So remember those slipper kits? I made a LOT of slippers. These are Felted Clogs, from the Knitted Slipper Book By Katie Startzman, pre-felting.
And these were not all… These are the Felted Clogs (not yet felted) by Bev Galeskas, may her legacy be a blessing.
So many wools here–handspun alpaca, legacy naturally coloured handspun and millspun left by a friend’s mother when she died. Handspun that had been in a logwood exhaust bath or three. Grey handspun that had been through an indigo vat. All kinds of bits and pieces of handspun in all kinds of blue to purple colours. Leftovers from that vest my mother-out-law made from 4 ply alpaca. Actually there were some more that were vibrant green, from m*th damaged wool that a friend gave me.
Here’s where I confess though, that I forgot to take photos of some parts of the process! Some of these looked so odd that I overdyed them to create a better match.
Here is a random image of one pair on the clothes rack… These next ones hit a dye pot because… well, you can see why!
And there the path ends. I decided to get on and dye and felt these because there are just so many unfinished projects in this house right now it’s becoming an issue for me! And then I waited for them to dry and… one pair went in the post to a friend who feels the cold extremely, together with a random pair of socks that were in the back of a cupboard awaiting darning. Darned up and ready to go, she will receive them and the slippers with glee (I’ve checked). Another pair of slippers have gone to a friend who mentioned she’d always wanted a pair of my slippers–by mail, which could take a while right now. A third pair went to another darling in my life who has already sent a picture of his feet up, looking very green and very snug! He was going to the Farmer’s Markets, so he took the logwood pair and the coloured fleece pair to gift on to friends who are organic farmers. And now I have just one pair left, and I have a thought about them too… but no more pictures!! Now you see them, now you don’t!
Back in January, I did some fibre preparation. This beautifully deep grey alpaca was part of Joyce’s stash. My goodness, the vegetable matter and the filth! In the end, I decided I needed to flick card every handful.
That improved it a good deal and made me feel that it was unquestionably worth the effort. And then I washed it, because it was still very dusty–otherwise I have one long “hayfever” attack for the duration I am spinning.
And no wonder–look at the drift of soil and seeds left behind! Here is the washed fibre, and some of the carded batts I made.
After this, I moved on to washing part of a coloured Polwarth fleece, also from Joyce’s stash. It’s hard to make fleece washing interesting, but here is the fleece spread out on a sheet for skirting (or at least a good looking over) and some of the rather beautiful locks. They are packed away, clean and waiting for spinning…
In the quiet times that did appear at home in December, there was some spinning. I found some small packs of dyed silk top from years ago and blended them with alpaca(left) and wool (right).
There was some random eucalyptus-dyed wool mis-filed. Now yarn. And there was some spinning of natural fibres that had been previously carded. I’ve tried for a little inventory of the stash of unspun fibres and there is a lot of raw fleece in my shed, with more having arrived this week. So stand by for tales of wool being shared and fibre processing!
So there’s this small person coming into our lives early next year. I think I may have mentioned this! I haven’t felt up to anything too complicated, so I settled on some socks for a start on knitting for the babe. Cat Bordhi’s Little Sky Socks, to be exact. In fact, I had in mind also knitting another design from the same book, but we’ll get to that in good time…
I selected some hand spun alpaca dyed with eucalyptus, and when I didn’t seem to have quite the right number of dpns, I added one that didn’t match… a slightly different size even. As one of four, not such a big issue, I’ve found, and infinitely better than investing in a new set or waiting for it to come in at the op shop (thrift store).
Here’s the thing. I started these when I had recovered enough from my recent bout of illness to feel interested in knitting, but evidently I was still not the sharpest tool in the box. I finished one sock, and felt pretty happy. Then some time passed and I knit another and felt ready to move on to the Little Coriolis Sock. I put the two socks together, and what do you know? Not even close to being a pair. I don’t mean they were trivially different (that would just be normal in my case). I mean one was a centimetre or two longer than the other, and on a sock this size–that’s a big difference!
I had to knit two more socks and try to match the mistakes made the first two times! Attentive readers will have noticed the yarn was dyed/spun as a gradient. So doing this guaranteed that the socks would also not come even close to matching in colour.
It’s a lucky thing that the intended recipient won’t care at all. And that my daughter isn’t fussed either!
And while I was sending weird gifts by mail, I sent this silk beanie. I found this single skein among my friend Joyce’s stash after she had died, and pure silk seemed like a good choice for a baby. Oh, my goodness, though–the colours are a bit much, and they are even more astounding knit up than in the skein. Happily enough, I received a call when this strange set of gifts was received. The colours had been judged to be fabulous! I think Joyce would love the idea of my being a grandma and her skein of silk going to a newborn.
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!
The springtime brings on fleece washing, carding and seed planting, apparently!
I’ve spun up all kinds of tragic fleece dyed last year, lawnmowing crossbred sheep’s wool, alpaca, blends, cochineal dyed fleece, natural fleece… there has even been some eucalypt dyeing (the orange skein in the foreground).
I’ve spun batts created from logwood exhaust and woad exhaust and where did that even come from? batts.
Anonymous roving from my friend’s stash. Alpaca gifted from another friend. Local fleece blended with dark grey alpaca with far too many burrs in it. Possum and wool blended together.
My winter of knitting was lovely indeed but I am loving being back to spinning as well, so it seems…
As autumn has settled in there has been some final harvesting. And perhaps the final hat. You just never know.
It’s made of an alpaca yarn left over when my mother-out-law made a vest, and some eucalyptus dyed handspun alpaca. It has already gone to a happy new home as a birthday gift.
My colour work still needs some practice. In my efforts not to pull too tightly on the floats I have some overly loose stitches. But actually, I think this turned out really well. I loved the pattern at first sight. It’s the passerine hat by Erica Heusser. Somehow the crown on mine looks totally different to all of her images (and I see the same result in some other people’s versions on Ravelry). But it is not a problem of any kind. It’s a completely charming design and I’d knit it again, except that I seem to have moved on from hats for now and I am working on another project that needs to get knit, because autumn is moving all too quickly into winter!
The recent period of incapacity and pain has somehow led to an outbreak of hats. I was talking it over with a considerably older friend whose mobility is now quite restricted and whose everyday life has become a challenge in its own right. Formerly a proficient and very adventurous knitter (when I first met her she was knitting an extremely complex cabled jumper in a traditional style), she has been knitting the same hat over and over for the last few years. When I said to her that I had been feeling as though perhaps I just didn’t have the mental space to attempt anything more complex than a beanie and then another beanie, she said that was how she felt.
First there was this. It is closer to Jared Flood’s Turn A Square than any other I have made more or less following the pattern, but it’s handspun and the colour change in the yarn turned out to be almost at the crown!
Then there was an alpaca-dyed-with-eucalyptus hat. Then I knit up a ball of possum wool that remained from a trip to Aotearoa/NZ. But somehow the casting on kept happening… in this case oatmeal corriedale hand dyed by The Thylacine and spun into yarn by me, cast on on the train.
And pretty soon, there was a pile.
Suri alpaca… oddments of eucalyptus dyed wool, two colours of eucalyptus dyed + naturally black alpaca, corriedale! It was about then that the colour work began: a sign that the pain has been abating and also that the casting on keeps occurring. It’s great to have whisked through some of the small quantities in my stash, and it is also a happy thing that the cold weather has arrived and we are going to a shed warming where many people with all kinds of head sizes and tastes and tolerances for fibres will be there. I can feel a beanie giveaway coming on!
Warning. This post contains many images created in poor lighting conditions! Apologies in advance.
Oh dear. A much loved and well worn pair of slippers came back to me from a friend for examination. I thought I would have matching yarn but I really didn’t. In the end I went for visible mending of this pair and also decided to knit her a new pair. #Menditmay I thought!
Here they are about to be returned to their owner over breakfast (in May), with big mends in the heels. The inside sole is black so these darns will be less visible when they are being worn, perhaps! I cast on the new pair…
The next step was knitting a new pair. Two pairs for different people, in the end, and two dinners with associated felting (no end to the thrills when you visit us!) With appalling photographs to match. This pair are a rich purple and they are on a blue background, not that it shows.
They went to a new home with a cherished friend who has been feeling the cold terribly. She also scored these hand warmers, knit from the remainder of a ball of Noro sock yarn some time ago and awaiting the right moment. They look better on!
Then, my beloved negotiated handover of a small pile of pre-loved and partially felted socks that will fit my friend better than my beloved at this stage. Some required running repairs.
Some were too felted for anything other than brutal patching. No way to knit a patch in. Can’t find any stitches to pick up! Some of these socks were knit before I really understood the kind of yarn that was suitable. But pairs like this, made from Bendigo Woollen Mills 8 ply alpaca, were such a hit among my friends I made a lot of them anyway.
I’ve since had an email about blue socks being worn at Pilates class and a photo of my friend’s ankle as she heads out to dinner in handspun, handknit socks! Too good. These are the people for whom hand knits should, indeed, be made. And finally, the friend whose slippers I was darning at the top of the post came over and I felted her new slippers to size. She arrived wearing hand knit socks… perfect!
Suri alpaca cross. I could not resist these when they came into the Guild with a local grower.
I dyed them… and carding was quite a challenge. Some went to a friend at the Guild who showed up with wheel but no fibre one night when I was there with fibre and combs and carder but no wheel!
I also dyed some local gift sheep fleece from a sheep called ‘Lentil’. I had been taken in by Lentil’s lowly status as a lawnmower and the filth of the fleece. Actually, Lentil’s is a long and lustrous fleece with a burden of burrs.
The first batts look great–
And perhaps they are destined to become slippers–because I am trying to spin for the things I knit this year. Really, I knit slippers and socks. So. Here we go!
Lentil in berry colours on the left, and suri cross in pale greens on the right.
Lentil in shades of blue. It might be almost time for slipper knitting…