Just like a Swan . . .

Published on 11 February 2024 at 13:54

I know I've been rather quiet recently but just like that proverbial Swan I've been paddling away like a good-un under the surface.  There has been much busy spinning and felt-making going on here at Cati Carlo central - hand-made products like mine require hand-made elements.

At the end of 2023 I had to have a good, hard think about how the business was going to work after I lost my lovely Charlie last summer.  Although the business was and is my responsibility, Charlie's input was so valuable in an incredible number of deep-rooted ways.  From encouraging me to start up in the first place, to patiently listening every time I stuck my head round his study door when I "just had" to chat about a new design inspiration.  From carrying boxes at Markets and Fairs, to helping with the physical work of making felt sheets.  Basically, I've been dealing with this impact on the business as well as the massive hole that his loss has made in my life.  However, he'd be pretty peeved with me if I let all our hard work go to waste.  So I decided that I would need to work "smarter".  I've decided to make all my felt sheets (or, as many as I can allowing for the possibility of someone requiring a bespoke felt); get as much spinning done as I can; getting those knitting needles going in a blur to make shawls, hats, mitts etc; and sewing as many cases and wallets in the quieter early months of 2024.  All ready for my first booked Market in May 2024.  

It's great how much you can get done propped in front of the telly or catching up on BBC iPlayer.  I do love a good BBC play, although I have to be careful that I don't start treadling too quickly when there's an exciting bit in the drama.

Here's a little snapshot of the process of the spinning I've been doing, you can see the transition from fluff to finished yarn.  The pic on the far left is "Taste the Rainbow", a jolly blend of plain South American wool with viscose (the multi-colour bits) from World of Wool (www.worldofwool.co.uk).  Then there are two bobbins of spun singles of the rainbow yarn that I decided to ply with a plain, undyed wool for the finished yarn (pic far right).  This yarn is going to be perfect for a woolly hat or pair of mitts to brighten up a miserable, drizzy winter's day. 


But in case you think that is the only yarn spinning I've done - here's a shot of five finished yarns I've spun so far this year, and there is already another one on the bobbins half-way through.

But it isn't only spinning I've been cracking on with -  as I was saying about "working smarter" I have been preparing and making felt sheets too.

Prepping is done by making wool batts on the blending board - bringing together different shades of merino wool with any other fibres (like silk or bamboo) to make several "marbled" three-layered wool per finished felt piece.  These are placed on a sheet of commercial merino pre-felt (from World of Wool again - I told you they were my favourite suppliers!) and the whole lot is wet-felted together using a routine/method which Charlie and I worked out over time to give a standard, reproducible quality of felt sheet that can be embellished with hand-embroidery. 

Left:  eight sets of prepared wool batts ready for wet-felting

I have to say a great big thank-you here! 

It has been so wonderful to have the help of friends who have stepped in to help me out with timings and monitoring (and chat, coffee, biccies and butties too) while I worked on new felt sheets since the beginning of 2024.  The process to make one felt sheet takes about four hours in total, half of which I can easily handle on my own but the other half is made much simpler and quicker with a "felting-elf" - so I'm incredibly grateful for their good company and stopwatch-wrangling.


Right: finished felt sheets

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