Tag Archives: silky merino

And another thing

I made another pair of moko trews. This pair are lined with an indigo dyed t-shirt…

Which I thought worked rather well!

These ones did make it onto the grandbub (pictured here miraculously sleeping), hooray!

And another thing… There were offcuts, so a few more gauntlets happened.

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Long sleeved knit top

With all this cutting up of my winter layers going on, I decided I needed to make some new long sleeved layers. And to think I used to be puzzled what I could make from knit fabrics!

I’d removed the zips from the old ones carefully, so I chose one for re-use.

There it is, in its new location. I didn’t think to dye my thread so I chose contrast. I just couldn’t wait once I’d started.

The back view.

And here is the front! For those who are interested: Vogue 9904. I’ve made this pattern more times than I can exactly count.

Is it perfect? Certainly not. Do I care? Not at all.

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The gauntlet series

I have accumulated scraps of knit fabrics that are precious–lovely, but also in some cases, expensive. And you know, I always want to use the last scrap, no matter what the fabric is! Anyway, I had the thought that I could attempt the Fingerless Gloves Master Pattern from Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

Unfortunately, I fell at the first hurdle, enlarging the diagramme provided by 317%. It was during the period when I was not going out, so when I could not arrange this I guessed my way through it. The first one was too small. It had to go to a very petite friend.

Soon, though, I had a workable pattern and found this was a great use for leftover fabric from my run of undergarments.

So, I started turning them out! I used up a long sleeved t shirt and a pair of leggings that a friend had given me to use, once she had worn them out. Perfect linings for two layer gauntlets!

Once my leftovers were gone, I had the thought that some of my long sleeved home made tops that have shrunk too much to be dignified… could be transformed into these.

It was quite liberating to give up those shrunken tops, which I have been wearing under other things, for years in some cases. I kept the hems where I could.

And, that’s not really the last of it! I’ve not taken photos of some, and others I have made more recently. Some have been made more recently still… I pieced some together from smaller parts! But it might be enough for now.

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Underwear stories

I have been astonished to realise that one of my friends who feels the cold profoundly has forgotten about the part where you wear a close fitting garment against your skin.

As a child, this was the way I was always dressed in winter–with a sleeveless underthing below my other layers. We called this garment a singlet. So I asked my friend whether she was wearing wool against her skin and her eyes popped. I went home and went to the dye pot with some knit silky merino. It dyes like a dream. I sewed the main seams with the overlocker and then hand finished the hems.

Here is the view from the back.

I made it nice and long, the better to keep her warm. She was so astonished by the difference this made, that I got a message asking how long she could wear it without washing it! So I made some more.

These two are both dyed with E Scoparia, but the two trees have very different leaves, as you can see. My friend’s beloved sent me a message to say she loves these so much she had created a gallery and hung them on the wall, and she is wearing them every single day. And feeling so warm!

In this period a clean up in the front room turned up a wool knit singlet bought from a chain store. Now, did a different friend buy it and give it to me to dye? Did I find it in an op shop and save it for later? Neither of us could remember, but here is the outcome (and I yes, gave it to her).

And there is the end of this underwear story!!

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Moko Trews and Baby Shoes

The lovely Marion from Beautiful Silks sent me two sets of blanks for “moko trews”–trousers for the grandbub. One layer in cotton (the lining) and one in silky merino (the outer).

They were just so glorious! I dyed the outers and set about constructing them. It took a little while and then they were just SO cute!

Into the very slow mail service they went. Weeks passed. At the time, this was not surprising.

Australia Post says they were delivered and left in a safe place, but apparently not, because they have utterly vanished. And so, my friends, has a second parcel.

I made some more baby shoes–graded up in size, insulated for warmth, and hand embroidered, with nice stout soles. Let’s overlook their defects…

I very much hope that these two parcels ended up with people who could use these items so lovingly made and involving such a kind gift to me… and not just in someone’s bin by the side of a road. I wish they could at least have left my cards to the dear ones that I have now not seen in person for months, whose comfort I’ve been trying to raise in times of challenge. But I guess I’ll never know.

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Handmade plant dyed workwear

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Leafy Clothing

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!

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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.

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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.

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So now I have this machine seamed, hand finished piece of splendid. The front:

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And the back:

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It’s a bit sad so few people will ever see it.

 

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Winter wardrobe: from white to wow!

Before I went to Mansfield (… a year ago!) I cut out a long sleeved knit top.  The last one I made, a few years back, was nibbled by moths before I even sewed it together, so this one has been safely in a ziplock bag for its quiet year in pieces.IMAG2026

In the end, it took me only an evening to sew it together.  Why did I wait so long? Last time, I had a lot of trouble with this top and hand finished a lot of it, hand inserting the zipper and hand sewing the hems. I think I was a bit intimidated by the job, sorry to admit.  This time it all came together on the machine although the zipper is not lying terribly flat.

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Next morning, I was out in search of dye plants and visited one of my favourites (E Scoparia). The whole time I was collecting leaves I could hear clicking and popping sounds.  Eventually I realised there was a rosella (maybe more than one) very high up–more than 10 metres up) in the sugar gums on the other side of the street, nibbling on the gumnuts and then letting them fall onto the surface of the road (so that was beak clicking and the popping sound of gumnuts dropping on the hard surface)!

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There has been so much wind and rain I hardly needed to cut anything from this tree.  I have learned enough to be able to pick the leaves of this tree out from all the others in the gutter (which I could not always do dependably in the past–I have learned some things!)IMAG2039

Deciding how to fold and wrap is always intriguing…

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In the end I decided to dye a woven wool scarf at the same time. I spent time with a friend I don’t see very often recently and thought I might send her a gift. This will be part of it if it turns out well enough! I tucked some more leaves from my stash of dried leaves into the dye bath.

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I love the transformation… and wish I could be more patient…

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And I love the outcome!  Here is the front…

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Here is the back… (the zipper looks pallid now but it was what I had, recycled and saved).

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This has motivated me to make another, as my stock of winter warm work clothes is becoming pilled and threadbare, and I’ve had some lovely encouragement from friends lately.  Sometimes I think it is a shame I can’t get away with just wearing the same thing every day, as my tendency is clearly to make the same thing over and over again…

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Filed under Eucalypts, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

Adventures at Mount George

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Recently I was invited for a walk and blackberry picking at Mount George with dear friends.  We began by going past the ‘fairy’ homes.

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Clearly some small people have had a lot of fun here.  There were even letters for the fairy folk.

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Then we were passing through the creek where the blackberries ramble.  They are an awful pest in Australia, intentionally introduced initially (and still a source of free food) and then spread by every bird and beast, by water and trouser cuff and so on.

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I have many happy childhood memories of searching for free food of various sorts.  Clearly my parents had special talents in this area!  We picked many blackberries along the banks of the Yarra when we lived in outer Melbourne and there was a suburban block sized bramble at the end of our street, where Melbourne then ended.  And since then, in so many national parks and otherwise beautiful spots.  They are delicious but horribly invasive.

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Then, off up the mount to a favourite picnic spot of my friends’ in a rock formation.  I found evidence of other spinners at work.

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Right at the top, some austral indigo (indigofera australis) which I did not realise was native to our state.  And a spectacular picnic!

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Then on the way back, a stand of St John’s wort.  I picked a big bunch, and probably should have done the bush a favour and taken it all.

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It was a week of time poverty, so after some days in the fridge, I decided it was now or never and bundled up my St John’s wort, wrapping some thread in with the fabric for later use.

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On a whim, I put dried prunus leaves in the bath, and then began some days of cycling between slow cooking and wrapping in my trusty dog blanket in time with my schedule of many other things to do.  I am delighted to say that I think I really learned something from India about dyeing with this kind of plant, at Mansfield.  Where once I was experiencing an awful lot of mystery, now I’m able to apply a little knowledge and judgment–even if cramped a bit by other commitments.  With understanding, I find I can often manage those to my advantage.

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When I finally unbundled, there was some lovely purple and green.  The prunus bath was less exciting and quite brown (not a bad effect, but not purple either).  I decided to replenish the leaves and go again with some alum mordanted wool and see what happened.

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My hurried bundle has left a landscape of wrinkles and plant prints on some parts of the fabric.  I think I can have some fun times sewing this into something snug for winter…

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Filed under Dye Plants, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Spring Sewing Circle 1

Ah, Mansfield.  I was privileged to go to India Flint’s Spring Sewing Circle in this lovely Victorian town not so long ago.  I have been itching to write about it–but overcome by my day job.  Mansfield was full of fabulous plants for dyeing, including eucalypts that are hard to find in my dry, hot hometown. This is a stunning E Crenulata that was just hanging over the caravan park fence.

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There were catalpas and prunus trees that were so full of little plums that possums were harvesting all night, leaving leaves all over the ground for the enterprising dyer.  There were cotinus trees, and berberis plants, maples and E Polyanthemos… and there was St John’s Wort in quantity, which India harvested to share with us.

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I loved wandering the streets with enough time to admire the trees and expect to be able to use these leaves if I collected a few. I even found this one sunning itself at the edge of someone’s front fence!

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With all this bounty, people’s bundles were packed full of amazing windfalls and all kinds of leafy wonder.  I had come with some serviceable garment plans: I brought along a singlet with all its main seams machine stitched and hemmed it by hand, finishing all the edges.  It used up all my scraps of silky merino.  Then I made another one completely by hand.  I really didn’t think I could be converted to making garments by hand, but India has turned me round.  I still love my machine–but this is another pleasure altogether.  One of them got wrapped around a piece of copper and given a long, mild cook.

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Out came greens and purples and pinks and a little apricot.  The St John’s wort was a spectacular dye plant I have never had a chance to try before.  This dyeing process taught me that I’ve been reading and not understanding.  More experiments will surely follow as I try to consolidate all I learned from this bundle.

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I loved that St John’s wort!  If weeding has to be done, this is a rather glorious outcome.  Others had made wonderful silk bloomers and nighties that also got the St John’s wort treatment.

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The catalpa greens and maple leaves were fun too… and prunus leaf pink and purple… well, so much bounty.

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The other singlet had a hotter time in a dye bath that had already seen a lot of iron- and eucalypt-rich bundles, the things of which lovely string resist marks are made. I always love watching other people bundle up and unbundle.  This is a deceptively simple process that different people use to achieve gloriously different effects.  Finally I had E Polyanthemos I could be confident in, and E Crenulata, and so much more!

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Here’s the E Crenulata on the back, with some string marks on show and fresh from the dye pot.

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And here is the front, with those wonderful almost-round E Polyanthemos leaves. I am looking forward to wearing these come winter!

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Eucalyptus magic.  Sensational!  I see over on India’s blog that she is advertising a new Australian class for 2016 and some tips for the new leaf printer.  There is so much to learn from someone whose dye knowledge, love of plants and capacity for design are so extensive.  And so much pleasure in learning from someone so generous, creative and imaginative.  Do not get me started on the food…  I may have started out with plain and serviceable garments, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be stopping there, and… I was right.  More instalments to come as time allows, my friends!

 

 

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