Tag: dyeing

Junebug Farms Yarn 18

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If you’ve read even a little bit of my blog, you know about my friend Cari. We met online back when Paul and I were planning our move to Tennessee. I had questions about chickens, so of course I turned to Ravelry. I searched for someone in NE Tennessee who’d posted about chickens, found Cari’s blog, and the rest is some of my happiest history ever.

Over the years that Cari and I have been friends, Cari’s fiber genius has exploded. She knits, spins, crochets, dyes like a crazy color savant, and along with her hubby, Jay, has started a small fiber farm. With goats!

Here’s a picture of Cari and Jay that ran in the local paper.

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They started out with two female angora goats and early this year added two boys. This is when they were bringing the boys home in their car!

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It’s all been big fun to be part of and watch develop. And now! Oh, my gosh! The yarn!!!

This Spring, Junebug Farms got their first batch of processed fiber back from the mill. It is crazy gorgeous. Cari gave me a skein of the natural color that I’ve been saving instead of knitting with (I know, I know), and then she started turning out these glorious colors. I had to jump in.

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I’ve had the Fetching pattern in my queue for ages. It seemed good for trying out a new yarn since, with a little cabling, some stockinette, and a picot edge, I’d get to see how it behaved with a number of different techniques.

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So I can’t figure out how to photograph the squish (which is OUTRAGEOUS), but hopefully the photos at least show how beautifully the yarn knits up. The stitch definition in the cabled areas is nice and crisp, yet there’s still this lovely bit of mohair haze that just kills me.

I couldn’t stop with the mitts. I mean it. I just had to keep going. So I came up with a matching hat.

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This hat and these mitts make me so happy! I’d love them even if the yarn weren’t from Cari and Jay’s precious goats and dyed by Cari herself, but those things make them extra super special.

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I knit the first mitt the night the Cubs won the World Series (!!!!), and I’ve been wearing them ever since,  even though this is the most un-winterlike November I can remember. Now, all I can think about is what I want to make next with Junebug Farms yarn!

“Time is contagious . . . Everybody’s getting old” 3

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Hello, my friends. If we were standing face-to-face, this would be one of those days when we just looked at each other, shook our heads, and then burst out laughing. Know what I mean?

The only thing that makes a lot of sense in my life right now is the zigzag blanket. I’ve been knitting on it constantly.

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Paul’s sweater is ready to be finished.

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I intend to seam it up and add the neck any day now, but there keeps being the world and the work and the million stressful things, and I just keep needing to knit the zigzag blanket.

Happily, there was fiber guild last weekend, so I was able to socialize with the zigzag blanket in tow. In addition to seeing my people, I got some excellent blanket knitting advice from Teddy.

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He was so tired by the time he finished wedging himself between Cari and me to offer his views on color selection that he had to collapse on Cari’s lap and take a nap.

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Another happy thing is that three books I preordered forever ago have all come in the mail. People Knitting has incredible photos as I expected it would. I haven’t had a chance to dive into Mary Oliver’s Upstream or The Hidden Life of Trees yet, but it’s nice having them nearby for whenever that elusive free moment comes. I’m especially excited about The Hidden Life of Trees. I wrote about it here if you’re interested.

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One of the things I’ve wanted to share with you when I finally got around to posting is this article about Lars Rains. He’s a former New York cop who is really into knitting! He published a book called Modern Lopi last year, and the designs in it look incredible. I especially like Hildur. There’s something about the way the neck is worked that seriously appeals to me.

The other thing I wanted to mention is the Dyeing Now project. This is the coolest thing! The centerpiece is a book published in the early 20th century called Vegetable Dyes. It was written by Ethel Mairet who was a pioneering weaver but also did tons of experimenting with natural dyeing. The book is a catalog of all of this with instructions on how to duplicate Mairet’s results. It was apparently one of the first books on natural dyeing to reach a wide audience. The point of the Dyeing Now project is for contemporary dyers to prepare samples of dyed fiber using Mairet’s recipes. Anyone can participate! The instructions are on the Ditchling Museum website here.

Sorry for the rambling post. I hope to make more sense again some day. Today’s title is from Damien Rice’s song “Coconut Skins.”

 

Something New 10

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The mountains of Northeast Tennessee are wildly alive. Every single day, some new face of nature shows itself.

In the beginning I wanted to know about everything, immediately. Which tree was the hemlock that was used to build our house? Which were the tulip poplar and the sourwood the bees love? Where could I find the plantain? We might need a  a poultice!

It’s been a process, but tree by tree and plant by plant, we’ve been getting acquainted. For the most part, I’ve learned to be patient and take the lessons as they come. But every now and then, something happens, like the goldenrod this year. It’s been insane. Fabulous, blinding yellow! Everywhere!!

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I knew the time to try my hand at natural dyeing had come.

 

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I decided it would be fun to throw several different types of fiber into my dye pot. I wanted to use some of the Border Leicester top that was a Christmas gift last year from my dear friend, Pam. I also wanted to try dyeing some thread, so I ordered some Dye-lishus cotton from New World Textiles. I had some Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool and some Plymouth Galway Worsted yarn on hand, so I grabbed those, and I even tossed in a piece of cotton dish towel, just to see what would happen.

The first step was to scour everything and then to mordant all but the Dye-lishus thread. I used alum as a mordant and just followed the directions in Chris McLaughlin’s A Garden to Dye For.

The best part was making the dye bath.

 

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You’re really not supposed to do this in your kitchen . . .

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I’ll figure out a better plan down the road.

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Something about working with plants growing just a few steps beyond my door made the whole experience feel kind of magical.

Here’s how things looked straight out of the pot.

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That was last night.

Here’s everything today after having time to dry.

 

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I’m in love with the Border Leicester top. It took the color beautifully.

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The yarn is a little lighter than I’d like, and there are some spots where the dye didn’t take as well as it did elsewhere, so I’ll need to work on that.


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I’ll also need to figure out how to get better results with the cotton thread. It ended up a dull, tan-ish color–okay for some things, but not what I was hoping for.

Bottom line: this was big time fun and an excellent jumping off point for a new project I’m anxious to begin!

I’m going to be doing a stitch along with Bradie, whose Healing Handcrafting blog has become one of my absolute favorites. Bradie has written beautifully about the process here and here, and I will be posting about my own progress soon. In the meantime let me recommend the book we’re using for inspiration. It’s Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith. Both the writing and the photographs are something to be savored.

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That’s my little hank of hand-dyed thread on top.

 

Instructions for living a life . . . * 2

I’m trying to live deliberately these days. There’s so much to be swept up in. I know you know what I mean. World things, family things, living life things . . .  It can be overwhelming. I’m looking for solid ground.

Knitting is solid ground. I’m slowly making progress on the sleeves of Paul’s sweater. I love thinking of his arms wrapped in these stitches I’ve put together, one after another, so carefully.

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Recently, I was with some people dear to me, and the situation was stressful, tense. There was waiting involved. I picked up these sleeves and started to knit, and the effect was remarkable. The energy in the room changed for all of us. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it first hand, but my knitting was like a spell that suddenly allowed us all to relax. I was aware of the change as it was happening. We were all watching my hands knit one stitch, and one stitch, and one stitch, and we began to be soothed. Knitting has that power.

Homemade buttermilk biscuits are also solid ground.

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Baking these required just enough focus to make the demands of the moment more powerful than all the other places my mind wanted to go. Eating them reminded me of my grandmother. Sharing them with Paul made me happy. That was enough.

Another thing I think will be grounding is starting to do some natural dyeing. I’ve been anxious to try this for quite a while. The process interests me, and I like the idea of becoming more intimate with the plants and trees that are everywhere around us on the mountain. The goldenrod is practically insisting that the time is right. It’s in full, crazy bloom at the moment and is everywhere.

I ordered some books last week.

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And today we went to the flea market to look for inexpensive, non-reactive pots and other tools I’ll need.

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It must have been my lucky day because I found three pots, two stainless steel and one enamel, along with some tongs and a stainless steel colander.

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Dogs may be the most solid ground of all. How can you have any doubt about where you stand when you’re with a dog?

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In many ways blogging is also grounding. It’s what I thought of when I read Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life”:

 Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

If you have any suggestions for staying grounded, I’d love to hear them. Please post a comment or email me at melinda@knitpotion.com.

 

*From “Sometimes” in Red Bird: Poems by Mary Oliver

Rabbit Holes 16

Since things are feeling a bit insane around here workwise, I will make no mention of my own knitting projects today. Instead, I want to tell you about the explosion of blog serendipity that happened yesterday.

I was catching up on recent posts from my favorite blogs and intending to keep a tight rein on my habit of following links down rabbit holes, but darn it if Fiber and Sustenance didn’t draw me in with a picture of stripey socks and desert boots. I accidentally kept reading and was reminded that she and a friend were doing a hap KAL and that I’d wanted to check out said friend’s blog over at Rosalind Craft Supplies.

Well . . . Kate of Rosalind Craft Supplies posts lots of pictures of books and knitting against which, it just so happens, I am powerless. Ten or fifteen happy minutes later, I got ahold of myself but fortunately not before I’d discovered this awesome video that Kate shared in a post about her pick for the Top Nine Television Knitters.

I LOVE this guy. And it turns out he actually did finish the bow tie!

So anyway, determined to avoid future detours and stick to the essentials, I stopped by alexand knits. I had several posts worth of catching up to do, and wouldn’t you know it? There’s this post about how Alex’s friend Carol of knit equals joy gifted her a sock pattern. That led to my checking out both Carol’s terrific blog (awesome, awesome photos!) and the sock pattern, Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks.

Well . . . it just so happens that there is a KAL starting for the Smooth Operator Socks in Susan B. Anderson’s Ravelry group, itty bitty knits. You know what that led to, right?

Moving on . . .

But not really. See, in the same post where Alex mentioned the Smooth Operator Socks, she talked about a Wolfberryknits post and said it was really worth checking out. Oh. My. Heavens. Check THIS POST out! It’s the best thing I’ve seen on a blog in ages. It’s about taking local fleece and dyeing it with dyes made from local plants, and spinning it, and knitting it into a glorious pair of 100% Australian socks. There are tons of pictures, and the socks are insane.

Should I mention that as I was reading the comments on the Wolfberryknits post (I told you it was bad) I came across this sentence: “I have always been attracted to shiny things. I am a life experience magpie who wants to know how things work and who collects processes like other people collect random paraphernalia.”  You know I had to find that person.

Turns out, that’s narf7, and her blog is Serendipity Revisited. And yes. It’s an extremely cool blog.

That’s it. Back to work. But first, the final stop on yesterday’s out-of-control coffee break: Woman Sentenced to Five Months of Knitting for Road Rage Punch. Yes–she did, and she was. Here’s the scene of the crime:

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(Picture: Cascade)