. Don’t ask me how is that possible, but the color is supposedly gonna be purple. I know, haha.
Red berries
I’ll say goodbye for now with these awecome berries from our garden. Yum 🙂
first-yarn-spinning-attempt
Other, yarn

My First Serious Yarn Spinning Attempt

Two days ago, I successfully persuaded my mom to try and teach me how to spin yarn. In my eyes, she is the ultimate authority in this area. But I should tell you the whole story. Let’s start from the beginning!

My parents, who are living in the Czech Republic, started their sheep and goat farm back when I was finishing high school. Or that’s what I think. It might have been a little bit later than that, but honestly, it’s so hard to tell because it seems like it has been forever! The animals became such a natural part of our family 😊 My parents still name each one of them and form a lasting bond with those that they keep and not sell. It was very hard for them, when the old ram Byvoj died recently.

But it’s not just the sheep and goats, my mom also had to get angora rabbits for obvious reasons (they’re so soft!). And then there’s the Australian shepherd dog and the fighter kitty cat, that sometimes shows up after a month with brand new battle scars.

When my mother makes a sweater, she makes from the scratch. She uses the better wool from the sheep: washes it, hand-dyes it with natural stuff (varying from all kinds of strange mushrooms to wild flowers or bark of some tree), dries it outside under the sun, brushes it with the special wool brush thingy and then magically transforms it into a yarn with a spinning wheel.

Obviously, I don’t know the appropriate wool lingo, but I decided to give the yarn spinning a try. And yes, the dog was sort of involved. Because of lack of the right words, I will demonstrate the individual steps with pictures instead 😊

Yarn Spinning Matylda's Barn
My first spinning attempt! I did try before many many years ago, but this time I’m serious and stuff. My mom let me start with a little bit of white wool, so that I wouldn’t waste away something too valuable.
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All in all it didn’t came out too bad!
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My mom wanted to finish the yarn for me (I guess it’s called “to ply”), but I didn’t let her. “Are you seriously gonna try to do this? It took me five years to learn it and you think you’re going to learn it the first time you try yarn spinning.” Yes, I’m very stubborn, and yes, I did it. It may not be perfect, but I’m still quite proud of myself and my fist tiny ball of plied yarn 🙂
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The dog wasn’t too impressed by my efforts 🙂
Merino Wool
I was ready for a serious yarn project. I chose nice colors to work with – it’s the summer, so I’m naturally gravitating towards the colors of the sea. I used merino wool.
Brushing the wool
My mom showed me how to mix the colors together on the special brush. Side note: Notice the insect photobomber!
Spinning yarn
And here I am, spinning away.
Spinning yarn
This is the first peek of my yarn! Pretty good, eh?!

Next time, I’ll show you the result and what I did with it!

(Not there yet.)

river-table-runner-header
Crochet, Home Decorations

Inspired by Adirondack Rivers

I love water. I love seas, lakes and riversAnd that’s where I got my inspiration for a new table runner design from. I worked with a wonderful yarn called Scarlett, which I purchased at a local yarn shop with a very fitting name – Village Yarn Shop. The yarn is 100% cotton, made in Macedonia. I chose to use the azure blue and silver colors and a stitch pattern resembling waves, switching the colors every now and then. I decided to add 5” decorative fringe on each side.

You can purchase the one-of-a-kind handmade item and therefore support my work here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/536444689/the-river-table-runner-11-wide-27-long?ref=shop_home_active_1

I took the photos by a beautiful mountain river in the Adirondacks.

River Table Runner by Matylda's Barn
River Table Runner in silver-azure blue color combination.

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Classic Mug Cozies
Crochet, Home Decorations, patterns

Classic Mug Cozy Pattern and Crafters Gallery events

I’ve been quite busy lately: attending Crafters Gallery’s ribbon cutting ceremony and preparing a lot of new products for it. The upcoming Saturday there will be another big event – grand-reopening of the gallery with all the vendors present and big discounts on the assortment. As you can guess, I’ll be there 🙂 So if you’re in Saratoga Springs, NY, stop by and meet me in person 😊 If you need another reason to come, you should know there will be delicious refreshments as well!

Anyway, back to my crafts. One of the products I’ve brought to the gallery to sell was a classic style mug cozy in old white color with brown edging and a cute wooden button. I’ve used a wool blend yarn, which makes it warm and more natural looking. I chose to work with natural colors as well – no surprise there. The pattern I designed is very easy and fast – it takes about 30 minutes or less to create the cozy. I decided to write it down and create a graphic chart. I also took instructional photos while creating.

The pattern is beginner friendly, you only need to know 2 kinds of crochet stitches – chain and single crochet. Cannot be any easier than that, haha. Anyway, if you get lost, you can always contact me.

Try the pattern for yourself!

Available on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/529636621/pattern-classic-mug-cozy-beginner

Classic Mug Cozies Pattern
Classic Mug Cozies Pattern
Amigurumi, Crochet

Crochet Horse for Saratoga Springs

I wanted to create something special for Crafters Gallery in Saratoga Springs, NY, and the idea that came to my mind was naturally something horse related. Saratoga is very famous for its horse races. I read somewhere that it’s actually the oldest sports event in the world. People wear fancy hats and clothes to the official opening event and I would really love to see that, but unfortunately I’m going to be out of the States when it’s all happening. Anyway, you can read more about the horse races here.

At first, I crocheted a regular sized stuffed animal. I used 100% alpaca yarn named Puna by Drops, which I just looove. It’s so soft and has a beautiful natural color. I embroidered the details using different cotton yarns (black, white) and red acrylic yarn. The animal is stuffed with premium polyfiber filling.

Saratoga Crochet Horse by Matylda's Barn
Saratoga Crochet Horse

I have to say I really like how the face turned out! I was going for a more realistic style, and I had several actual horse pictures that inspired me. I never design stuff before I create, I basically create as I go. It might seem really strange to some people, but for some reason I just get the inspiration to create as I go. I have a simple idea, what it should look like, but the details come one after another. I would call my creative process “organic”. Somebody might call it disorganized, haha 🙂

I created also a small version of the horsie, which is maybe even cuter. I saved one to sell on Etsy, you can get it or support me by liking here >> https://www.etsy.com/listing/529295737/horse-toy-amigurumi-horse-crochet-horse

I’m thinking about maybe publishing a pattern for either of these toys, what do you think? Would you be interested?

Small Crochet Horse by Matylda's Barn
Small Crochet Horse
Small Crochet Horse by Matylda's Barn
Small Crochet Horse – detail of the head.
Small Crochet Horse by Matylda's Barn
Small Crochet Horse – the details are embroidered or sown on.

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Other, yarn

My Washington County Fiber Touring!

I went for an interesting trip yesterday and I would like to share some thoughts and photos from the event. Washington County in Upstate New York has its own annual fiber tour! That means a lot of yarn, all kinds of animals, friendly people and beautiful things to buy.

Visit their page for more information: http://www.washingtoncountyfibertour.org/

This year marks the tour‘s 25th edition. That’s a pretty long tradition, in my opinion! Unfortunately, I only had time to visit two places – the Battenkill Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill and St. Mary’s on-the-Hill. There was an interesting contrast between the mill and the monastery – one is a child of the industrial revolution, the other is a place of old traditions. Even the settings are very different. You can find the mill on a busy street in the town of Greenwich, while the monastery sits on a hill with beautiful calm surroundings.

See for yourself:

Battenkill Carding and Spinning Mill

St. Mary’s on-the-Hill Cashmere

crochet-bunnies-header
Amigurumi, Crochet

Must Be Bunnies

Whenever I hear the word “bunnies” I always remember Anya from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who really reaaally didn’t care for the fluffy hoppy animals.

Anyway, I actually like the bunnies. We have them hopping around our backyard on a daily basis. I give you this not very good paparazzi-style photo as a proof:

Bunny

Since the Easter holiday is coming up soon, I was inspired to create a bunny. What was supposed to be a one time thing has eventually lead to not one, but three different bunny designs.

The first crochet bunny design by Matylda's Barn
The first crochet bunny design in progress. There was a lot of ends to work in! Arghh 🙂

I was quite happy with my first crochet bunny pattern, the only issue I encountered were the eyes. Somehow the eyes turned evil everytime I tried to put some white “reflection” in there. I wasn’t purposely trying to create a Bunnicula, so I had to rework the eyes several times before the bunny finally became cute.

Proud as I was, I showed the creation to my parents over Skype. And guess what – my mom congratulated me on creating another nice sheep. Arrgh. Then few hours later, my boyfriend really liked the new “dog”! Double Arrrgh.

Apparently, the ears were not quite right. The back of the bunny, on the other hand, was fine.

So I decided to give it another go and create a more “bunny-like” bunny. I was googling bunnies to have a realistic model. So here comes bunny n. 2:

Long story short – my mom still didn’t like the ears. She suggested the ears should be pointing up. I guess she has a point, but there ARE bunnies with ears down! And I have Google to prove it! But whatever, I caved and created yet another bunny.

The funny thing is: the first bunny aka “the sheep” or “the dog” got actually sold. It was sitting on a shelf in Saratoga Springs’ Crafters Gallery for less than three days.

I don’t know what is the lesson here, maybe that you can’t please everyone? But I’m definitely not creating more bunnies. Unless somebody custom-orders it. 🙂

Floppy the Bunny Rabbit Amigurumi Stuffed Toy by Matylda's Barn
Floppy the Bunny Rabbit.

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Crochet, Home Decorations

Get Them Easter Eggs Rollin’ :)

Easter is coming and I’m willing to bet it doesn’t leave any crochet addict calm 🙂 Gotta create! Gotta decorate! Get those Easter Eggs rolling.

Naturally, I created crochet Easter eggs. But I didn’t stop at that. I wanted to make them special and because I love traditional floral ornamets, I decided to try embroidery. I don’t really have any experience doing that, but I think the eggs came out quite good. As usual, I didn’t have any specific design in my head, when I started, I just sort of “went where my hands took me”. I tried to use natural colors. I think it matches the tree branches quite nicely.

Crochet Easter Eggs
Crochet Easter Eggs – an original design by Matylda’s Barn. These Easter decorations will make any room pretty.

I created these eggs for Crafters Gallery in Saraga Springs, Upstate New York. If you’re in the area, be sure to check them out! You can also order them at my Etsy shop or contact me directly.

Crochet Easter Eggs
Crochet Easter Eggs – an original design by Matylda’s Barn. You can buy them at Crafters Gallery, Saratoga Springs, Upstate New York.
Easter Eggs - Easter Decoration - Easter Decor
Crochet Easter Eggs – Embroidered crochet decoration.
Crochet Easter Eggs - Easter Decor - Easter Decoration - Embroidered Eggs
Crochet Easter Eggs and the first spring flower! I love coltsfoot, it’s like these little pieces of gold that you randomly find by the road 🙂

I’ll be back with more Easter stuff!