Dyeing swifter fleece with nettles (not)(nottles)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

owls in green and white

I’m back on track with the stranded owl vest:

I was up to the arm holes when I found out that the two white balls where a different shades and I couldn’t knit on, this was¬†six weeks ago:

Today I found the courage to frog it all back, all the way back to the stranded part. Now I’m knitting it back up again, alternating the two white balls every row.

And I’m about to start another set of owls in green and white!

Horatio and Oren owl mittens by Barbara Gregory and the yarn is the Norwegian brand Finull.

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.

finished: second pair of SlipStripeSpiral socks

(I’m keeping the Ranunculus flowers as long as possible, in various vases depending on their vitality. So beautiful. Delicate flowers, faceted cut glass and chocolate bonbons, those are my city dwelling luxuries)

The socks did knit up kinda similar:

Here’s the first pair again:

It took exactly 50 grams of the green Meilenweit. 70 grams of the purple Opal and about 20 grams of the solid blue Trekking.

The deadline for this pattern is tonight, 12 o’clock USA time.
Then, in about five days, the new round will start. It will again have two weeks competition time but I’ll need to knit faster because¬†I’ll be competing with other people for a limited number of places.

If the new pattern is as entertaining qua techniques and colours as this SlipStripeSpiral pattern I’ll probably knit this fast again. I mean, I¬†knit this two pair in exactly two weeks, that’s so fast!

If the new pattern has cables or twisted stitches I’ll have to pace myself very much, in order to relief my shoulder. I plan to set myself a fixed number of rounds each day. Just thought of it, while writing this paragraph. Good plan.

As far as this pattern goes, I’m going to knit it again. With only 1,5 heelwedges and a small gusset for my high instep (increase 4 stitches on each side). Knitting the heel over 40 stitches. Less ribbing on the cuff, I detest knitting rib.

It’s such a great pattern for a self striping yarn in combination with a solid one. Especially ugly self striping yarn gets a magical make over in this pattern.

Some of the luxuries in my living room:
No bonbons though. Not for unscheduled photos. Unsurprisingly.

a 3D printed spindle

This is a gift box set from New Age Spinning etsy shop.

The spindle spins really well and it didn’t mind at all when I dropped it a few times yesterday. This will be perfect to bring¬†with me to woolly gatherings where nobody blinks an eye when you spindle or when you drop things. (There are, however, always quite a few people who love green at these sort of meetings so I might have to keep an eye on things!)

It’s so handy, with its own little cute box. And so colour-coordinated!¬†This is the very first gift box that the shop owner put together. She wanted it to be a present and she chose green as a colour for me. Well chosen. In the shop you can choose your own colour. However, I¬†advise all of you to choose green so I can bring mine to gatherings¬†and we won’t have to “test our friendship”.

It comes with a cup so you can use the spindle both as a drop¬†spindle and as a supported¬†spindle. I haven’t mastered supported spinning yet. Which is probably a good thing because I’ve seen people fall in that rabbit hole only to emerge with arms full of beautiful¬†twigs and the dreamy¬†look of satisfaction in their eyes.

Two adorable sheep charms and twenty stitch markers:

Advent socks: stranded at the knitters’ party

I finished my socks last night:

I ran out of green yarn with the second sock. Hence the stripey toe.

The cuff was knitted on 2,5 mm because I feared I would knit stranded too tight.
The heel was done on 2 mm because tighter knit makes for a sturdier fabric.
For the gusset I then forgot to change back to bigger needles and it was very visible and also too tight over the instep:

So I had to rip back one sock back to where I pick up the stitches for the gusset. The other sock I had messed up by making the heel flap too short and it sat akward on my foot, so that one had to be ripped back too.
This was how Christmas looked over at my place:

Plus nice food and a film.

The feet were knitted with 2,25 mm. Mainly because I convinced myself I’d never knit a sock with 72 stitches on 2,5 mm, surely that would be way too loose. It was only when I got up to get the needle Trude lend me to knit at two socks simultaneously -one needs more rounds of plain stockinette when the Dr. Who Special is on- that I realized my mistake.
But the feet look good so I finished them on 2,25 mm needles, even with the stranding. I did keep an increased stitch count for the duration of the instep: 76 instead of 72.

Now I don’t understand socks at all anymore. I usually have 60 stitches on 2 mm needles. Here are socks with 72 or even 76 stitches on 2,25 mm needles and they fit great. It cannot just be the faux cables, those are negated by loose purl stitches at their sides.
Never mind. I’ll just stop and try to UNDERSTAND it. Don’t try and outsmart knitting.¬†Stop knitting with your head, you silly.

Hey, I can do stranded knitting. In socks!

I did the stranded part of the second sock during the knitters’ party yesterday. It was a nice party!
Lots of spinners and treats and knitting slippers:


Meilindis brought a gift of genius:


It’s folded papers interlocking and it is a hollow sphere. In silvery, light, green papers.
3D shaping and maths and colours and magic? Origami! More of her paper and fibre creations on her site.

Swedish Advent MKAL: stretchy cast-on from Estonia

It’s the first of December and the Swedish Mystery KAL over at Jul met T√•lamodsp√•sen has begun.

It’s going to be a pair of socks!
With colourwork!
oei oei

I haven’t done colourwork in ages, because of my shoulder. And socks should fit (be knitted kind of tight) but they should also fit (be kind of stretchy which means even stranding).
This is quite the task for me.

But I’ll give it a go. With one sock for starters. Or one wrist warmer if the leg turns out too tight/loose.
Just for the fun of it.

The fun starts right away because as I hoped EvaL8 introduces some European knitting traditions. A stretchy cast-on from Estonia, explained by Nancy Bush (in American English) in this link to video on youtube:

It’s a variation on the long tail which I don’t like on principle because I always have too long or too short a tail. But I’m putting away my perfectionism for this knit-a-long, I want to try out this technique.

It’s a very pleasurable cast on! Especially the decorative version which Nancy demonstrates halfway the video.
It gives a thickish cast on which makes that dreary first row easier to knit.

advent cast on

I cast on 56 stitches because there will be ribbing, 2×2 (which I also don’t like to knit but love to see in my finished objects).
I knit on 2 mm needles (alternatively it could be 1,5 mm needles and the proper cast on number of 64 st) in a light green yarn.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, I’m sitting at the table with Lillepoes on my lap and can’t go to grab my phone. Photobooth wants to focus on my face, not my knitting, and is swapping things from left to right. Tsk tsk.

Over at a New Stitch A Day is a better picture of how this cast on looks and they have a great tutorial:

My, what an interesting site is New Stitch A Day!
Aimed to show people all kind of knitting and crochet techniques, all for free.
I plan to check it out. After one more row…

Progress on Handspun Green Vest

I’ve finished the body of Hilja sweater vest. It’s such a happy knit!
I’ve got stitchmarkers, my favourite ones, that go perfectly with the yarn and now every stitch is a joy to look at:


Sometimes I think that knitting (and spinning) is all about the colours and only about the colours.

That that’s why knitting and spinning fits us, colour crazed beings; in the same wondrous way that cat companionship fits humankind.
Cats identify with their fur, they like it washed, touched, stroked. And we, humans, like to “watch” with our hands. We love to touch things, we have sensitive finger tips, we revel in tactiles/touchables.

Put these two characteristics together in a room and you’ve got two species reinforcing each others’ coincidental happiness.

Throw in a bit of cod for dinner and you’ve got best friends for life who allow all the petting and cuddling you like, as long as there’s a snack at the end of it:

As humankind is an eye-species as much as it’s a touch-things-species I think that’s why we breed cats in such various shapes and colours, just to please our eyes while we indulge our hands. It’s not something I favour because it does not benefit the cats… but I see how it plays into our eye-addiction.

As far as the knitting goes, my colour indulgence is over, the body is finished. I went on to the ribbing at the neck and arms.
I picked up stitches at the neck and did a 1×1 ribbing (on a smaller needle, 3 mm instead of the 3,75mm):

But I didn’t like how it looked. It’s too…. crude. Too scruffy. Not refined enough to wear amongst city folk.

I thought that a commercial yarn would look better. It would show deliberate contraposition between the handspun and the commercial yarn.

I chose a colour with quite a bit of contrast. I can handle contrast because my darkish hair has quite a bit of contrast with my fair skin and when I mirror this in clothing it makes me look healthy. (Although in 2014 I’ve grown grey from the stress and the contrast in the vest will now be a bit harsher than my own but that’s ok, it may make me look a bit more stern but I’m ok with that. Besides, I don’t have any other good yarn and this is a really nice one, it has some cashmere in it.)

I knitted 2 cm of 2×2 ribbing on the first arm hole and it looks very nice:

So tidy!
And just the contrast in texture with the handspun I was looking for. It seems to say what I want it to say, that its companion, the bodice, is made with a designed yarn. Yarn of a chosen, deliberate texture. Not something a well willing amateur made who couldn’t do any better.

The bind off is Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off done from the wrong side so it gives a nice edge on the right side.

I’m a bit sorry the knitting part is over for the handspun. I really enjoyed it, both in colour and tactiles. Soft wool, silk and vintage glass beads, that’s a high for me.

An easy vest and a difficult one.

Is this cheating?

I felted an old woolen pullover in the washing machine. Cut off sleeves and collar.
Hey presto, a vest and wristwarmers!

Neaten the edges with some crochet handspun. (It’s that Blue Texel I’ve been spinning (in my mind) for ever.)

Yay! I plan to wear it with all those grey blouses I’m sewing for my green handspun vest.

I’ve got two blouses finished but have stranded spectacular midway the third one. I might have inserted the sleeve up side down or something, that’s how bad it looks at the moment. I’ve thrown it in a corner, couldn’t even muster the courage to take pictures and ask for help

I hope I figure it out soon though. I want to get to a usable basic blouse pattern. I’ve got plans, you see:

All to go with my grey vest. And my green handspun vest!

Which is at a bit of a canundrum too.

After knitting and ripping the second shoulder strap numerous times I’ve abandoned trying to match the first. The second shoulder strap will now become an after thought, designer feature. In solid green, I thought, to emphasize its difference from the existing shoulder strap. Perhaps crochet it even. Macram√©?

As an after thought I can also use it to make the fit is exactly right, use it to adjust how the vest sits at the front:

Because there’s a bit of a thing with how this sits at the front.

This’s how I designed it. The piece sits straight in the middle.
The darts are precisely under the bust. There’s a designed line going from the centre to the non-strap-side.

But sitting like this it looks better:

Sits more comfortable too.

Now the horizontal line in the panel is horizontal (There’s a rule that you usually shouldn’t have a horizontal line near your breasts when you’re well endowed. It’s a good rule. But it’s not the law.)
The part under the shoulder strap lays nicer over my breast.
But the whole thing is shifted to that side now. Bust darts are no longer at their proper positions. I’d have to undo and redo that whole part.

It does look much better now. Feels better too.
It’ll need additional fabric at the non-shoulderstrap-side. About a hand’s width. A vertical knitted strip perhaps. I think I have handspun enough. Oh, I could incorporate the shoulder strap in this strip, make it flow from the top down, along the side. It’d be another designer element.

Whoah there, horsey.
You’re getting a bit over enthousiastic. Designer elements are popping up like crazy in this vest.
It was supposed to be a quick, unassuming knit. Just enjoying the yarn.

I think this vest is getting too many distractions from what should be a simple goal.
A bit like building a toy car for your cat so it will leave you alone while you go and repair your bike so you can cycle into town to get more flour because you want to make a pancake cake. For the cat.

Sven Nordqvist. A great illustrator.

With the green vest I’ve come so far. I’m probably half way now. There are some really nice things in there, like the increases for the bust and the solid green i-cord that’s both practical and will help to pull the whole thing together. (The side seams will be in solid green too, broadened to make the fit perfect.

It will be a smashing piece when finished! A real designer vest. But going on, I won’t know what other problems will arise. “Trudging” is the word for how it’s going. In all aspects of life really, at the moment, so I can’t even properly asses if it’s just me or the vest too.

Ripping it all out will really hurt.
But then I’d get a vest soon, probably. An unassuming vest, but pleasant to wear. A nice stage for my blouses to shine on. Nothing special. But nice.

I can’t decide what to do. I’ll wait a bit until I feel better, have a clearer head. Probably. (I could just go on knitting on it in the mean time.)(No harm in that)