Kizzyka Designs Thu, 07 Feb 2019 21:48:48 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Snowy Seedheads. Thu, 07 Feb 2019 21:48:44 +0000
Cow parsley in the snow.. One of my favourite wild flowers at any time of year.

I know there are many out there who do not like the cold and snow, but I love it. I find being out in the snow so exhilarating. It makes me feel alive. The dogs are always happy to join me on a walk, so we wrap up and off we go.

My old man all cosy in his duvet coat.

Snow sharpens the senses, makes things look different. Everything is brighter and sharper. My Norwegian friends hate winters without snow. they say it makes everywhere too dark.

The trees look stark and bare against the white, little puffs of snow sitting on seedheads make them stand out, accentuate the shape of them. The sharp air against your skin. Smells are sharper, the dogs have their noses to the ground, lots of frantic sniffing. The silence of snow, how it deadens many sounds, I love the way you walk through snow, it crunches underfoot. You don’t realise how loud that crunch is, until you stand still. Listen to the silence.

Snow lets you know what has been about. Pawprints and birdprints are everywhere. It is amazing just how much wildlife is around us, snow shows us where they walk. Little patterns betraying the footpaths they use. Fox, rabbit, duck, blackbird. All within a few fee of each other.

Birdprints, possible moorhen?
Birdprints. Possibly moorhen?

Snow gives us dramatic landscapes, the mountains rise stark and bleak. from dark valleys. It isn’t just countryside. Towns and cities, that often look drab, and uninspiring, have a moment of glory as they don a coat of white. Sparkling and glittering. Again showing us things we don’t always see. So yes, now and again we can really enjoy snow.

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Craft Fairs for 2018 Wed, 07 Mar 2018 20:46:58 +0000 A little update on what I shall be getting up to this year. some very interesting projects, both new and old. At the beginning of February I took the loom and some other bits to the  Pene Y Groes Wool and Fleece Festival. It was the first time that the festival had been run, but we had a great time, lots of interesting visitors and stall holders. I could have spent far more than I made! Nicole, the lady who organised the event, has great plans for the event. She is hoping to develop it into a North Wales Wool week, similar to the one in Shetland. We had a woolly meeting at the end of the day. Lots of interested parties present. Not only crafters, but farmers, traders, buyers, and even the Wool Board. If we can getting up and running there is great potential. If anyone out there is interested or has any ideas please let me know and I will pass them on to the group. Equally, I will post our next event for you all.

Now other events that I will be involved in this year, well so far! It is only March.  Three months, three blogs. Hope you are impressed!

Woolves Yarnival Festival

This will be on 20th May at the Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton. This is the second year of the Festival, last year’s inaugural one was very popular. We are showcasing lots of textile groups from around the area, people are invited to come to have a chat, a play,  and discover what is out there. I will be running two felt workshops this year. A beginners one, teaching the basic technique, and a more advanced workshop using resist technique. These can be booked in advance or on the day. Price £5. Places are limited to 12 for both workshops.

For more information contact Caroline at Hembra Crafting or 

A scene from last year’s Yarnival

Sew Crafty

This is on 16th June at Cannock Chase Museum.

I went as a visitor last year and enjoyed myself, so I applied for a stand this year. This is lots of textile groups and people from around the Cannock area. So again a chance to find out what goes on. Lots of stalls run drop in activities, and I will be doing the same.  For more information contact the museum,

Llandovery Sheep Festival

Now this one I am really excited about. The Festival itself has been going for a while, but I haven’t been, as it is in September, and I tend to be a bit busy then! However this year it is based around Vikings. So how could I not? In fact I sort of got myself invited!!

I will have a trade stand with the loom and all my Ironage stuff and felt there, and I am also running an Anglo – Saxon embroidery course during the weekend. To book you will need to contact Llandovery directly. It will feel more like a little holiday than work, I am really looking forward to it. Their contact details are they are also on Facebook

Me. In Viking mode

Camlan Seasonal Fayre

This is an old venture with a revamp. Camlan garden Centre in Dinas Mawddwy have held farmers markets in the past, as they have now teamed up with the local Coffee Shop, and are planning a local produce shop, they will now be running seasonal Fayres instead. the stands will feature local businesses and we are hoping for a good range of products. I will be there as the Celtic lady, with all my bits and pieces. The fayres will be on 25th March, 6th May, 5th August, 28th October, 9th December.

Sadly I can’t make the first one, I am just too busy with my school workshops, but I aim to be at the rest. We are hoping to run some plant based workshops too, looking at how Celts used plants as medicines and dyes. That is still in the pipeline, but please let me know if you are interested.

Lisa at Camlan is lovely, so if you need any information contact her at

Well there is a lot for you all there. Please get in touch if you want to know anything more specific about what I am doing at these events, and there may well be more to add as the year goes on.

A selection of plant dyed wools.


More Viking Gear, and The Loom.


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Plants as Dyes. Tue, 30 Jan 2018 21:39:43 +0000 Thousands of years ago people discovered that they could change the colour of wool by making dyes from plants. How?  A question I would love to know the answer to. Why? Because, just like modern people, they wanted to look good.

As part of my Iron age textile work I have made dyes from a variety of plants, and last weekend I joined Ann and Caroline from Hembra Crafting to do some more experimenting. Before we could start dyeing we mordanted sections of wool and natural fabric pieces. Synthetic fibres do not always take plant dyes, and plant fibres, such as linen are harder to dye than wool. But then seeing the differences is part of the fun.  A mordant helps fibres to absorb the dye, and acts as a fixative, making the dye last longer. Some plants produce natural mordants through the tannins in them. Rhubarb and Oak galls are good examples. A more accessible mordant is alum. We set up two mordant pots, one just alum, and the other alum mixed with cream of tartar. (The just alum pot was for pieces to be dyed with Logwood)

The mordant pot.

January is not a good time to collect fresh dye stuffs, but there are some excellent sites where you can buy dried versions and these work equally well. So we set up a variety of dye pots, Weld, walnut, logwood, madder, and cochineal. ( Yes, I know it isn’t a plant!) Then the fun started. Trying different fibres in different dyes, overdying, and comparing our results. Weld, walnut, and madder are plants the Iron Age people used to colour their clothes. Logwood is an American plant, so didn’t come into this country until the 16th Century. However it is a spectacular dye stuff. The colour explodes from the moment the bark hits the water.

Adding Logwood.

Some of the results were disappointing, the weld took very well on the wool, but not the fabric squares, others were more successful.  Caroline dyed different parts of a t shirt and created a multi coloured piece. The logwood worked well on all pieces, as did the cochineal. So now I have some new lengths to play with, the big test is to do something with it all. How many of us have bits from workshops sitting in drawers?

Now this is just a taster of creating dyes, it can be very technical, and if you want to create uniform results then you need to weigh and measure, and make notes. There are some excellent books out there, Jenny Dean has produced several, and Natural Dyes by Judy Hardman and Sally Pinhey is another of my personal favourites.

If you fancy having a go  then Hembra Crafting are planning a second workshop in February, details can be found on their Facebook page,and  I am planning workshops of my own later in the year, some in the Midlands, some in Wales. And if you are trying it out for yourself please be aware, some dyes and mordants are toxic, wear gloves, be in a well ventilated room, and dispose of the liquids responsibly. Check if you are not sure.

Here are a few more pictures from the day.

Orange wool is madder, the yellow is weld. Quite spectacular on the fleece!

Cochineal! Finished as a lovely deep pink.

Weld simmering in the pot, strain before adding wool!!



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New Year Resolutions! Tue, 02 Jan 2018 17:17:26 +0000 Happy New Year to everyone.

New Year Resolutions, some of us make them, and break them. Some of us make them and keep them. Some of us just carry on as we were. I have done all three in the past.

This year I hope to be in the make and keep bracket.

I want to improve the profile of my textile work. Much as I love the history workshops, they are taking over and I am losing sight of my real passion. Creating embroideries and felt pieces. and passing on the love of textiles to others. Part of that is to write more blogs. I was very impressed with Katie at Hilltop Cloud, She did an Advent Blog and posted 25 really interesting articles. I don’t think I will quite match that, but I am aiming to write at least one blog per month. The topics will be varied, some about what I am up to, some informative, maybe about embroidery techniques, dyes, or other ‘stuff’ I do. Any requests?

I also hope to do more craft fairs and exhibitions, so watch this space to see where I am. I have a few in mind already.  My work is currently in Oriel Seren in Machynlleth, and the Dipsy Dragon, Dolgellau. Just before Christmas , Fire and Ice sold, one of my favourite pieces, so my first embroidery project this year will be some new work for Oriel Seren. That will please Sue!  Just have to decide what! An owl? More dragons?

And then there is the usual, I want to lose weight!! I have a wardrobe full of clothes I love, and can’t wear. I don’t want to buy new ones I want to wear what I have. In fact it would be like buying new ones!! Although I may give in to new shoes lol.

So here we go January achieved!! A lot about me, the next one will probably be about dyes as I am off on a dye course soon.

I do hope they went to a good home.


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Yarnival 2 Mon, 15 May 2017 16:35:49 +0000 What a great day!!!

Yarnival seems to have been a success, we had lots of positive feedback about the atmosphere at the event, how it was friendly and relaxed. People felt happy to try new techniques, and not pressurised. We have also had several requests to do it again. Now that does makes us feel we hit the mark.

So what went on? Well if you missed it,  we had the Walsall Spinners there, spinning! They ere using several different kinds of wheel.  I took the warpweighted loom, although it nearly didn’t make it. As we were putting it in the van on Friday the heddle bar fell out!! It took and hour and a half to reset the blessed thing. (Note to self, tie it tighter!!) Still it was there and several ladies had a go. We also had niddy noddys, lucets, and drop spindles. Then you could move on to inkle looms and several other varieties of loom.There were big and little  peglooms, using fleece and plastics to show just what you can do with them.

Dynosaur were there too with their gorgeous wools. I was very good and didn’t give in to temptation, then Briony Marshall gave a very interesting talk about her book and how she was inspired to write it. http://Facebook › brionymarshallauthor

The people who took part in my felting sessions were lovely and ranged from about 12 years old up to 70! Everyone went out with a piece of felt and a lots of ideas about using it. Next year I may do an advanced session too, as there were people who were interested in going further.

I now have teasel envy! These are gorgeous.

The Wool-verhampton map, brilliantly hung by my wonderful roadie, Glen.

This amazing event was the brainchild of Caroline and Ann at Hembra Crafting and to have been involved was amazing. I talked to so many interesting people, and hopefully we have inspired them to try new skills and to have fun with wool and threads. So here’s to next year and doing it all again. I hope you can make it.

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Yarnival Thu, 04 May 2017 08:47:27 +0000 We are all rather excited and somewhat nervous as it is only ten days till we host the first ever Wolverhampton Yarnival. We had our final ‘planning’ meeting last night, going though who and what will be on display, and tweaking things like ‘how shall we run the raffle’? There are some things that you just don’t think about at first.

We are showcasing every aspect of the woollen trade, from Fleece to Jumper. There will be fleece,( sorry no sheep, maybe next time? ) spinning, on drop spindles and wheels, weaving, too many looms to mention, knitting, crocheting, dyeing, felting. all there for demonstration and to have a play with. We have some retail stuff too.

We also have the Wool-verhampton map on display and Briony Marshall signing her new book “Set in the world of wool and weaving” . And for all those Timezones fans out there, Tony will be demonstrating the drop spindles and weaving sticks.

I will be running wet felting taster sessions, these will be at 12pm and 2pm and last about 45minutes. you will get to make and take a piece of felt suitable for embellishing and turning into a purse . These are on a first come basis and I can only have do 20 people because of space. Book Early!!


We are trying to promote all the wonderful textile work that goes on in our area, so if you are interested in wool, but too afraid, busy, or unsure of where to start, come along and see what is out there. There will be lots of people to talk to abut all the different aspects, as well as advice and information about where you can learn more.

Cos if you get the woolly bug you will want to learn more!!

You can contact us on facebook,

Through Hembra Crafting   and here at Kizzyka Designs All the details are on the poster below.




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Year of legends. Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:04:06 +0000 2017 is the Welsh Year of Legends. There are some amazing stories and I am hoping to be able to do some workshops centred on some of them. One of my favourites tells why Wales has a red dragon, and it is this story that inspired my latest embroidery.

The tale goes that Vortigern, known to the Welsh as Gwrtheryn, was king of Britannia in the fifth century. This was a time of great change, the Saxons were coming into the country. This was the first major invasion since Roman times. Vortigern had unwittingly hired saxon warlords as mercenaries to fight against the picts of the North. These Saxons revolted and gradually came to rule much of what we know as England today, thus forcing the native Britons to retreat into the western and Northern quarters of the island. Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales.

Vortigern appealed to his druids for guidance. They told him to withdraw to the high mountain ranges of Wales and find a place to build a stronghold from which he could govern and plan his counter attacks. He searched long and hard, eventually coming to the foothills of Snowden, Yr Wyddfa, the highest mountain in his lands. He chose a steep sided, flat topped hill near the river Glaslyn, and his men set to work quarrying stone and building great walls. Day after day they worked, but no progress was made. Each night the stone walls were demolished, and each morning the men would have to start again.

After some weeks Vortigern called a council of his druids and asked them to discover why he could not build upon the hill, and what magic wold counter the malevolent spirits stopping him . The druids advised that Vortigern  should seek out a boy who had no mortal father. If this boy was sacrificed upon the hilltop then the troublesome spirits would be appeased and the work could go on.

Vortigern sent men to search every corner of the kingdom, eventually some of them came to the old Roman town of Moridunum, modern Carmarthen. They cam across some boys taunting amother lad about his lack of father. The boy introduced himself as Emrys and took them to meet his mother. She was a princes of the area, who lived as a nun. She explained that she had been visited one night by a golden spirit and it was through this visitation that her son had been conceived.

The soldiers took Emrys back to Vortigern, and at dawn on a cold day in the depths of winter the druids led him to the summit of the hill. Realising what fate awaited him Emrys announced that killing him would not help, but instead that he knew what was causing the walls to fall.

“Beneath this hill is a lake, and beneath that lake is a stone. Beneath that stone is a deep cave with two chambers. in each of these chambers sleeps a dragon. as you build your walls during the day the weight presses down up the dragons backs so at night, when they wake, they shake the land and your walls fall.”      

Emrys advised that the lake should be drained and the capstone excavated to reveal the cavern. Vortigern’s men set to work and it was soon revealed to be as Emrys had said. That night Vortigern, Emrys, and the druids kept watch. Just as Emrys had predicted, as the last rays of light left the sky the two dragons, one white, one red awoke. All night they fought each other, eventually in what seemed like a last desperate attack the red dragon drove the white from the cave.

“what does this mean? asked Vortigern. “Sir” said Emrys, “The red dragon symbolises the Brythonic peoples, and the white is for the Saxons. This is a sign that in the end the native people of this land will withstand the Saxons.”

To this day the hill is known as Dinas Emrys – Emrys Stronghold. Amazed at the boy’s gifts of insight and prophecy the druids renamed him, a name given only to the wisest and most enlightened poets and seers. They Called him Myrddin – Merlin.

So that is the battle of the Dragons, stories of merlin and Arthur abound in Wales, Cader Idris is the seat of Arthur, a most beautiful place. There are many more stories to be read and lots of activities during the year so look out for them on the Visit wales sites.…/traditions-history/discover-welsh-myths-legends                                                                             

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Workshops and exhibitions!! Tue, 11 Apr 2017 09:13:31 +0000 Well, it has been a while since I put out a new blog, been a little busy, and my laptop had a strop. Sorted laptop! Still busy, but I thought you might all like to know what I am up to.

March, I was part of the Landsmark Arts Textile exhibition. This was held in an old church in Teddington, an amazing venue, although a bit chilly. Lots of different textile artists, clothing, felting, embroidery, printing. The list goes on. The atmosphere was lovely. I meet some very interesting people and now have two new projects I want to try, eco dyeing and ice dyeing. Both look very interesting. But that will have to wait for the Summer break. I have said I would go back, but not as a seller. It isn’t worth my while. But I would go to do workshops or drop in advice sessions. I had lots of interest in what I did, people asking advice and standing talking about their projects. Does anyone else find this?

Then over the last couple of weeks I have been off to Wales. I have several ladies who want me to do a range of workshops for them. felting, stitching retreats, and herbs and dyes. There is also a new gallery in Machynlleth, Oriel Seren. This is run by a group of local artists. I now a have a large selection of my embroidery work here. It is a lovely little place and well worth a visit. The art work is gorgeous and very diverse.

Each one of these needs a bit of tweaking from other workshops, but then that can be fun, as churning the same things out is safe, but not always very challenging. The herbs and dyes workshops will be at Camlan Garden centre in Dinas Mawddwy,, and I am having to do some research on my Celtic stuff. Usually I focus on Viking and Tudor plants, herbs and spices. This will be quite different. we want to focus on the Celtic Heritage.

The felting workshop is a little more straight forward, just a new venue, Merion Mill, also in Dinas Mawddwy,  And then the third venture is still being worked on, this is offering weekend textile retreats at a venue near Machynlleth. As we are still putting these together I shall keep you all in suspense. It will be either stitching or felting, or even one of each!

So I hope all that will keep you going, I am off to Wonderwool in a couple of weeks so I will be full of new fibre and fleece. Can’t wait!

Landmark Arts

The gallery in Machynlleth.


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A drab January day. Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:04:05 +0000 I love a cold frosty, sunny winter’s day. Sparkle and bright all around. so the last week has been just a tad depressing. Grey, gloom, rain, mud. Wash the dogs, wash the towels, wash the floor. Yuk. Then one of the days last week I was out with Ellie,      ( Carlos is still on restricted exercise. He’s not happy!) , and realised that actually there is still some beautiful colours around even on a gloomy day.

There were red berries, glowing in the grey. The gorse is flowering, Such a vibrant yellow, and it makes good dye. Then when you look properly you realise just how many shades of green there are. Bright, yellow greens, soft muted ones. In fact the ,muted tones are really beautiful. Blackberry leaves are still about. The range of colour on them is amazing, purples, reds, bronzes.. And then even brown isn’t just brown’. Look at the dogwood, it’s red and copper, and orange. There are dark browns, beige browns, golden browns.

This drab walk was definitely improving.

That was just the woods, when we got out across the fields there were grasses covered in raindrops, like tiny baubles on a Christmas tree. I realised Ellie blends in beautifully, and everyone remarks on what a lovely colour she is. So that makes the colours of the fields lovely?

So the next time I start moaning about the grey and gloom I shall have go back to looking properly. I don’t know what I am going to do with all the ideas going round my head yet, but keep watching, some wintery ‘gloom’ may well be on the way.

The view at the tip of the hill.

Can we go home now please? One depressed dog!

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A tidy desk! Mon, 09 Jan 2017 16:28:01 +0000 To tidy or not to tidy!

In a former life I was a primary school teacher, my desk was tidy on the first day of term. After that it slowly deteriorated into a heap of books, papers, toys, pencils and anything else I was using that year. Once a term I would have a clear up, put things away, organise the papers and books into piles, and pass on anything that needed passing. This was my filing system, and it worked, colleagues would ask for things and I could deliver.

Then one term we were asked to assess all the children into different learning patterns, by using a computerised questionnaire. Apparently there are three ways of learning. Kinaesthetic (doing), Aural (listening), and Visual (sight).  Anyway we all did the test, me included. Unsurprisingly, I am a Kinaesthetic learner. I have to do things, even when I am listening I doodle or fidget. I hate going to the cinema, because I can’t do things while watching the film. It also means we do clutter, and untidiness rather well. Some of the children looked at my desk and fell about laughing!! Then I looked at some of their desks! We realised that some of this ‘quiz’ might have a point. They were 8-10 year olds and we really got into it. Discussing what worked for some, and why. They helped me with some of my planning so we could make sure that they all had elements to suit each group.

Although at the time I found the  test a bit irksome, it then intrigued me. It is a pity that it wasn’t followed through in schools more, the fact that we need to use a wide range of teaching strategies to allow everyone to learn. It’s talked about, but in general the current academic system suits visual and Aural learners.  Over the years I have also found it creeping into other situations, listening to Pete Mosley on a webinar, I had to send a comment, it just hit such a chord about these strategies. Then today I have joined a new Facebook group, on it they suggest tidying your desk. This will definitely work for some people, me? No. I need to see the threads and the colours to help my develop my work. Putting them away and thinking about them, means I will forget stuff. I start tidying, find things and go off on a tangent. I have lists everywhere! I am intrigued  to find out how other people react to the advice.

So people, please put your comments on. What do you think?

An envelope during a long telephone call!

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