Trying times

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an early jute prototype

Ages ago I wrote a pattern for my crochet bird roosts.Β The plan was to sell both the pattern alone and kits with all the necessary materials in. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan… my testers never got back to me with comments about the pattern, and then the supplier of the jute twine that I used during the design process went out of business. In a fit of gloom I put it all to one side.

Some months later I tried to source an equivalent twine, but didn’t have much luck, although I did buy some (unseen and, as it turned out not entirely suitable) from a British manufacturer – I really needed a local supplier who I could visit to allow me to see and feel the different types or a more distant supplier who was prepared to send me samples. I’ve had no luck on either count. However, recently Danielle from The Make It Shop offered to test the pattern for me and, as a result of chatting to her, I decided it might be worthwhile to try making a version in wool for subsequent felting.

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trials and tests (note empty wine glass in the background!)

And so, over the past week I’ve been playing around with different designs and different wool yarns plus the new jute. Some of the wool I tried refuses to felt, some of my trials have ended up silly shapes, and some are promising, the new jute was so thick it turned into an extra-large roost. We’ve found a few mistakes in the pattern and a few places where the instructions were unclear. However, progress is being made and I’m hoping that in the not too distant future the pattern will be finalised and at least a woolly feltable version of the kit will be available. My desire to use British fibres as much as possible isn’t helping and I’m sick of doing internet searches for twine, so I’m planning to brave some real shops/garden centres in an attempt to locate some twine of the right gauge.

So, I’m just off to crochet yet another bird house… I’ll be glad when I can get back to my skeleton hat pattern write-up!

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20 Comments

  1. Best of luck, super sounding project.

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  2. Ann

     /  July 5, 2016

    Have the birds given any feedback? Do they use them? πŸ™‚

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  3. Have you tried the Jute museum in Dundee? http://www.rrsdiscovery.com/index.php?pageID=128 If you are ever there well worth a visit. When I was growing up there there were still commercial Jute mills operating there, two very close t the primary school I attended. Originally the Jute industry went hand in hand with the whaling industry, the oil extracted from the blubber being used to make the fibres workable. This before petroleum products were available for the job.

    Dave

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  4. I love my little bird house – though no bird has ever used it as the teeny tiny garden probably doesn’t offer enough space. I’m going to hang it in my art room [when I get that back] where it will be useful for something or other πŸ™‚ Also, I recently knitted a hat that was too big so I felted it and it is awesome – warm and waterproof so I think felted bird houses will be cute and viable πŸ™‚

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  5. They look so cosy! Imagine being a little bird snuggled up in there πŸ™‚

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  6. I may be telling you stuff you already know, but many commercial wools will not felt – by design, they’ve been treated not to so the finished garment is machine washable. Could this be part of the problem, or were you using local, hand produced stuff? I’ve often wished someone would find a use for baler twine, such a common waste product. It wouldn’t look quite as ‘natural’ as your nice twines, as it only comes in bright colours, but I wonder whether the birds would mind…

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    • Oh yes, I have been very careful about the wools I’ve used – the surprise was with a wool from a friend of mine’s flock – clearly the breed (Lincolnshire longwool, I think) produces a non-felting wool. Anyway, I’ve found a couple f types that seem to work well for my purposes. Baler twine has been suggested before, but apart from the colour, I really don’t fancy working with it!

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      • I can see why it doesn’t appeal as much as something softer to work with! I just hate seeing the stuff lying around, tangled up in everything, thousands and thousands of metres of it just getting thrown away every year.

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  7. What a cute idea, good luck getting it the way you want it to be. 😊

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  8. I do hope you find exactly what you need πŸ™‚
    I love your bird roosts, so look forward to the released pattern and, with the amount of birds we get in the garden nowadays, we need a flight control to avoid mid-air accidents! Lol

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  9. I’m sure you are the local favourite with the birds in your neighbourhood πŸ™‚

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  10. What a fab idea! I love crocheting with jute.

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