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.
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.
A while back I acquired some merino-silk 4 ply (fingering) yarn to use as a no-nylon sock yarn.
Of course, it all started out white. Over time, some was dyed in legacy logwood. Some with legacy cochineal, and some with indigo. Then I decided on overdyeing the cochineal to create stripes and spots, creating some deep pink-purple and some blue sections where I had tied resists during the first dyeing in cochineal.
There was hospital knitting, nursing home knitting, public transport knitting as ever, meeting knitting.
There was even knitting during an experimental opera!
And now there are socks. The pattern is an old favourite, Jaywalker, by Grumperina. It doesn’t stretch much but it stays up and it looks great.
They are destined to be added to India Flint’s collection… bless her creative mind and nimble fingers and keep her toes warm, I say!
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.
Last week I sent off a small collection of squares for the Standing Here public art installation. I was just delighted (even if also saddened) to hear that the location for the installation–Tree Place–commemorates the place an ancient tree was felled. I am glad others recognise this as something to be marked and responded to.
This one is a patchwork of raw silk scraps I dyed at Summer Dye Camp. The very last of a raw silk suit a friend bought me at an op shop. I added one of the indigo dyed–bedsheet–napkins for good measure, and this piece, which is a piece of hemp/silk with borders of cotton, dyed with eucalyptus leaves in different ways. Wishing Jenai Hooke and Anne Harris every success with this project!
Some time back, I embarked upon creating sock yarn from scratch, beginning with scouring, dyeing and combing raw local Suffolk fleece. If you missed the early, exciting stages (yes, that is a joke!) here is a post about the wool. Here is one of multiple dye adventures. And the spinning went on at intervals over some months. It’s hard to make incremental progress in spinning fun with photos!
Here is the first sock being knit at a coffee shop after exercise class, overseen by a dog.
Here is the second sock, almost done on the weekend when I cooked for many friends planting 500 trees on land two of our friends (and their two children, as they grow) are reclaiming, rehabilitating and revegetating with a degree of care, thought, vision and commitment that is awesome to behold. I was just too scared of back re-injury to plant. So made myself a bit useful kitchen handing. In between times, I knit and chatted with small folk. I even did the hilarious feat of walking while knitting.
It was hard to photograph the socks really well. But there are some nice colours in there!
And I am a sucker for the ingenuity of the heel arrangement. The socks have whimsical cables, which puzzled some onlookers and delighted others. And they are in no way twins, which likewise puzzled and affronted some while pleasing others very much. I’ll be honest, this is not exactly what I intended. But you know–they are fine! And headed to a happy new home as I type. They will be snug, and hopefully, made as they are from a suffolk/silk/mohair blend and dyed with plants and cochineal–strong and colourful both. And–there is enough for another pair, perhaps with a toe that, in this context, will not stand out if knit from a different yarn altogether–the finished socks weigh 101g and 89g remains…
A while back, I managed to find second hand woolen blankets, many of which were partly felted and sold for the warmth of dogs. I am in favour of the warmth of dogs, but was delighted to take some home. A couple have gone to the dye table where they insulate dye vats (today there is an indigo vat wrapped up in wool out there in the chilly morning). This one, though, was a perfectly good blanket, if a little threadbare and dating back at least to the 1960s. I can’t fit a whole blanket in any of my dye pots, so I had to take scissors to it in order to dye it, and this seems to have been a high barrier to clear. Clear it, I now have.
This piece dyed with E Cinerea leaves, (and a little of something else I don’t remember) has become needle books. I left the edge stitching in position because I like it, then added my own blanket stitches in plant dyed threads. The string is hand twined silk fabric dyed with madder root. I learned string making from Basketry SA and applying it to fabric rather than leaves from India Flint. She recently posted a video of stringmaking 101 here. I know someone will ask, and the video is beautiful: it manages to convey the peacefulness of stringmaking somehow.
One went to my mother. She is on her way north for some months of warmth and adventure with my Dad (in Australia we call people such as my folks ‘grey nomads’). When they were over for dinner last week, Mum said she would like to take a project.
She liked one of the projects I have underway and she soon had a version for herself! I have a little stack of tins I have been saving to make mending kits. She chose one, chose a needle book, and then I gifted her an indigo dyed bag to stitch on and some embroidery thread to stitch with, and some needles. I hope she uses her little kit, but even if it was a passing whim, she will enjoy having it with her. I’ll be keeping her company in some small way. Another needle book and mending kit went to my daughter when she was passing through recently and turned out not to have amending kit (!!) The other needle books are destined for mending kits. Their time is sure to come.
Over the holidays I decided to sort out a pair of shorts I made some time ago. I copied a pattern from some shorts I had bought at the op shop and made the new pair very carefully. And from an unsuitable fabric. They parted way at the seams in crucial places almost immediately and I pouted and put them away. I took them out in summer and realised I could easily mend them. They were a great fit–I loved them and wore them all summer, and decided right away that I could use the pattern to make summer weight trousers.
This appears to be the only in-progress shot. Setting up for topstitching the fly on the ironing board, using a sticker from a campaign I spent a lot of time on, in the 1990s. I was still not sure about letting that sticker go–but the stickiness doesn’t last forever. The fabric is a silk that my mother-out-law gave me. She keeps claiming to have given up her lifelong sewing career, but I don’t believe her. I was intimidated by the gift and have never owned silk pants. Suddenly I knew how to use it, and I now have silk pants!
I regret that I don’t know how to make an image of trousers that looks any good, as they are so much more complex to create than anything else I make! One pair was not enough. I looked at some hemp fabric I bought years back and all of a sudden–I knew what to do with it. I am sure I always planned something like this for the length of fabric I bought…
I used an old shirt (the apple print) for interfacing. I used a sunny fabric I already had for the inside waistband and the pockets. My stash, as you must have realised, is far too large. And I used a zip I already had rather than buy another one. In doing that, I may have made a bad call–it does sometimes peek out little! One less zip–yes–but this one is really not a match. I also used thread on hand rather than buy more. It’s not a perfect match but it is just fine.
The hems used some of my former tie bias binding. I had to laugh when I went to look for that post–because ‘beguiling details’ is just what I did with the bias binding–using the yellow and black binding in the second-last photo. I am really happy with these trousers. The fabric is lovely and they are a pleasure to wear.
While I was at dye camp, I had access to plants I usually would not be able to use, and silk fabrics that I don’t usually have, and so of course, experiments occurred…
I thought you might enjoy seeing them!