Category Archives: Knitting

Yarn bombing

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Sometimes a person spins a yarn but there isn’t anything sensible to knit it into.  Perhaps there isn’t really enough of it, or it was an experiment.  Or it’s badly spun.  or too… something… to ever be a garment.  This is banana fibre and wool dyed with madder exhaust, being knit on an evening in Warrnambool a while back. Not enough for anything I can think of.  What to do?  Well, the title of the post gave it away.

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I’ve been working my way through all kinds of leftover weirdness in my stash (and needless to say, creating more weirdness as I go).  One fine day over Easter I went for a walk with these.

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Here is the banana fibre.

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This is combing waste from spinning sock yarn.

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All those short ends and grass seeds, so troublesome in a sock, won’t bother anyone now! While I was applying this one to a pole, a local sculptor pulled up on his mozzie bike and had quite a chat about what I was doing and what he was doing and the importance of treating one’s neighbourhood as a shared place for beautification, care, thought and cleaning up.  I’d seen his sculptures around and he’d seen my “beloved tree” banners.  Now we’ve met.

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This is lock spinning over a core, leftover from knitting a tea cosy (another good use for weird wools). Now it is over by a tram stop.

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Badly spun coils that won’t hold together for long unless felted.

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Now adorning a pole… where they will felt in the weather.

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Core spinning–it made a great tea cosy, but there were just a couple of metres left!

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Indigo dyed carding waste.

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What even is that?? Well, now it’s a blur of colour as you ride your bike past!

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Leftover strips of indigo dyed worn out t shirts the main parts of which are slowly awaiting conversion to their next life (cut out and partly stitched).

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Close up…

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This one is at a tram stop.  I wonder how long it will last? Finding out is part of the fun of yarn bombing…

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Happy International Women’s Day!

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Happy international women’s day, my friends!  I am feeling grateful today for all the women who came before me and put in such hard work to see that future generations (me included) would have the benefit of the vote, the right to run for parliament, and something much closer to equal pay than they ever knew.  And access to the professions, and to choices about marriage and family life.  And education.  And meaningful responses to violence in all its forms.  And so much more!

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These images are of two of the champions of women;’s rights in my own little part of the world, Mary Lee and Dame Roma Mitchell.  I am celebrating today by going to sing I Can’t Keep Quiet in the International Women’s Day March.  We did a lovely flashmob a few weeks back with MILCK’s song, so some of us have practised up!  And in preparation for today, I knit some pussy hats.  I began with cochineal dyed wool.  I had been wondering when I would ever use it, and recognised this as the time!

Soon, I was off!

I decided to knit my pussy hats in the round, because, you know.  That’s how I roll on anything that could be knit in the round, and I’m not afraid to graft (Kitchener stitch).

Knitting while blogging?

Knitting on the train, because I usually do.  I just kept churning them out until I ran out of wool. Then I had some pinky purple-y handspun and it was a faster knit than the 8 ply (DK) commercial wool.  Finally, I had 4 pussy hats and a lot of conversations with people about what I was knitting that led to raised eyebrows and then conversations about contemporary politics and the inappropriateness of bragging about sexual assault.  I popped them in the mail to an Education Union in Victoria that was calling out for women to wear them in their IWD march.  I’m a member of a different education union, so that seemed completely appropriate to me.  I hope some women in Victoria will be stepping out in handmade pussy hats tonight and feeling fine!

 

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Possum wool socks

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These socks, made from possum wool purchased in Aotearoa/New Zealand, began slowly and suddenly leapt forward when I travelled to Sydney for a family occasion and then a holiday in December.  I think the slowness was due largely to the loss of the previous sock in progress, needles and all. It somehow made me feel like I might be losing my capacities in some way, rather than seeming like an unfortunate accident.  I can’t say why I adopted this kind of interpretation but I hope to get over it!

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Here is the first sock, in the very incongruous setting of a public lecture theatre at Sydney University.  It is in an old building and has all wood seating, all wooden desks and steeply raked benches with wooden doors.  But of course it also now has fluorescent lighting and computer projection screens.  Outside I wandered off and away past beautiful Moreton Bay fig trees.

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Here is the sock in progress beside the beach at Coogee.

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And here is a (random, bonus) rainbow lorikeet in Sydney, sighted when I was out for a run.  I am not sure if this one was feeling bold or sleepy, but after all the times I have tried to photograph one of these birds and barely succeeded in getting a blur in the distance… here it is!

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Some weeks later…

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Here they are in all their dark chocolate brown glory, ready for the feet of my beloved, when the summer ends and the autumn begins to ebb. She tried them on, the day I handed them over (yes, it was 41C) and they came off again pretty fast!!!

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Turquoise socks

Back in the middle of the year, I invested in possum wool sock yarn. I have been knitting away… though I must admit the experience of losing the last pair on public transport has had me fretful for my own carelessness! The second pair are blue.  I clearly didn’t take any really early pictures.

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But here we are on a houseboat, where friends have been working on (above) tea and treats and (below) a puzzle.  I’ve finished the first sock and here is the ball that is to become the second sock.

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The pattern is what my dear friend has named ‘whimsical cabling’.

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To put it another way, I cable when I feel like it, in whichever direction seems like a good idea at the time. 2016-12-08-11-40-03

And now these socks are off to Denmark, where it is heading into winter as we enter into summer.  The world is a rather amazing place…

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Alas, the red socks!

Once upon a time, I cast on a lovely pair of red socks, from possum wool.  They had an intended recipient and unusually, I had told her they were coming.

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Here we are on the way to work on the bus. I am known to some in my workplace as the parsley fairy.

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Here they are on the way to the Newcastle Local Court, out of focus on the window ledge of the plane.  And then, one day I went to a long series of meetings and was one and a half socks in, past the heel and on the home strait toward the toe… I remember seeing the bag with the socks in it on my office desk and thinking I should pack that to take home.  I caught an usual series of public transport home, and when I stopped to change from bus to tram and the tram was late, I got out my knitting.  Well, I would have, but it was GONE!!!!  I know you will understand I hunted high and low and contacted several different possible places a lost sock might be handed in.  But I think I have to face the fact that my one and a half socks, wool, needles and bag… are GONE to who only knows where?  But quite likely, somewhere where those socks will not be completed or warm anyone’s toes, sadly.

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Knitting Nannas & Skills fest

I interrupt the regular diet of guerilla planting round here lately, to mention an upcoming event that local folks may wish to attend and people further afield may enjoy hearing about:the famous Knitting Nannas Against Coal Seam Gas (Fracking to some) are coming our way!

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These women are my kind of crafters… they came to the Newcastle Local Court to support those of us arrested at the Break Free protests against fossil fuels recently and I had a great chat with a Knitting Nanna.  I was knitting a sock, which impressed her, and she was a Knitting Nanna who is not a grandmother and can’t knit, which impressed me!  The Knitting Nannas are active all over the country wherever fossil fuel extraction threatens waterways, agricultural land and the climate.  They work with Lock the Gate (to oversimplify, farmers and rural people against fracking).  And for those wondering why the fuss about fossil fuels, I’ll summarise a bit more, on a day where we are facing a once in 50 year weather event right here at home and floods threaten houses on our quiet street for the second time in two weeks.  If we want a viable climate for the future, and we don’t want an escalation in droughts, floods, tornadoes and extreme weather in general, we have to stop taking fossil fuels (coal, gas and such) out of the ground and burning them.  The clock is ticking faster and faster and reaching even the targets agreed at Paris is fast becoming unrealistic. If you’d like more information, here is a very bracing, readily understood summary by Bill McKibben.  If thinking about climate change scares the wits out of you and you need some help with your despair, try Rebecca Solnit on optimism, first.

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And, while we are on the theme of Nannas, it seems that grandparents are the new black!  I taught mending at this event a few weeks back and it was such a pleasure.  I also joined my friend (below) who spent hours teaching small people how to sew a button on.  I was just astonished how many small people wanted to learn from us.  But my friend had such a winning strategy, opening with, ‘You get to choose which button, what colour of thread, and which piece of fabric’!  I followed her lead (she really is a Grandma, and clearly the best sort) and taught quite a few young ones how to sew on a button… and some came back for a second one.  Then my friend would finish up with explanations of how that button-on-fabric could become a brooch… a patch… a feature on your t shirt…

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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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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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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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Work still in progress

Since I last wrote there has been sleeve knitting in an airport.

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Followed by sleeve knitting on a plane.

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Followed by good times with fellow knitters and crocheters who also happen to share my kind of day job and therefore shared a conference I’ve been at… and this meant I brought hand spun wool plain and strange to share.

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Some of it has already had a crochet hook applied to it and been turned into a substantial amount of shawl/cowl…

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Meanwhile, sleeves united with body far from home (and on the twelfth floor)!

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That moment when you decide to graft the seam between sleeve and body together…

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And a certain amount of visiting yarn shops.  My commitment to knitting handspun may have weakened a little… but as you can see, I’ve made quite a bit of handspun knitting progress.  So much that I may need to spin more grey yarn when I get home to finish this little treasure…

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