Sunday, January 11, 2015

Forest Path Stole

The Forest Path Stole is composed of little blocks of lace the are patchworked together. There were three lace patterns woven through. After one square is done, you pick up stitches along the edge and start another lace square. The edging and the triangles are made of a moss stitch which helps it lay flat.

As I said in my previous post, I spent 8 months knitting this. That's the longest I had ever spent on one project. After many cups of coffee and many hours of knitting, I finish it and gave it to my friend for her 50th birthday.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Knitting and Drinking Coffee

A year ago I decided to make something special for my co-worker. My co-worker is more than just an office-mate or someone I sit next to. We have a job where we rely on each other and need to work together to provide safe care for our clients. We are midwives, caring for people in a close and intimate way. When I'm not on-call I know the moms and babies are well taken care of by Heather. When she is on a break, she can be rest assured that I will do the same.

Planning a year ahead, I took on a big project. First I bought some yarn that was so thin I couldn't work with it and I scrapped the project after a few days.  Then I got this teal wool-silk blend and even though it's lace weight, it was a little bit easier to work with.

It took 8 months to finish this project and I didn't talk about it, blog about it, or take it to work. (Since this project was all I worked on for a long time, my blog entries were sparse last year.)

Knowing that I would eventually write something about this project on my blog, I took photos along the way. When I started out I snapped a shot of the project next to the coffee I was drinking.  That's how my little photo-essay started. Every time I sat down to work on it and I was drinking a coffee, I took a photo. I ended up taking 60 photos!

This one was taken at Empire Espresso.

Outside. Summertime!

I don't remember this one, but I'm in my camping chair.
This one was taken in Canada when we stayed in Peachland.
In Peachland I got to knit everyday for 3 days.
Knitting and drinking coffee in the morning.
In front of the computer, watching Netflix
In my living room.
In my dining room.
Tomorrow is Heather's birthday and before I give it to her I will take one last photo of the finished project.  I will also post a little more information about the pattern.  To be continued...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Taking My Own Advice

In my other life, the one that isn't about yarn and knitting and dyeing, I work with pregnant women. Near the end of pregnancy many women get impatient and find themselves anxious to meet their new baby. As a midwife I readily give advice about being patient. Once people are done with work and everything is ready for baby they just sit around waiting. That's when I suggest starting a new project. Being engrossed in an elaborate or complicated project makes time go by.

We put in an offer on an short-sale house last April.  At this point our closing day is November 26th. I was patiently waiting through Spring and Summer and now Fall.  The house is quite a dump and it will take several months of hard work to get it in a liveable condition. So besides moving all of our belongings we will also be doing extensive remodel. There will be no time for knitting once the sale goes through---if the sale goes through. They are giving it an 80% success rate because of a tricky legal situation with the title. So what should I do? Start a complicated lace and beadwork project, of course!

From The Knitter's Book of Wool I've started Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole. Now I'm staying in the moment like a Tibetan monk...detached...knitting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Natural Dyes - Bug gunk and wood chips

From left to right: natural gray alpaca over-dyed with lac/alum, wool dyed with lac/alum, wool dyed with logwood/alum then dipped in ammonia bath, wool dyed with logwood/alum.

Lac is a dye made from secretions of the Lac insect. It's an imported product and I got it here:

Also an imported product, logwood generally comes from Mexico or South America or India. I had little bits of left-over logwood and lac so I dyed a few skeins of hand spun yarn that I had sitting around.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Natural Dyes and Linen

 Would you believe that my family is planning on moving again? It would be my 5th move since I started this blog in 2008. If I'm lucky the future will hold a "craft room" for me...fingers crossed. I've been thinning out my possessions in preparation for moving.  I had little bottles of dye-stuff from Maiwa, the natural dye store in Vancouver BC. I figured a good use for these little bits would be to experiment dyeing something other than wool. I went with my second favorite textile---linen.

I cut little squares and began experimenting. Dying fabric and cellulose fiber is new to me. It was so much fun  using these little squares because there was no harm done if I screwed it up. It's not as risky as dying a yarn that took 2 weeks to spin, right?

Normally I don't like cutch but on fabric it looked nice. I added iron to cutch and got a totally cool dark taupe.  Marigold made a nice orange-yellow. I added tartaric acid to marigold and got a pale yellow.

I tried black tea and got a dull color. I used marigolds and back tea and it looked a little more interesting.

 The logwood experiment was interesting. When I added tartaric acid I got an orange instead of the standard purple that usually comes from logwood.

The house that we are trying to buy was built in 1912. I've looked at paint swatches of color palettes from that time period. Of course they only had natural pigments back then. Inspired by the old-timey colors and the linen swatches I was dying, I decided to make a color palette: cutch, marigold, cutch with iron, logwood with tartaric acid, and marigold with black tea! I showed the palette to my Hubby and he was not impressed. That's okay.  I'll just keep day-dreaming of remodeling my future home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shelf Mushroom Dye for Autumn

While I was out on a hike in the Snoqualmie National Forest last week I found this clump of shelf mushrooms.  Unfortunately I'm not very talented at identifying mushrooms so I can't tell you which kind it is.  I did know it would make a good dye because it was very similar to the one I had used before.  It's was dark reddish-brown on all parts.
 I popped off a few pieces and took them home. I chopped them up on a cutting board and simmered them for about an hour. I added ammonia and some tin as a mordant. After straining off the dye and tossing out the mushroom pieces, I added some roving to the dye-bath and simmered it for a half hour or so. I let the wool sit in the dye-bath overnight to cool.
 In the morning I rinsed it out.  It smelled pretty bad so I soaked it in my favorite wool wash-- "Soak" in the scent called "Celebration". Yum.

I spun it up as a 3-ply worsted yarn. It's a perfect Autumn color.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Icelandic Sweater on the Most Beautiful Girl in the World

My lovely daughter got her senior pictures taken recently. I brought along my most recent knitted project and she agreed to model it for me.  This is something she would not normally wear. In fact I made it for myself and I'm much taller than her. It's a little big for her but she looks as cute as can be. She's the most beautiful model ever!

The design came from a pattern call Afmaeli that I found for free on Ravelry. It's a basic Icelandic pattern that I modified into a long sweater that buttons up. The pattern was in the round so I had to do some math to get it right. I added a button band and big black buttons.

The photographer can  be found here: