Workshop Ecodyeing techniques at Wolop!

Yesterday I had a wonderful workshop at Wolop: three techniques of ecodyeing. I went home with a skein in a jaar, with numerous printed fabrics and with a printed shawl still in a bundle.

Outside the studio the plants are growing, this is “Stinking Goldy” (Stinkende Gouwe in Dutch and Greater Celandine or tetterwort, nipplewort or swallowwort in English), a plant which doesn’t stink in particular but has bright yellow sap that will stain your clothes (but not your wool). Gouda, the name of the city, has two canals called Gouwe ūüôā
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
It gives beautiful prints when hammered:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
These are some hammered prints I made, from violets:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
I tried hammering plants before but I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I do. I’d love to do this more. Embellish shirts and skirts or use fabric for WIPbags. Anja Schik had some beautiful examples in her studio when she presented her book about Eco Dyes.¬†Her example showed how the colours faded in time:

Lieneke was very liberating in her remark that you can always hammer a new flower on. And pre-mordanting makes a difference. As does fixating the print. All things she taught us.

The second technique we learned was about printing. These are some printing examples from Wolop:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeingworkshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing

After explanation and examples we got to work ourselves. Lieneke had a multitude of various plants to chose from. The one in front is mine:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing

Our “bundles” in the make:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
Eco-printing is all about bundles.

Lieneke showed us how various you can make use of bundles. How about taking little pieces of cloth with you on a hiking trip and taking some leafs and earth from a friendly space and making a bundle right then and there? Or what about making some on holiday?
India Flint, queen of eco-printing, even brings a small cooker with her on holiday, to steam the bundles in her holiday homes. But Lieneke says: why not bring your bundle home in a ziplock and cure it there?
So many possibilities! A lovely experience to have the world open up like this.
This is the bundle that I took home:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
and I’m supposed to leave it alone for a few days. Weeks if I can muster. I’m not that patient! This looks so promising.

Thirdly here is some solar dyeing in progress. The ball on top is dyed with red onion skins:
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
All natural plant materials: onion skin, madder, dandelion flowers, more onion skins and woad.
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
The dandelion is my favourite. It’s an experiment but it seems to be going well. And the yarn has sparkles!
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing
We made a vessel of our own. Lieneke taught us how you can determine whether a plant shows promise for dyeing. It was a really good workshop!

Just when we thought we were done we got a fourth, extra technique. It was a special bundle that we have to bury in the garden and leave there for months. Months!

It was a really good workshop. I recommend it. There will be a second one in June, in Gouda, in the second studio Lieneke uses. June 17th, 45 euros all in.

workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing

You may skip this last bit, it’s about my health:
I was meant to do this workshop last year but something went wrong on the trainride to Gouda. The train broke down and we stranded in the middle of the country on a very hot day (May 28 2016). I dehydrated while trying to make it to Gouda in time, by bus. Dehydration is a danger when dealing with adrenal problems. A danger I’m prone to, I learned that day. Luckily my parents live near one of the busstops and I avoided an adrenal crisis¬†by ringing their doorbell, heaving and shaking and crying uncontrollable, unable to speak.

Luckily my mother is not easily spooked, she put me on a day bed and brought me salted tea. Later on my husband came by car to get me and take me home. No workshop for me and it has stung for many months. Stupid health. Stupid trains!!

But now I’ve done the workshop and it was wonderful! I learned so many things! And grew so confident by seeing the examples and seeing how Lieneke does things and approaches eco dyeing.

I did get reminders that my health is not optimum. I had trouble concentrating and needed to eat Wolop’s chocolate chip cookies all the time. It is weird, not being in full control of your mind. It got a bit better when I took more and more¬†of Hydrocortisone (which scares me because it depletes the bones of Calcium).

Still. It’s not easy not being well. It is weird, first and foremost. I suspect it gets weirder with age.

It forces me to often take stock of all the things I want to do and then choose the most important to do firstly. Because there’s not enough vitality and time to do all the things. (The stock taking itself takes energy too so got to keep that in mind too. And then there’s the need to stop doing the fun thing halfway through because there’s vitality and time needed to clean up too.)

Man. Living ain’t easy. And it’s weird. But the workshop was lovely!
workshop Ecoprinting Wolop Gouda wol ecodyeing

workshop Dyeing with Mushrooms, Day two results.

we did the greys, blues and reds and the light yellow in the lower left. I opted out of the beige that comes from the abundant native mushroom Aardappelbovist (Scleroderma citrinum)

Lots of drab, smurrie and sludge again:

Sorry, very tired. Two night with 5 hours of sleep total. Talk staccato, mkay?

Sitting now with colours all around me. Thinking stranded projects, shapes, combinations.
Knitsonik is very much on my mind.

Also this book: Poetry in Stitches. Old. 1997. Wish I had it. Very much so. De Schapekop had one in Norwegian, I was delighted ūüôā Looking for one like this for me: Dikt i masker.

Rukt i Masker Poetry in Stitches boek Solveig
Solveig takes heartfelt landscapes, historic textiles and cultural identities and translates them into stranded patterns.

Rukt i Masker Poetry in Stitches boek SolveigRukt i Masker Poetry in Stitches boek Solveig

Want too. This way of designing. Dutch things.

Thinking about these:

Puttertje by Carel Fabritius uit 1654:

Dutch tiles. Art nouveau. Snowdrops. (these are lilies, couldn’t find snowdrops. Don’t like lilies):

Winter almost gonepic by Atze Dijkstra

There are tiles on many buildings in my city and other cities I hold dear. There are also typical Dutch tiles in my house, behind the fire place. Won’t do blue and white though.

Would love to do a “pimpelmees” but don’t have the right blues. Another time, little friend:

Dutch traditional clothes. Colourful. Practical.
from Marken:
marken vrouw pic by Gwen the Monster
from Volendam (wouldn’t do Volendam though, it’s too iconical):
2011 Markenpic by Jose Gonzalvo Vivas
from Friesland:
pic by Theun
Nice colours.

For now I’m thinking light coloured vest with snowdrops, wrens and the checkered pattern of the “Kievitsbloem”. All early spring, end of winter symbols. Art Nouveau shapes. First time steeking.

Another project to use the warm yellows, the ochres, with the steel blue I bought to go with it. Perhaps wristwarmers, not a vest.

Another with the colours of the painting Puttertje. Those are the ones we dyed yesterday: the red, the blues, the greys both warm and cool. They don’t flatter the colours of my face but they are beautiful.

I wouldn’t depict the bird itself. I would only use its colours. Or it’s essential shape or combinations. It’s face mask for example. The streak on its wings. I found another painting, using the same colours as the Puttertje:

It’s not Dutch though, it’s French:¬†Fleur de lande by Jacques Wely. “Flower of the land.” But I think it’s a Dutch girl. It’s from the Art Nouveau era.

I want one vest finished half way May, when there’s a Knitting and Crochet festival in the old town nearby De Schapekop and the mushroom instructor will be there again.

But first: rest rest rest. Got nice things to watch on the inside of my eyelids though. Knitwear designer things. ūüôā

Workshop Mushroom Dyeing Day 1

Results of day 1, made with two species of mushrooms:

The one that dyes yellow was then modified¬†with iron and gave the greens (“modifying” is fancy for “add a bunch of rusty nails”).

The colours are so¬†beautiful! The whole workshop is fantastic. It’s really relaxed yet well organized. There’s no rush but everything gets done. The instructor has soooo much knowledge. He’s name is Chiel Noordeloos and he was a mushroom professor at the University of Leiden. Now he’s retired. On thursday he’s off to Oslo to give two lectures on mushroom dyeing. In Norwegian! I told him I speak Norwegian too, on account of having spent six months in Bergen. He said: “But then you won’t speak Norwegian, you speak Bergensk.” He’s so right haha!

He brought lots of examples, both of mushrooms and of dyed skeins and of knitted items. Lots of books too. It was wonderful.

The location is at woolstudio De Schapekop (The Sheepshead) which is also wonderful. Very hospitable. We are taken care off really well.

Here are some pictures:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

De Schapekop is a wonderful place. I’m not even showing you half of it:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

There was time to explore and to knit while doing so:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.
First course of a wonderful lunch.

Examples Chiel brought with him:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

Some of the books:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.
Heehee, mushrooms are called “svamp” in Swedish.

Knitted clothing all dyed with swamps:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

Look, he buys some of his dried mushrooms at Riihivilla in Finland:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.
I don’t know which colour these give. Mushrooms are plenty in Finland, not so much in the Netherlands. Love Riihivilla. Leena keeps a blog about natural dyeing, it features mushrooms too. I recognize the smell of the purple dyes from a mitten kit I knitted.

In the afternoon we dyed purples and greens. This purple mushroom is toxic and it needs it’s pH value monitored to give purple:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

Adding iron to the dyebath before dunking in the skeins:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

Then dipping various skeins for various periods of time. It’s how I got the lighter colours. I was the only one doing that, the workshop provides three colourways for green. The first, most intense one pictured here and two lighter ones. I put in two additional skeins, the last one only for a couple of seconds. They are bottom right. As soon as it had the colour I wanted I took it out and rinsed it:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.
I used two skeins I’m supposed to use tomorrow. This means I won’t be dyeing all the colours tomorrow. That’s ok, I don’t mind skipping out on corals or light oranges. We’ll see.

Results of today are drying. Wool for tomorrow is already sorted. We’ll dye¬†greys, brown, blues and reds.
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

It’s wonderful to be able to participate a whole day. I’m not even that tired. How far I’ve come ūüôā

On the way back the landscape inspired me to think about colours and stranded knitting:
wol verven met paddestoelen olv Chiel Noordeloos bij wolstudio De Schapekop. Dyeing Wool with mushrooms.

Preparing to dye with mushrooms.

Just before the sun hits the snow this morning:

I’m at the cabin for six days of rest and crafting. Yesterday I arrived here¬†with Lillepoes and about 19 projects to work on. Knitting, sewing, spinning, embroidery.

Instead I’ve been doing some homework for a workshop Dyeing with Mushrooms I’ll attend at the beginning of February. This is Shetland Lambswool from LYS and wool studio De Schapekop:

I need to make these into 14 skeins of 25 grams and 5 of 10 grams. Then they need to be mordanted with alum. It has to happen this week because I won’t be seeing my dyeing pan or the alum after that. So here I was last night, skeining up the cakes, counting the rotations of my Louet winder.

The workshop at De Schapekop will be fun and interesting. This is the picture they show:
Lots of colours possible with mushrooms!

It’s a two day workshop, with mycologist (= professional mushroom-o-logist) Chiel Noordeloos. A mushroom expert who happens to love knitting and has brought these two fields together.

The first day we’ll dye yellow, green and orange-reds. The second day greys, purple and browns. At the end I’ll have 350 grams of dyed yarns. That’s a stranded vest!

I knew of dyeing yarn with mushrooms from Finnish dyer¬†Leena Riihel√§¬†from webshop Riihivilla. They have locally spun Finnsheep yarns, all dyed with plants and mushrooms. Their mitten kitts are excellence! I’ve knitted three (and a half) of them.
 pic by Riihivilla

In Summer time they sell them on the market Kauppatori of Helsinki:
Willow Herb Mittens

My mittens, the first I ever knit:

They put so many yarn in one kit that I knit three mittens. The first one was too tight, you can see the difference in the first picture. There was enough yarn to knit two extra mittens. It was my first stranded project.

Here are some pictures of the finished product, I only took these last year, after 7 years of wear:

Still look good eh? I wear them often. When I made them I put the year on it, as it was the year I learned to knit. ¬†Since then I wanted to date a knit each year but it’s only now that I did it again: the Wolop Advent-shawl has “2016” on it.

These are the Finsheep mittens I knit for my husband and my mother. All Riihivilla kits and they both still use them too.
robertmittsroz mitts

And here’s the kit I bought in 2011 and have knitted a bit on since then:

The light orange is mushroom dyed for sure! Since I bought this kit my colour preference has switched away from orange and I don’t think I’ll ever finish it. Which is something I feel guilty over because I’d really like another pair of Riihivilla mittens.¬†Wonderful company, wonderful yarn. Finnsheep is in my top 3 of favourite breeds.

I wish I had bought the kit for this colourway instead:

Shipping costs are preventing me from ordering them now and have done so for years…
Instead I’m dreaming of visiting¬†Finland one day. Buy the kit in person, on the market. Also¬†see Finnish wool people. And try to find an old Finnish spinning wheel to take home, restore and use. I already have a¬†Finnish slanty wheel and would love to have an old one. One used by a Finnish wool woman.

Back to dyeing with mushrooms. All colours above are done with plants and mushroom. The grey-green in my rose mitts is from mushroom. And the orange and pink in my mother’s mitts too, if I remember correctly.

Leena of Riihivilla keeps a very interesting blog about her dyeing:

Annakika is a dyer in Sweden with a beautiful Flickr account:

dagens skördResultat av svampfärgningen / Mushroom dyeing 16 juli 2012
Pics by AnnaKika who dyed these skeins with mushrooms (notes in Swedish)

Now I’m off to tie up some more skeins. Tea is gone, cake is gone. Let’s get to it.
The tying needs to be done in a certain way, so the dye fluid can reach every part of the yarn. For this dyers tie a string in a repeated figure 8 across the strands of the skeins.

Every skein has to be marked too, so I’ve put a wooden bead on them. And tied two knots in a string, should the bead break and go missing.

Lastly I’ve used a knot that is more easily loosened than a straight forward knot. Before putting the ends through the loop I run them once behind the “root”.

Here’s everything together: bead, figure 8 across the skein and a slightly modified knot at the end:

Also: this yarn contains spinning oil and I must be careful not to rub it on my face. I think I did it anyway because I had insomnia last night and I’ve not yet shaken off the brackish feeling that comes with that. A little walk outside first, I think. Than a snort of cat tummy. And then wool homework. Then wash hands and yarn and hopefully tonight peaceful dreaming of mushrooms.

Mushroom Garden pic by Nelo Hotsuma

Bookpresentation and lecture “Eco-Dyes” by Anja Schrik

Viltworkshop Odijk has an amazing studio:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprintinglezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

The demonstration was awe-inspiring. 14 colours out of the same dye pot. Here are two dyepots, one from yellow flowers and one from cochinille. That’s 28 colours all together:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

Another example, using dye from only one onion skins dye pot:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

There were about 30 visitors, all women, and all “wool women”. Everyone was wearing something art-full and no one was keeping in her stomach, pretending to be prettier, and being miserable for it. They all had a technical keenness.

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

14 plants made into 14 plant dyes:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

These dyes where then used to dye these tops:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

Invitations for playing with stamps and tie-dying and eco printing:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

Latvian easter egg dye technique. These were so vibrant in colour! The photos do not do it justice:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

Another technique is hammering the dye straight into the cloth:

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

The lecture was amazing! It addressed the history of dyes, from cavemen rubbing red earth on there faces right up to the synthetic dyes of the last century. In between there was given much importance to the wearing of colour, singling out monarchs, Roman emperors and church officials as the only ones allowed to wear red and purples. Setting up guilds and keeping the recipes very secret. But only after dyers were snubbed for centuries because they stank up the place, with their buckets of fermented urine. And you couldn’t trust them anyway, with their magical powers to change the appearance of something. And their chemical knowledge… Shapeshifting stinking magicians, the lot of them!

 Tyrian, royal, purple. $4.000 per gram 5 years ago. 11.000 snails needed per gram. 1700BC-1100AD

This mistrust and the fact that dyers weren’t literate caused their dye recipes to be lost over the centuries many times. Egyptian times, Roman times, pre-ME times, Aztec knowledge, Mayan knowledge, ME-times, Neanderthalers, Peruvian recipes, Afghan recipes. All lost.

They also got researched and reinvented many times and it is something that modern dyers still do, in my opinion.

Nowadays we use bright and light fast colour in our cloths and surroundings as common as if it was sliced bread. But, much like sliced bread, the common and widespread use of it is fairly recent. Before that we had to “make do” with the traditional skills. (which I love).

And painters! We are so spoiled these days. Up until about a century ago every painter made her own paint. All through the renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age contracts were signed at the commission how much of the expensive Lapis Lazuli a painter was to use.

Those paints have faded… Only the most expensive ingredients may have survived. All tapestries and cloths and paintings have changed colour or have faded.

There was dramatic red in the sky of Turner’s painting when he made it. But he used fast fading reds¬†and now we’re left with golden magnificence of a very different flavour.¬†Artist’ prerogative? The link goes to an interesting article by¬†

Van Gogh used fading colours too. His irises were very purple when made. And his bedroom didn’t have¬†these tasteful docile light blue walls:

They were purple! And the floorboards were maroon. Put that against the green strokes between the boards and your 19th century eyes would start to water:

Van Gogh was way more colour mad than we give him credit for today. A whole new world of Vincent’s colours is there to explore ūüėÄ

He lived in the time when for every colour a synthetic variety was searched. Between 1850 and 1925 the race was on, dear Watson. It was a chemical race. Practically all the large chemical concerns we know today started out in those times as small producers of one or two synthetic dyes.

¬†Today’s AkzoNobel paint testing site in Sassenheim, NL

Anyway. I imagine that through every century the farmer-women have happily indulged into colouring their wools and their eggs with the plants gathered around their stead. Playing with what are called the “little colours” because they may fade fast you can have coloured garments¬†every day, as long as you’re willing to overdye once a year.

I did got to knit a little during the lecture, feeling every stitch blindly because my eyes were focused on¬†the projection screen for Anja Schrik’s very interesting lecture. She will repeat this lecture in Haarlem, at Meervilt, on the 29th of October and the 1st of December. There are also workshops and all the dye stuffs from the book are for sale.

I haven’t even shown you the actual book. I’m very happy with it. For me it is very complete and clear now that I have seen the demonstration and the examples from the book. The lecture was extra information.

With the book I feel confident to start dyeing. As soon as¬†next weekend¬†as the indigo plants at the cabin are about to wither now that the frost is coming. Indigo is a whole different class from the plant dyes and the pigment dyes! I feel confident to address is. That’s really saying something about both the book and Anja Schrik as an instructor.


The book Eco-verf by Anja Schrik I compare to Eco Colour by India Flint, which is also on my shelf.¬†Flint gives a lot of atmospheric inspiration, Schrik has more recipes and hands on. Having never done a workshop in this material I’ve always found Flint’s book intimidating. She is very good at it and I’d never be able to get her results. Schrik’s book Eco-verf is more user friendly, having a whole chapter of¬†step-by-step guides to get easy and reliable results.

But like I said, by meeting the dyer and seeing her do a demonstration and seeing the examples from the book, the information ordered itself in my head in a way that suits me better than when just reading a book or seeing youtubes about it.

lezing Eco-verf en boekpresentatie bij Viltwerkplaats Odijk. Plant Dyes, natural dyes, ecoprinting

Having greens on the mind.

I’ve been crocheting like a mad woman:

pattern¬†Princess Daisy’s Flower Blanket by Sherry L. Farley, hook size¬†4.0 mm (G), yarn Scheepjes Colour Crafter.

I’m not even half way. I’m trying to be done before I run out of steam so crochet it is, every day, every spare minute. I love the greys! And the greens! I kind of wish I crocheted with thicker yarn so I would have a thicker blanket (and also a faster one). Doubts are setting in. I’m trying to out-crochet them.

There are two balls that didn’t make it to the picture: the cool grey and the accent purple. Only the purple grey made it to the picture and (the remnants of) the warm grey and the three greens. Love those greens!

I’ve run out of the warm grey, the main colour. I do have another ball but it’s in the city and I’m still at the cabin for another whole day. I’ll be making flowers today and tomorrow¬†I guess. Endless variants of green hearts and green petals.

I wonder why I am so drawn to these three greens….

can it be that I’m echoing SEPTEMBER 2015:

When I dyed yarns with flowers of the common reed and got these same kind of greens? Such glorious greens the reed gave!
So today I’m doing it again. I found a little patch of reed yesterday and cut some flowers. Earlier I bought basic T-shirts and today I’m dyeing them!

Plant dyes are so illusive. Here’s the same pot under lamp light and a day light lamp:
dyeing with reed plantsdyeing with reed plants

I’m putting in two cotton t-shirt, HEMA brand, Ladies’ Basic Shirt, non-stretch, size S. It’s about 300 grams of cotton, 200 grams of reed flowers and 45 grams of Alum. I’m aiming for a light green colour, non army-green:
dyeing with reed plants
This colour is a bit too light. It’s more “I spilled my tea” than “Dyed with reed flowers”. Perhaps because these reeds are different from last year? These reeds grow in the shadow of trees, not in the full sun like the ones from last year did.

I want to go back to the spot that I picked flowers last year but it’s the weekend now and there are a lot of people there. I’m a bit shy, doing something in public that not many people understand. I’ll crochet a few more petals while I ponder.

Knitting for the overstressed ill.

The cold has gone. But now the ME/Adrenal thing is in full flight: I’m tense and wired all the time. It’s a natural reaction to the strain I’ve been under since January but I do wish my body would learn to default into relax mode soon.

Anything causes me stress. Noises, telephone calls, blood sugar rises. Hot showers, mother-in-law, vegetables. Reed that might soon be out of bloom. Planning to try on Petrie Shell. Having to sew lining into the pockets of Pumpkin Ale.

So I’m avoiding all those triggers until my body feels safe again.
As far as knitting goes I just want to knit around and around and around and not think too much. So that’s what I’ve been doing:

One Noro Kureyon legwarmer finished. 60 grams used and it’s 65 cm long. I love the stacked stripes! And the colours!
You can see the jogged line where I switched colours. There are solution to that and I had a look at them (Techknitter for example) but understanding jogless stripes gave me stress so I let it go.

Knitting on Emma Cardigan is stressfree too, mostly. Just follow the pattern. I’m doing bustdarts now and pretty soon will start with the lace part. I’m just knitting and knitting and not fretting about fit or size. It may be too tight in the end but then I’ll just widen the button bands untill it fits, just like I did with Holla Cardi (aaargh, buttons!) and

Yesterday me and Noro got bundled up in the car and were brought to the cabin. There my green dyeing pan had cooked up a surprise in the week since I last seen it:

All the pink stuff I left here last Sunday has grown into greens!
I put it outside to dry in the shadow. (I didn’t rinse it yet.)

This has turned out quite dark and there’s still a lot of reed and colour left in the dye pen. So I put in another shirt and some yarn, let it soak for a while and then transferred the goods to my other, smaller dyepan, added hot water and brought it to a boil:

Let cool overnight and this morning I unwrapped my second reed surprise:

Very yellow pale green. Probably because I didn’t cook it in the reed water but in new, clean water.
I actually wanted something in between, to combine with the darker green. There’s still a lot of reed and colour left in the dye pot so I could …. there’s also more reed at the pond nearby… I could go and….
Nope. Today is for sitting and knitting. Not for going about and planning things and trying to achieve a certain goal and throwing expectations about like they’re peanuts.

Another thing giving me stress is the rain we’re getting today. “Summer will be gone! Help!”
That’s why yesterday I felt I absolutely needed to go outside and experience the last day of Summer. I felt obliged by Summer and Summer Spinning and all the plans I had for spinning and enjoying the outside life back in June and July.

I know it was not a healthy thing to do but the pressure of this stressor was just too big.
So I sat outside, with the cat, and did a tiny bit of spinning in the lovely Summer afternoon:

Looking back I have mixed emotions. It was a lovely 20 minutes with the sun and the smells and the birds and nature and Summer and the lovely spinning.
But having surrendered to the stress was not very good. Neither was sitting upright when I was too weak. I paid the price for it that evening and even today. I’m weak and wired and weepy. But it was a bit of joyeus spinning and that weather looks gorgeous.

Since then I’ve been inside and laying about, peering at my iPad and mostly reading about knitting instead of actually knitting. In this weird state of mind I joined a new Ravelry group: I love clogs.

For people who enjoy wearing clogs. I enjoy wearing clogs!
You know I always have a wooden pair that I use outside at the cabin, the typical Dutch traditional klomp:
This year I also bought some run-of-the-mill farmworkers clog, with a plastic sole and “leather” top, that I use both at the cabin and in the city. They’re very comfy and with the rubber sole they’re more quiet:

But I’d rather have a nice clog: with wooden sole, real leather and some design.
The group has put me on an internet crawl amongst all kinds of beautiful clogs! Dutch and Swedish and German and Portugese. Wonderful things are out there! I want some of them!

At the moment it’s only a matter of determining how much money I actually want to spend and then choose the design and colour and how to deal with fit issues. I’ve wanted trip klompen made in Eenrum for a long time now but you’ve got to visit the studio because they want to guarantee a good fit:

I’m not able to visit. Not by a long stretch…
I think I’m willing to risk buying online. There’re some sellers who allow returns cheaply.

But this might not be a good thing to embark on when you’re in a bit of a fever-brain state as I am now. I’m wired, tired and hyper-alert.
I better be smart and not getting out my bank card yet.

Still my mind needs something to focus on, some sort of diversion that’s entertaining and engaging but not stressing. An online diversion.
The Dutch Karma Swap Group has come up with just that: a sock-a-long. It starts on Monday. There will be one pattern that most of them will knit but any pattern is welcome.
I want to join with this sock yarn, hand dyed by Kleurvol:

in a simple round and round and round pattern. No twisted stitches, no cables. I’m collecting patterns on its stash page but I’m thinking something like Prickly Pears:

I love herringbone and faux ribbing with round shapes (“koffieboontje!”)

For really no-thinking-yet-entertaining round and round knitting I have this handspun ready for socks:

Also handdyed by Kleurvol.

And when I finish that other Noro legwarmer I guess I could do armwarmers with the left overs, round and round and round.

Day 2 at the cabin

I had a lovely day at the cabin, with again lots of wool things.

I did a little bit of spinning when I was fresh out of bed and sipping my morning tea:

When I rested I did some more knitting at Emma, a pleasant knit:

When I didn’t want to think or look at my knitting I worked on the Noro legwarmer:

But the main course of the day was the sleeve surgery at Contiguous Blue, the latest problem being that when the cable read “turn every 3rd Right Side Row” I forget to translate this to knitting in the round:

This is not the same cable as higher up the sleeve, it turns too fast.

You know what I have to do:

This is the fourth time I’ve ripped back this sleeve.

First I knit this sleeve following the exact instructions from Deco Cardi which is knit in the same yarn and the same size needle so I figured: “homerun“.
Not so much.
Since “KNIT SLEEVE ON BIGGER NEEDLES” is written in every sweater pattern I do because my gauge tightens in the (small) round I had knit the sleeve on 5 mm needles. Like I did on Deco Cardi. But with Contiguous Blue there was a nasty hickup visible because the transition is mid-sleeve.

With a sleeve where you pick up stitches around the armhole and knit downwards bigger needles are fine. (Deco Cardi, Pumpkin Ale)
But when it’s a yoked cardigan and there’s already half a sleeve there, changing needles leaves a visible difference between the existing and the new knitting.
I learned that with Contiguous Blue.

So I ripped out the sleeve and reknit it in needles 4,5 mm, telling myself to relax and keep a loose gauge with every stitch. Then I learned that this sweater needs a different pace of decreasing than Deco Cardi. It grew way too tight when I follow the numbers from Deco Cardi. Is this because of the cable? Did my row gauge change when I changed needles? I don’t know. All I know is that I had knit to the elbow but had to rip it all out and start again.

On the third time knitting this sleeve, on the right size needle, rememebring to knit relaxed and loose and finding it’s own rate of decrease I then relearned that I shouldn’t forget to tug the p-stitch before and after the cable. Because I often have laddering between p and k stitches and around the cable it was especially showing this time. I had learned this previously from this sweater but having it parked for a couple of weeks I had now forgotten. So had to rip out the sleeve. Again.

So there I was the morning before we left to go to the cabin: reknitting the sleeve, on the right needles, with relaxed gauge, having a right pace of decreases and remembering to tug the p-stitches. That’s when I learned that when a cable turns every third right side row it actually means it turns every sixth row…

That’s how you go from knitting to and fro to knitting in the round. That’s why my new cables look so small and tight compared to the ones higher up the sleeve. But nicely tugged though, no laddering.

Today, at the cabin, I eventually managed to do everything right:

btw, doesn’t the wool wear well, after being knit five times? It’s of course Irish bred and spun wool: Donegal Heather from Donegal Yarns.

Now I only have to design a detail where this cable blooms into some kind of flower. I want this on the sleeve and also on the bodice. But first I’ll knit on this a little bit as is. To chisel how to knit this sleeve into my muscle memory.

Today I also tried on on Holle Cardi. It’s not entirely dry yet and I want to attach the buttons before I call it finished. But here’s a sneak preview of me picking off the numerous cat hairs:

This yarn was a true hair magnet and since I knitted this project as a stress relief I didn’t bother to pick them out while knitting.
Real finished photos will come when I’ve attached the buttons.

The Indigo is blooming:

Next to it grows some bright yellow “smurrie” on the tree stump that holds the bird feeder in Winter:

It’s called “witches’ butter” in Dutch and “scrambled egg slime” in English speaking countries. It’s Fuligo septica, a living being that’s neither a plant nor an animal.

I plucked a bit more reed flowers and tried to dye some cotton t-shirts:

Something’s not going right here….
I added more reed. Cooked it for another hour. Still looked weird. Might the flowers be too late in season? No green to be seen.

By then we had to leave for the city. So I turned down the heat and left it as is. It will slowly cool and then it will sit in the pot for a week, hopefully developing some colour.
A little surprise for me to unveil when I return here next Friday.

Let’s hope it’s a surprise low on “smurrie”, witches’ butter or live creatures…

I then stuffed wool, cats and myself in the car and we drove to the city. I was knitting on my Noro legwarmer, the one where you have to carefully stack your colours, when:

hmpf! A knot in the ball with an abrupt colour change!

A little wile later: HMPF 2!

I don’t need Noro to make this colour coordinating any more difficult than it is!

When I’m in the city again there will be tea and a cat on my lap and knitting on Emma. Wollmeise has excellent quality control and no knots in the regular skeins.

Day 1 at the cabin

Day one at the cabin and I’ve been so productive, woolwise!

First thing I did when we came through the door, released the cats and sat down with a cup of tea was rip back half of what I knit in the car:

Because I had already started increasing for the calf of the Noro legwarmer. Forgetting this legwarmer should stack and therefor should remain the same sized tube for a quite a bit longer.

That’s one handful of two strands all twisted together, ready to be reknit.¬†Lots of untwisting and trying to free yarn.
Knitting stripes with Noro isn’t something that happens naturally anyway, I have to break the yarn and skip parts if the two colours will look the same for too long and then have to look ahead and match colours again. Quite a bit of colour reasoning needed, when knitting Noro.

After this and my cup of tea I had to unpack our bags and was greeted by my green dyeing pan, neatly parked under the coffee table for two weeks. It had faithfully harboured my bags of plant dyeing experiments. Opening those would be “interesting”. I took it outside.

Hmmm, growing spores and all possible sorts of new medicines.

Do you have the word “smurrie” in your language? It is akin to “smear” and I guess there’s a bit of “slurry” in there too. Made from decayed plants whose textures melt when touched.
There you go, you now know exactly what I mean by “a pan full of green smurrie” and what I had to put my hands into!

I took the bits of wool out of the bags -taking care to avoid skin contact with that one bag of Cow’s Parsley/ Bear Claw- and let them dry in the wind, each with their little cotton thread bound around it. That’s the thread with a code in knots to tell me which plant dyed what colour. No need to break the code though, it’s clear that each thread reads: “this plant dyes yellow”.

Except Pimpernel, that one dyes reddish brown.

I then washed my pan and I had a look at the iron afterbath that I’ve been curing:

Nice orange “smurrie”!
Not touching it.

Then I went inside, washed my hands and blocked Holle Cardi!

Can’t wait until it’s dry. If it fits I may have weird arms…

Having now only one cardigan on the needles (that needs major sleeve surgery (again!)) and being exhausted from all these wool adventures I then laid on the couch for the remainder of the day and did the only thing one can do when one’s reconnected with the stash again: cast on for a new cardigan, with a yarn one’s never tried.

I chose Wollmeise Lace, in the colourway Arlene.
WM Lace is more of a light fingering weight than a true lace, there are 1500 m on one skein (300 grams). In theory I can get one cardi from one skein:

Arlene is a multi-colour way but the brown, blues and purples are so close in darkness that I think I’ll like it anyway.
I’m knitting this one on 2 mm needles too because it doesn’t seem matter if I’m using WM DK, fingering or lace, I always get 21 stitches to the 10 cm on 2 mm needles.

I chose pattern Emma cardigan, by Janine Le Cras:

It has a lacy bottom half and this is excellent for multicoloured or pooling yarns.
But before casting on I still had to follow through some reasoning:

Premisse: this is a dark yarn and a light weight yarn.

  1. The weight will make this a light type of cardigan, not very warm. A Summer cardigan. Do I need one of those? (Not in particular). Will I wear it? (Yes.)
  2. Will a dark coloured garment complement my complexion in Summer? (Yes.)
  3. The lace in the pattern means it will be distinctively see-through so I better wear something in the mid or dark tone under it, preferable a non-patterned garment. Do I have such a garment in my Summer wardrobe?¬†(No I don’t.)
  4. Can I make one? (Yes.) Better sew up a Summer dress for Summer 2016 in the right colour to go with my new cardigan. Seeing how well Pumpkin Ale goes with Arlene I already have some perfect fabric in my stash. One that will go great with Pumpkin Ale too. ūüôā

I’m really looking forward to how an empire waist will look on my body. I do need a garment to flow inwards at the underbust -which is why people like me should not wear shift dresses- and I think this pattern will do me right.

Here’s me in a shift dress: no shaping at the front.

You’d think I have large stomach but I’m probably hiding some of the stash under there…

It wears comfortable though, a shift dress. I tell/kid myself that through movement and souple fabric my body shows that my stomach is indeed not as wide as my bust, which is what this dress leads you to believe.

But some shaping at the underbust would be better. So I’m really looking forward how Emma cardigan will do this.

Then, right before bed, I did a little bit of spinning because I’ve been missing¬†my wheel for two weeks and I’d just brought the Spring Rolls with me from the city (we drove here in a small blueberry, this was the only fibre there was room for):

It’s going to be a thin n-ply because I’m totally smitten with the mittens Serafina145 made from these exact kind of rolls:

Serafina145’s Mitts for a cup of tea, gorgeous! Pattern¬†Burning Love Fingerless mitts by Dutch Mama.

Serafina145 also has a cup of tea to go with her yarn:

A beautiful and inspiring project from start to finish!

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.

pics by Sasssefras, who had to amend the colours a bit because reed-green will turn up greyish in digital photo’s. In real life it’s as vivid green as the second picture.

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.