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

CONCLUSION:

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 ūüôā

The kitten is called Sjakie and the adult cat is Obelix ūüôā
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

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ecoprinted shirt (murdering flowers)

I’ve stamped flowers unto my mordanted shirt:
ecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nlecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nlecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nl
“Pull it straight.” my husband said:
ecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nl
I promise I’ve been wearing an extra shirt underneath since then…

Rosepetals and Robertskruid:

ecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nl

Printed in the evening, when the leafs and petals are not so moist anymore. Better to print in the morning. The front side was printed in the morning and has better prints (except for the fern which was another evening stamp):

ecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nl
This is the rose in my back yarn that the petals came from, a true red, stamping purper:
ecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nlecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nl
Pelargonium flower and some weed that grows between the tiles:
ecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nlecoprinting flowers on mordanted t-shirt. Bloemen stempelen op t-shirt, geleerd bij wolop.nl

After wearing for only a couple of hours: additional ecoprinting with a messily eaten strawberry.
Untitled

Curse this alum drenched shirt!

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

Following recipe on page 241: printing leaves on ceramic

I had this little vase, bought at the Werk aan de Winkel shop. It is glazed on the inside. The outside seems poreus and I’m hoping it’s suitable for leaf printing. The book Eco-verf (Eco-dye) from Anja Schrik has a good recipe on page 271.

Here’s a sneak preview of the result!
Untitledecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrik

Before printing I “painted” the vase with milk, 3 times, leaving it to dry in between. Having a protein-layer will do something good, it seems.

After drying we went to the cabin. This is two weeks ago:
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscapeecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape
Gathered leaves: European oak, birch and fern. These are my favourites (apart from Ribes and Spanish Acer –Acer campestre-. Wait. I’ll get some of those too.):
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

I chose small leaves for my small vase. And some more to print on fabric. Seeing as I’m starting up a steam bath, might as well dump in more things than just the little vase.

Some weird thingies grow on the Red Beech leaves:
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape
I picked different leaves than these.

Soaking the leaves into water for about an hour:
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

Dipping the fabric in a bit of water too:
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

I have the sleeve of a washed cotton shirt to wrap the vase in and a piece of silk premordanted with alum and soda. This washed out a bit now but that’s not bad I guess. The residu CaOH2 in the vessel will make it a bit more base, shifting colours more to the green than red, so the book says.

Arrange flowers on vase, with the bottom to the printing surface. The underside of the leaf gives the most colour the book says.
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

Wrap a piece of cloth around it. I wetted the cloth first. You need about 5 hands and a well trained monkey to do this.
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

Tie tight with some thread, I used cotton because that’s what I’ve got.
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

put in steamer for at least an hour:
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape
I’m doing 1,5 hours. Then I’m wrapping the pan into a woolen blanket and leaving it for 5 days. Next weekend I may unwrap it. Or perhaps I’ll wait another week. Two weeks “curing” is no luxury.

I also arranged leaves on the piece of silk. I put the green leaves and the Autumnal yellow leafs in batches, I wonder if there’ll be a difference in colour. This cloth I wrap around a miniature roller pin I originally bought for felting. (if this one warps during the steaming I’ll have to buy another. I need one in the month of november to repair a felted piece I have.)

ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscapeecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscapeecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscapeecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape
ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

The result one week later, being last weekend:

ecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrikecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrikecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrikecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrikecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrik Wauw!

ecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrikecoprinting on ceramics, recipe from Anja Schrik

The silk remains light in colour. There’s no real difference in intensity from the green leaves or the yellow ones.

All in all a nice experiment and I would love to print more with leaves on a hard surface. This can be ceramics, concrete, the shell of an egg.

Perhaps a next time I can soak the item into a dyebath, while the leaf is tied to it. Hoping I can get something as awesome as these eggs Anja Schrik from Viltwerkplaats dyed in the traditional way from the Baltic:

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

Omg, their website has been updated and there are workshops plant printing on eggs on April the 9th!

Should I go? Have a lovely morning or afternoon there? Or should I blunder on by myself? I blunder quite alright on my own when it comes to printing leaves on little round objects. First experiment is a succes!

ecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscapeecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscapeecoprinting with leafs on ceramic and silk Dutch landscape

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

Altered: the ecoprinted linen top.

From this:

To this:

I put in vertical darts at the front, under the bust. The existing darts at the back were elongated and I put in two new horizontal darts at the back to take away some of the extra fabric that folds up there because I have a bit of a curved inwards back.

I like to think of my back curve as a feature.
If I accentuate that curved back attention is drawn away from my belly and I can freely rock the rolls there.

Which is also why shaping at the underbust is important. To hint that my belly doesn’t start at the apex of my bust. Never wear a potato sack.

This is the part I added to the arm hole. I put in some pleats and stitching to match the front panel.

At the back it’s nothing fancy. Just press, cut, fold the edge under, press again and stitch the seam allowance to itself.

It’s a lovely top now. The ecoprinting is so fascinating to look at. Linen is a great fabric to work with.

an Eco-dyed shirt

Yesterday morning I was at a weavers market in Geldrop which marked the end of the Week of Weaving, organized by the southern districts of the Dutch weaving guild. It was held at an old weaving plant which is a museum now.

Volunteers are running the¬†old machines and there’s a shop selling woven linens. They’ve got¬†you tube videos. There’s a lot of knowledge gathered here.

In the courtyard there was a market and I couldn’t resist:
10
11

It’s an commercial linen shirt from the brand Mexx, in size 40 (EU). Annie Leynen from FeltingVilt in Belgium printed plant leaves on it such as European oak and geranium. Eco-dyeing. Oak at the right:

2

I was meant to learn this technique, eco-dyeing -and solar-dyeing too!- in a workshop at Wolop last weekend. But public transport goofed up beyond my current capacity¬†for improvisation.¬†I got dehydrated which is a big health risk for people¬†with Adrenal Insufficiency/ Addison’s Disease. Shaking, BP dropping, body weeping with stress. I managed to get to a safe place¬†-my mum’s!- but the day was busted. As where the next few days.
That’s why I was in bed for three days last week and knitted nothing but socks.

Finding this excellent eco printed shirt yesterday, in just the right colours, makes up for that scary experience a bit. This way I still have something in this technique to wear this Summer.

It does need some adjustments though:
56

The shirt is too large for me anywhere but at the bust. And it’s so wide it looks like I’m wearing a potato sack. While showing my bra because these are not armholes, these are peek holes. Maybe this isn’t a shirt, maybe it’s a tunic, meant to be worn in layers?
It doesn’t matter, I want a flattering ecodyed shirt I can wear straight over a -perhaps not so pink- bra. So I’ll be sewing some shaping into it. And I will shorten it and use the cut offs to add fabric at the¬†arm holes.

The shirt has nice detailing. Top stitching and an add-on in the front. I love how the buttons have taken up colour too:
3

I need to sew and knit more garments as soon as possible to go with this shirt. These weeks I’m learning to sew trousers (= pants).
Eventually to be made in a greyish purple linen. Soon, I hope.

playing with blue: Petrie Shell and indigo plant

With Trees Cowl and sock cuffs done I was in need of a new mindless knitting project. The other projects all require my brain: there are sleeves to be started. Short rows. Gauge. Attention needed.

But not good old Petrie Shell in linen that I had swatched for. Just cast on and follow the pattern:

This is where I started to have doubts. This felt pretty tight. 40 cm? That’s 80 cm in the round. I’m more of a 90 cm hip kinda girl.
The little swatch from my little video-blog had shown it would grow smaller even, from 17 st/10 cm to 20 st/10 cm. But then, linen stretches with wear so perhaps I’d be alright anyway…
After worrying and knitting and worrying and knitting for a while I put this part on a life line and washed it, to see what would happen. Gauge was already 21 st/10 cm unblocked!

As it turned out, nothing happend with the gauge after blocking. It stayed at 21 st/10 cm, which is about the gauge of the pattern.
So I’m happy knitting along until this tube hits my widest part (hint: “my eyes are up here”) and then I’ll put in that distinctive shaping that’s part of this pattern.

In the mean time I’m tinkering about in the garden, helped by a couple of friends. We’ve cleared some brambles and unruly raspberries (who fruits raspberries in November?! Unruly!) and I finally have one of my favourite flowers growing right outside my window, the daisy. This is the Cow’s Eye Daisy I think? We call it Farmers’ Margareta (“boerenmargriet”). I love all species of Daisies with simple white petals and a yellow heart. I’m very happy.
And I’ve got six indigo plants:

They’re not very big yet, after all they do grow in the middle of the forest, but they have responded nicely to my planting skills, manure and encouragement.
Indigo is a special dye for both animal fibre (wool, silk) and plant fibre (cotton, linen). It does not require a mordant to attach to the fibres and it is light fast. This is unlike the majority of the plants for dyeing. You always hear people talking about alum and cream of tartar (CoT) and cooking times and how the colours fade.
Not for indigo.

Indigo has its own challenges though. It will not release it’s dye like most plants (just chop ’em and cook ’em). And once you get it to release its dye it won’t attach to fibre. If you do manage to get the colour to attach to the fibre your fibre will be green, not blue.
Then you have to expose it to oxygen and only then will the green turn blue, the magical indigo blue.

You need special skills and stuffs to make this work. High temperature and quick cooling but not too cool. Stale urine. Fermentation. Under water acrobatics. Hydrosyphilis Chemicalicus. Special gloves. Outdoor cooking gear. Japanese skills.

That’s too much for me. My brain is already occupied with knitting sleeves. I need easy dyeing.
There is an easy way of indigo dyeing. You can release its dye by chopping the leaves in a blender filled with icewater. Then you use vinegar to attach it to fibre (best results with silk) but you only get a (pale) turkoize. (I don’t like turkoize much)

There most be another way. If it’s a question of breaking the plant cells to get the chlorofyl out then brute force would release the dye, I’d think. Brute force would also drive the dye into fibres. I’d think.
Have hammer, will pound.

I took a leaf and folded it into a piece of paper and took a hammer to it.
It was bright green! lighter than this. Then I put it in the sun and you could see it turn darker, bluer. Magic!

With a sturdy fabric you could leaf print indigo leafs, I’d think. Linen, hemp, canvas. I wonder if it’s light fast. If it’d turn more blue. If it’s attached to the fabric properly.
I feel very much like experimenting. But I think I’ll leave the indigo plants to mature a little while more, I feel they don’t have seen the sun enough yet to have made indigo dye in abundance.

I’m waiting patiently, knitting with dark blue linen and enjoying daisies: