Tag Archives: tea cosy

Local yarnbombing…

Some of the recent trash batt yarns and some other odds and ends have begun their life in the wider world as yarn bombs. I set out for a stroll with three swatches.


This was the first to go up.  It’s an all trash batt–including overlocker waste. As I began to attach it to its wonky, leaning pole, a father rode past on his bike accompanied by a child, also on a bike.  He called out to the child: ‘Look, there’s someone yarnbombing!’ and stopped to tell me about the best yarn bomb he ever saw (on Kangaroo Island).  I admit, I had not expected to be the subject of instruction to small children.  Since I was in my own neighbourhood, next came a friend who lives nearby, and then another (I introduced them) and there was speculation about the Viva La Broad Bean yarnbombers/guerilla gardeners and other yarnbombs in the vicinity.  The Broad Beans were appreciated and complimented in their absence.


This one has gone up on a pole which is topped by a mirror to allow visibility around a tricky corner.  It turned out the tea cosy I made from this yarn contained all but the last few felted bits and bobs, so this is mostly a natural grey yarn bomb.  Yes, the stitching is going in two directions. In a moment of whimsy I decided to pick up and knit the second half at ninety degrees to the first, partly so the felted parts wouldn’t all be along an edge.


Finally, this is on one of the main access points for the local train station (yes, that is a suburban train in the background).  This yucky greenish paint is the one preferred for public transport infrastructure and fencing in our area, and it could certainly use improvement.  These colours are from coreopsis and indigo.


I have placed these friendly emblems on either side of the Viva La Broad Beans’ guerilla garden and yarnbomb festival in hopes it will encourage the Broad Beans and contribute to the neighbourhood cheering up programme. The evening I saw the Broad Beans’ handiwork for the first time, a neighbour engaged me in a painful, heartbroken conversation about all that has happened locally in the last year.  I took her to see the guerilla garden to cheer her up. As I left home this time, and before I could apply crochet hook to pole, she chased me down the street and I had a long conversation with her about anger and grievances, loss and grief.

As one of the friends who came by and stayed to chat while I was applying knitting to pole said, there has been a lot to contend with and a lot to make people feel discouraged in our area over the last year.  She said the Viva La Broad Beans’ handiwork had made her feel a whole lot better and uplifted her.  I hope I can make a small contribution by their side.

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Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures

What to do with art yarns/textured spinning

The other night, treasured friends came round for dinner and brought with them someone I hadn’t met before.  She saw the display of tea cosies and loved them.  She collects.  The honest truth is, I don’t even drink tea.  Nor does my beloved.  I just buy random teapots at the op shop and make them cosies for my own entertainment and the joy of giving them away.

Naturally, I said ‘would you like to take one home?’  She struggled to choose and I offered that she take two, but that wasn’t happening… it is difficult to make people understand just how far I am from having a yarn or tea cosy shortage.  So a particularly ugly teapot was disrobed and a corespun cosy with recycled sari silk threads went home with her.  That had me in a tea cosy frame of mind… So I delved into the stash and came out with this the very next night:


The yarn is felted wool blobs spun onto crossbred wool from a sheep known by the glorious name of Macchiato the Mongrel.  I believe the epithet was added after Macchiato ate the neighbour’s pea crop and had to be found a new home.  That fleece came to me from a friend of a friend who lives in the hills. The pattern is a fast and loose adaptation of Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Tea Cozy.

This twining vine yarn (commercial wool top, felted leaves) was in the same bag.  I started in on a cosy and the audience decided it was too cute and really should be a child’s hat.  I guess we’ll wait to see who it fits come winter!  I started with a three stitch i-cord and made the rest up, ending with a stitched cast off for stretchy edge…



And, some silk cocoons went off to be reeled by a friend with a  lot more patience than me, and here are the rest.  I have no idea why they are in two colours, but if anyone else knows, please tell.  I keep thinking I will finally get back to the nettle stems, but I fear it won’t happen today…



Filed under Fibre preparation, Knitting

Things I’ve done with with plant dyed yarns…

When I was preparing for the natural dyeing workshop I ran recently, I mordanted a lot of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn as well as some handspun in small skeins–25g or less.  Having all those small skeins of different colours in alpaca and wool and mohair, activated my imagination. Eventually it led to this…


These are madder-tipped, logwood-stemmed crocheted coral thingummies, inspired by Loani Prior’s ‘coral punk’.  When I say ‘inspired by’, let me confess.  I bought her beautifully designed and entertaining book Really Wild Tea Cosies with a Christmas book voucher I was given.  So I had the pattern.  But even though only one, basic, crochet stitch was involved, my crochet skills are decidedly remedial and I don’t happen to have a crochet instructor on tap.

I turned to Maggie Righetti’s book Crocheting in Plain English (I don’t have the new revised edition, needless to say).  Apparently sometimes I just can’t believe what I am reading… or perhaps I just don’t understand on the first eight passes.  I see students I teach with the same difficulties!  By the time I had finished this tea cosy and started on the next, I’d managed to figure out that I wasn’t doing what Loani Prior must have believed was involved in the one stitch involved in her cosy.  Luckily for me crocheting badly still produces a fabric of a sort.  I also figured out that for me, improvising a knit version of the pot cover itself was going to beat freeform crocheting one as the pattern suggests with my inadequate skill set.  So that’s what I did, and Loani Prior shouldn’t be held responsible for the outcome.  I like it anyway.


It has highly entertained people who watched me crocheting coral at parties (as one does) as well as those who have seen the finished object, many of whom thought immediately of a sea anemone.

Let it be said that at present coral punk is not alone.  Here is the present plain Jane of the tea cosy selection at our place: yellow from silky oak leaves and orange from eucalyptus–with the felted blobs spun into the yarn.  Pattern improvised.  Luckily, tea pots are just not that fussy about how you clothe them.


I’ve been branching out and using up some particularly strange art yarn spinning experiments.  This next one is commercially dyed mohair with silk curricula cocoons spun onto it.  Scratchy for a head, perfect for a teapot!  I was surprised how many people liked the look of the ‘hat’ emerging as I knit this at a picnic, riffing off Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Cozy.  Once again, that is to say, dispensing with the pattern when it became inconvenient.  I guess the hat admirers hadn’t felt the yarn yet.


And for anyone who is wondering, I have continued to dye with the logwood exhaust from the dyeing workshop.  I ran out of yarn for a while and dyed two, 200g lengths of merino roving.  This morning I pulled out another 100g of superwash yarn.  I think it might be just about done, and I only wish I had kept a record of the weight of fibre that has been dyed with what was a small quantity of logwood in the beginning!  This weekend, the second in a series of two natural dyeing workshops. I’d better eat my crusts and get my beauty sleep in preparation.



Filed under Crochet, Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning, Uncategorized

Leaf prints of the week: Eucalyptus Cinerea and pecan leaves

It was another weekend with leaf prints.

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Eucalyptus Cinerea, before..

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and after:

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My test cotton sample, demonstrating that the mordanting I wrote about a little while back should work out just fine for the natural dyeing workshop I’ll be running.

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On the weekend I travelled south of the city to celebrate the lives and love of two dear friends.  They had an all-in-one birthday party and anniversary.  I gave them a teapot and teacosy dyed with silky oak leaves (grevillea Robusta) and eucalypt, and they found it suitably funny.

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As we left, one of them pointed out their now-flourishing, though still relatively small,  pecan tree.  I had seen pecan eco-prints on Lotta Helleberg’s lovely blog.  I asked if I could pluck a few, and then I took them home and wrapped them in a piece of cotton twill that used to be a pair of trousers.  It was ready and waiting, mordanted in soy and ready to go!  Before… (such lovely leaves…)

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and, after:

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I had also saved this sample of an unidentified eucalypt a friend was growing in his backyard, but sadly it yielded a few brownish smudges.  It’s much prettier in person than as a leaf print.  I think it is Eucalyptus Kruseana (Bookleaf Mallee).

Leaf prints 003      Leaf prints 009

And I spent some time creating textured batts ready for textured yarn spinning… wool with mohair locks, while I tried a new method for washing wool.

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Good times!

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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Leaf prints

The end of the Royal Show… and some show and tell

Well, my attempts to keep our saltbush plants from being trampled had partial success.  The bunting was apparently attractive enough that it was stolen several times (but survived gale force winds for a couple of days).  I had initially planned to make very time consuming and beautiful bunting, and there are great tutorials for making it online.  Then, as I contemplated the enormity of the task, a friend told me she would just take her overlocker to each triangle and then overlock the triangles into a strip and that she had success doing this in the past.  I decided that I’d take this lower fi approach, and it was a great use of some of my huge stash of bias binding (which I used to join the triangles on some strips) and some fabric that I bought as offcuts from bedsheet manufacturing years ago.

It took plenty of time to make metres and metres of it anyway and I was glad not to have made over engineered loveliness for this particular application, especially once so much of it was stolen!  After I had replaced about 4 metres of bunting once I was dismayed to find that it had gone within a day.  And, the antique overlocker my grandma gave me when her eyesight reached the point where she hadnt been able to use it for years had a hissy fit and needed to go off to be repaired.  This is unusual.  That overlocker is a workhorse and has responded to irregular maintenance for many years.  My grandma died years ago but I often think of her while using her very dependable machine.

So, in short, the last replacement piece of bunting is extremely low fi… triangles zig zag stitched onto a piece of recycled cotton thread I rescued from a sad old jumper.  However, with one day of the show left to go, it was still there when I went to pick some leaves from the tree, and I found two geckos living under bark at the base of the tree when I checked under it for white ants (sadly, evidence of white ants as well as geckos).  I’ve never seen lizards on this tree before, so this was very exciting!

Here, finally, are my three braids from the twice-run  Eucalyptus dyepot.  I am not sure that the extra-long heating time has made any difference at all, but the low heating temperature has retained the softness of the roving very well.


Meanwhile, I have sieved out all the leaves and bark, added more dried leaves and my smallest piece of iron pipe, applied heat, and we’ll see how that goes… Finally, here is another tea cosy.  It’s made from merino dyed with Eucalyptus–for the orange– and Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta)–for the yellow– with felted shapes spun into the yarn.  Once again, this is based on the Fun and Fast tea cozy by Funhouse Fibers.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning, Uncategorized

Off to the Royal Show

This week the Royal Show started.  The neighbourhood is full of cheerful people and cars.  One strand of my bunting is gone… it looks for all the world as if someone decided to souvenir the best part!  It has been completely removed.  So I’d better make some more.

I spent some hours on my Guild’s stall, selling things made by members and showing people what spinning looks like.  I took my spindle and some roving dyed with eucalyptus bark, but in the end when I was demonstrating I was on the Guild’s wheel spinning greasy fleece from a bag of locks.  It was interesting to see how many people had some idea what was being done and wanted to show their children.  It is always obvious that people from some parts of the world are much closer to a tradition of spinning in their country of origin than many Anglo-Australians.  I had a great conversation about spinning in India with a couple of people who were surprised I knew what a Charka was… and I am in awe of anyone who can draft with one hand!  Last year, someone took my picture drop spindling because he thought there was no way his mother in Iran would ever believe a white woman in Australia could do this, without a picture.  I heard lots of stories of mothers and grandmothers who were/are spinners, and we joined up a few new members, too.

And, I decided to begin on my tea cosy project.  I have spun a lot of art yarn in the last year and some of it is very bulky.  I think tea cosies would be perfect and I’ve already knit one, which went home with a visitor who thought it was too cute!  That is the kind of home knitting should go to…  I have four teapots I’ve bought second hand.  I decided to start with the smallest one and work up!  This tea cosy bears some relationship to the Fun and Fast tea cozy by Funhouse Fibers, but I’ll have to claim responsibility for its defects as, while I’ve used the central concept… I haven’t exactly followed the pattern… there just wasn’t enough yarn in my smallest skein, and this teapot is a tiddler.  The yarn is corespun, and contains merino I dyed with Earth Palette dyes, tencel and mohair locks.


Filed under Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning