Sheep Wool and Horsetail by Julie Turner

 

I decided to make the first nest out of some hand spun Ryeland wool yarn I had previously made from my son and daughter-in-laws pedigree Ryland flock. I chose to weave in a circle. I have several small looms for circle weaving but wanted this one to be bigger than any of them I had so I began to search for something I could use as a loom. I used a flan dish. By winding the thinner more even warp around and under using the grooves for placement this ‘loom’ was sturdy and ready to use. I used a thicker more textured handspun yarn for the weft, which gives it a rustic, natural look. Having done circle weaving before I know there is a tendency for the weaving not to lay flat but become bowl like if the weft is pulled too tight. With this in mind I began weaving the centre without pulling weft too tight to form a flat base for the nest. Once I was happy with that I pulled tighter on the rest of the weft as I wove to create a traditional nest like bowl. You can see the flat centre of the bowl showing in the picture before it was cut from the ‘loom’.

The weaving was then cut off the loom and as predicted the bowl shape appeared. I loosely knotted the warp threads in pairs with one next to the other and left them to hang. I like this look of the threads hanging. I decided to leave them like this for now and may reassess later in the project.

 

The next nest inspiration came from a charity shop find. I saw a metal basket and immediately pictured it holding a hammock style nest. Knowing I had a similar basket and some wool blanket lengths I had bought some time ago, I knew I had all the ingredients I needed. I cut the blanket lengths into strips after roughly measuring the length required and started to weave. At first the lengths were too long as the ‘hammock’ sat on the floor of the metal frame. I tied the ends in a loose knot which I felt did not enhance the design as it was too bulky. Therefore I cut the ends into 4 pieces to create a fringe around the edge. I also cut the lengths shorter at this stage so it floated above the floor of the basket. I am pleased with how this nest has turned out, and I love the fringe.

Whilst grooming my horse Harvey the other day I gave his tail a thorough brushing and as always happens some hairs came out on the brush. I put these loose hairs to one side whilst thinking about how I could incorporate them into a nest. Sat watching TV one evening I decided to finger crochet a single tail hair. Finger crocheting creates a chain of connected loops. I really liked the way the crocheted hair chain curls around in a spiral shape. I crocheted more and gathered a small pile. I’m not sure yet how I will create a nest from these beautiful twists of hair but for now I shall put them to one side until an idea or opportunity presents itself1-single-chain

 

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2-several-chains

 

A couple of weeks later an idea came to me in the form of a bag of potatoes! I decided to try to make a vessel using the mesh as a base and threading the crochet chains through it. I thought this might enable the delicate beauty of their finished form to still show whilst not being overpowered by the ‘holding’ vessel. I cut the mesh piece out of the bag. As it was loosely woven with raw edges it may have a tendency to fray so my first action was to turn under the edges and using a running stitch and horse tail for thread I secured these new hems. Then sewing the two short ends together I formed it into a tube. I added a bottom by cutting a circle in the same material and sewing it on. I then began attaching the crocheted horse tail hair chains by threading each end through a different place in the vessel ensuring the ‘loop’ of the chain was maintained. I felt this really showed off the beauty of the individual chains and was pleased with the outcome.

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2-mesh

3-mesh

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7-mesh

Since adding the initial first few horse hair crocheted chains I have added several more and really love the effect it gives. The soft chain of loops on the outside against the sharp straight hair ends of the centre. This nest, although beautiful does not look inviting to me. It looks sharp, pointy, hard and harsh. However it isn’t and the look denies the secure, comfy, practical and safe space it is. I have added a small duck egg to show that although the inside of the nest looks uninviting it is in fact very adequate as a nest and may in the wild serve to ward off potential predators.

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