Monthly Archives: September 2017

Rainbow socks

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I posted a picture of these socks while in progress on Instagram and a friend said that the word “lurid” came to mind.  Well, yes!  Nothing naturally dyed going on here.  She also asked if they were a statement on the times–for those outside Australia, our nation is currently debating whether the law should be changed so that people of the same sex can marry.  And despite the well-established reality that more than half the nation supports this change (as established by opinion polls) we are having an expensive but non-binding postal survey on the matter at the moment.  It has been a time of some very heart warming moments but also some thoroughly unpleasant public debate.

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I admit, I had not been thinking of that when I cast on.  But–really–my friend was right on both counts.  These socks are going to live with a friend whose favourite colour is lurid (bonus points for neon or dinosaur prints), who has been in a same sex relationship for over 20 years.  She isn’t enthusiastic about marriage, in the way that those of us who spend a lot of time thinking about the history of women’s rights, domestic violence and such like often aren’t.  Of course, we know people who have wonderful marriages.   But we’ve seen a lot of the ways that marriage can go wrong, and that sure makes marriage  as an institution less romantic.  We remember its role in treating women as property and limiting women’s rights to bodily autonomy, working rights, equal pay, voting rights, engagement in the economy and so much more.

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However–right here right now, for many people who support same sex marriage this is really a debate about whether everyone should have the same legal rights.  That’s a very easy question to my mind.

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Meantime, the socks are packaged up with laundry requirements and darning thread and ready to go to their new home.  I cannot control the national debate, but I can show the love to y near and dear and keep people’s toes warm in their gumboots, shoes and boots!

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Handmade plant dyed workwear

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On my little holiday in Allansford, I dyed up some knit silk and some silky merino from the Beautiful Silks odds and ends department–much better fun than the remnants at a big chain store.

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I had to do some creative work to find this entire garment from the pieces.  In the end, I settled on silk sleeves and a silky merino body.

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A friend agreed to take some pictures for me one day but she evidently couldn’t do anything about my embarrassment! And she offered the view that this top would work better if it were a little longer.  She may well be right.

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You can see I’ve got leaves running in one direction up my back and down the other… I just couldn’t get the pattern to fit any other way.  And–I’ve enjoyed wearing this most of the winter.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

A little light mending

In our house, one of us likes to hang onto things as long as possible and mend them as needed.  The other one is less enthusiastic about mending and naturally holds different opinions about which things are so special they should be mended rather than thrown away or repurposed.  This towel had lots of pile left on it but the selvedges had given way and frayed.  A lot. That was good enough for me!  I happened to have some binding left over from a previous such project and it was just the right amount for the job.  And now–no more frayed edges… and quite a pretty edge.

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Small projects, big plans

A while ago I went to The Drapery to buy zippers, and The Drapery is far more tempting to me than the chain alternatives, so I came away with a fat quarter (or something like that) of Liberty lawn.  My Mother-Out-Law loves Liberty prints, so I tried to inhabit her aesthetic and chose this one.  She is a rather petite woman, so I made four small handkerchieves and I am reliably informed that she loves them! Naturally (in her case–the other gift she enjoys is stationery) she sent me a lovely card, and observed that only another sewer would recognise the rolled hems as a special achievement.  I feel so lucky to have out-laws who are so kind and lovely.

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Then there was the very last of these bags.

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This time I chose madder and indigo dyed threads.

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The madder dyed silk in the centre of this circle was dyed at my house, (the madder and indigo purple by Beautiful Silks), and it is SO red!

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There have been other small projects piling up, but there has also been a development.  We went to the Royal Show again this year and Suffolks were the featured sheep breed.  This beauty evidently didn’t stand still (or perhaps it was me who did the wriggling).

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I tried to speak with breeders in hopes of acquiring a fleece and discovered again that I’m really quite shy.  My beloved was much better at it.  We spoke to breeders from WA and Tasmania who did not bring fleece, and then found one from Kangaroo Island who was happy enough to sell me a fleece if I was sure I wanted to spin from a meat sheep and did I realise this is sold as carpet wool? It’s so sad to think that the long history of this breed as a source of wool for specific uses such as socks, has been all but lost even among lovers of the breed.

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Malcolm called me on the weekend and we had a chat.  We agreed on one fleece and a price that I thought was too low, and what do you know?  I put one and a half times the price in an envelope and he delivered two fleeces, or is it three?  He threw in a “black” fleece because these sell for even less than the $3 or $4 per kilo that Malcolm gets for white Suffolk fleece.  Last night I skirted it at the Guild Hall and it is grey and dark brown, cream and white (I suspect, under the dirt).  I can only confirm that I won’t need another delivery in October: this is a LOT of wool.  I’ve never raised a sheep, and it’s entirely possible Malcolm doesn’t know how long it takes to spin sock yarn!  However, the fleece I skirted last night is lovely. I’ve had little access to Suffolk to date and spun what I had suspected was poor quality fleece with a very short staple.  This has a high crimp staple of at least 8-10 cm in places, and while the coloration lowers its value for industrial processing, for me it is a real asset.  I washed a small quantity before work this morning, I’m so keen to get spinning…

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Filed under Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

Garden colours jumper

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This is the Orphans for Orphans sweater from Knitting for Peace.  This is the third time I’ve knit this design and it is an ingenious, easy pattern that lends itself to wool in odd amounts and various colours.  This one is made from handspun local wool and dyed with plants from my garden: woad, coreopsis, eucalyptus, woad + coreopsis.

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Where the woad vat was running out, the natural grey of the wool shows through. I cast it on, on an excitable day of knitting confidence when I decided it would fit someone I know!  I think in fact the likeliest candidate is the daughter of the sweethearts who gave me Knitting for Peace. She is no orphan but a delightful and extremely well loved small human.  And if not her, then some other treasure…

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Sometimes it happens that I look at a random selection of yarns and suddenly see what it could become.  This was one such case.  It has some wonkiness to be going on with, but quite frankly, any jumper that isn’t wonky before it goes onto a small person hopefully becomes wonky through sheer activity soon afterward. I’m reliably informed that the recipient is a fine appreciator of knitwear and that she held it close all the way home.  That’s a lovely start!

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

The Island Book with India Flint

On the weekend I had the good opportunity (due to a cancellation) of being able to attend a workshop with India Flint at the Aldinga Eco-Village, exploring plant dyeing on paper and a book structure called the Island Book.

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In the beginning, there was poetry and chat, thread and tea and blank paper.

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Then there was some drawing with your non-dominant hand.  Well, personally, I was so overcome by DRAWING that I used my dominant hand and didn’t remember the non dominant part (and stuck with it when it was mentioned to me–you have heard my confession, friends).

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Then there was a mighty lot of embellishing and stitching and some distressing (of the paper and fabric, you understand–no salty tears involved).  There was mud in some cases.  And lunch, never forget lunch. Stone soup!

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Then, folding.

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Cutting and tearing and demonstration of other book structures.

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And then wandering and collecting plants to try out and cooking the books!  Finally, there was gleeful and cheerful wandering out into the world with damp books and our handmade tsunobokuro bags to wrap these or other treasures in. A glorious day all round, with thanks to the lovely Susan, our host and organiser!

 

 

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

New knitting bag

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I have ethical questions about cutting up garments at times.  For example, should I leave them in the op shop for someone who might use them as they are rather than treating them as raw materials?  Not to mention, how about using what I already have and not getting anything more, even second hand? I have to admit that other days I think about how much textile waste is thrown away in the overdeveloped world and think I should just go wild if I have a good idea.  But my ethical quibbles are completely swept away when I confront the bargain rack at the op shop, where things have failed to sell and the next stop is rags.  Which is how the linen jacket above (and a pair of jeans) came home with me a little while back. The jacket had clearly gone through the washing machine despite its dry clean only tag (I understand, dry cleaning is an evil chemical process and expensive as well), and the interfacing had not shrunk at the same rate as the linen.  And that, my friends, is how I found myself ripping an Armani suit into its component parts!

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This process entertained two friends who don’t share my fascination with garment construction mightily.  I’ve read about the signature Armani interior pocket in my wanderings through Threads Magazine.  And here it is!  Not to mention so much interfacing, of about five different types. In the end some of the jacket lining and the interior pockets became part of this lining.

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And the lining was set into an eco print on silk left from dye camp summer 2017.

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And finally, I have a new knitting bag.  I’ve lost one, and one needs comprehensive mending… and this one has luxury interior pockets for all my little stuff (stitch markers, needles).  I’m a happy knitter!  And the linen has hit a bucket of soy milk, the better to meet its new destiny.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing