day three of course Ecodyeing (Tuingeheimen) at Viltwerkplaats Odijk

So this is that we did on the third and final day of the course Garden Secrets, which is all about extracting colours from plants and fixing it on cloth.

We made mordants in various strengths from alum, iron and a mix of the two. We worked very precise. With drug dealer scales and mililiter injection syringes.

We made technical reference pieces with dots in every mordant which we hung in various dye pots. We had five pots on the boil. In Dutch: gele ui, duizendblad, rabarberwortel, guldenroede en blauwhout. (Yellow onion, Achillea millefolium, Rhubarb root, Solidago and Campeche)
We had prepared the dye pots earlier that day or the day before. (So that’s a skill I now also have, yay!)

Then we chose various mordants within one colour bath and painted with that. We fixated the mordant on the cloth. Then the cloth could be put into the dyebath and the dye grabbed onto the cloth but only where the mordant was. We were painting with mordants. The results are the flower paintings below.

In the afternoon I did one classic eco print (just plain old iron water, with an unknown strength, probably STRONK, and some Rhus leaves) because I want to master making clear contoured leaves in heavy iron. The Rhus coloured purple which was a surprise.

I also worked with the various strength mordants and painted them all on one piece of cloth, in narrow stripes. I chose to add colour from leaves, not from a dye bath, and arranged various leaved. The result is stripy with leave prints. Very interesting.

My course mate did the same but with broader stripes and one, big leave, again Rhus, and her print is amazing. It’s the last picture.

(We both opted to play with mordants and leaves. Other course mates chose to explore batik techniques and prevent either mordant or dye to touch the cloth. This way you can work in layers.)

workshop Tuingeheimen Viltwerkplaats Odijk natural dyeing Eco verf

workshop Tuingeheimen Viltwerkplaats Odijk natural dyeing Eco verf

workshop Tuingeheimen Viltwerkplaats Odijk natural dyeing Eco verf

workshop Tuingeheimen Viltwerkplaats Odijk natural dyeing Eco verf


We learned to extract colour from plants and we learned about mordants to fixate the colour to cloth (cotton, linen, silk) and also shift the colours with these mordants.

on Day 1 we did Ecoprinting and Hapazone. Ecoprinting takes colours from leaves and puts them on premordanted cloth. Hapazone is hammering colour from flowers directly onto cloth or paper. This is without mordant and the colours are fleeting.

on Day 2 we made dye or paint from plant materials. Chop them up, soak them overnight, boil them, extract the colour and put it into little viles. Thicken them, add mordant to them. Can be kept for a long time. We painted with them on cloth and paper and we thickened them to use them for stamps.

In the afternoon we learned to shift the colours with iron and lemon. I’m looking forward to making my own paints and using them for water colour/ aquarel.

on Day 3 we prepared sophisticated mordants. They are used first and then colour is applied (either by dye bath or leaf printing). This way the colour can be determined far more precisely.

In the afternoon batik pastas were taught (but not the wax ones! Clay or flour batik paste instead, the African batiks). I opted for exploring sophisticated mordants with leaf printing instead.

All in all it was a very good course. Anja Schrik from Viltwerkplaats Odijk knows her stuff. She’s also a good course instructor who keeps impeccable timing so no one stands around being bored but also no one misses out on information just because they had to take a little rest. Also: the course doesn’t run late. That’s quite unique, isn’t it.

And it’s filled to the brim with information! Just like I hoped when I visited the studio for the presentation of the book and saw the sophisticated mordants for the first time being done.

It’s also all in the book, Eco Verven (39 euros). Which is being translated in German at the moment.

I’m very glad to have the book. I’m looking forward to work with my new knowledge. I bought some cochinelle because the colours that can be obtained from that are marvelous! They would be such a nice complementary parter to the indigo dyed linen I have at the sewing machine at the moment.

Lastly: the location of the course. A studio near three houses surrounded with one great garden filled with trees and green houses and crops and fruit and chickens and cats 🙂

The kitten is called Sjakie and the adult cat is Obelix 🙂
Obelix was adopted from the shelter and handed over in a bundle of towels because it was supposed to be “such an aggressive, hostile cat. Best to be kept outdoors. Pray you never have to take him to the vet because he will fight you nail and tooth.”

He’s the sweetest thing you ever saw! Basking in the sunlit garden, comes trotting when called because he LOVES the cuddles. Interested in what you’re doing. Turns out some cats just can’t stand the shelter. They want peace and freedom and then they their love for humans flourishes.
obelix the catobelix the cat


workshop Garden secrets (ecodyes)

we’re doing some amazing things! there are two days more days to go. here are some pictures without explanations (I’m running on three hours of sleep for two consecutive nights now)

Weird Wool Wednesday: friendly pill cosy

This morning: I have a day long workshop and these pills need to be kept cool:
bottle cosy

bottle cosy

These are my favourite wristwarmers and I love the colour, it goes so well with the colour of the salted lemon-water. They will be a friendly encouragement as I go to this workshop where I don’t know anybody and we’ll be eco dyeing all day long and I’ll be weird and self conscious and if I just keep my cool and just relax and enjoy and there will even be dinner which I won’t eat and people will wonder and I will smile and wave my little bottle with the friendly pill cosy around it.

The pills are Florinef, which bolster blood pressure, and I will certainly need one extra today as it will be a hot day today and I won’t bring my day bed to have a little lie down. (I will bring my car and lie down if I have to.)

a new swap: mini pin-cushions!

A new swap is starting in the Dutch Karma Swap Group.

A little handmade pincushion.
I LOVE pincushions, especially handmade ones and especially small ones!

BeFunky Collagepincushion
These are some elaborate examples from the photo pool of the Ravelry Handmade Pincushion Swap Group I participated in gladly a few years back. It was a lovely and generous group and they fortified me so much as I was still very ill back then. The group is no longer active as times have changed.

Here is my pinterest board with pincushions I either made or received, in that group or in the Dutch Karma Group:
BeFunky Collage my pincushions
So many techniques…. So much inspiration! I would gladly make any of these again for this new swap.

I have a few rules for my pincushions:
– I love small.
– it must function as a pincushion. I actually use all my pincushions!
– I won’t stick pins in an animal figure. I solve this by having all animal pincushions keep something in their paws and I stick the pins in that. The cat above holds a felted ball and the squirrel got a felted acorn to hold.
– If I make one for a swap I’ll make two: one for me and one for my swappee. This way I get to try out my idea before I make it for real AND I have a pincushion for myself at the end too 🙂

Oooh, I’m already gearing up for this swap! I would love to try a new one for this swap too. Either new in shape or a new technique. Isn’t this one marvelous?
knitting tuffet loaded by tesseresa
I think it is this pattern: Pin Cushion or Knitting Doo-dads Cushion by Carol Ann Dubrow. The pattern is no longer online but she found it in a webarchive. (Would have to improvise the embellishments myself.)

There are many more possibilities. Here’s a Ravelry database search for “pincushion”.

Do I want to knit? To crochet? Felt, embroider, sew, quilt? So many nice and diverse examples!
Pinnies :) pic by Maria Johnson

Ooooh, now I’m thinking of having a little get together in September, where we can craft on our pincushions together!
mushroom pincushion pic by LoRi

That will be nice. 🙂

Enjoying the city of Utrecht

Yesterday I met a knitter friend for a stroll through the city of Utrecht and hand over the Tour de Fleece price she choose: the pyramid bag I sewed. We had a blast!

We started off with coffee and pie at the Koekfabriek:

They specifically employ mentally challenged people at their bakery, that’s located close to the café:
 pic by Koekfabriek.
The pies an cookies are of very high quality. Hey, they’re starting a Koekfabriek in Breda too! In “hartje Ginniken”. Another city that needs exploring with a knitter.

Then we went across the street to the local yarn shop Sticks & Cups where I bought some salmiak yarn:

Sticks & Cups Sockstravagance, 400 m fingering but quite fluffy, felt more like sportsweight.

They had this weird yarn, it feels like a x-mas tree:
The lady said it was for making scrubs but my mind was already on an ’80s sweater for a pregnant lady: big piece of this on your tummy, preventing people from touching you.

Next to the LYS is a cat shop!
Jacq is a cat lover too and we had a blast. The owner at Mermaidy told us there will be a cat café opening soon in Utrecht! We need to come back.

Then we walked under the Dom, which has a book store and they have a special section with Frisian books. Bookstore Steven Sterk:
Dom vanaf de Maartensbrug
pics by E. Dronkert and by Indebuurt
It reads: “No must-you listen!”. Frisian is just stirred up English.

We had also visited the haberdashery Ria’s fournituren at the Zakkendragerssteeg where I got some nice hooks and bars for all the skirts I will be sewing, someday, soon.

looking otwards the museum in utrecht pic by douglas johnston

We strolled through the city, along the old canals with all their little weird shops and along the more quiet streets with their old buildings and hidden gardens.
In one little shop, Loeksgood at the Oude Gracht, we had a peek and then I ended up buying two coats for windy and rainy days:
A purple and a raspberry one with a hood. These are “soft shells” which is a new term to me. It’s wind proof and water proof and you can just scrunch them up in a bag or sit on them and they still function. I’m so old fashioned, I emerge from a time where these were called “in-between-season-jackets” and you couldn’t scrunch them up because the waterproff layer would crack and disintegrate. You couldn’t wear a bag strap on your shoulder either because the that layer would falter and you end up with wet shoulder.

My, how time’s have changed, the future is here! Never mind I didn’t get my hoover board, good functional light weight jackets are here!

Just to show how backwards I’ve been, this is the second time I’m learning about “soft shells” this week. On Thursday I learned about soft shell tacos:
pic by In de Buurt.
New food bar fifty-fifty in Den Bosch.
I learned I like them, soft shell tacos!

(I also learned these soft shells are entirely different from soft shell crabs, which I learned about earlier this year when my husband bought those instead of regular fancy crab for me to make salad with.)(which I failed at.)

(Please tell me I’ve now been educated about all the soft shell things that have emerged in the past decade. It’s a theme I would gladly not peruse any further.)

Utrecht is full of old houses with wonderful facades (lots of Art Nouveau!) and secret passages and gardens. A very green city.
View from the Dom tower pic by Jasha

At the canals the trees are planted on the lower quays, making you walk amongst the bulk of the tree at street level now. How smart is that:
Winkel van Sinkel pic by JTWS85
Oude Gracht, Utrecht pic by David Spender

Last century:
The Oude Gracht Viebrug Utrecht Holland pic by Snapshots of The Past
And they love their canals too. They are currently digging up a canal they had previously filled to make way for cars to travel along the city centre fast. Nowadays they are of the opinion cars should travel to the centre and then park. If you want to bypass the centre there’s no need for you to do that in close proximity of the centre.

This map highlights the old, 12 century waterway, which laid all around the inner city as a protective measure. Last century they got it in their head to fill it all up and make a highway of it. Luckily they only did that small piece on the left:
 Dutch Wiki about the plans.
Nowadays they are digging that part up again. The whole waterway has greenery on both sides, it’s like a park. It’s called a “singel”.
(From north to south you see the smaller, light blue line, that’s the Oude Gracht. Those are canals, they don’t have the soft earth shoulders.)

Along one of the canals we found a piece of technology:
We messed around with it, making the camera turn this way and that. But us, even though being both engineers, were too high on pie and wool fumes to realize what it actually is.

It’s a device to measure changes in the height of the wall, possibly caused by the construction on the other side. Duh. Don’t play with it.

We walked around the south part of the inner city. Here the Miffy museum is located, its artist Dick Bruna having been a well know inhabitant of the city until his death earlier this year.
 Dick Bruna

In the south there’s also the observatory Sonnenborgh and lots of greens along the water/ the singel.
Sterrenwacht Utrecht pic by Kars Alfrink

We ended our city trip at the old botanical garden:
pic by Universiteitsmuseum
We had a stroll through the garden and more tea and knitted on our projects.

I knitted on this:

Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier in the silk cotton yarn I bought last week in The Hague.

Just as we were leaving the Hortus I found a new addition for my collection of large, tall, ceramic-y tea mugs:
It’s a Danish design, by Galzone. It’s huge!

It was a LOVELY day! 😀
and I spend more money than I’d ever thought but hey, wool and jackets and large mugs are important to have.

The amount of greenery and the many peaceful spots of the city of Utrecht have me thrilled. So many places where there was no noise. Just birds chirping. If you ever visit the city, do take a canal adjacent to the Oude Gracht or walk along the outer parts of the Oude Gracht, in the north or south. It’s only the middle that is busy and noisy. Which, to be honest, certainly has a charm of its own and must be seen too. Lots of chocolates to be had there.

workshop Sammich Stitchin’/ Broodje Breien

Yesterday I was at the workshop Broodje Breien (=”Sammich Stitchin'”) at Wolop in Gouda. It’s a monthly inspirational course of 2 hours, accompanied with a lunch.

It teaches to find inspiration and translate it into knitting. Sources of inspiration differ every month and this month it was Nature. Previous months were “Van Gogh” and “Escher”. The concept was developed by Loret Karman and a baker in Amsterdam.

Translation of the inspiration into knitting varies too. The focus can be towards colours, textures, shapes, garments, stitches, yarn characteristics, anything!
It’s very fun to do.

This was my work halfway:

I took this picture as an inspiration and although I identified many things that could be translated into “wool” such as a haloed yarn based on the animal contrasted with a more bumpy yarn based on the wood, I chose to explore its colours.

Wolop provided a mountain of colours and with my picture in hand I picked out 25 of the colours I discovered and took 1,5 m (2 yards) of each of them.

There were many more colours in the picture than I saw at first glance. I started to look at them, truely look at them, and study how they influenced each other.

This is an approach that is thoroughly done in the Sammich Stitchin’s / Broode Breien about Van Gogh -and indeed all Karman’s courses on the painter- but when it comes to colour interactions I personally prefer the work of Bridget Riley.

Most people know Riley because she excelled in Pop Art in the 1960’s. But her colour work is equally groundbreaking. She’s a methodical artist researcher and I think she takes Van Gogh’s end point of colour studies and takes it to a whole new level.
Example of Riley’s work:
Tate Modern -7 Nataraja by Riley, 1993. Pic by Allan Harris.

The trick to view these massive canvases is to look at them how you would look upon a pond in a park. Just let your eye glance over and let the colour blocks shimmer as if it was light reflecting of the pond. Than something happens in your head. Different paintings of Riley result in different effects. Just by her changing the colour palette and sometimes the shapes.

It’s amazing that she can create that effect and that sentiment in the viewer with the colours and the shapes she chooses. She does extensive research in her lab, with many assistents colouring in the shapes. She actively accounts for eye movements and peripheral sight. Oh how I wish to visit one of her exhibitions.
Or own one of her paintings… to have a shimmering “pond” indoors to visit at any time!

Yesterday I wasn’t thinking of Riley.
I had a collection of subtle colours, in little pieces of string, and was trying to combine them to show myself their interaction. The aim was to make a little note of these studies, a knitted note.
One way to collect the colours permanently is in a square of 5 x 5 colours, as is done in the Van Gogh workshops. Each colour just 5 stitches long and 7 rows high. But that was very slow knitting.
So I ripped and tried stripes because that’s quicker. This was me at the end of the 2 hours:

Broad stripes of 28 st long and 4 of 5 rows high.

But I don’t like stripes much. And these show even less the interaction between the colours than the 5×5 blocks would have done.
So 15 minutes later, seated on the train back I had this:

All stripes ripped out and ready to try something new.
Small stripes, “knitting the picture sideways”?

When I had to change trains I was making progress:

(Also making tangles.)

Later that evening I finished the piece, with only a few strands of the most contrast yarns left because honestly, they had no place in this piece:

I didn’t change colour every row, some are 2 or even 3 rows high. Sometimes I ran out of yarn midrow and then just tied a new colour. But I purposefully did not try to recreate the picture. I did not make a dark blob in the left upper corner. No expressive gestures either. In short: no saori-weaving, I dislike that about as much as I dislike neat stripes:
Climate Change Action Banner pic by saoriweaver, it’s a banner on climate change.
A stunning piece if you do like saori, check out the link.
It’s a spectrum, I admit. I did use the picture as a guideline, knitting my way from right to left, looking at colours and contrast.

This is the end result this morning, blocked and the yarn bloomed and colour corrected:

A nice exercise! Just playing with colours and stripes, talking to myself in yarn, about colour interaction and contrast and colour families. I really like the middle and the right, where the contrast is more subtle. Colour in Fair Isle was also on my mind a lot.

Yesterday, after taking the first picture I stood over it and looked at the colours some more. Then I noticed something:

Heeheehee, it’s a good week for misty, nature-y greens!

Writing this now I feel I like to think some more about stripes. Families of colour stripes. Not the two toned stripes I see in most knitted garments. Small stripes. Interacting stripes. Not too extrovert contrasts.

Just now, when I looked at the Creative Common section of Flickr for online share-able pictures of Riley’s work, I see she does stripes too. (of course she does!)

Praise I - Bridget Riley Praise 1 by Riley, pic by Brett Jordan

This painting is clearly talking about contrast (not too much, there’s no white/black) and about warmth of colours (warm yellows and red with cool blues). About repetition without repeats, although sometimes a colour gets sandwiched -heyo!- between two similar colours.

And it talks about vertical-ness very much too. The vertical stripes do something to my eyes… (don’t try to focus! You’re not supposed to focus.)

They make me consider that humans are very vertical orientated beings themselves and have a natural connection to vertical lined things. Trees, cathedrals, other humans, ostriches, giraffes, alien silhouettes in a misty scene.

I think boulders, corgis and piramids enchant us because they are very not-vertical-lines.
pic by fuzzyard

In 1999 Riley got some recognition for the giant that she is, British Post made a stamp:
Bridget Riley stamp pic by cuthbert25
Inadvertably showing that cropping a work that’s meant to be viewed as a whole communicates very different things. Here we do not get the chance to let the colours shimmer. Because their width is now significant in relation to their height we now see them as regular stripes. They now mainly talk about the colours close to them.

This could be a knitted pullover, viewed from the side. As a matter of fact I think I saw this in a shop last Summer? On a mannequin wearing a coral floppy hat and sunglasses, with a white beach bag besides her.

Quick! Let’s get back to shimmering stripes and making connections between all kinds of outlandish inspirations!

I’m starting to like stripes.

A swap received: Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

I visited with Meilindis yesterday, in our important city of The Hague. We went for a stroll in the city forest (yes they have a forest in the city, with fully grown trees and it feels like visiting a green cathedral. There’s also a royal palace in the middle. And a Japanse garden.)

trees overhead pic by J E Theriot

After an hour we stopped for tea and cake.
And then she presented me with my swap!
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
A total surprise! I had only send her her own swap package the other day and now it turns out she was my return swapper all along. For our Favourite Books Swap. Rascal!

She had read the book Hitch Hiker to the Galaxy which is one of my favourites:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad coverswap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

This is an iPadcover is in her own handspun:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Project page here. Adorned with large friendly letters 🙂
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Such gorgeous colours. Exactly the green I adore: misty misty green.
For reference: these cat eyes always live in my mind.

Stitchmarkers in the binary code for 42: 101010
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
I adore mathy geekery like this. Meilindis also mentioned in the swap card that “42” in ascii code is *
And in normal/internet writing an * stand for “anything you like” which is a wonderful answer to the question about life, the universe and everything.

And she knitted a shawl in the blueest blue, which she knows I won’t knit for myself:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
The pattern is Magrathea by Martina Behm. Magrathea is the planet where planets are being designed and made.

It has an genius construction: you start at the narrow end on the right and increase, incorporating the lace edge as you go. Then, at 75% of your meterage, you stop all garter stitch and start the lace edge at the left side. It looks like its sibling but is knitted in another direction.
 pic by Meilindis
The famous shawl Hitchhiker is also by Martina Behm and is also inspired by the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy 🙂

Shawl Hitchhiker en Leftie, also by Behm:

Hitchhiker currently has 27698 projects on Ravelry!

The booklet in the swap is from the ’80’s and invites the reader to look at the world differently. Very suitable, both in reference to tHHGttG as in reference to me.
A wonderful swap!

After all the fawning over the goodies we had a nice lunch and then we went to the high quality local yarn shop of The Hague: Cross & Woods.
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
It’s “a crafting parlour”…. and they have gorgeous yarns, fabric and fibre:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

I went home with this:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Ah… uhm…

That silk cotton yarn will become a Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier:

A lovely summer top and I’ve been wanting to knit a second one for a few years now. I knit one in Tussah silk back in 2013 and I wear it a lot, even though it has the totally wrong colour.

Six weeks ago I nearly bought 4 skeins of bright yellow linen at Spinspul but it didn’t happen. Now I’ve gotten my hands on this soft, silvery yarn, I’m sure a Buttercup will happen now!

But first knit like the wind on that lila cardigan! I’m at the sleeve now and I knit in the train towards The Hague and also on the way back. I barricaded myself with woolly things in the train. This my woolly bubble:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

Back home and I’m using the iPad cover:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
It gives a good feeling about that electronic window upon the world: the iPad.

Meilindis send two pictures of her lovely cat Freya who always helps with blocking:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover pic by Meilindisswap 42 hhgttg ipad cover pic by Meilindis
And I just noticed she wrote a blogpost about our double swap and she takes much better pictures than me: go read it here 🙂

Bunny fun: The Random Knitter Podcast Anniversary Party

Gwen is The Random Knitter and a friend of mine. She’s Spaceinvaders on Ravelry.
Yesterday she celebrated the one year anniversary from her podcast and she invited some of her friends around to help celebrate. Gwen loves knitting, Bram, black and bunnies.

She made a wonderful party with excellent homebaked goods and teas:
randomknitter yarn party bunniesrandomknitter yarn party bunnies
Bunnies were there too, meet Axl and Ozzy:
BeFunky Collage
Axl has a paprika and a personal playground blanket on the floos, Ozzy is too smart to be let out of the cage when there’s a knitters’ party. Ozzy got paprika too.

There were lots of WIP bags present!
Gwen has hers on permanent display:
wip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeest

We brought our own. Several:
wip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeestwip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeestwip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeestwip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeestwip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeestwip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeest
You, of course, recognise a few Bird House Bags by FiberRachel and a hand felted bag by Wolbeest.

I brought a bag too, as a present for Gwen. While traveling it was a glamorous Sorting Hat:
randomknitter yarn party bunnies
But the end result was more…. poo emoji:
wip bags project bag bird house bag FiberRachel projecttasjes Wolbeestrandomknitter yarn party bunnies
She laughed 😂😂😂

Gwen is a bad ass knitter:
randomknitter yarn party bunnies

Gwen is also famous! Here she is in the current edition of Handwerken zonder Grenzen, a magazine about handcrafts:
randomknitter yarn party bunnies
A celebrity! I know a celebrity!
She hasn’t changed one bit since she became famous.

There was an other celebrity present. “Somebody” was sampling one of her beautiful handprinted sock blanks! An eco printed one!
randomknitter yarn party bunnies
Such great colours. And the way it knits up!  Yes, it’s a sneak preview of what’s to come from Wolop.

All in all we had a lovely party and RandomGwen made a new podcast to celebrate one year of vlogging about knitting and yarn. Go check it out here:

Weird Wool Wednesday: overdyeing a vest

Overdyeing those socks made me feel good! I’m good at dyeing! I’m the bestest!

So let me just go ahead and overdye that handspun vest!
From rust orange to dark steel blue:

It’s really difficult to dye an existing fabric consistently.

Those dark spots are not shadows, they are stains of darker dye.

(don’t know what to do with it yet. Overdye with an aggressive commercial dye? The vest cannot be put through the washer like is custom for those dye jobs.)