When I was preparing for the natural dyeing workshop I ran recently, I mordanted a lot of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn as well as some handspun in small skeins–25g or less. Having all those small skeins of different colours in alpaca and wool and mohair, activated my imagination. Eventually it led to this…
These are madder-tipped, logwood-stemmed crocheted coral thingummies, inspired by Loani Prior’s ‘coral punk’. When I say ‘inspired by’, let me confess. I bought her beautifully designed and entertaining book Really Wild Tea Cosies with a Christmas book voucher I was given. So I had the pattern. But even though only one, basic, crochet stitch was involved, my crochet skills are decidedly remedial and I don’t happen to have a crochet instructor on tap.
I turned to Maggie Righetti’s book Crocheting in Plain English (I don’t have the new revised edition, needless to say). Apparently sometimes I just can’t believe what I am reading… or perhaps I just don’t understand on the first eight passes. I see students I teach with the same difficulties! By the time I had finished this tea cosy and started on the next, I’d managed to figure out that I wasn’t doing what Loani Prior must have believed was involved in the one stitch involved in her cosy. Luckily for me crocheting badly still produces a fabric of a sort. I also figured out that for me, improvising a knit version of the pot cover itself was going to beat freeform crocheting one as the pattern suggests with my inadequate skill set. So that’s what I did, and Loani Prior shouldn’t be held responsible for the outcome. I like it anyway.
It has highly entertained people who watched me crocheting coral at parties (as one does) as well as those who have seen the finished object, many of whom thought immediately of a sea anemone.
Let it be said that at present coral punk is not alone. Here is the present plain Jane of the tea cosy selection at our place: yellow from silky oak leaves and orange from eucalyptus–with the felted blobs spun into the yarn. Pattern improvised. Luckily, tea pots are just not that fussy about how you clothe them.
I’ve been branching out and using up some particularly strange art yarn spinning experiments. This next one is commercially dyed mohair with silk curricula cocoons spun onto it. Scratchy for a head, perfect for a teapot! I was surprised how many people liked the look of the ‘hat’ emerging as I knit this at a picnic, riffing off Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Cozy. Once again, that is to say, dispensing with the pattern when it became inconvenient. I guess the hat admirers hadn’t felt the yarn yet.
And for anyone who is wondering, I have continued to dye with the logwood exhaust from the dyeing workshop. I ran out of yarn for a while and dyed two, 200g lengths of merino roving. This morning I pulled out another 100g of superwash yarn. I think it might be just about done, and I only wish I had kept a record of the weight of fibre that has been dyed with what was a small quantity of logwood in the beginning! This weekend, the second in a series of two natural dyeing workshops. I’d better eat my crusts and get my beauty sleep in preparation.