I have this blanket. It doesn’t have a family history of emotional attachment; I found it in an op shop. I can’t say what made me bring it home, it’s quite a strong shade of orange which isn’t entirely lovely. It’s not in good repair. It has fade lines from being left out in the sun too long on a washing line. Some of its stitching had come undone when I brought it home. Moths (well, moth larvae) had nibbled on it before it came to my house.
In a way, it is even more odd that I feel driven to mend this thing. The holes are small enough they they will not lead to unravelling or any serious consequence. I want to mend them anyway. My beloved offered me a robust critique of this project one night recently, and there wasn’t a thing she said, that I didn’t accept. Yet, I started mending it in 2015. I notice in that post I think the blanket is rather lovely! Apparently I have been less sure of its loveliness recently… but no less attached to it.
These holidays, I sat the sewing kit on my bed and mended a few more holes each day until I had a big evening session and finally mended all the little holes the moths left. Things I’ve noticed: how lovely it is working with the silk embroidery thread from Beautiful Silks, and in colours I’ve dyed with plants. That I have settled on the number of strands I like using best. That my sense of how to use thread, and how to work with colour, has changed. How comfortable I feel with these odd little grids in mismatched colours sprinkled over my blanket. How confident I feel that this blanket and I will spend many more years together, and maybe in that time, there will be more mends, or simply more stitching. So I guess the reality is that this blanket from the op shop now does hold emotional resonance of some kind, even if it’s hard to say exactly what or why. It’s a blanket, after all. I don’t really feel like there has to be an accounting for these things. Though I like its warmth very much when the season calls for it.
We visited a friend recently and of course, I was knitting away as we chatted. I explained about the tuff socks naturally project and she brought out her entire sock drawer in which there were quite a few pairs knit by my own hands, some of which I don’t remember knitting! There was just one hand spun pair, and they were quite recent. Here they are finished in mid 2017. They look very lightly worn indeed though she assures me she has been wearing them. No signs of wear at all on this as-yet-young pair of tough knits. Hopefully that speaks to the qualities of a suffolk/mohair/silk blend…
While I was on holiday, I finished sewing a batch of needle books made from scraps of blanket dyed with various plants. Now they are waiting to become part of mending kits!
We spent Christmas with my beloved’s family and my daughter in Melbourne. We were in Melbourne, so yarn bombs were to be expected, but this one on a major city street was a serious commitment, with lace and cables and a a lot of pom poms, offering the colours of the rainbow. maybe it was someone’s statement on the whole same sex marriage debate our country has all too recently been having?
I did not expect to be surrounded by dye plants! There were dye eucalypts all round where we were staying: E Cinerea, E Sideroxylon, and even more exciting, E Polyanthemos! Also, rhagodia in fruit.
Even more exciting still, Indigofera Australis, and a lot of it. I just had no way to dye with any of it in the time we were there. I just had to be content with admiration.
…some more fat yarns spun from the fleece of a sheep called Lentil, which have now gone to their new home with a friend who likes to knit fat yarns. Plus some yarn that had been dyed in a very weak vat of indigo or woad at some time in the past, now a soft green with some help from soursobs (oxalis), a common weed here.
There was a very exciting moment in the garden last week. I was digging out madder roots hoping to create enough space to plant Japanese indigo seedlings (as you do). I found a substantial chrysalis and moved it out of harm’s way. Then a bit later, a movement caught my eye, and a large moth was emerging from the chrysalis right before my eyes. What a privilege! Naturally I wasn’t going to waste the madder root. I had some wool cold mordanting in a bucket, so I processed the roots and created a vat. While I was at it, I did the same with the carrot tops from our farmers’ market.
I ended up with quite a red colour from the first madder bath and two orange shades from the exhaust baths, as well as a nice yellow from the carrot tops.
Plus, the joy of watching the moth emerge. I think it might be a native hawk moth. Back in this post, I found I rather wonderful caterpillar in the madder, and I have found them several times since. I’ve also seen similar chrysalises (?) in the garden. Pisstkitty, a generous and regular reader thought it might be a native hawk moth, Hippotion scrofa, the Coprosma hawk moth. I thought she was right then, and I think this is the moth form of the same creature. Glorious.
I keep forgetting, or simply not finding the time to post. Apologies, gentle readers. I’ve needed the making more than I’ve been inclined to post about it this last while. But I’ve been spinning Malcolm’s Kangaroo Island “black” Merino cross (left), and leftover batts of local Finn cross (right) and clearly there was a day when they posed with leaves and flowers…
When we were at Marion Bay (cough) I carded a lot of wool, and did some blending.
But I’ve also spun up all manner of wool dyed previously, including the last of the earth palette dyed wool. There was a request for bulky yarn from one friend in particular. She’s managing the state of the world by knitting a lot of beanies and gauntlets. So I sent more yarn. And there was some very pale woad dyed wool that went into a vat with soursobs I weeded at someone else’s house.
But the big excitement is the Suffolk/Silk/Kid Mohair blend for #tuffsocksnaturally. The last of which is in the dyepot with some leaves on the day I am drafting this post. To be continued…
The leafy log cabin workshop went ahead recently, and it was a lovely day of stitching, dyeing, company and cake. So much cake! I took one photo near the start…
And one photo of a silk bag at the end.
Evidently, I didn’t take any in between! I dyed a lot of fabric in advance of this workshop, so I’ve had a lot of fun with it already. I had a surprise success in getting green from maple leaves. Kangaroo Paw prints was another happy surprise outcome. And I have what are sure to be the first of many more leafy log cabin blocks. It was great fun watching what other people made with some of the fabric I’d dyed (and in some cases, fabric they had dyed), and their own big imaginations. I was very struck by how many others expressed what I often feel: reluctance to use beautiful materials. Wanting to start with whatever is leftover or unwanted. Patchwork is a bit of a happy place for people who have this orientation toward using things up, I think.
And as well as the pleasure of spending time with lovely women, sewing and sharing and exploring, I had the pleasure of Susan’s home and hospitality, and since we spent the night before the workshop nearby, the joy of Aldinga beach at sunset too.
What is it about brioche knitting? I can honestly tell you that I do not know. It is all over the internet of knitters. There are designers who are all about the brioche. And there’s more. Like Stephen West’s videos of wildness. Brace yourself if you’re new to Stephen West. If someone had asked me if an over-the-top, camp, intensely colourful aesthetic could grip the imagination of thousands of knitters, I am not sure I would have seen this knitting phenomenon coming. But I love that it is even possible. If you’re curious, follow him on Instagram! But he is not alone–there are calmer, gentler, more quietly coloured brioche patterns and books out there too.
Then brioche started appearing in patterns I was proof reading. One of Kit Couture’s signature designs is a brioche jumper (sweater). I like it very much though I am not convinced it is designed for a person of my shape nor climate. But reading the instructions made me think I needed to try it out with wool to understand. I decided to try a hat to see if I could do it, and helpfully Stephen West has created one, and as a bonus, it uses up small quantities of yarn in a weight I use and spin a lot. I took this to Marion Bay. Oh, Marion Bay!
I didn’t finish it there, but in the end I finished it and improved my understanding a lot. Ta da!
Postscript: after I’d finished this hat and added it to my little stack of beanies, I had a call from a treasure who has some pet sheep. I either spin her sheeps’ fleece, or find people who would like to spin it and gift it on. This time she didn’t want yarn and I couldn’t figure out a return gift, until I suggested beanies. I left the whole beanie stash for her to consider when she dropped off fleeces, and this is the one she chose!
Some considerable time ago, I bought a blue faced leicester/texel/silk blend roving designed for socks, and spun it into three-ply yarn. A very fine yarn! I seriously overachieved on spinning sock weight. I finally decided to buy finer needles in order to knit it, and now it has become my first pair of no-nylon, no-superwash socks for the #tuffsocksnaturally project.
Here it is at a coffee shop where I believe I was knitting while reading (some of the) hundreds of pages of papers for a meeting.
Here it is at the Park-n-Ride (that’s a car park servicing a train station, basically) where I get off the train and wait for the bus. There is just no way to know what the other passengers think of all the sock shenanigans. A few offer me shy grins and one bus passenger recently told me she used to knit a lot but no one wants her knitting anymore. I feel blessed for my friends, all over again!
Here it is on the wide open road headed for a long weekend at Marion Bay. The photographer may have leaned over a bit.
Marion Bay was glorious. Here, I’ll show you a little bit. But also there were dolphins, lots of dolphins, emus, lots of emus, kangaroos, and ladybirds, lots of ladybirds, and very many, very shy birds indeed.
And here the socks are, finished, in all their whimsically cabled glory.