Yarn to make bees...

A month or two ago, I was contacted by a friend to see if I could provide some naturally dyed bee-coloured yarn to be given to someone who made rather wonderful textile bees. That is not something I had in, but I did recommend Helen Melvin's Fiery Felts as somewhere that did fabulous natural dyes on wools and silks.  

So I was asked if I'd turn some of Helen's gorgeous 'From My Stash To Yours' packs into yarn, and two bags arrived shortly afterwards. 

This is what it looked like, unpacked and divided up between fibre types. 

One of the things I stress again and again in my fibre preparation classes is that the attraction of cats to fibres is in direct proportion to the amount of time spent preparing said fibre, so always, always, always keep it in a box with a lid firml closed. Oops...

I decided to prepare all these for spinning with hand cards. I wanted to spin fairly fine and smooth so it all needed prepping before diving in, even the wool tops. One of the reasons that I usually only use natural dyes on yarns rather than fibre is that the fibre needs much more handling with the natural dyes, and it can felt very easily. Both the tops in this were lovely soft wool, and therefore ended up slightly felted; not enough to cause problems, but it wouldn't have been relaxed spinning without a little opening up first. 

I divided the fibres up by type - wool tops, wool fleece, silk hankies, silk top, a small amount of kid mohair locks - and spun them up mostly within their own types. Some of the silk tops were carded into some of the soft wools, some became gradients, and the silk hankies were just pulled open and spun as is. 

The colours were glorious - gold, russet, pinks, pale yellows...

And this is what I ended up with. Not as much yarn as you might initially have thought, but I've spun it to about fingering/4ply thickness, and it's all two ply yarn. I also added some natural black Shetland I spun up to match, for making bees. 

You can see some of the gradients when photographed from the top down. The silk was would on to the inside of loo rolls; silk will collapse in on itself given half a chance, and tangles horribly. 

So there we are! I managed to get it all done and off in the post on the 18th December, and I hope it got there in time.