Sunday, 28 July 2013

the results...

..of messing around with a lot of colour:)
as I said I was going to do a demo on dyeing with acid dyes for our textile crafters group. we went in early yesterday and set everything up, but as usual I overestimated what I can do in a few hours - and brought far too much stuff. well, I guess it's better than running out of material after an hour or two...the meeting is only from 10.30 to about 3, but it looked as if I was going to move out:)
anyway, I had prepared acid dyes in 1 % stock solution, but also brought some gaywool dyes and some gooddall's food colours (which I didn't use after all). I had also pre-soaked most of my yarns in water/vinegar solution, so that I could start dyeing straight away. only when I packed my stuff for the day, I realized that I had mostly reds of the gaywool dyes, so I asked a member of our group to bring a few more for me... (can't have too many colours?:).
I started with two-tone balls - a very easy thing to do, altough it's always a wobble between having tidy balls and little colour inside - or wobbly balls and better colouring. I think I managed alright this time (which is a good thing, because I brought everything - but my niddynoddy and ballwinder:().
I didn't exactly match the half and half spread, because I didn't use the flat roasting tin I normally use for this way of dyeing. the height of the pot made it difficult to estimate the amount of dye needed to only dye half of the ball (or a bit less). so I ended up with a lot more reds/pinks than green, but that turned out to be good after all. when I wound the damp balls off into skeins, I saw that there are lighter spots, but no area was left undyed (the base yarn was light grey). I then used the same green (peppermint from gaywool; the red is garnet) to inject into an injection-dyed ball of white yarn. plus some of the red - when something happened that never happened before to me: the needle of the syringe flew off and didn't only leave me with spots on the t-shirt, but also on some of the people close by! luckily it was the green and not the red - it washed out of my t-shirt fine later. because I didn't want to risk any more accidents I put the ball into the leftover garnet dyebath - and ended up with the much lighter skein at the bottom.
 I had also prepared some previously dyed skeins, of which I didn't like the colours so much. this was dyed with leftover brazilwood (to make a light pink for the "ouch" granny's face...), the real colour is slightly more peachy, but too dark for a white-haired granny, so I tied areas off with binliner stripes and put the skein into the same garnet dye bath. not sure that I like it much - but I guess I can use it in a pair of socks with some other colour.... or maybe I should add a bit of the peppermint green from above to the lighter areas? not sure yet...
I wound a very long skein (2.40 m) of sock wool with silk to dye larger areas - nice for blocks of colour in socks etc. I used three 500 g yogurt pots and filled them with three colours, red, blue and violet. each pot was stuffed with 1/3 of the skein and then left until the colour spread to cover all areas (helped along with a bit of "spooning" by me:). I can't say that I adore the colours, but maybe I can make something like "stained glass window" socks, together with some anthrazit or black wool? a bit of yellow and a bit of green with it and bingo - I'd have a parrot:)
after lunch I dyed some top, merino this time. I just added yellow and red in stripes on presoaked merino, that I had laid out on cling film. I massaged it a bit to mix the colours at the edges. I'd say it will spin into a marled yellow-orange-red yarn - which I call Phoenix for now.
I had planned to work with sock blanks for some time, so I knitted two (only had time to dye one, though). I measured how much yarn I'll need for one row of a sock and knitted a strip (with doubled up yarn, to make 2 indentical socks) of that width. I used two sunsets for inspiration - not quite so easy, because I had to try to soak the knitting through into the stitches, but not add too much dye so that it doesn't run into other areas and thought that it worked out ok. I wanted to knit another pair of picture socks, with the sky colours as background and the silhouette of the tree in black for the sock leg. I'd say the rest of the foot will be all black, without pattern.
unfortunately when I unravelled the knitting this morning, I saw that the dye didn't quite penetrate the knitted stitches everywhere (= knitting more loosely next time?). I thought at first that I might go over some light patches by skeining the yarn and spreading it out to paint over. but I think it would be better to knit up the socks first and overpaint, where it's needed, once I can see where exactly the colours lack depth. I can put my plastic dummies inside for this and stuff clingfilm inside for steam-fixing.
my personal favourite of the dye results is this: teeswater top, which I braided loosely, laid out in a spiral and dyed by dabbing colours on first; green and blue. I then added violet and red into the blue areas with a pipette. the yarn is a good bit darker in real life - and I call it moody jungle (would be very fitting for my garden, too:). I can't wait to spin this - finely and probably chainplied, maybe for sock yarn? I am tempted to dye more, but I mixed several colours for the green and I am not sure that I can match this again... that's the downside of playing with colour and not noting the ratios!
I still have to either dye a good lot of presoaked fibres and yarns or dry the lot for some other time! but I will definitely dye two more grey balls and one white that I have prepared. the idea came to me yesterday that maybe I could dye the red/green yarns from the "two-tone" session to knit my own version of Argenteuil, a pattern that came out in "the knitter" recently. I will add more and darker green to the next two grey balls, plus some garnet. and the white ball will have very little green, a bit more of lighter garnet and an overall "rosy" tone. the pattern starts with the darkest colour mix, changes between this colour and the next lighter one by working 2 rows each for a while and so on. at least that's the idea - I just have to match the colours to that - and get the pattern back, which was borrowed by another member of the group:)
I do like dyeing, but yesterday evening I was quite glad, when everything was done and packed up again. and I will enjoy our next meeting at the end of september, when I will follow somebody elses demo! but before that we'll do a trip up north to Donegal, to the woollen mill, where the famous donegal tweed yarn is produced. I already started a project list to indulge in some of their yarns when we're up there! I hope there's enough space on the bus for a dozen yarn fans and their shopping bags:)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

pot of gold?

if there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it must have been right in the field across our road yesterday:) or maybe it's been on the other end - no idea where that was because I stood in my doorway to take the picture above... still, the rain had nearly passed and we had a lovely sunset. for some reason this happens quite a lot here. either we have a lovely morning and often the afternoon turns ugly. or we have a very wet day, but towards sunset the clouds are gone and the sun peeks through.
anyway, after the long dry spell the garden is looking much greener and happier again! there's only so much I can water and the rest has to doddle along somehow, fending for itself. right now the crocosmias are starting to flower and I just love their fiery red (no wonder they're called "luzifer"!) in contrast to the green around.
they are extremely reliable bloomers, even yucky weather for weeks doesn't deter them. they look like freesias when they flower, but just before the flowers open, they look a bit like a reptile to me - the tail of a rattle snake?
the perennial sweet pea is another show. unfortunately they tend to grow into everything, so I have to cut back some areas or they'll choke the shrubs behind them. but the rest of them are flowering like mad - not as fiery as the crocosmia, but they work well with the rugosa roses in pink and white, which grow beside them in the front garden. unfortunately they have no scent whatsoever. just like the crocosmia, but at least the crocosmia flowers seem to be chock full with nectar - which I only found out when I picked them and ended up with very sticky fingers.
even though I have so many plants in the garden, I fill some window boxes along the front of the house each summer. I just love the blues of lobelias - and the cheery yellow of the sanvitalia. they are sold as annuals, but this plant has overwintered quite neglected in the window box and with one dribble of tomato fertilizer it's gone off at full speed again a few weeks ago. this lasts until the frost - small sunflower faces that make me smile every time I look at them:)
of course I started a bit late with my solar dyeing - I couldn't find my large gherkin jars for some time. eventually I dug them out and filled them with teeswater top. the blue comes from frozen dark red and blue aquilegia flowers. which I had frozen (it makes the dye really flow out of the flowers, as soon as they are covered with water). for contrast I added some dyer's chamomile. in the left jar there is some of that, together with some black violas and  some tansy heads with buds at the bottom.
all in all I have 800 g of top in those jars. the right one is filled with meadowsweet, dyer's chamomile and some dahlias plus a few crocosmia flowers (it's a first, I haven't tried those before). on the left there are more orange dahlias and  a smaller amount of frozen black violas... I think I might have to wrap it in black plastic, because the weather has turned cooler and the jars don't really get very warm like that, even when the sun does come out! if all else fails and the summer turns cold and wet again - I'll bring everything inside and heat it up gently in my old electric canning "pot".

Sunday, 21 July 2013

bad conscience

I had planned to do a blog entry yesterday - it would have matched the date of my last entry. but as usual I got waylaid somehow and woosh, the day was gone:( there is so much to do that my days are never long enough - and blog entries are the first victims... on top of that the last 2 weeks have been murder for me. I can't stand heat, anything over 20 deg. C is too much for me - and we've been having a rather unusual summer this time - 2 weeks without a drop of rain and temperatures of around 28 to 30 deg. C - in the shade! gardening time has been reduced to 2 hours in the morning and mad watering in the evening hours. even just putting the washing on the line has me in sweat and I was lucky that we had a bit of a respite on the one day last week, where I had no choice but to go to Castlebar (I have to admit that being on the train was heaven, though - AC on, nice and cool - perfect:). and of course it doesn't help that DS is on holidays - he is hogging the computer night and day and I wait for the moment, where he'll grow roots up here....
anyway, of course I have done some textile bits, but knitting has been down in this heat, because the yarn just clings to the sweaty hands. I managed socks - several pairs of them, mainly during the late evening. 
 this one is a sneaker, I didn't even have enough left to finish the few pattern rows and add a rib, so I used a leftover to do the latter. they look a bit odd in the pic, but that is due to the pattern on top of the foot, which pulls together a bit, when not worn. they are very comfy, though I haven't worn socks for quite some time now (too hot). I realised too late that the reddish yarn was handdyed with madder, and I was a bit anxious, when I took them out of the machine - but they didn't change colour at all, phhh.... the main yarn is regia, but I don't have the ball band anymore, no idea which colour line.
 this one is a singles, Color Flow sockwool, which I bought here, some time back. it knits up nicely, but I am not sure that the heels will last long with me. I think I might add a layer of yarn that is "woven" into the purl stitches from the inside, which hopefully adds a bit of wearing time. but I couldn't resist the colours, so it had to "move in":) I have two more balls in my stash, if it wears ok, they'll make socks - if not, I am sure I can find another use for them.
 they were normal socks, but instead of a rib I started with the pattern immediately (k2, yo, k1, k2tog), which gave a nice edge that rolls up and forms little waves. I have used this as a rib pattern for another pair I started a few days ago, where the leg is knitted in 4 colours.
then I used up yarn from my stash to knit a "bread and butter" pair - very unusual for me to knit socks without any pattern whatsoever - but it made for very relaxed knitting during the heat wave:)
this is another pair made from stash yarn, regia, my favourite sock yarn. I do prefer yarn colours with less jacquard effect. in hindsight I should have made this pair for me and the one above for DH, but now it's done (I prefer this colour way). the foot is stockinette...
...and the leg is 2 rows of k stitches and two rows of slipped stitches - but I've already forgotten how exactly I did those. the pattern is from "the sock knitter's handbook". The slipped stitches form an interesting pattern from the inside. it looks a bit like wet, rippled sand on a beach... (forgot to take a pic of the inside)
I worked a teensy bit on the DK border, but not a lot, some other things came in between.
 this one for example: I dyed some viscose fibres with the berries of alderbuckthorn. some of it turned greyish blue, another batch was more greenish in colour (when the berries are unripe, they dye yellow!). I had the tops for years, before I decided to spin them up into a fine singles. I also had a cone of fine white linen and I plied both together into this yarn - not sure if I should call it glacier or glacialis:) it looks a bit like the greenish-blue ice of a glacier..
 ...and it feels heavenly cool just now to knit with. I found the pattern for a shawl "frost flowers" on ravelry. at first I thought I might knit up a "summer scarf" - but I hardly ever wear scarves - and certainly not during summer, when it's warm anyway! I started knitting anyway - my second idea was a summery shrug. all the while I spun and plied more of the yarn - until it hit me that I have more than enough to make a sweater. the sleeves/shoulders would run horizontally, the lower part vertically. I'd have the lovely pattern on both lower sleeves and the bottom! not sure if I follow through with it, because I'd have to wear something underneath - but that's the plan for now anyway:) I loved knitting the pattern - and I am nearly finished with the one arm, though most of it has only lines of faggoting now.
not having done any blog entries recently, I still haven't shown the potholder I made to show the Connacht Textile Crafters a finished project in Double Knitting. I needed new potholders and had ordered some cotton last year. the spirals on the sides are "stolen" from the Fia pattern above, the horizontal ones were added to make a square (similar pattern, just a row more in the middle). the triskele I drew on paper myself. I'll add the chart on my new pattern page later - I sorted through my files and put it away too well:)

Edit: found the file, put it up as my first pattern on the pattern page (see above)
some time back the "leg" of my colander fell off - the metal ring at the bottom. it's not very practical to use, when the base is round and the gadget rolls around in the sink - but I didn't want to throw it away either. then the upcycling bug hit me, when I saw a guy in the local hardware shop taking off the chains of a bird feeder... they were easy to attach and I have a new hanging basket for one of my fuchsias. which looks much better now, thanks to all the sun and my diligent watering:) (twice a day...)
one of the ash trees started to grow huge fungi last year! I left them on and they fell apart very quickly. then I read about dyeing with tree fungi in a german blog and thought I might give this one a try. I am not 100 % sure that it is the same fungus, but it looks very similar and the colour on wool is lovely. I managed to take off all of the large shapes and left them outside to dry - one thing all that heat was good for! Anke only used 5 g for her dyeing - I'd have several hundred grams! I am going to give them a try later in the year, at the moment there are too many other dye plants I have to collect. I don't have all that much undyed material left just now, because next saturday I am doing a demonstration about dyeing with acid dyes for the Connacht Texile Crafters - and need all my yarns and fibres for that. there are still black violas, delphinium and a lot of dyer's chamomile waiting to be picked. then there's tansy coming up soon as well... and I have aquilegia and the first dahlia flowers in the freezer. and mahonia berries...never a dull moment for a dyer:)
one of the things I'd like to dye during the demo is a sock blank. the photo in the header is my inspiration. I'd like to do another picture sock, the tree in black and the part of the foot, too and the rest of the leg in the colours of a sunset. I don't know if it will work out the way I intended, but I made two sock blanks. one is just as wide as a row for a sock in circular knitting. the other one is about double the width... not sure which one will work better, but I knitted with doubled up yarn to end up with two identical socks, if at all possible.

and I changed the look of my blog a bit - when I saw the nice background water feature I couldn't resist - made me feel a bit cooler during the heat we're having:)