August 29, 2016 · 4:05 pm
Remember this skein of hand spun sock yarn? Suffolk/mohair/silk, three ply.
It made a perfectly good cake. One day I cast on, on public transport. The train, evidently.
I forgot to take photos for quite some time the next thing you know, here I am ready to graft the toe of the first sock at a conference in Wellington, Aotearoa (New Zealand)!
Did I mention the wonderful beauty of Aotearoa?
And then… suddenly there were two. When I was part way through the second they were lost! Then found again by security and here was a happy reunion a few days later with great relief on my part.
And now I am preparing to make them into a nice little parcel for a friend with popsicle toes. With some hand twined silk string.
August 26, 2016 · 3:40 pm
The sun is out some days now, and I am well after quite a lot of winter snuffling, so I have been out in the neighbourhood.
I set out with 16 ruby saltbush seedlings. Some went in at the end of a street. First my friend stopped on his way to work and we had a chat about the risks to this patch when the Royal Show opens and pressure for car parking creates all manner of hazards for plants large and small. Their prospects have been much improved since we first put out plant protective bunting. Then I was hailed by a man who lives right at that end of the street. He has concerns about bad treatment of the plants and also about crime and drug taking, and shared them with me. Clearly his interventions have led to some of the recent changes in our area to close off access points to public land where it is clear some people are using after dark. He has been putting stakes beside some of my plantings and they are mostly thriving. So I tried to accentuate the positive and emphasise the long term nature of the project and how much better this part of the neighbourhood looks now than it did in the years before he moved in.
Then I moved around to a nearby reserve and planted the remainder of my seedlings in gaps left as other plants have died. I found a huge grub, something I see seldom these days. I remember as a child how exciting it was when Dad would dig one up, and he would put it on his spade and set it a little way off so that birds could come and eat it. I am glad some beetle will get to live here. I carefully put it back under some mulch out of the sight of passing birds. It looked succulent, even to my unwilling eyes.
But my main task was to tend to the sedges growing in this area.
There are lots of them growing beside a pedestrian and cycle path, but some of them have been faring badly in recent years after having been extremely healthy earlier in life.
Now that I have learned about these plants from the Ngarrindjeri Aunties, I understand that the way the council has treated these plants (a rough haircut 10 cm above ground every year) is probably killing them.
In some sad cases, only the root mass and a lot of dead sedge is left, but in others there is still a little foliage coming on. So I cleared away the dead to make way for the living.
Having had their lesson in how the plants spread I could see that some of the plants that are there now are new plants that have been sent out by some of those that are dead or perhaps dormant. In other cases, I hope that using the Aunties’ wisdom might let the old plant recover. Meantime my little sprouts are coming along and perhaps this is a place they can be planted eventually. Then, some rubbish collection and home again.
August 24, 2016 · 9:15 am
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…
August 22, 2016 · 2:36 pm
I realised a little late that I should have picked my woad earlier. But decided I had nothing to lose by picking it now.
Then the chopping…
Then the vat. How blue should the froth be, to be blue enough? These are the questions that plague my blue-dyeing!
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.
I ended up with some blue-pale blue-bluish wool.
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?
August 15, 2016 · 12:19 pm
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.
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.
I went out for a walk and then bundled up.
The bundles came out of the dye pot looking splendid.
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.
Here is the new turtleneck. I like it! If anything it is a little loose.
The red zipper works fine.
E Scoparia is in bud, which also works well.
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.
August 11, 2016 · 3:14 pm
So, I fell off the knitting handspun wagon a bit in Aotearoa and I have been itching to cast on.
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.
Pretty quickly, here I am at the train station knitting a thumb gusset anyway. Then, onto the second!
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..
And here they are ready for a short walk round to their new home.
Plain but stretchy and delightfully warm.
August 5, 2016 · 5:46 pm
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.
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.
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!
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…
Filed under Basketry, Spinning
Tagged as day lily
August 1, 2016 · 7:30 pm
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.
Here is the crop. Not too bad, but really, not a huge mass of roots.
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.
Then, out with the dye blender (my parents scored this for me in their travels through second hand shops)!
It went into the dye bath looking orange, but as I heated it, it became a deeper and deeper shade.
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!
My goodness! I think this is the red I have been promised from madder!
One skein dyed quite evenly and one streakily and both will be gorgeous in their own ways.
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!).