dyeing with mushrooms Day 1

Today we dyed with Pagemantel (Cortinarius semisanguineus). All colours like meekrap/ madder (Rubia tinctorum). Salmon and coral colours. Workshop at De Schapekop in the province of South Holland.

Our instructor, Chiel Noordeloos, was wearing his pullover all dyed with mushrooms:

I brought my spencer:
pics by DeSchapekop

It is not so pretty on the inside:

But very functional and sewn over with the machine 3 or 4 times, just to make sure things stay were they should stay.

We were well taken care for during the day. De Schapekop has a fun felted pincushion:

And a handy tea cosy for anyone who is not afraid to cut into a fraying wool fabric:
This makes me want to make things.

Tomorrow day 2, with all the yellows and iron greens that were used in my spencer.


take a deep breath

I finished the strip to widen the mushroom dyed vest that I knit too narrow. But the strip is too narrow to sew first and steek second.

So I steeked it without securing the stitches!

Too small to fit the sewing machine:

I rubbed the 2ply Shetland type yarn a bit before cutting, to make the stitches grab onto each other. And then I cut!

Not moving the cut fabric too much I then put it under the sewing machine to secure the edge:

I started with a straight stitch, as you would normally do for a steek, but after a few centimeters/inches I decided to go with a zig zag, which can be used instead of a locking machine in sewing. It secures fraying edges:

After the zig zag I added a straight stitch:

Back side. Almost all strands are caught. Now I can handle this knitted fabric a bit without worrying it will fall apart.

I added a proper steek in the middle of my strip, sewing first, cutting second. With this I made my one wide strip into two strips, one for each side seam. Now it’s time to attach them to the sideseams of my vest (which were also steeked):

Attaching with a straight stitch:

Making sure all the strands are caught by the stitch. There are still a few loose ones:

After that a zigzag to lock the fraying edge. And done:

Not particular beautiful but acceptable and functional:

And so much better then before:

Now I can wear this vest and breathe.

Now add neckband and sleeve band and lower band before Thursday.

Weird Wool Wednesday: Steek Stack Stuck!

It’s too tight!

Steeking itself was easy though. These tips from Two Strands.com helped me gathering courage.

I ran two lines of sewing on both sides of the middle steek stitch. I reduced the foot pressure for this and chose a short stitch:

Then snip down the middle. I will be picking up stitches and knitting a border.

Ahh such happy colours these mushroom dyed Shetland yarn has 🙂

But it’s too tight. I won’t wear this, not with pleasure, which means it will lay in my closet if I don’t fix this problem. So I thiiiiiink I’ll continue knitting this spencer vest all the way to the bottom, too tight as it is. Then I steek it down the middle (or perhaps down the sides) and add a strip of knitting.

Finished: TdF glitter rolls vest

Using Debbie Vest by Aethalia O’Connor as a template. I’ve rewritten the pattern to be knit continuously, without cutting yarn too much. By now it’s a basic pattern I can use and re-use with any aran weight. Handspun is ideal! And it only takes 200 grams max.

This one too 185 grams of the green rolls I made and spun this Tour de Fleece.

Ahh, what a nice project. From the visit to wool studio Spinspul on the first day of de Tour to making more rolls at the cabin to spinning it while watching Tour de France.

Knit in just one week, handspun does knit faster!

Here are some pictures from fitting the vest. There’s a bit too much fabric at the back, I’ll need to decrease there even before I reach the underarms, on a next vest.

A next vest will certainly come. I’ve got about six finished now and two more on the needles. It’s just ideal to wear over one of the many dress shirts I surely will be sewing this year.

Just 200 grams is all I need. 430 meters. Needles 3,5 mm, gauge 19 st per 10 cm.

I’ve found some new treats to keep me going:

Shortbread! The best version of sprits-boterkoek-koekje that I can think of.

During Tour de Fleece we got a recipe (in Dutch, on Ravelry) for shortbread from Cjadam, a wonderful spinner from Amsterdam, and maker of the cardemom (!) shortbread and wonderful batts, of which I’ll soon talk more.

Before I found the shortbread this gave me a head ache:

Licorice chocolate. And whiny cat.

Both delicious but preferably enjoyed in little bits at a time. Which is impossible. With either.

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 is organized by The Schapekop, the LYS where I did the workshop dyeing with mushrooms 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 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 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 🙂 So sunny 🙂

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

This vest and these 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 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 and I already have something nice to show tomorrow.

Just now I had to stop knitting for 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 Great Horn-Rimmed by Mary Scott Huff for that:

pic by Mary Scott Huff  pic by Interweave Knits

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

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.

The wrong white…


The last ball of the vintage Norwegian yarn is a different white. It’s a different brand too. I knew this. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet it does.

How to proceed with my stranded Owl vest now?
I can alternate balls I guess… I’d have to frog all the rows from the previous weeks. Nothing says progress in knitting like frogging. *sigh* The difference in clour will still show, the vest would definitely have a different coloured top.

I could try and buy a matching yarn. Nothing says stash busting and finishing WIPs as buying more yarn.*sigh*

Here’s a reminder of this fun vest I have on the needles:

vest pattern is Hilja by Niina Hakkarainen

owl pattern is Grey Eyed by Rebecca Tsai

Pfff. I’ll have a think about it.
In the mean time I’m eyeing Tangled Vines cardigan and also probably casting on a new vest, from that purplewhite handspun.
And crocheting flowers of course. Lots and lots of them. Quick, before I grow tired of it.

Finished: grey handspun Flinders vest

So much gets done when you don’t take your crochet with you to the cabin.
I also finished Grey Flinders Vest while I was there:

Top-down vest pattern with raglan at the shoulders:

Before I started the ribbed hem I added a few shortrows at the front because it was considerable higher than the back. Three pairs in total, that’s six extra rows.

pattern: Flinders Sweater Vest by Linda from clickertyclick

yarn: 170 grams of handspun Wolop hollands grijs on needles 4 mm. Ribbing on 3,5 mm. DK weight, 411 m used.

It’s really nice! Now that we’re back in the city I want to make dress shirts asap to wear under it. Like the ones I’ve been planning since last Noveber. But first I have to sew a pair of trousers. Linen Summer trousers. For Summer 2016.

Ofcourse this happened:

Sometimes a vest is just a swatch.

On closer inspection I don’t like the shape of the back panel of the Grey Flinders, I want the armhole to be more straight, going down from the shoulder. Covering up my shoulder a bit more, for warmth.

So I think this may be just a swatch:

18,5 stitches per 10 cm. 24 rows.

As an alternative for a top down vest I’m now looking at Colors of Kauai by Hanna Maciejewska. It has a nice broad back panel and is a straight forward set up. Prov. cast on, knit down, increase for arm hole. Attach yarn at front and knit shoulder straps. Increases. Nice shape at the centre front.

Actually, one could do this just by herself. No pattern needed. Start with shoulder width for the back, knit down a bit, increase a bit to embrace the torso under the arms.

Attach new yarn at top, knit a strap, increase it a bit at both sides. One side for meeting the back panel under the arm. The other side for meeting the front panel, in a shape you like. I like a round shape for this one.

The trick is to have a feel for when to increase and how much…

Uhmm, I might want to reread my own notes on my top-down Hilja because it sounds as if I’m re-inventing it:


nu 86 achter en meteen sluiten als ook onder de armen wordt opgezet en gesloten. Het is nu in the round. Wel nog aan de voorkant eerst 2 x +3 gedaan en toen een shortrow (omdat het sluiten met 14 st aan de WS ging). Bij de shortrow nog weer een extra steek gemaakt.

OMG, I keep such bad notes! In “Dunglish” (Dutch English mess up) and no numbers for set-up? What am I saying? I sometimes do this when it’s a paid for pattern but Hilja by Niina Hakkarainen is a free down load.

Anyway. I now know for sure I like my back panels to be broad. Just like me.

Hilja pattern photo:

 pic by Niina

Hilja pattern has about my white handspun gauge so it is a nice guide for where and when to increase. Ah, this might be a good time to start keeping better notes.


Finished: Zauberball socks and more vest logic

We’re back in the city and guess what I knit on the drive over here:

Magic Zauberball Stripe Socks by Tofutrulla


In other knitting I finished the ribbing around the arm holes and neck of Grey Flinders. Arms were done on 4 mm needle, the same as the bodice. I picked up 95 stitches, about 3 st for every 4 rows. Then reduced the number to 80 in the very first round whilst setting up a 2 x 2 ribbing. Decreasing was done at the bottom and at the intersection with the raglan.

The neck ribbing was done on a smaller needle (first 3,75 mm later on 3,5 mm). That way I didn’t need to reduce stitch count as I added row after row and mess up the 2×2 ribbing pattern. Although I did do this in the bottom left and right corner at the front.

I don’t like how it looks…

You can’t see very well in this next picture but the ribbing round the neck line looks uncomfortably stretched when worn. It isn’t stretched that much but it sure looks that way.

The ribbing around the arm holes looks… untidy.

It took a lot of winging it and just going for it and not thinking too much when I picked up stitches and guessed how much to decrease. I don’t particularly want to frog and experience those uncertainties again. But I do think the look would benefit from a smaller needle size. And the neckline needs way more stitches than I gave it now.

But this was three evenings worth of work! Surely on a handspun vest a bit of irregularity isn’t that bad. Besides, who’s going to notice? People don’t pay much attention to each other anyway, let alone to ribbing on some gal’s handknitted vest.

I’m thinking about things.

While I think I’ve taking the 4mm needle from the vest and put it back into the sleeve of Tangled Vine Cardigan. I need something to knit now that the socks are done.

And I cast on a White Flinders:

In the purple(green) handspun that’s now dry and made into a huge ball, on needles 4,5 mm.

Because why finish one vest first and learn from it all kinds of things to do different in a second version?

last day of Woolvacation 2016

It’s finally good weather. No sun but plenty of wind. I’m reading up on dyeing with plants, having one of the last pancakes of the vacation:

Last week I went out for a little bike ride and gathered some dyeing plants: Goldenrod (guldenroede) and Common Tansy (boerenwormkruid).

After our visit to Münster I also want to gather some Lily of the Valley and dye three batches in one pot. But as it turns out, choosing which wool to dye is my hurdle. I cannot decide whether to get some yarn or some fleece. And then I’d have to premordant it with Alum.

It’s strange, these are not big steps to take but all in all it’s too much for me to handle. I’m blaming CSF, AI, IBS-C and many other capitalized nuisances. Making choices is one of my well known symptoms. So I’ve resolved not to dye today. To let it go.

Instead I’m doing laundry and roam about our little patch of wood a bit.

Ewww! (banana for scale)

Now it’s close to 5 o’clock and I have not been able to do much today. I have not been outside other than taking these picture and using the laundry lines we’ve hung in the trees around the cabin.

I have been knitting though. I’ve been picking up stitches around the armhole of Grey Flinders and I now know not to use the very stretchy bindoff for temporarily bind offs because it leaves little bumps, here seen on the left:

To avoid that look I’ve picked up stitches THROUGH this little bump, as seen on the right.

Here is the bind off with its bumps and me picking up stitches:

Picking up stitches through the bumps causes major curling as I effectively use a loop at the right side of the knitting to pick up a stitch from. Only with severely blocking and some decreasing at the outer edge can I counter this curling. Here’s one arm hole done:

I did use the very stretchy bind off (JSSBO) for the outer edge because it is, after all, nice and stretchy.