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.
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!
I’ve been busily dyeing fabric, making plans and piecing examples for the leafy log cabin workshop coming up in only a very few weeks’ time.
There are still places for anyone able to join us. We’ll be exploring using eco prints in patchwork as well as doing a little dyeing and making a bag featuring a leafy log cabin design. All in a lovely, friendly setting at the Aldinga Eco-Village. For details or to sign up… click here.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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!
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.
And the lining was set into an eco print on silk left from dye camp summer 2017.
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.
I had another breakout of bags recently. You know how it is with me and bags–I start one and make more than you can imagine! Some were made from offcuts, some from eco prints. An entire pair of RM Williams pants that had made it to the bargain rack at the op shop met their new destiny too.
Here they are with bag bodies and bag linings in position (mmm–mismatched seams in evidence) and (RM Williams) straps cut and stitched and ready to be stitched on, waiting for another day.
This one was made from the offcuts of a shirt I made last year, and it found a new home very quickly as such a fabulous print should. Hence the hurried photo. A rather striking E Scoparia print went to the same happy home, but my picture of it was so blurred I have decided to spare you. And here are the rest: a bark cloth print that somehow found its way into my stash second hand and well loved which is also currently covering my ironing board–and–leaf prints on cotton and silk.
I had a little holiday in Allansford in the middle of the year, and since I stayed at Beautiful Silks–it involved stitching and dyeing. Perfect. I also broke my commitments against buying stuff and invested in a pile of fabric from the scraps and oddments department at Beautiful Silks and some silky merino. And there was some op shopping too!
Some fabrics hit the dye pots while I was still in Victoria! The ever-generous Marion showed me some of her favourite local dye trees, including plants I had not been able to coax much colour from or simply didn’t know. And some wonderful greens resulted.
I have a very basic home made singlet pattern, and managed to get the front from a silk knit and the back from silky merino after cutting a larger garment out.
So now I have this machine seamed, hand finished piece of splendid. The front:
And the back:
It’s a bit sad so few people will ever see it.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will not be surprised that I was unable to stop at two of these bags. The pattern is ‘The Wanderlust Bag’ from The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar.
I’ll be honest with you, I often find the projects included in dyeing and other craft books tedious. It seems as though there is a publishing requirement to include them, but often they are uninspiring to me. I guess this makes me an outlier as a reader of such books: I am sure publishers do market research on these things. This pattern, though… oh my goodness. It’s love for me. Vejar has an entirely different dyeing strategy modelled in this project but I am sure she would be untroubled by my putting her design to alternative naturally dyed use.
I have been trying to work my way to the bottom of the zipper collection. I used all those suitable to this project and… had to go and buy more rather than stop or use the bright purple ones. Where did they come from?? (The likely answer is, the op shop–possibly in the 1980s when I did sew purple things quite a bit). Apparently stopping was not an option either. Prepare for more photos soon, because I am amassing a collection, and I am not bored in the slightest….