Friday, 27 November 2009

A Small and Feisty Sweater

A little bit of knitted blue - a 12month size sweater knit to Stefanie Japel's pattern, Feisty. I had some trouble getting going with this, I think because I haven't been too well so my concentration was poor and I must have cast on four times! However, once I really got going, it was quite a quick project to complete. Just need to find some buttons to go with it now.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Colours for Knitting

I want to knit a cardigan/jacket - and couldn't find a yarn which combined appeal with affordability (I take after my great-grandmother in having expensive tastes) and availability in the quantity required. So, what's a girl to do? I bought some undyed bluefaced leicester yarn from Violet Green which arrived by return of post - wonderful service - and straight into a soaking bath it went, while I dug out my small collection of acid dyes and stockpot (which is reserved for dyeing adventures rather than culinary ones) and got mixing the pigments.

After a steamy period in the kitchen, all seven skeins were dyed, washed and dripping on the washing line, suspended from coat hangers. Here's a photo of the finished product, in today's strong autumn sunshine.

I used a kettle-dyeing technique, which produced a very subtle variation of colour: teal, petrol and peacock, using lilac, spruce and blues (brilliant and sapphire) from the Jacquard Acid Dyes selection. Whereas a handpainted and steamed treatment previously gave quite specific areas of colour (when last I dyed wool yarn), there are elusive changes in shade which are clearer in reality than in the photo above, but still very gradual changes, as one might expect.

It will be interesting to see how this works out as a knitted garment and it won't be long until I cast on and start finding out.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Mirth in the Garden

Better colours in the daylight, as promised. The shawl looks great after blocking and feels light but warm and cosy on my shoulders.

It even goes quite well with one of the t-shirts I made and dyed earlier in the summer, and the indigo-overdyed linen trousers I made over last weekend (just visible below).

My son took these photos, which is why the back point isn't too centrally positioned above. But - a very satisfying and useful project this has proved.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Doing A Stretch Inside

I finished my latest knitting project last night, and today I am blocking it to show the lacy pattern to best advantage and for maximum shoulder coverage.

This shawl is from Stefanie Japel's new pattern, Mirth, which I worked in a sock weight/4ply yarn (Regia hand dye effect in shade 6552) on a 3.75mm circular needle. It wasn't worked in the round, but back and forth. This clever design is effectively a lace square which is divided to the centre point along one of the diagonal lines, and the shaping allows a graceful moulding to the lines of the body.

It looked like nothing until it was stretched out: the first opportunity to enjoy the three lace patterns I had worked to follow the instructions, and I'm very pleased with this shawl now.

The colours are not true as I took these photos in artificial light, so I'll snap it again in daylight tomorrow, when the sun should shine upon it and show the jewel-like blues and greens in their true glory. We may be enjoying an Indian summer at the moment, but I am sure I will be reaching for this shawl in the chillier evenings as soon as it is dry.

Time to choose another project!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

New Knitting - Mirthful Blues

Glampyre's Mirth, a raglan shaped shawl, in Regia Hand Dye Effect Sock Yarn. Yep, blue again!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Annie teaches Sue to Cable without a Cable Needle

I am so lucky to have met a cyberpal today: Annie Modesitt has shown me (and some other really lovely ladies) how to do the twist without extra equipment. She is such a fun and effective teacher that we all acquired some very useful skills and in an extremely friendly atmosphere. Thanks so much, Annie, for sharing so much with us.
Posted by Picasa


I'm still not too well: an infection with cellulitis on the end of my nose wrote off much of the past weekend. Happily it is now resolving but my gut doesn't like the antibiotics and I've been somewhat over-purged of late. GP recommends Imodium and natural yoghurt, so that's what I'm currently taking in addition to everything else.

I'm hoping to venture out this afternoon. I'd hoped to attend Annie Modesitt's classes at Fyberspates this past weekend and had to revise those plans as the journey would have been too much for my very depleted energy levels. However, I managed to get a place on the afternoon class she's running today at Get Knitted (up the road in Bristol), so I'll be thrilled to meet her at last. I've been following her blog for ages and she's a charismatic and inspirational knitting designer.

This outing will hopefully also allow me to pick the necessarymaterials up for my next knitting project, as I finished my Barcelona (my Mona Strickt) socks last evening. They are pictured in the photos accompanying this post. I'm thinking of knitting Glampyre's new pattern, Mirth, which looks to be a very wearable shawl, as well as an interesting knit. I'm not yet sure which weight I'll decide to make, but that means that the options are many and exciting.
I'm going to try out an on-line class shortly too, on I'm very excited about this means of delivering classes. I hope to take the one on recycling t-shirts into yarn, due to start next month. Should be fun.
The reality at the moment is that I'm spending most of every day in bed, doing very little, because I'm so run down post-flu. I hope to be sufficiently recovered in ten days' time to spend a day learning how to extract indigo dye from woad and other plants at the University of Bristol's Botanic Garden - a belated birthday present from my family. So it's keep on with the resting up. At least fixing a meal last evening was survivable without any new ailments occuring!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Time flies....

In the past month I've spent a wonderful fortnight in Austria and then a less joyful period doing battle with Swine Flu and Tamiflu, so it's not been a very productive time in terms of things to show. DH had to rush off to Istanbul to see his mother, who had managed to start a week's holiday there with a fall and a broken hip, no fun when you're 87, and he took my Lady of the Forest shawl with him as a gift for her - so I'll be making that again, for me, before too long. I knew it would be well received and it was my way of sending a hug as I couldn't give her one in person. I've felt very cheated by this illness, as it meant I missed both Festival of Quilts and Fibrefest, with opportunities to meet friends real and virtual, as well as doing a bit of shopping...

However, I've been doing a lot of thinking about where I'm coming from, creatively, and I hope that soon I'll be able to leap from my sick bed and start putting some of these thoughts into action.

I've just come across an excellent quote in my latest companion book, "The Mermaid's Child" by Jo Baker:

"He that would see marvels, it behoves him sometimes to wend out of his way."
- Sir John Mandeville, Mandeville's Travels.

So here's to plenty of off-road wending in the near future!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Summer Retreat at Urchfont

I recently spent five days at Urchfont, with thirteen friends who are teachers and practitioners of textile art in many of its forms. It was a brilliant time. We had no domestic demands or duties to distract us so could concentrate on developing our ideas, cementing our friendships and learning from one another.

Here are Gill and Penny busy at their workstations.

While Nita, Liz, Sara and Dorothy catch up in their different ways.

Dorothy kindly modelled a protoype t-shirt I'd made for me to evaluate.

While Sal dyed this fabric in glorious autumnal shades, and we developed it into a reversible top - with either a waistband or

a cowl neckline. Would you have guessed it began life as a tube of car-wash cloth?! Of course, Sal could make just about anything look elegant!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Finished Knitting the Lady of the Forest

But the blocking awaits, so here is just a litte taste of its lovely indigo silkiness.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Dyeing the Blues

Tiggy Rawling ran an absolutely brilliant weekend workshop at Wimbourne's Walford Mill and I was one of six lucky participants.

We were exploring both shibori techniques and indigo dyeing, and thankifully the weather was just warm enough to make this feasible. We were accomodated in a huge gazebo behind the craft gallery, thus enjoying fresh air and providing entertainment to visitors to the mill and to the excellent bistro there (which served me delicious crab salads for my lunch on both days).

On the right, above, are two pole-wrapped pieces while the lefthand sample is the traditional woodgrain pattern.

On the right above is the Japanese Larch pattern, worked freehand rather than to pre-marked patterns.

This piece of cotton velvet was concertina-pleated and then held firmly with a twist in the dye vat. This photo shows it during the process of oxidisation - the gorgeous greens disappear and gradually turn blue, can be seen below.

I loved using indigo, and plan to make up a vat at home later this week so I can do some more dyeing.

A bit of patchwork


I made this quiltlet (about A2 sized) for our village curate, who wanted something like as part of a story to be told at a christening. I enjoyed it and really must do more patchwork soon.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, 12 June 2009

Insomnia sorted!

No, I've not been having trouble sleeping, I've been knitting a sock pattern by that name, created by the wonderful Glampyre


This was a fun pattern, and in the course of making these socks I learned to cable without a cable needle (when I lost mine on a car journey - wasn't driving, of course) and to keep a close eye out for dropped stitches when I slipped the wrong bit... Other than dealing with the backwards knitting this necessitated, I found it speeded up the process considerably, though not to the point that I completed them in two nights, as their author did.


Worked in a Fyberspates deliciously soft and cosy space-dyed sock yarn, they will be brilliant for keeping my toes toasty when the weather cools.


The colour changes in the yarn do tend to obscure the lovely cables and twists in this pattern, so I plan to make it again in a plainer yarn in the not too distant future.


I also learned a new-to-me cast off/bind off method as my normal technique was far too tight. So, in one project I learned the figure-of-eight cast-on for circular knitting, how to work a short row heel, and a different way of finishing my knitting. I also gained a great pair of socks!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Knitting off Needles, Knitting on Needles

I finished knitting and sewing together a tunic for myself yesterday:

It's a Swing Tunic from the Twilley's Freedom Gorgeous pattern book. The yarn is a mix of bamboo and nylon which doesn't feel at all synthetic and has a lovely drapiness to it, although it can be a little splitty. The pattern was enjoyable to knit and the tunic will, I think, be enjoyable to wear, too. The colour is called Hollyhock, for reasons I can't quite fathom, but it's a lovely, gentle shade.

Naturally something else had to start on the needles, so I cast on for Glampyre's Insomnia sock and this is growing well. This the first time I've attempted a toe-up sock pattern and it's interesting. There will be short row heels, another first for me.

I was going to knit these in Handmaiden's Casbah but instead a stashed yarn from Fyberpates demanded its turn. I'm ashamed to say that I misplaced the label while winding it but it is delicious to work with.

My bathroom is being refitted this week so there is lots of noise, mess and coming and going happening here. I'm glad to have a relaxing knit to work on in the haven of my living room, especially as I'm still feeling under the weather.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Magic Stitches Part 2

I've undone the stitching on my dry shibori pieces: this is how they are looking now, before they get washed throughly and ironed.

I used running stich in rows, running stitch on pleats and box pleats, and chevron stitch. Dye was painted on with sponge brushes once the stitches were tightly gathered. I used indigo blue, turquoise and magenta. It is interesting to see how the colours have blended, taken and been resisted on these pieces.

I want to play more with shibori/stitch resist. I have a length of pipe tightly wrapped and bound with string over calico ready for dyeing. Yesterday we bought some curtain lining/interlining fabric, which was wound onto a tube to transport home. I was surprised to find myself requesting the plastic rather than the cardboard tube offered, so I could then reuse it for this purpose. This then necessitated an explanation to my husband and to the lovely sales assistant in John Lewis, who had never heard of either this kind of dyeing nor this kind of recycling, but was intrigued. I'm wondering about clothing applications for this form of dyeing.....
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Magic Stitches Part 1

I was totally thrilled to meet a blog pal in the real world today, at the monthly meeting of the Avon Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers where Tiggy Rawling ran a workshop on shibori and dye painting. It's probably been a year since I last got to a meeting, my health having been so rotten since, but I was pretty determined not to miss this one, even if I wasn't at my best. I'm so glad I managed it: it was a very good, informative and enjoyable workshop and Tiggy as as lovely as I'd anticipated.

Here are Tiggy and Elizabeth discussing some of the lovely stitched shibori that Tiggy had brought along as samples and inspirations.


Oooops, Blogger has been transposing photos again. In case these are still not in the right order, Elizabeth is modelling the white lab coat, Tiggy's in both the photos and me - I'm the other one!

And here's a picture of Tiggy and me,which I'm thrilled to have! Pictures of what I did will have to wait as the two samples are batching in a plastic bag, while the pole wrapping I started is waiting on me finding some more string to complete it.

Thanks to Tiggy for the excellent workshop and to Caroline for taking the photo and organising the programme which included this session, and to Avon Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers for hosting it.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Breathing Spaces

I've been very preoccupied and occupied with a big project.


I've recently been working on costumes (designs and realisations) for a dance performance of a newly commissioned work entitled "Breathing Spaces". It's being performed at the Youth Dance England conference at the Mermaid Theatre tomorrow, and I was able to attend the dress rehearsal yesterday.


The whole project has been developed over a space of a mere six weeks, so creating designs and costumes for 34 performers has been intense and a challenge. The project is based around our community and features 32 children from the village (attending the primary and community comprehensive schools) who belong to the Yeo Dance 09 Group


Most of the costumes involved refashioning t-shirts, dyeing and space-dyeing them, cutting them up and recombining them with additions of t-shirting, muslin and other fabrics in earth colours. These were then further embellished using fabric paints and sequins. Each costume was unique but related to all the others.


I was lucky enough to receive practical support from a dozen mothers from the school (including the headteacher's!), not all of whom had children taking part in the performance. They came and volunteered their time, and we enjoyed exploring the capabilities of fabrics, sewing machines and ourselves over four days in total, with the volunteers coming in when they could.


These are some photos from the dress rehearsal in the school hall, to show some of the costumes in action.


In the background is Elizabeth Glen, who was instrumental in developing the music for the piece as well as adding her glrious voice to the performance. She is wearing the silk wrap which I made, dyed in water/river colours.


The theatre performance will take place against a backdrop screen, on which will be shown a film made of the dancers on the Millenium Green, our Breathing Space. I have not seen this but the Artistic Director, Carolyn Savidge, is thrilled with it and describes it as breathtaking. I hope that the whole project will be performed locally so that we can celebrate the effort and creativity of everyone involved.