Monthly Archives: June 2017

Guerilla gardening

I’ve been returning slowly and carefully to the garden in our backyard as well as the bigger one of the suburb.  I’ve been gradually weeding a little patch near a culvert, where some earlier plantings are beginning to gain in size and I am keen to stay ahead of the poisoner, who may visit at any time.

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This time, I put in some grey-leaved bladder saltbush, using the places where weeds are coming up as a guide to where they might be able to grow.

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Then I moved to a fence alongside the same culvert but on the other side of a path.  I plated some hop bushes here, in a place where there used to be some fine trees that were cut down just the other side of the fence.  It’s a bare, neglected place now.  As trains pull up at the station beside me on mornings when I work here I often wonder what the driver thinks, whether they even notice, and whether to wave!

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And–my old favourite, ruby saltbush, also planted along the fence line.  If these beginners make it, perhaps I can plant some trees here in time to come.  I picked up leaves that were forming drifts in the bed of the culvert and used them to mulch the little plants, because while it’s midwinter here now, summer is coming, the season of drying and crisping.

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

Striped jumper for a fairy goddess-son

In a development that I could not have predicted, I have been recruited onto the English translation team for a Danish knitting business that specialises in knitting and embroidery kits.  A friend who now lives in Denmark was doing some of the translation and they were looking for an English speaking knitter. This is about as far from local and bespoke as it is possible to get! Anyway–it has led to my receiving knitting kits from Kit Couture.  This is my first effort: the Sotra Pullover.

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Well.  There was knitting the body on the way home from my folks’ place (by train) with a bag full of mandarins and mutant spring onions bigger than some leeks I’ve met from their garden.

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I forgot everything I knew about knitting jogless jogs (making the transition from one stripe to another less visible) and dropped all the joins back to try again at one point.  Then faced the reality that the wearer will not notice, and even if he noticed, would not care.  I managed to knit the ends in and was not facing hours of darning in ends at the end of all those stripes.  Thank you, Kaffe Fassett.  One of Kaffe’s books was the place I learned this was possible, and this is the place I have really used this strategy to the maximum.  This is one of the reasons I read knitting books: the real gift from a book may not be a pattern you knit from it!

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Here I am knitting a sleeve in public somewhere with my grease marked backpack as an aesthetically questionable backdrop.

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The exciting moment when I joined sleeves to body the night before and am preparing to take the whole thing to work so I can knit on the train, in a seminar and then in the bus home again… that blue patch at the top is the indigo and woad dyed bag the jumper is going into.

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My fairy goddess-son is perfect in every way, but evidently not quite the same shape as the models in Copenhagen.  So this version is a Frankenfit in which I am knitting the 4 year old size in width and the 10 year old size (and then some) in length.

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It is approximately the opposite situation to the Frankenfit necessary for me to use a Vogue pattern, in which it has always been the case that the Vogue Body and my body are not very similar.

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The colours are rather lovely, I think.  This experience has made me realise that I usually confront a lot more choices and decisions when making a jumper.  My handspun is not always even, not always one of the routine thicknesses for which knitting patterns are made, not the colours in anyone’s picture, and I often design my own jumpers.  This has its upsides and joys, but there was something differently gleeful about only having to figure out how to make width and length come together (not too challenging).  And–Kit Couture’s pattern was designed to be knit from the bottom up, seamlessly and in the round.  One of the ways I prefer to knit. Fantastic.

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The day we celebrated solstice with many friends, it finished blocking and drying. I tied it with handmade string, packed it into a bag for safekeeping, and handed it over.  I think it worked out pretty well, and my very dear goddess-son looks right at home in it…

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Filed under Knitting

‘Standing here’ public art installation: be in it!

Dear friends, I have had an invitation to be part of a natural dyeing arts project–so I am writing to invite you to join me in participating!  If you’d like to follow me on instagram (and see my square when I post it there), I’m @localandbespoke on Instagram.

The invitation comes from Jenai Hooke, who was the indigo dyeing tutor at Summer Dye Camp.

All Natural Dyers are invited to be part of this Art Installation
  • Create 30x30cm square of naturally dyed material.
  • Take a Photo of you and your work tag @thetreeplace #treeplace on facebook or instagram.
  • Post your squares by 28th July 2017 to: Tree Place, PO Box 1336, Noosaville, Qld 4566 AUSTRALIA
The squares  will be joined together and hung as part of the Sunshine Coast Horizon Festival (24 Aug – 4 Sept) at the USC Sunshine Coast Piazza – 90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs. The Art Installation created is entitled “Standing Here”. This is a beautiful installation comprising of 1200’s naturally dyed squares of fabric. Bringing together the natural dyeing work from communities around Australia. This sustainable installation is facilitated by Indigo Dyer Jenai Hooke and Natural Plant Dyer Anne Harris, celebrating trees and their connection to people and place. The story of the flags can be viewed @thetreeplace #treeplace www.treeplace.com.au/events for more information. 

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Filed under Natural dyeing

Another Wanderlust bag

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will not be surprised that I was unable to stop at two of these bags.  The pattern is ‘The Wanderlust Bag’ from The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar.

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I’ll be honest with you, I often find the projects included in dyeing and other craft books tedious.  It seems as though there is a publishing requirement to include them, but often they are uninspiring to me.  I guess this makes me an outlier as a reader of such books: I am sure publishers do market research on these things.  This pattern, though… oh my goodness.  It’s love for me.  Vejar has an entirely different dyeing strategy modelled in this project but I am sure she would be untroubled by my putting her design to alternative naturally dyed use.

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I have been trying to work my way to the bottom of the zipper collection.  I used all those suitable to this project and… had to go and buy more rather than stop or use the bright purple ones.  Where did they come from?? (The likely answer is, the op shop–possibly in the 1980s when I did sew purple things quite a bit). Apparently stopping was not an option either.  Prepare for more photos soon, because I am amassing a collection, and I am not bored in the slightest….

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Handspun, hand dyed, handknit socks

Some time back, I embarked upon creating sock yarn from scratch, beginning with scouring, dyeing and combing raw local Suffolk fleece. If you missed the early, exciting stages (yes, that is a joke!) here is a post about the woolHere is one of multiple dye adventures. And the spinning went on at intervals over some months.  It’s hard to make incremental progress in spinning fun with photos!

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Here is the first sock being knit at a coffee shop after exercise class, overseen by a dog.

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Here is the second sock, almost done on the weekend when I cooked for many friends planting 500 trees on land two of our friends (and their two children, as they grow) are reclaiming, rehabilitating and revegetating with a degree of  care, thought, vision and commitment that is awesome to behold.  I was just too scared of back re-injury to plant.  So made myself a bit useful kitchen handing.  In between times, I knit and chatted with small folk.  I even did the hilarious feat of walking while knitting.

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It was hard to photograph the socks really well.  But there are some nice colours in there!

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And I am a sucker for the ingenuity of the heel arrangement.  The socks have whimsical cables, which puzzled some onlookers and delighted others.  And they are in no way twins, which likewise puzzled and affronted some while pleasing others very much. I’ll be honest, this is not exactly what I intended. But you know–they are fine! And headed to a happy new home as I type.  They will be snug, and hopefully, made as they are from a suffolk/silk/mohair blend and dyed with plants and cochineal–strong and colourful both.  And–there is enough for another pair, perhaps with a toe that, in this context, will not stand out if knit from a different yarn altogether–the finished socks weigh 101g and 89g remains…

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing