Dyeing swifter fleece with nettles (not)(nottles)

At the cabin this weekend I gathered a bunch of nettles and put them in a bucket with warm water to soak overnight. Woke up to a black tarry substance. Ew.

Added hot water and brought it to a boil, for about an hour:

In the same time I mordanted 300 grams of white, washed Swifter in warm water with alum. Then I did some more research on the net and read about someone who got nice green by using 6 times the weight of the wool in nettles. So I won’t use all the wool for this pot of nettles. I took about half.

I strained the liquid and used it to dye about 150 grams of prewashed fleece. Heated it for hours. But it wouldn’t take the colour:

At the end of the day I have greyish fleece…
. That’s what I was aiming for, that was what I was hoping to spin. I have no idea what went wrong. Perhaps the nettles I took were too mature? Or had grown too much in the shadow? Should I have added more alum?

I took the remainder of the white fleece and cooked it up with the leftover dye bath of the red onion skins:

Nice yellow 馃檪 Not a trace of the green that dyed the sock yarn in the same dye bath. What a riddle this plant dyeing is!

We then had to leave nature behind and go back to the city, boohoo.
Here I have to prepare for an abdominal CT scan on Tuesday so today I can’t eat anything and I have to drink a litre of sweetened barium gooey and overall I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself. (but not as sorry as when this had been a colonoscopy, with a camera up the bum!)

To pick myself up I made some more photo’s of the onion dyed skein. The colour is beautiful and intense. And so hard to grasp! Even on these photo’s it looks a bit washed out but in reality it is not, not for one bit 馃檪

Solar Dyeing by myself

Today it’s 30 degrees in the sun, a good prompt to do some solar dyeing.

I chose some duizendblad (= Cow’s Parsley) to see whether I could overdye some two toned blue Merino I’ve got. Mordanted with alum:

21-06-10 Cause I'd Rather Pretend I'll Still Be There At The End ~ Explored #1聽pic by聽Bethan Phillips

This is the Merino I started with, a whole box full. It’s so soft! Two tones of blues, very similar to the Shetland I’m spinning at the moment.

The new and the old colour next to each other:

The darker blue only got a tinge of yellow. The light one is beautiful, really bright. But it’s all too bluegreen. I don’t enjoy spinning, knitting nor wearing greenblue at the moment. A good experiment. Now I know I won’t be overdyeing the Merino with Cow’s Parsley.

Here’s the experiment in a better colour photo:

When I tried to open the jar an hour ago it wouldn’t budge. I grew so frustrated that I decided to prick a whole in the lid. And I noticed I couldn’t open the other jar either….

It’s the red onion solar dyeing project I got at Wolop’s plant dyeing workshop a month ago! Might as well prick that one too. And since it then opened so easily I better take out the skein and look how it went, my first solar dyeing experiment.

Ooh! and Aaah!

It’s so hard to capture the colour! It’s golden green, through and through and it seems to come from the core of the yarn, not laying on the outer surface. It’s gorgeous.

I saved the dyebath and hope to cook it up later today and dye some fleece with it.

Sheepshearing festival in Lichtenvoorde

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Sheepshearing festival today and it was a lovely day and there were so many friendly people. 350 sheep were ready, it’s the flock of shepherd Roelof Kuiper聽and Tessa Engelhard.聽Here’s the site of the foundation that supports the flock.

Tessa had organized a route for children to discover the whole process from sheep to sweater.
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We were number 6: the spinners.
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(I always talk when my picture is taken..)

My spinning friend is Meta, who loves colours and once dyed this wonderful sock roving. She sells tea and herbs at the local market and online.

I brought some stuff to decorate the stand with. Felted and knitted garments, my carding machine, picked fleece, some giant yarn I want to handweave with. It interested a lot of people which was nice.
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Meta explaining spindle spinning to an eager girl. She was smart and really attentive 馃檪
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Our neighbours were selling jars with everything you need to bake a cake:
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Their neighbours were lovely Syrian ladies who had the most appetising treats! Both savour and sweet:
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Tessa brought a handmade woolpicker you can sit on!
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schaapscheerdersfeest Lichtenvoorde Hemelvaart 2017 schaapskudde Oost-Achterhoek

Bluegrass band聽the Cowpokes walked around and they stopped and serenaded us! I love blues and funky country and skilled musicians. Their first song was without lyrics and their guitar picking was something to behold. It had excellent spinning rhythm too.
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schaapscheerdersfeest Lichtenvoorde Hemelvaart 2017 schaapskudde Oost-Achterhoek

They walked on, but only after three full numbers! The rhythm and energy really got to me. So I mentioned to Meta that if I had a second life I would’ve learned slap-bass guitar. A nearby visitor stopped dead in his tracks and turned around, smiling and聽beaming. He plays the guitar and hearing some odd spinner passionately mentioning slap bass made his day 馃榾

We talked for a bit, I tried to remember the name of funky slap bass guitarist聽Davi504聽but聽failed. We had a lovely talk nonetheless and he convinced me there’s still time to play the bass in this life. So when I hit 60 or 65 I’m going to learn it and then we’ll perform at sheep festivals. Me being the funk slap bass granny and him doing the guitar solo’s. He also told me that you can combine bass guitar with singing, as long as you can do one of them blind and without thinking about it. (I can sing already)
Look who cannot shut up when a picture is taken:
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Oh look, I can shut something when a picture is taken. My eyes:
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Musical entertainment: “two strenge men”
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Very “strenge” indeed. That’s their leg. Pull it.

Lots of humour on site:
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I really can’t translate. This is farmers’ country. This is farmers’ humour. You get the idea.

The whole day Meta and me were partners in crime, making metres and explaining to the public:
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It was interesting the things people wanted to know. “How can you make a thread from fluff?” “How does the yarn wind onto the wheel?” “Where did Sleeping Beauty prick herself?”

Also interesting is that Meta spins on a Rose, the Rolls Royce amongst wheels. And she treats it like it’s an object to be used. Put it in the grass. Spin with your shoes on. Have the dog聽nuzzle聽it. Put it in your car without protecting blankets. Just use it!.

The Rose is made with soft woods but Meta’s not spending her days worrying about scratches or dents. She’s using this wheel and enjoying every moment of it. Yeah!
She got it聽as a birthday present for her 50th birthday and it was the best present ever.

Here’s Roelof the shepherd looking very shepherd-y with his wild locks and working pants. He was selling some hides:
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And here he is interested in ice cream at our other neighbour:
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A neighbour well worth knowing. Meta treated us to icecream:
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schaapscheerdersfeest Lichtenvoorde Hemelvaart 2017 schaapskudde Oost-Achterhoek
Vanilla ice “steeked” from the innards of a self made bicycle.
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Someone finding shade under our booth:
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At the end of the day, all sheep shorn:
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Nine huge bales of fleece:
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And a tired goat enjoying some dinner:
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schaapscheerdersfeest Lichtenvoorde Hemelvaart 2017 schaapskudde Oost-Achterhoek

It was a lovely day and I got to spin a lot of my Shetland batts. Not enough but a nice start. And lots of motivation to spin more! Maybe tomorrow 馃檪 Although I also have some spaghetti to steek.

Weird Wool Wednesday: mushroom spaghetti

The middle of the steek -and the steek itself- was off by 10 stitches. Right panel had 40 stitches, let panel 30. That’s too much of a difference to fudge.

So I ripped the steek and some neighbouring聽stitches and will be trying to build it up again, including the decreases. As soon as I find two hours of patience and concentration to do so.

The Happy Swap Blues

Did you know that I don’t like to knit with blue yarns?
It’s true. I don’t like to knit with blue yarns and I can’t explain why. I find it boring. Tedious. It makes me moody and cross.
While blue is THE colour to compliment my face.

Luckily we have the “Achterstevorenswap” in the Dutch Karma Swap Group and I love to offer to forfill people’s wishes and as a result get to post my own wishes regularly.
Just recently I wished for a pair of blue socks and another time I wished that someone would knit me a shawl with my own blue yarn.

Both wishes were granted!

These are my new, blue socks:
blue handknits
These are聽Ophidia聽socks, a design by Hypercycloid Designs. These were knitted by Helga, as part of Tour de Sock 2015. TdS is a different kind of international sock knitting competition than Sock Madness: “Ophidia is Stage 5 of the 2015 Tour de Sock, a six-stage speed knitting competition benefitting Doctors Without Borders.”

Beautiful blue socks! With cables and ribbing and *sparkly* red and pink accents. Things I could never make myself and now this pair is mine 馃檪
blue handknits

Helga also send me some聽little balls of yarn in nice colours for stranded knitting:blue handknits
Marvelous!

Having forfilled my wish Helga got to post her own wishes and I offered to fulfill聽one of them and she chose my offer! So with the socks and the balls of yarn came a pair of knee high socks that needs to be overdyed. A bold adventure since the yarn is half wool half acrylic and acrylic does not take up dye. Also: it’s very difficult to dye an existing knit in an even way. For even dyeing you need to stir the pot and you can’t stir knitwear because it will felt.

It’s pretty daunting wanting to dye something this complicated for someone else but Helga is very gracious about it and about half of the time I feel like I know enough about dyeing聽to give it a try. I’ll make sure to start the dyeing project聽only when I feel like that!

My other swap wish was a shawl from my own blue yarn and I got it and I blocked it yesterday evening!
blue handknitsblue handknits
This pattern is聽Liliaceae by Angelika Luidl, a free pattern. I used this pattern once before, in 2010, to knit my mother a shawl in a very high end yarn:


This yarn is聽The Old Piggery Merino/Tencel Sock聽in the colour Sweet pea, 50% soft merino 50% tencel. Beautiful yarn! So soft en with such gleam. I bought it specifically to knit a shawl for my mother with, when I was on holiday, by myself, to Devon, to a knitter’s retreat, in 2010. It was a long weekend and it took me about a week to travel there because I had to make all kinds of arrangements because back then I could only travel for one hour and then had to lie flat for an hour. It was a wonderful weekend 馃檪

It’s where I learned proper darning (Swish darning) and also carding with colours, from the inspiring Wrigglefingers whom I since have met again at Midwinterwol where she gives workshops in this technique and also: her daughter sells handdyed wool and I bought this green yarn at the last Midwinterwol for a Spring vest and it has indeed been cast on 馃檪


Welsh Mule yarn by Shepherd Cat.

Yeah. It was a special holiday for me back then, still being very ill, and it being all about knitting. I wasn’t carefree enough to buy myself quality yarns back then but I did for my mum.

Now, in 2017, I am better in buying luxury聽yarn for myself and I bought and dyed this:


The yarn is聽Chester Wool 4 ply Mulberry silk,聽 that I dyed myself just a few weeks ago.
This yarn is thinner than the pattern calls for and that’s why Anneke cast on for 19 pattern repeats instead of 17. She knitted with needles 3,5 mm and used 85 grams of the 100 grams skein. The shawl is plenty wide and high enough.

Now I have this lovely Summer shawl I would never have knitted for myself, in just the right colour. 馃檪

Knit- and Crochet festival in Nieuwpoort last Friday

We had a nice day out in the old town of Nieuwpoort where everybody had joined in the knitting madness. All houses were decorated, both inside and out, with balls of yarns and knitwear. Here’s the beautiful old town hall:
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The stand of mushroom expert Chiel Noordeloos:
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He was glad to see my projects 馃檪

It was on the first floor of the old town hall. Beautiful old atmosphere and exposition:
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brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

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The people from Stitchfiddle.com where there!
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Wonderful people 馃檪 The vest is made with their own program, the free site in which you can make charts for knitting, crochet and embroidery:聽Stitchfiddle.com. I use it too for my vests and mittens.

There were many vendors and I didn’t take enough pictures. Organizing vendor De Schapekop had a nice idea for trying out little balls of yarns for a stranded wrist cuff. Wolop offered something similar last year.
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brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017聽Ooh, nice colours!

This guy…
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brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

For the mushroom vests I bought some extra ball of white so I definitely have enough and then I enrolled for the same workshop again, next year. (!!)

I also bought a second hand book about plant dyeing. The book by Dutch wool expert Iet van de Vrande. THE book. Heavily sought after. From 1979. Mine is in Swedish… 聽:s

I did not buy the beautiful carded fleece that was dyed with nettles in a beautiful light green…. celery green. It was suffolk. Enough for a sweater. But I did not buy it. Because we are still sleeping in the attic because I stashed all my fleeces in the main bedroom. And I prefer to spin other fleeces such as Swifter. But I loved that colour and the vendor was such a nice person.

I also did not buy a yearling fleece of Fries Melkschaap. The only breed I still have to try out! It was about two kilo’s, of skirted fleece, looked very good, not much vegetable matter or poo. But they did not offer bank card payments (pinnen) and it was too much of a hassle to try and get the cash somewhere and I was pretty worn out by then and maybe it’s for the best. I’m sure another Fries Melkschaap will trot across my pad on of these years. Let’s hope so. I’ve been yearning for this breed for 5 years now. Exactly the time spinning has become popular and prices have soared and good fleeces are hard to source.

It’s alright, it’s alright. I have the box full of blue Shetland right here next to my wheel to finish. There’s the light green Swifter waiting at the cabin to be carded. There’s half a fleece of blue Merino ready to be wool picked. The other half wants to be washed and have its locks combed (I have a date for help with this this Summer, it’s definitely going to happen). There’s the Bont Schaap yearling fleece from last year waiting to be skirted and washed… And many, many rovings in my stash and all kind of things that can be carded into batts. Breathe. Breathe. There’s plenty of years in the future to find a quality Fries Melkschaap.

I did buy some tea and got a recipe to make ice tea, unsweetened. Will be trying it out during spinning adventures this Summer. Starting next Thursday when I spin at the Sheep Shearing Fest in Lichtenvoorde聽in the east of the country, near my cabin. Tok! Tok! Tok! T么么么么么么k!

brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

art聽“Swedish Chef” by Paul Schipper聽for sale

Preparing to show off chopped mushrooms.

Tomorrow is the knitters’ festival in one of the tiniest an oldest cities in the country: Nieuwpoort. (yes, it means “new port” and it was a new port on the river Lek (“which means “leak” (we have no fantasy when it comes to naming places))).

The festival聽is organized by The Schapekop, the LYS where I did the workshop dyeing with mushrooms聽back in February:

I was so going to knit a stranded vest with the yarn and bring it to the festival tomorrow and be all glorious and marvelous!

But of course I spend weeks fiddling with the chart and never getting it exactly right so there’s no vest to show. I do have聽one wristwarmer though:

The colours are beautiful and exactly as I want them for a cool, February-kind of vest I have in mind. It’s a good swatch telling me about gauge, colours and contrast. Especially that last one needs a lot more chart fiddling in StitchFiddle.com!

The past two weeks I felt bad about bragging about a vest to the people who organized the workshop and then knowing I’ll show up tomorrow with nothing or just that one meager wristwarmer… Yes聽I felt so bad that I contemplated not going at all and spare myself the embarrassment. Which is ridiculous!

In fact, so ridiculous that I snapped right out of it and casted on for a stranded vest in totally different colours last Tuesday. Look at these colours!

So happy 馃檪 So sunny 馃檪

They are all dyed with mushrooms, apart from the blue which is a commercial colour and the white.

This vest and these聽colours I don’t need to get precisely right. It’s just bands and bands of motives, some borrowed and some made up as I go along. There’s a little bit of teeth gnashing when I get my contrasts imperfect聽but I give myself a pass for that. Overall I’m just knitting happy colours, straight under the radar of my perfectionism, and I’m just making metres聽and I already have something nice to show tomorrow.

Just聽now I had to聽stop knitting for聽a bit and learn about shaping and steeks. It seems you cannot just knit a tube and then cut holes in it for arms and head. Or can you?
I don’t know, I’ve never done a stranded, shaped garment nor have I ever intentionally steeked.

For this vest I did a provisional cast on (to bypass the ribbing at the bottom because I didn’t have much time to get to the good part and I don’t know yet which colours I’ll have left for the borders). Then I knitted a tube that fits my stomach.

At the level where my bossom starts I now have to decide whether to increase (how would that go in a chart?) or to insert a steek (cast on about 8 stitched which will be cut later on). Also there needs to given some consideration to arm holes I guess. I don’t know yet if they need decreases and a steek, I’ll be reading the pattern聽Great Horn-Rimmed by Mary Scott Huff for that:

pic by聽Mary Scott Huff 聽pic by聽Interweave Knits

I’m using various patterns. The stranded聽Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang for looks and the聽Great Horn-Rimmed by Mary Scott Huff for shaping and steeking. That last vest is free, from Knitty, and I understand what it says 馃檪

Ooh, setting up for a steek is easier than I thought. Just park one stitch, cast on 8 new ones using both yarns and knit those eight in stripes. Decreasing for the front panels occurs on the side of this steek-flap.

I’ve started the set up right away. Pretty soon I’ll add two at the sides too, for the arm holes. Must not forget to add shaping.

After I have completed the toppart I’ll undo the provisional cast on and knit down wards. My tube is not that high yet and there’s room to add waist decreases right at the bottom.

So that’s the plan! Now I have two nice things to show the mushroom guy tomorrow so he knows his first workshop ever was very much appreciated.

Weird Wool Wednesday: Bossche Bol stitchmarkers

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After hearing me rave about them the other day Dootje knew the perfect gift for me. A set of Bossche Bol stitch markers of my own. Yay! Celebrated today with an edable Bossche Bol.

There’s also two chocolate bars and a “spekkie” stitch marker, which I will celebrate on another day.

Now to knit a lace shawl and not smear chocolate and cream all over them.

knitters’ party at Wolbeest (the ice cream parlour LYS)

Yesterday there was a knitters’ party at Het Wolbeest, the LYS plus聽ice cream parlour I’ve told you about before:

Wool studio Het Wolbeest and Italian handmade ice cream parlour Da Giovanni in Swalmen. Such a splendid combination!

In the back there’s a big wool studio for (felting) workshops and outside there’s a rest area where we sat knitting and eating cake:

Sock madness in the wild:

That Fabel sock at the bottom is a Symphony Socks competing for the last two spots on its team. Knit knit knit!

Het Wolbeest dyes some spectacular self striping yarn and makes a mean “arretjescake“, a typical Dutch, no-bake chocolate cake:

Another one of her self striping yarns, with a solid mini for cuffs, heels and toes. This one is called Cheshire cat:

I chose a non-striping yarn in colours that made me drool for ice cream with cherries and forest berries:

Wolbeest’ amazing聽felted teapot cosy!

It was a lovely day and my skein is already on the skein holder to become a Shelly Cloche by Devon Finney:


Yes, a lovely day. The ice cream was delicious! I ate it with such attention that I forgot to take a picture for you. Will have to return and try again.