Weird Wool Wednesday: knitting granny-style!

You know that I do most of my knitting lying down on the couch, during my daily rests.
pic by Ula Kapala

Most of this lying about I do on some old IKEA futon couch we bought a decade ago. We bought two: one for the city house and one for the cabin. So no matter in which house I am, me and Lillepoes have been lying on the couch daily, covered in wool.

The last few years I kept piling on the fleeces for comfort but this year I had to admit: both couches have become old and ratty. More wool is no longer the answer:
pic by AnnaKika

The other thing I’ve finally admitted to this year is that I am indeed chronically ill and that lying flat and resting several hours in a day is a part of my daily routine, at least for the next decade or so.

The logical conclusion of these two things is: I need a new chair, one to put my feet up. A recliner. A real granny chair. Because knitting is so for grannies, as non-knitters know so well.

So I took my knitting and visited a chair shop and found this:

It has a handle that flips out the foot-part. None of this fancy electronics that will just run out of juice or get all computery on me, either. And did you know these come in sizes? Like a middle aged Goldilocks I tried them all three out for fit. I flipped them backwards and lay there knitting for some time. Size S was my size. I was going to buy one. What colour cover would I like?

The custom is to have these chairs -and most furniture- clad with leather. I don’t know why, leather doesn’t feel nice to the skin at all. I guess it’s good when you’re prone to spilling. I am. But I didn’t want leather. I want wool!

nieuwe stoel stof

I chose this oatmeal coloured woven wool from the Danish fabric specialist Kvadrat. It’s Kvadrat Hallingdale colour 110. This is the same fabric that covers design furniture like the Varier Stokke Peel chair and has the highest content of wool they offer.
Quality and design is the new granny style, baby!

We knitters often meet the assumption that knitting is for grannies. And it’s true, many of my knitter friends have grand children and I’m of an age I could have had them myself, in theory. (I’m 44 years old.)
(I never wanted children though. And I’m infertile anyway.)(Luckily my childfree preference preceded the revelation that I’m physically unable to sustain a pregnancy.)

The notion of what a granny is is changing. At least, I think it is. Or are people still thinking it’s a little old lady in grey and beige slowly crawling down the street?

“I’m just a gran and I’m doing gran stuff”
“Whaaat?”

I don’t care, to be honest, wether people think my knitting or my age make me a granny and that I should behave a certain way. Not that I’m rebelling against their notions either. They just do not concern me either way.

With the new chair I thought I may need a new sofa too.
As a gesture of a new attitude towards my illness. I’m now finally accepting that this is my life, that I am chronically ill. I’m no longer resting on the sofa, waiting to get better. I’m now resting on the sofa as part of my daily routine. It’s part of my life now and instead of the old battered IKEA futon couch that I’ve been resting on for the past 10 years or so my couch should reflect my daily life which I try to live in style and comfort and fun.

Which is why I am writing you this blogpost from here:

My fantastic antique sofa bed!
With handturned woodwork and a new cushion covered in a cow hide. A real Chaise Longue, made in Belgium in the century before last.

It was for sale online at a place two hours from here but with me being house bound I just couldn’t go and check it out in real life. However nobody else wanted it and when the advert expired I emailed the seller and he told me it hadn’t sold and we got talking and he answered all my questions and we both suspected this might just be perfect for me. In the end he also offered to bring it by next time he was in my parts of the country for me to try it out. He did and it is indeed a perfect match!

I’m now lying here like the queen of Sheba, in my friendly living room with a view of the little city patio out back and it’s all wonderful and a bit quirky and made by skilled hands and with lots of wood details and I love it!

This is the kind of granny I am! Quirky and artisan skilled and with love of natural materials and a bit hairy.

On the sofa I keep the black and white blanket I wove. I initially planned for it to be the cover of a back panel so that I could shove the sofa against the wall and I could use it as a proper sofa for people to sit on, with their backs against the padded back panel.

But the blanket is so wonderfully soft and sympathetic that I’ve been covering me and the cat with it. At nine o’clock at night, when I’m winding down before going to bed, Lillepoes hops onto the sofa and me and the blanket. She starts kneading before curling up in a cloud of softness and purring away that last hour before we go to bed.

Last week my knitting chair was delivered:

Style, baby!

Wool grannies everywhere approve:
pic by Sean McGrath
Quirky, with love for natural materials and possibly a bit hairy.

Now I only need to teach Poekie not to scratch my new knitting tools:

IMG_7960

Reed dyed yarn, Estonian ribbing, Advent MKAL and laddering.

I’ve casted on for cuffs with the reed dyed yarn:

I’m going for some colourwork that only requires to change colour every 5 rows yet still gives stacked diamond shapes. (The yarn is a bit sticky to knit with, this darkest green. Perhaps it’s the alum?)

The colourwork is a new-to-me technique, called Estonian Rib or Estonian Spiral. It’s a way to make diamond shaped colours stack up without the need for short rows, entrelac, stranding or purl stitches.

I found inspiration on this wonderful blog by a Swedish knitting teacher and designer who loves to preserve the rich knitting traditions from Europe: Eva-Lotta Staffas.
She used Estonian Rib in this wonderful pattern that features 5 knitting techniques from North-east Europe:

Fingerless mittens pattern Alva, by Eva-Lotta Staffas

The Estonian rib is at the bottom, changing to a new colour after a few rows, cutting the previous colour. No stranding. So easy! Here’s another picture:

 pic by Staffas

It’s all knit stitches! Interspersed with k2tog and Yarn Over and suddenly there are slanting columns and checker board colours.

As an aside: Eva-Lota Staffas runs free Advent knit-a-longs on her other blog Jultalamod, in two languages, English and Swedish.

The advent designs are free and the one from last year were gloves featuring some of these wonderful traditional techniques. I asked and she runs a MKAL this year again.
But only in Swedish this year. But I think we can decipher that just fine because she uses lots of pictures and charts and it’s fun to read knitting notation in another language.
Reading and knitting Swedish in the weeks leading up to Christmas gives a wonderful atmosphere for that time of the year.

Last year it was gloves, the year before a knitted mouse and before that Christmas stockings. The patterns are free.
I wonder what this year will be… a table runner? A shawl? I’d love it if it were mittens!

As another aside, do you know Bloglovin‘? It’s a sort of online index where you can collect blogs you like and then it keeps score for you to see if there are any new blogposts and gathers them in one place.
This is where I added the Advent-blog from Eva-Lotta Staffas and when she posts there in October or November it will show up on the Bloglovin-button that’s now on my browser and I don’t have to go check out the blog all the time to see if the MKAL has started yet.
Bloglovin is the site that has that awful logo you see on some sites:
bloglovin logo
Brrrr! I don’t like art to be all artsy and in my face.
Or nude. I don’t need nude when it brings nothing to the table. What’s this nipple doing on people’s homepage? Why does a blog index need a prominent nipple? I’ve got questions.

I’ve also got knitting questions. We must prioritize.

I casted on 30 stitches and did the colours, thinking it would be a cuff or wristwarmers (love those, wear them all the time too!).
But this technique tightens the circumference of the work and my coloured cuff was too tight. 30 stitches gave barely 12 cm, not 20 cm. I did proceed to knit through all the colours because Estonian Rib is great fun to knit:

Nice diamond shapes without short rows, stranding or purl stitches. Hmm, that yellow green (ammonia afterbath!) might not contrast enough with the dark and the lighter geen,,,

I do have more pressing problems though:

Terrible laddering and a drunk stitch!
There’s laddering going on between 2 K stitches and the SSK.
In the middle column, going from right below to top left, and reading the stitches from right to left there’s one regular K stitch, one drunk K stitch and one SSK who doesn’t want anything to do with it’s cousins.

Left from the SSK is the magic part of Estonian rib: 2 K’s and one YO. This part “dives under” the k2, ssk part, allowing that part to look like a solid square of colour.
(Since I’m such a loose knitter I exchanged the YO for a “pick up strand and knit it” on the next row.)

The main problem is the laddering. I tried to pull it more tight as I progressed through the colours but it didn’t really help.

I spend half a day knitting up another swatch, over more stitches this time and on a bigger needle:

Hooking needle inserted in ladder.
It’s no good. That’s supposed to be a neat square of k stitches that shows off the colour of the yarn.
I tried different techniques to get rid of the ladder: pulling the ssk tighter; pulling the previous stitch tighter; knitting the front stitch of the ssk through the back loop; knitting the previous (drunk) k stitch through the back loop; swapping the ssk for a k2tog (right where the hook is).
Nothing worked.

I did get the drunk stitch to behave, once I knitted it through the back loop. But then I loose the uniform look of the 3 k stitches (a.k.a. k2, 1 decrease).

This morning I went onto Ravelry to consult the collective knowledge there. Having access to knitting database is marvellous!
I’ve looked at all the Estonian Rib patterns and projects and at all the ones for Estonian Spiral, seeing if anyone might have the same problem.
No one.

Then I looked at the forum posts, looking for “laddering” and “ssk”, and bingo. More people have this problem: laddering between knitted stitches and a decrease.
(this concerns a ladder at regular knit stitches before a decrease, not the ones after it or the ones around the gap between sock needles.)

It’s all loose knitters that have this problem and it’s all in the tension.

My laddering is caused loose gauge. I’ve always had a loose gauge, had to go down two needle sizes to any size recommended. Since my shoulder impingement I’m knitting even more loose, I now go down several millimeters at a time.

For solutions about tension and this kind of laddering I found this thread + photo tutorial by La Maison Rililie very helpful. She explains how the way you knit a decrease makes the stitch lying on top of the decrease bigger or smaller than the one at the bottom. This influences the look. Makes decreases every other row look like stepping stones (if you don’t resolve for this).

One knitter suggests that loose knitters might have to combine several solutions in one go:
“I think that the looser you knit, the more tricks you’ll have to combine to get a good ssk. The methods I’ve found are to yank the back loop; to slip the second loop purlwise; to put a full twist in the back loop; and to enter the stitches from the other direction (your way). A tighter knitter might only need to use one of these tricks, but a looser knitter may need to combine two or even three of these.” wise words by Earthnut

In the thread are discussion why and how the various solutions work. I love when things get all technical until a problem makes sense. Than you can apply sensible solutions and perhaps think up some of your own.

By the way, La Maison Rililie has several more photo tutorials on her site and an interesting blog about refined knitting (problems and) techniques called Knittingtherapy.com

Now that I understand my problem I have a choice:
A. knit a new swatch and try out the different solutions until I find the right combination that solves for my tension
B. do something else.

Looking at all the projects with Estonian rib I’m now fed up with stacked diamonds… My head is filled with too bright colours and jokers:

So:

Let’s see in what other way I can combine the colours of my reed dyed yarns. Estonian ribbing I’m keeping in my toolbox, for another day. Glad to have found it.

The knitters’ party was a succes.

Knitting In Public, KIP.

“Kip” in Dutch = “chicken”. So obviously:

with sparkles! And “kippen” in real life where there too:

I swapped some beautiful fibres and yarns: Merino/Mulberry Silk by Passe-Partout; big ball of Mulberrysilk; my Tour de Fleece prices!! Batts with silk, in green and lila!! and a ball of fingering weight that will save me at the end of the week if/when I’ve knitted through all my current projects. Yay!

I’m thinking striped legwarmers where the stripes spiral after each other, like a barber’s pole. That way you never have to change yarns and get perfect jogless stripes. Unlike this one:
pic by Dan Wenger

Dyeing wool with Reed flowers

Last weekend I tried dyeing some wool with plants. For real. Next to the experiment I had bubbling away.
I wanted to dye with common reed because Sasssefras had dyed the most gorgeous greens with it and I love greens. Usually you only get greens with plant dyeing by overdyeing yellow with blue. Lots of plants give yellow it seems but blue only a few such as Indigo and Woad.

pic by Sasssefras

We both got our cues from reader Pia from Colour Cottage, who introduced internet to dyeing with reed 2 years ago.
She got marvellous greens! Go check out the link to Colour Cottage.

I followed the instructions on this blog: Through The Seasons Of Time (fra årstid til årstid) and made a Lazy Efficient Dyers Pot:
reed, wool, sprenkled alum, more reed. All together at the same time.

I had
3 skeins of x 11 gram wool
1 skein x 12,5 gram mohair
= 50 grams total, you need 3 times the amount in fibre stuff. I had collected 200 grams of flowers (no stems or leaves). Plant = Phragmites australis
add 15% Aluin = 7,5 grams.

Plan: pour hot water on it, simmer at 84 degrees Celsius for 123 minutes. (or, you know, “keep it from boiling and check back after some time”).
Within 5 minutes of pouring the hot water onto the reed and wool it looked like this:

Glorious purple! Pimpelpurple!

After 15 minutes of simmering the water had grown much darker:

The piece of paper I put in the picture to represent white touched the water. It shows how the purple will become green:

After one hour the water is pitch black and the skeins are now grey green. Army green.

I took them out (into the nice blue thing) and put in some new fresh skeins (2 wool, 1 mohair), added some alum too. This will be a secondhand bath for lighter colours. I simmered it again.

I like how this works for people like me who have to divide any activity into steps and have to take rests in between them.
This is slow science and when you’re just on a discovery road expectations are not time sensitive.

The skeins from the first bath were really dark and army green looking:

After a while I took out the remaining skeins. The purple liquid that’s still in the pan I poured into a Large Pickle Jar and put into the fridge later the next day, when we left for the city. Perhaps I can use it again this year.

With the now dyed skein I then did something dyers call “after dip” or “shifting colours”.
I treated the already dyed wool to a chemical reaction that will alter the colour. You can change its pH or choose a variety of metals to mordant (“bite into”) the wool.
Most metals are poisonous so I choose for a after dip with washing soda and one with iron.

Iron after dip:
put some rusty metals/nails into a pot with water and wait for a month.
I didn’t have a month but I had some old Iron Sulphate laying around. I dissolved it in an old pickle pot and added water and two of the skeins.
It’s supposed to make colours darker and greyish. It “saddens” a colour.
My colours remained fairly happy though, the iron sulphate must have been too old.

Another pickle pot I filled with water and a bit of ammonia. Pia had shown us that that will make reed yarn sparkle. Or at least make you reach for your sunglasses.
It did.

Here are, from top to bottom:
2 skeins of mohair, one from the first bath and from the second bath
wool from the first bath + iron after dip (it has a white yarn put on top of it)
wool from the second bath
wool from the first bath + ammonia after dip
wool from the second bath + iron after dip
wool form the first bath

I didn’t rinse the yarn when I took them out of the dye pots, apart from the ones from the afterdip though.
A few days later, when I was in the city, I rinsed them out good and no colour came off.
Here now are my wools, ready for some nice colour work:

It’s handspun Norwegian sheep, spun by Vonneke who knows how I love the nordic countries. Today it’s exactly 10 years ago that I went and lived in Norway for six months. I attended the third year the Bergen Art Academy and rented a room with a mad norskman up the hill that overlooks the antique city of Bergen.
Every day I walked down that mountain, through back roads and a little forest path, until I reached the old cobbled stone streets and the old wooden buildings. On weekends I floated in the fjords with the Bergen Kayak society. Went on tour with them. Had picknicks.
It was a magical time.

Bergen is full of artistic people. I bought this t-shirt from one of them:


T by Splönk

It has a nice take on recycling: make little damages into design features. They’ve highlighted and repaired a little hole that was in this shirt:

In the back there happens to be one of the works I made in the graphic studios of Bergen, a wood print talking about the waters and the mountains and the weather and time.

God I miss Norwegian landscape and weather and artsy people and the history that lays all over the place.

Weird Wool Wednesday: Eep! no wool in the house!

Eep!

I thought there’d be yarn here! Sock yarn. With needles. Emergency yarn! Eep!

With two cardigans finished yesterday and me zooming along the sleeves of Holle Cardi and Contiguous Blue being knit in big fast bulky aran weight I’m getting nervous that I might run out of knitting projects before I return to the cabin in 10 days. Eep!
Please tell me there’s yarn somewhere in this house. And that it fits my queue. I need things knit!

Here’s my cabinet in the living room. I keep al things dear in here. And “Mr.Marvel” is quite pleased that I finally like to tidy up after myself:

Contiguous Blue Cardigan is there. And the left over skeins from Petrie Shell. (I could give it sleeves?)
But no yarn…

There is a WIP however… behind the Blue. It’s the fat cat. In that soft organic brown fleece that I found so sympathetic even though it was a totally unreasonable piece of sheeps’ coat.
It’s pattern Nursery Cat by Sara Elizabeth Kellner on needles 9 mm and it still needs legs and a tail but honestly, with a real life black cat in the house I don’t need another catshape catching the corner of my eye and accusing me of never feeding it.

Shhh, let it sleep. (next to it a green lace stole, to be put around a lamp shade or something. If I get a shade. And a lamp.)

Ah, better let this one sleep too:

A sock in need of darning. Sorry, can’t darn. Got no sock yarn in the house.
This is a sock I bought in Norway and I practically lived in these before I learned how to knit. Now they are bed socks. A little bit of Norway.

I’m now continuing my yarn search upstairs, to the attic. I know my attic attracts wools!

Right. One wheel, one cat, one box of fluff.
But that’s not spinning fluff, that’s for felting. If I spun it I wouldn’t know what to do with it, a skein of coarse clown barf.
… I could do some felting I guess. I am in dear need of a “foot cave”, something to put my feet in when I’m resting. But that’s hardly the project for relaxing evening knitting while watching series on the screen. Or for the drive back to the cabin.

There did arrive some proper spinning fluff at the house yesterday though! I love it that wool finds its way to me :)

70 grams of Merino fauxlags in the colourway Blossom Hues, by Dutch fibre artist Yarncontaminated.

But these are Merino fibres, best given some close attention with a wheel or spindle that turns easy.
The wheel I have in the attic here, a Louet S70 I rescued last Christmas, turns a bit brusk. It’s good for aran weight fleece but not so good for fine fibres. I’m hitting myself over the head that I forgot to bring my spindle! Serious case of the brain fog before I left the cabin.

Let’s continue our search. There may be some fleece around here?

No fleece but I do keep some proper yarn in the attic: 4 Skeins of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend. Soft en gorgeous!
But these are for sale. They are too variegated to my liking since I spin this sort of colours frequently myself and am more in need of semisolid commercial yarns then variegated. The past year I’ve gone off variegated all together, it seems.
(I’m also a bit too shy to work in this rich yarn for myself. This yarn deserves a perfect project and I won’t be able to make it perfect so I’d rather not even try. A character flaw I’m not willing to work on this year.)


Oooh, chocolate in the attic! On this I AM willing to work this year!
Yarn for sale under the shop price, 10,50 euro per skein. Four skeins is 550 m/ 600 yards. Silky heaven-ness.

I do have this yarn in the house and it’s nearly dry:

It’ll be so lovely to knit with. Too lovely! It won’t last me long. Eep!

PS Oh! I just remember: there’s always emergency yarn in the car. One ball of Semilla Fino by BC Garn. Organic yarn and really soft.

I wonder if it’s still there… I remember going out and getting it for Trees Cowl
and I wonder if there’s anything in my queue that matches is. It’s certainly not something I’d choose because I really want to knit other things in my queue.

PS2 Oh2! I just remember that I’ll probably receive a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn on Saturday. In the gorgeous colour S254:

I already have one skein and used part of it to make Lace Holly Noro Cowl in the Pippi Longstocking Knit A-Long back in 2013 from that versatile pattern Lace Holly by Susann Hajjar. Now I’m getting another one and I love the colours:

I might rip out Holly Cowl and use both skeins to knit some striped legwarmers. I always wear legwarmers, they’re in my queue.
But I also need a bag in POP blanket pattern from TinCatKnits.
Both patterns I can do at night or in the car.
Yes, this Noro might be my solution.

I found this example of striped Noro legwarmers. Now I want them in these particular colours…
pic by bridorangi

Between the Noro, the Semilla and the Silk Blend, there must be something I can knit. When I finish both cardigans and whatever I’m planning with the green skeins. IF I finish them. I might just be “eeped out” for nothing, just because I unexpectedly finished two sweaters yesterday.

UPDATE:
Eep! Project bag in car is empty!

IMG_8020

Blocking two tops today but they’re not finished.

I’m blocking two of my knittings today: Petrie Shell and Pumpkin Ale Cardigan.

Ooh, nice yarn bowl! I’m such a colour coordinated knitter. Today.

Both have been partially blocked before, to check gauge and ease my mind during the knitting. Pumpkin Ale needs its sleeves blocked:

I’m quite surprised to be blocking these, today. It was only yesterday I was knitting on them and the end was nowhere in sight!

Blocking feels like the last stage in a project. After it’s dry it’s finished and you get to wear it.
Not with these two. The Petrie Shell needs some sort of band to be inserted in the front collar, to give it more stiffness. For this I’ll use gross grain band from about one inch wide.
I have none in the house, I’ll have to go out and get it. It’s why I didn’t bind off at the front:

The Pumpkin Ale isn’t finished after knitting either. The pockets have holes in them:

You’re supposed to attach a fabric lining. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve got no fabric and no sewing skills in the house in the city.
But I guess when I’m out buying gross grain ribbon I’ll do it at a place that sells fabric.

I’m also rinsing out these yarns:

I’ll tell you about them in a later post but I dyed these myself over the weekend and they’re dyed with plants! With the flowers of common reed. The different greens depend on whether they are the first skeins to go in or the last ones and on dipping them into diluted ammonia afterwards or in rusty water.

They’re small skeins of Norwegian handspun. They’re very dear to me. They also smell of Norway (pine, salt, wooden cabin, sheep).

Sneak Peak at the results of testdyeing with various plant stuffs.

I pulled all the little bags out of the pan and laid them side by side:

As suspected there was white, whitish beige, whitish yellow and yellowish beige.

In each bag you can see the plant stuffs and a little dot of wool. Everything is still wet so colours are as optimal as you can wish. They will wash out a lot, once rinsed and dry.
Behold my magic creation of white, yellowish white, beige white and whitish beige wool:


But there’re also a bit stronger yellow and greenish tones. The one in the middle is with leafs that fell of the Ficus we recently planted.

The two bags at the end are the most promising: dark brown from the Hock (Zuring) and purple from the Sanguisorba Officionalis (Grote Pimpernel). The Hock were fresh leaves from young plants.

I left them like this for the next two weeks because I’m due back in the city and will spend next weekend there because of a knitters’ party. (YAY! I’m almost definitely going! I’ll drive there myself and have already vouched to only go for a few hours so I won’t crash before I get home again.)

So I’ve left the experiments in their bags as is, with leafs and water. I put them back in the pan after I poured all the water that was still in there out of the pan because some of the dye might leach into the water and then get into a bag and taint the experiment of that bag.

I’m quite unsure if this an optimum thing to do. Perhaps it’d been beter if I had added vinegar to the bags or something. The way one does when eco dyeing (wrap a cloth and leafs around a stick or rusty pipe). Or perhaps it’d be better to let the wool dry for two weeks for maximum curing and then rinse it when I come back.

I don’t know, I cannot keep my thoughts straight on anything at the moment and especially not discern between natural dyeing; eco dyeing and acid dying.

In natural dyeing -which I’m doing here- you extract the dye from the plant (mostly by crushing and boiling but can also be done by fermenting and perhaps chemically playing around with chemicals and/or acidity) and then try to get the wool to accept the dye (need a mordant for it mostly).
After that you can shift the colours by playing with the acidity level (vinegar vs. ammonia) of with different after baths (such as iron).

Then there’s eco dyeing or bundle dyeing or leaf printing (but not the hammering I did with the indigo plants). Here you mordant your fibres … with soy… or is that only for cotton …?…
The main idea is you wrap cloth and leafs and use a stick or rusty pipe (which acts as a mordant with tannins from the stick or …. the iron…?) and leave it alone for a couple of weeks. With or without steaming it first.
People often use vinegar. But why? to make the thing rust more?

eco dyeing by Beesybeepic by Beesybee, during a workshop eco dyeing with Irit Dulman

Then in acid dyeing you use vinegar as a driver, to drive the colour into the wool fibres. And heat, to get the wool to accept the dye.

All these dyeing techniques blur around in my head.
The best thing I can do is just allow myself to dabble. To play around. To not try and get optimum results.

And that’s just what this little experiment is. Just a little playing during a lovely Summer’s day in August.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) singing in tree.jpg
pic by Taco Meeuwsen

I got to stroll around the cabin yesterday. I greeted (and vandalized) various of the plants and trees I love so much. Said hello to butterflies who enjoy the plants we carefully grow for them (amongst them the Sanguiforbi-os-ah).
I found some places where the Song Thrush (Grote Lijster) had butchered some snails. I reassured little frogs and toads I’d give them time to get out of the way.
And I made the bags and had my little system with the knots in pieces of string and then put them all in my pan and took a moment to appreciate that pan. Big and green and second hand and enamel.

This in turn reminded me of a passage in one of my favourite books: “Simon” by Marianne Fredriksson. Simon’s mother is a woman of nature and she’s getting older and one day finds herself pondering the old pan she’s about to throw out.
She mentions it to her toddler grand daughter, who’s still in touch with the magic of nature that some children know. The girl totally understands that sometimes you have to take a long long moment and think about that old battered pan you’re about to throw away.

In my old still useful pan there are now a bunch of little wet bags waiting for me until I get back to them and there’s nothing lost when things don’t work out and they’ve gone all moldy or beige or something.
I’ll still have that lovely day I had yesterday. And I can clean that pan and use it again.

But wouldn’t it be marvellous if the colours intensify over the next two weeks? Then I can play with iron and ammonia and try to “shift the colours”.
And use my system to take note of which plants I might want to use for dyeing a little yarn with. To make little colourwork wristwarmers perhaps. Or weave a bit. That’d be lovely.

The Ficus looks promising:

Bubble bubble what’s this trubble? Dyeing with plants: try outs.

I have no idea whether this works… but I thought, with all the plants that grow around the cabin, why not try some out in a hot pan simultaneously to see if they yield colour?

Today is a glorious Summer’s day and I went around the little patch of forest and meadow and vandalized plants. Especially Spirea Douglassii (Hackwood) which is a terrible invader here. But also Hazel (hazelaar), Geranium robertianum (robertskruid), Ficus (vijgenboom), Acer campestre (Spaanse aak), Ribes, Dock (zuring) and Fern (varen).

Special special: Sanguisorba officinalis (Grote Pimpernel) and Cow Parsnip (Berenklauw):

One is sparce and the other dangerous.
“Cow Parsnip” is way too nice a name for this plant. In Dutch we call it “Bear’s scratch” because that’s what your skin looks like when you get the sap of this plant on it.

So I spend some time outside ripping leafs and filling bags. Being very careful not to touch any of the sap of the Bears Paw.

Normally you boil the plant stuffs. Or you ferment them. Or some other magic process to release the dye from the plant.
Once you’ve got the dye (in water solub..ed?) you take out the plant bits, add some mordanted wool and follow the proces for dyeing wool (heat, cool).

But you can also do everything at once. Although you’d be heating wool for hours then and have to be careful not to boil it (felting).
You might call this “a lazy dyers dye pot”.

I had a little system to add some spinning fibres, alum and water to each bag:

Each bag also got a little piece of string with knots in it. A sort of code to be able to identify which plant is in the back:

All the bags went into my big dye pan. I made sure all the openings where towards the top. (When filling them I blew into each bag, as if to fill up a balloon, to check for leaks. I left some out that were damaged.)

Here they are, all cosy together in a bath of hot water. Let simmer for a few hours. Leave to cool. I’ll probably leave it for a few days even.

They’ve simmered for one hour now and I can give some preliminary results:

  • stems give no colour.
  • I expect a lot of beige and old granny panty colour
  • or yellow
  • the flowers of the Grote Pimpernel give purple! It’s probably not light fast, flowers seldom are. But what a treat!

The wool in this little bag is still white, the cut up Hackwood stems do nothing. Yet?

Yellow and beige is typical for plant dyeing:

The dangerous Bear’s Claw, identifiable with a red string. Yellow wool:

POIPLE:

You can hardly see the wool amongst the purple flower heads. Because the wool is purple too. Yay!

We’ll see tomorrow what’s what. I’ll have another sneak peak after it has cooled the whole night.

It smells weird in my kitchen. A bit soapy – veggie soupy. And a bit fishy but that’s my dinner that’s on the stove, next to the dye pot.

Finished: handspun vest redo.

It took an additional 22 grams of the darker handspun to get wider sidepanels. I used 80 grams in total and about the same amount of the colourful handspun dyed by Passe-Partout.
The difference in loft and thickness accounts for the difference in meterage.

The join at one side looks great:

The other one not so much, the ridge where the panels are joined has quite a contrast in colour and it shows:

It shows when I wear it. But it wears like a dream!
Comfortable, enough ease to move about, to breathe and lovely colours to look at and enjoy, while wearing it. I’m going to wear this a lot.

Weird Wool Wednesday: forming new habits.

I frogged the sidepanels of Passe-Partout Sprookjesvest and measured the width of the frontpanel:

Measured deliberately over the widest part since that’s the part I use most for breathing. My, look at those gorgeous bustdarts!

I measured the back, it was smaller than the front. Bustdarts + extra stitches? What a clever knitter I was back in 2011. Pity I did not believe in wearing ease in those days.

I then put a centimeter around my chest and huffed and puffed and read the measurement. Then I reasoned thusly:

The front panel is 38 cm wide at the apex
back panel is 33 cm wide
together 71 cm.
My bust sans wearing ease = 94 cm.
Need at least 23 extra cm (94-71).

Adding some ease I think I want a total of 28 to 30 centimeters added to the width of the panels. That’s 14 to 15 centimeter per side seam.

The original panels were knitted bottom up, picking up stitches on either side with every row:

I really liked that look. But honestly, it was too much of a bother this time. I opted for the easy way which is still visually acceptable: knit the panels sideways.

Leave well enough alone” is an expression I believe? In Dutch the phrase I’m trying to live by nowadays is “ongeveer goed is ook goed.” (“About right is also right.”)
A major change from all the phrases I used to live by when I was still the perfectionist warrior woman!
But in my 30’s my adrenals gave out and I acquired the mysterious illness ME. Two invitations to grow wiser and more content. Luckily I believe humans can change their habits and their cerebral pathways at any age. I’ve been growing more yoda-like ever since. Ear fluff galore!

Anyway. Sideways knitted panels are very easy and well enough/about right. I picked up 1 stitch for every 2 rows. Normally in sideways knitting you do 3 stitches for every 4 rows but the darker yarn is a tad thicker than the Passe-Partout handspun. I did use smaller needles though because my gauge has changed over the years (thanks to shoulder impingement and new live-by-phrases).

I then knitted until I had a panel of about 15 cm wide. And then added 2 more rows because I changed my mind about how to attach it to the existing knitting. Changed my mind twice, hence two extra rows. That’s fine because I shall not be skimpy with wearing ease ever again, the goal is to make things that can be worn comfortably. While breathing without thinking about it.

I fudged the live stitches of the side panel together with the knitted fabric of the front panel. Don’t ask me how I did, it’s like I crocheted with my needle? Bind off through an existing plane? You had to be there. One of those things. Monkey sees monkey does. It looks acceptable. Kitchener stitch would have been perfect but this is about right.

I didn’t break yarn but parked it to knit the lower hem with after I knitted the second panel with the second ball of yarn (which I parked to use for the ribbing around the arm hole border later).
The hem is in plain 1×1 ribbing (which I don’t like to knit very much) because the bit around the neck is like that too and was never frogged:

I tried it on and it sits very comfortable! I’m looking forward to wearing this!

Here’s where I am now, picking up stitches around the armhole for 1×1 ribbing. I take 3 stitches for every 4 rows this time because it’s not proper sideways knitting but on a diagonal and because I’m growing a bit nervous because I cannot remember or deduce whether I should decrease as I go in the round or not.
When I grow nervous my tension tenses.

But the side panels are great! Job well done!

Well goshdanrabbittyrufus!

I missed a stitch. Like I always do.