Tag Archives: wool

Needlebooks

I made another little stack of needlebooks.  I have been accumulating tins that can become mending kits as I assemble all their elements over time.  I figure I will be teaching mending again sooner or later.

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I love how these little pieces use tiny scraps (in this case, blanket offcuts) and yet turn them into something that is useful and perhaps also lovely.  I also enjoy choosing plant dyed threads that work with the section of print I am using.  Sometimes I change thread colour as I go or as the thread remaining in that colour runs out.

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I made an exception here and used indigo dyed thread my beloved brought home from Japan for the coreopsis flower print, because–the print itself seemed to call for it.  I can feel the time drawing closer when I will need to open my stuff, steep and store jars and see what new silk thread options they offer.  How have I managed to wait so long?

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Flowers at my Fingertips Hussif

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In another radical transformation of vintage woolen blanket, I (more or less) followed the instructions for the Flowers at My Fingertips hussif/sewing kit from Christine Vejar’s The Modern Natural Dyer. You can have a sense of what she did (and some pictures of her hussif) by following this link. Above are prints from maroon coreopsis flowers I had in the garden at the time I was dyeing. I bought the plant at the Seed Freedom Festival and have just loved it. It is not enjoying winter though.

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These are prunus leaves from a neighbourhood tree.  I cut binding from some linen pants that entered their second life some time ago.

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Some parts of the binding went more smoothly than others, but in the end the edge was reasonably neat.

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So now I have a sewing toolkit that rolls up.  I really just wanted to make this pattern and try the dyeing strategy out, at a time of year when I had African marigolds, Mexican marigolds, Alyogyne Huegelii flowers, salvias and more to try out, and then realised that I also had something close enough to woolen flannel to try them on.  I’ll figure out where it will go to live later!

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Striped jumper for a fairy goddess-son

In a development that I could not have predicted, I have been recruited onto the English translation team for a Danish knitting business that specialises in knitting and embroidery kits.  A friend who now lives in Denmark was doing some of the translation and they were looking for an English speaking knitter. This is about as far from local and bespoke as it is possible to get! Anyway–it has led to my receiving knitting kits from Kit Couture.  This is my first effort: the Sotra Pullover.

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Well.  There was knitting the body on the way home from my folks’ place (by train) with a bag full of mandarins and mutant spring onions bigger than some leeks I’ve met from their garden.

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I forgot everything I knew about knitting jogless jogs (making the transition from one stripe to another less visible) and dropped all the joins back to try again at one point.  Then faced the reality that the wearer will not notice, and even if he noticed, would not care.  I managed to knit the ends in and was not facing hours of darning in ends at the end of all those stripes.  Thank you, Kaffe Fassett.  One of Kaffe’s books was the place I learned this was possible, and this is the place I have really used this strategy to the maximum.  This is one of the reasons I read knitting books: the real gift from a book may not be a pattern you knit from it!

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Here I am knitting a sleeve in public somewhere with my grease marked backpack as an aesthetically questionable backdrop.

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The exciting moment when I joined sleeves to body the night before and am preparing to take the whole thing to work so I can knit on the train, in a seminar and then in the bus home again… that blue patch at the top is the indigo and woad dyed bag the jumper is going into.

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My fairy goddess-son is perfect in every way, but evidently not quite the same shape as the models in Copenhagen.  So this version is a Frankenfit in which I am knitting the 4 year old size in width and the 10 year old size (and then some) in length.

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It is approximately the opposite situation to the Frankenfit necessary for me to use a Vogue pattern, in which it has always been the case that the Vogue Body and my body are not very similar.

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The colours are rather lovely, I think.  This experience has made me realise that I usually confront a lot more choices and decisions when making a jumper.  My handspun is not always even, not always one of the routine thicknesses for which knitting patterns are made, not the colours in anyone’s picture, and I often design my own jumpers.  This has its upsides and joys, but there was something differently gleeful about only having to figure out how to make width and length come together (not too challenging).  And–Kit Couture’s pattern was designed to be knit from the bottom up, seamlessly and in the round.  One of the ways I prefer to knit. Fantastic.

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The day we celebrated solstice with many friends, it finished blocking and drying. I tied it with handmade string, packed it into a bag for safekeeping, and handed it over.  I think it worked out pretty well, and my very dear goddess-son looks right at home in it…

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Another Wanderlust bag

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.

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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.

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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….

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Box pouches

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I’ve had a spell of eco printing onto old woollen blankets.  It is extremely rewarding: wool is the perfect fibre for dyeing with eucalypts (as India Flint has said so may times) and the pile of the blanket means that every detail can show!

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This one turned out to be the perfect size for my friend’s new and glorious ceramic keep cup.  She was struggling with plastic at her favourite cafe; saw my beloved’s keep cup in use, found a lovely ceramic one of her own on a side trip to the art gallery–and all it needed was a little insulation against the bumps of life.

This is a larger model I also like a lot.  I think I will make more.  The pattern came from Kristine Vejar’s Modern Natural Dyer, which was a kind birthday gift.  I am enjoying it very much.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

An outbreak of hats

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.

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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!

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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.

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And pretty soon, there was a pile.

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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!

 

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Needle books

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Filed under Basketry, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Fleece processing, dyeing and spinning

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Over the holiday, more local fleeces arrived.  This is the view down into a chicken feed sack full of greasy fleece.  I washed, I dried wet fleece in summer heat, I even managed to do some carding. I now have various wools dyed with woad or indigo exhausts as well as good old naturally brown or grey wool. I have taught a few beginners to dye at our evening spinning group at the Guild in the last while (or at least, I’ve been one of the people helping them to learn) and sometimes people are just so overcome at being given wool.  In the future they will know that the real gift is time and effort. But I do try to let them know that I have a lot of wool and that I am happy to share.

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People were generous to me as a beginner spinner, and I love to share spinning (as well as wool).  I finally spun some llama fleece a friend at the Guild gave me in the spirit of adventure.  It came out OK but it did have a lot of guard hair in it, so I’ll have to give thought to what it might become.

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Here’s a another skein–woad on grey, I believe.

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And here are indigo and indigo dyed over yellows. I realise it is better practise to dye blue first and yellow after, but, well, I didn’t like the yellows too much and just decided to dye and see!  I love these colours. But my thoughts are beginning to turn toward eucalypts and their oranges and reds again…

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, Spinning

Possum wool socks

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These socks, made from possum wool purchased in Aotearoa/New Zealand, began slowly and suddenly leapt forward when I travelled to Sydney for a family occasion and then a holiday in December.  I think the slowness was due largely to the loss of the previous sock in progress, needles and all. It somehow made me feel like I might be losing my capacities in some way, rather than seeming like an unfortunate accident.  I can’t say why I adopted this kind of interpretation but I hope to get over it!

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Here is the first sock, in the very incongruous setting of a public lecture theatre at Sydney University.  It is in an old building and has all wood seating, all wooden desks and steeply raked benches with wooden doors.  But of course it also now has fluorescent lighting and computer projection screens.  Outside I wandered off and away past beautiful Moreton Bay fig trees.

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Here is the sock in progress beside the beach at Coogee.

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And here is a (random, bonus) rainbow lorikeet in Sydney, sighted when I was out for a run.  I am not sure if this one was feeling bold or sleepy, but after all the times I have tried to photograph one of these birds and barely succeeded in getting a blur in the distance… here it is!

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Some weeks later…

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Here they are in all their dark chocolate brown glory, ready for the feet of my beloved, when the summer ends and the autumn begins to ebb. She tried them on, the day I handed them over (yes, it was 41C) and they came off again pretty fast!!!

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Shawl dyeing

Dear and lovely readers, it has been a while.  I’ve been on holidays and blessedly away from the keyboard.  But it hasn’t all been holiday blessedness… I’ve missed you!  And of course, much has happened in our world. It is going to take a fair few posts to catch you up on what has happened in localandbespoke land since last I wrote. But that should be fun, yes? Welcome and thank you to those who followed the blog while it was sleepier than usual! Let’s count our blessings as we roll up our sleeves to face the times we are in with courage and among friends.

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A dear friend came to visit us over the holidays.  I met her in the peace movement in the 1990s and it has been my privilege to have her in my life through many changes in both our lives, since.

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I bought some shawls and scarves from Beautiful Silks last year and have been dyeing them as gifts. I decided she might like one and set about giving it layers of walnut leaf and eucalyptus. I had a fairly major fail on getting good images of it before gifting it away. Summer sun here can be pretty brutal! Pictures aside, my friend loves this big, snuggly piece of merino wool.

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It has gone to live at her beachside home.  She sent a lovely picture of it on her bed in a sunny room, with morning light flooding in and the rich colours of eucalyptus lighting it up in a different way.

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What a treat to be able to share these colours and images and touches of what is local and lovely to me, with people who live in other beautiful places, with other trees and other views. It’s one glorious opportunity to share the love in a tactile way. I hope it will give her joy when times are good and comfort when it’s chilly and times are less kind.  She is a woman of courage, persistence and such an awesome intelligence and wit! Long may she be surrounded by love and good company (and the odd snug woolly item)…

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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing