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!

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 🙂
DSC_0044
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.)

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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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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Matylda's Barn display in Crafters Gallery, Saratoga
Amigurumi, Ceramics, Crochet, Other, Painting and Drawing

You Can Now Find Our Products in Crafters Gallery, Saratoga, NY!

Good news!

Our quality handmade products are from now on available at Crafters Gallery on 427 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY. I prepared a lot of new spring themed items for the display. If you’re in the area, you are most welcome to check them out!

Crafters Gallery
Crafters Gallery on Broadway street, Saratoga Springs, New York.

If you’re not from around here, you have one more reason to visit the beautiful Saratoga Springs with its old charm and character. You might also want to visit the local spa or come for the summer world-famous horse races. There is also many interesting shopping opportunities, some of them very old and traditional, such as the Putnam Market. My personal favourite spot is Saratoga Coffee Traders, where you can get coffee named Death Wish, which is just, well, awesome 😀 You don’t wanna miss that, right?!

Spring Collection by Matylda's Barn
Spring collection by Matylda’s Barn, so far. More items to come..!

Anyway, back to the products that are on display in the amazing Crafters Gallery. I hand-painted four new mugs, that will surely warm someone’s heart. There a sheep mug (errr, not a surprise there), a horse mug, a dog mug, and favourite – an old tree mug. The animals are enjoying the spring. Unlike us in the Adirondacks area who still wait to see the snow dissapear!

These standard-sized coffee mugs are hand-painted with Americana Acrylic Multi-Surface Satin Paints. They were left to dry for four days and baked later in the oven, so they should be dishwasher safe. However, since I haven’t tested these mugs over a long period of time, I would recommend to wash them by hand – just to be safe.

Spring Themed Mugs by Matylda's Barn
Spring themed coffee mugs, each one was carefully designed and hand-painted.

Since the Easter holidays are approaching, I wanted to design something special for the shop, that would be very Easter-y. So I naturally ended up creating bunnies. They are inspired by the very cute Rex breed. I used Lion brand Homespun acrylic yarn and premium polyester stuffing. The material makes it easy to wash.

Crochet Bunnies Amigurumi by Matylda's Barn
Hand-crochet bunnies by Matylda’s Barn. Original amigurumi pattern.

See more pictures of Matylda’s Barn products on display in Crafters Gallery, Saratoga Springs, under the article. If you’re thinking about a visit, don’t hesitate, there a lot of beautiful crafts to be seen in the gallery. From cute little sweaters for toddlers to wooden sculptures and paintings of Adirondack nature and traditions, you’re sure to be captivated by something.

Just like I was 🙂

Darla the Crochet Sheep
Amigurumi, Crochet

Darla the Crochet Sheep

This was one of the most fun projects I have ever made. Crocheting sheep is really fun, I really enjoy giving them a character, their own personality. Darla is a sort of confused sheep. In real life, sheep often stop doing whatever they are doing and look at you like that 🙂

I started to crochet from the middle, the stomach area. I continued up and finished the head. The wool texture is made of little chains, so you can only imagine, how long did this take (yes, a loooong time!). After I finished the head, I started to stuff the sheep with premium polyfiber from recycled materials. It’s easy to find poly stuffing, you can get it for example at Hobby Lobby for a fairly reasonable price.

After I stuffed the top part of the body, I continued crocheting from the stomach area down. I also continued to stuff the body. When the body was done, I crocheted the legs and “hands” separately, then sew them on the body. I did the same thing with the ears.

I embroidered the pink coloring in the ears and other details, such as the nose and eyes.

You can buy the original Darla here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/517842719/darla-the-crochet-sheep-amigurumi

Darla the Crochet Sheep
Darla the Crochet Sheep
Amigurumi, Crochet

Matylda the Crochet Sheep

This crochet sheep I made reminded me of Matylda, a very special sheep that my parents own. Read more about the real Matylda here.

I worked with 100% cotton crochet yarn and stuffed the animal with premium polyester fiber fill made from recycled materials.

The item took many hours to make, because I decided to create the wool texture with little chains.

Matylda the crochet sheep would make a great sleeping companion or serve as a cute decoration of any bedroom.

Buy the sheep before it’s gone >> Etsy

matylda-crochet-sheep-head1000x667

 

 

Crochet, Kitchen and Dining

Beatrice Table Runner

This table runner took a long time to make. But the effort was worth it. It looks wonderful on a wooden table and it makes a perfect centerpiece.

It took me more than a week to make it and I used up three balls of cotton yarn.

I love the combination of red color and wood. The pattern consists of a repeating flower design.

See the photos bellow for more details. The colors may vary depending on the light source.

Snatch the original table runner before it’s gone >> Etsy

beatrice-crochet-table-runner-red
Red table runner in combination with Amabel ivory crochet coasters.
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The table runner measures approx. 60 x 16 inches.
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The unfinished table runner under direct sunlight. It was one of those lucky winter days when I could actually sit outside and crochet 🙂
beatrice-crochet-table-runner-red-4
When I was done with the crocheting, I pinned the table runner to a big cork board and used a spray fabric stiffener. This took a long time as well: I have used up all my pins, put on multiply coats of the spray, turned the table runner on the other side and repeated the process.

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Crochet, Kitchen and Dining

Amabel Doily Set

Amabel is a classic old-timey doily set in natural ivory color that looks wonderful in any rustic kitchen.

At first I was a bit put off by the thin yarn that I chose to work with. Thin yarn means more work, but it also allows you to create very delicate lace effects.

I started at the center and worked my way out. I was shooting to create a design that incorporates natural forms and colors. Ornaments of this kind are timeless and look great with anything.

When the set was completed, I used a spray fabric stiffener. I put multiply coats of the stiffener on both sides.

amabel-coaster-crochet

The set consists of five coasters, one slighty bigger coaster (could be used as a gravy boat hot pad for example) and a doily.

The color on the pictures may vary because of different light sources.

Get it on Etsy now.

amabel-doily-set-crochet

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