Mending in Adelaide this weekend…

This time, a little invitation to come and join me at a skill share where I will be teaching mending this weekend.  The event is up on facebook for all comers and runs 11-3 at the Migration Museum in the city.  There are lots of people involved including the famous (and fun) Costa Georgiadis from Gardening Australia.  I’ll be teaching mending from 1.45-2.45 and there will also be an informal knitting circle.  So much fun to be had.  Bring your mending and join me if you fancy it… goodness knows I have more skills in mending than being a grandma, but I am proud to be counted among the grandmas of the world even for a day…

Grandma skill share

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Woad in winter

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I realised a little late that I should have picked my woad earlier. But decided I had nothing to lose by picking it now.

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Then the chopping…

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Then the vat. How blue should the froth be, to be blue enough? These are the questions that plague my blue-dyeing!

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Eventually, I had a vat. The wool came out the same colour it was when it went in. The second vat had a lot more leaf to the same volume of water.

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I ended up with some blue-pale blue-bluish wool.

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And some silk thread that is more of a silver grey.  I swear it was blue after the second vat, but either subsequent re-dips stripped the colour back out, or it was fugitive.  Or I dreamed it. Well, they do say that woad doesn’t bear much indigotin, and harvesting in winter is not ideal.  But, am I allowed to be a bit disappointed anyway?

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Filed under Natural dyeing

Milky merino and eucalyptus turtleneck

I was so excited by my recent winter wardrobe success, that I decided to go again.  So I made another turtleneck using the same pattern from milky merino.  This time, I made it longer than required. I’ve had serious shrinkage with this fabric–whether it was my carelessness or the fabric is yet to be clarified. I expect it was my carelessness… This time I used a red zipper from the stash, which looked pretty amazing on the undyed item, but apparently I took no photos. And either I followed the instructions on the pattern (just for something completely different), or perhaps it was luck, but zipper insertion went smoothly.

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Then I decided to sort out one of my spencers (long sleeved underwear for warmth). It shrank in dyeing as well as being perhaps a little short to begin with. It rides up, the reverse of what clothing worn for warmth should do.  So I added some serious length to it.  I love the dyeing on this garment–details here.  But it just wasn’t working for its intended purpose.

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I went out for a walk and then bundled up.

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The bundles came out of the dye pot looking splendid.

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The spencer came out a very good length and is much more useable.  I did prefer the print before, but this one is pretty lovely too.

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Here is the new turtleneck.  I like it!  If anything it is a little loose.

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The red zipper works fine.

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E Scoparia is in bud, which also works well.

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I tried a different folding strategy.  I love the colour and pattern, less sure about the location.  And now I am happily wearing my new top for the rest of the cold weather.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Warm hands, warm heart

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So, I fell off the knitting handspun wagon a bit in Aotearoa and I have been itching to cast on.

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I couldn’t wait and chose these aluminium dpns because I enjoy them in their shiny blueness so much.  Then I, umm, free associated a pattern for some hand warmers. I realised when I reached the thumb gusset that I had given away the book I consulted last time I created a thumb gusset.

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Pretty quickly, here I am at the train station knitting a thumb gusset anyway. Then, onto the second!

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Some small crimes were committed in knitting the second and I had to rip it back and go again… so here is the second on a train..

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And here they are ready for a short walk round to their new home.

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Plain but stretchy and delightfully warm.

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Spinning day lily leaves into string

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I was looking for something else in my room the other day when I saw this home made seed envelope and wondered what was in it.  Imagine my surprise when I found shells and pieces of shell all with holes in them.  Just the kind of thing I wanted to spin onto string.  It quite revived my interest in spinning string on my spinning wheel.

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I put day lily leaves on to soak this time, the whole of the crop of spent leaves from my day lily for the year. Then  the spinning began.

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This time, I decided I wouldn’t ply. I liked my iris leaf string better before it was plied.  I also decided not to clip all the ends.  They are softer and less numerous and I decided I quite like them this time!

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Well. That’s one of my show entries sorted.  And a wild, strange looking thing it is. Now for the others!  I have some effort to put in and a bit of focus is going to be required if I am to submit them all…

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Filed under Basketry, Spinning

Madder: the growing and the dyeing

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I have been growing madder for some years now without having enough to use for dye. It had to be transplanted when we moved house.  Then, I heard so much about how invasive it can be, I planted it in a half wine barrel and it really hasn’t enjoyed this spot.  I think people who find it invasive must have more rainfall or better watering practices, or perhaps all of the above and better soil. Then, it is amazing how many critters want to eat it despite the leaves being the texture of rough sandpaper!  I decided to divide and transplant finally.

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Here is the crop. Not too bad, but really, not a huge mass of roots.

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My beloved put three new garden beds in that will get dependable summer watering and generously agreed to one of them being a dye bed. When I had divided one of the rhubarb plants, re planted the resulting crowns and set out the new madder bed, I had a few roots left. I consulted my various manuals and washed the roots.

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Then, out with the dye blender (my parents scored this for me in their travels through second hand shops)!

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It went into the dye bath looking orange, but as I heated it, it became a deeper and deeper shade.

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At this stage, I put some silk embroidery thread in, in a zippered mesh pouch that has seen a lot of dye baths since it left the Body Shop and ended up empty in an op shop (and thence came home with me). This turned out not to be enough to keep out all the particles of madder!

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My goodness! I think this is the red I have been promised from madder!

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One skein dyed quite evenly and one streakily and both will be gorgeous in their own ways.

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After this point, I strained the dye bath through two layers of nylon next curtain, added mordanted grey fleece and got the kind of orange that madder often gives in an exhaust (to me, at any rate).  And now, I can’t wait to see if I can really get this madder thriving!  For other bloggers whose madder growing and dyeing is inspirational I suggest An Impartation of Colour and Jenny Dean and Deb McClintock (so many posts to read from Deb!).

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Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing

Hand spun, naturally dyed, hand knit and finished

I have finally finished the colourwork jumper.

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The design includes beets from Kate Davies‘ Beet Heid tam. It’s a variation on her Neep Heid pattern.  I love her designs, though to be honest I can’t picture myself personally wearing many of them (which is just not the same question).  And, I tend to knit simple. I am a long time reader of her blog: she is a lovely writer too.  But this application of her design is all my own strange idea, with the jumper knit–or at least I tried to knit–to measurements from one of the recipient’s hoodies. I see on Ravelry that one person has been moved to knit a neep cardigan, and there are a massive number of tams too, neep-, beet-, acorn- and radish-heids among them.

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I’ve knit this jumper for my fairy goddess son, who is a true admirer of gardening, vegetables in general and beetroots very much included. Those who are curious about the dyeing can find a bit of a summary here.

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He is a lover of colours too, and when asked his favourite colour in my hearing at any time, has responded ‘the rainbow!’ with a huge grin.  I knit this jumper from the fleece of a sheep called Viola and all these colours are from plants with the exception of the deep beet colour and the pink, from cochineal. I admit this rainbow is not exactly classic in colour and the woad colours are very pale in the zone of blue and indigo!

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I loved having so many colours to play with but took advice from one of my knitting companions in Wellington and kept the neck and shoulders simple.

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I dealt with the maths of the pattern repeat with some simple patterning under the sleeves.

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And now that it’s finished, I can give in to the urge to cast on all the small projects!

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Train station plantings

I finally decided to plant out the Eucalyptus Scoparia I manged to grow from seed.  I have been planting out an area near the railway line for some time now and it has gone from bare and weedy to bushy and well covered. There is plenty of protection for a tiny tree now!

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I planted some more ground covers and was surprised to find that the seafoam statice that had been doing so well there had vanished, with some holes left behind.  I hope it has been dug out and replanted somewhere where it was wanted.

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The E Scoparia went in behind a bench where I’m hoping it will be safe to grow.

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Later in the day I headed over to a new place I have been thinking over.  It is a barren space adjoining the railway station in my neighbourhood, with an open drainage route running through it.  I have been wondering whether the rushes might grow in the drainage channel, which is quite mossy in places at this time of year. I thought I’d start with the sides of the space though.

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I took over some native pigface (Carprobutus glaucescens) which has grown readily from cuttings, some saltbush, a hop bush and a eucalypt (unknown species).

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In they went.  There was some soil here and a lot of sandy unpromising material as well.

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And, there was so much broken glass.  It looks to me as though someone/s must have had fun smashing bottles against the bridge walls here at some point.  So I collected all I could.

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I took my haul of rubbish home and tucked the rusty wire into my iron water jar for later use in dyeing.

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

Winter wardrobe: from white to wow!

Before I went to Mansfield (… a year ago!) I cut out a long sleeved knit top.  The last one I made, a few years back, was nibbled by moths before I even sewed it together, so this one has been safely in a ziplock bag for its quiet year in pieces.IMAG2026

In the end, it took me only an evening to sew it together.  Why did I wait so long? Last time, I had a lot of trouble with this top and hand finished a lot of it, hand inserting the zipper and hand sewing the hems. I think I was a bit intimidated by the job, sorry to admit.  This time it all came together on the machine although the zipper is not lying terribly flat.

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Next morning, I was out in search of dye plants and visited one of my favourites (E Scoparia). The whole time I was collecting leaves I could hear clicking and popping sounds.  Eventually I realised there was a rosella (maybe more than one) very high up–more than 10 metres up) in the sugar gums on the other side of the street, nibbling on the gumnuts and then letting them fall onto the surface of the road (so that was beak clicking and the popping sound of gumnuts dropping on the hard surface)!

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There has been so much wind and rain I hardly needed to cut anything from this tree.  I have learned enough to be able to pick the leaves of this tree out from all the others in the gutter (which I could not always do dependably in the past–I have learned some things!)IMAG2039

Deciding how to fold and wrap is always intriguing…

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In the end I decided to dye a woven wool scarf at the same time. I spent time with a friend I don’t see very often recently and thought I might send her a gift. This will be part of it if it turns out well enough! I tucked some more leaves from my stash of dried leaves into the dye bath.

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I love the transformation… and wish I could be more patient…

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And I love the outcome!  Here is the front…

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Here is the back… (the zipper looks pallid now but it was what I had, recycled and saved).

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This has motivated me to make another, as my stock of winter warm work clothes is becoming pilled and threadbare, and I’ve had some lovely encouragement from friends lately.  Sometimes I think it is a shame I can’t get away with just wearing the same thing every day, as my tendency is clearly to make the same thing over and over again…

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Filed under Eucalypts, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

Winter planting

Once I got started on the rushes, I wanted to keep planting and there have been some breaks in the rain.  Today I noticed a leak from one of our rainwater tanks.  It was near the top, from the overflow pipe, suggesting there is water up above the overflow outlet in that tank which is struggling to escape.  That has never happened before, and is evidence of HOW MUCH RAIN we have had.  You know what I’m saying: planting time is upon us.

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Here is my bike trailer load of plants bound for a bed alongside the tram stop on the nearby main road.  When I got there, there was another woman already at work cleaning up, who said she picks rubbish up there twice a week (she also cleared the paving and all manner of improvements).  She was impressed that I was doing my own planting and propagating and suggested I might want to join the adopt a station programme, which apparently provides plants.  Clearly she works up and down the pubic transport corridor, because she knew the best planted stations, where work for the dole are active and where the lavender is growing so well anyone could pick it. It was fun speaking with another close observer of these often unloved spaces.  She had noticed the reduction in rubbish and weeds from my efforts!

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This time I had rhagodias from my generous friend (this is a sandy site where I hope they will do well), creeping boobialla that has come on strong since the cuttings went in months back; some little wattles and yet more ruby saltbush.

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I put them up into the bed and climbed up after them.

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In they went!

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There are previous plantings that look dead in these beds, but perhaps they will come back… and in among them, there were some struggling knobby club rushes and…

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Can you tell?  In the foreground, a small patch of the Ngarrindjeri weaving rushes!

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In the meantime, I finished all my grey handspun in an airport a few days back and I am now creating more so I can finish! More soon… it would be so good if this jumper could be complete before the cold weather passes!

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Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures, Spinning