Thursday, June 23, 2011

A experiment to dye for

For at least a year (probably longer) I've had some sachets of Landscape dyes lying about. Use them? Eh... No. I've wanted to a few times, got out the yarn I spun, got scared, put the yarn away again and pushed the dye sachets back into the drawer. But after seeing all those luscious colours of homespun yarn on Ravelry, the dyeing bug got the better of me. I got my spun yarn out and got to work...
The undyed homespun yarn
I slightly rinsed out the yarn again, and then it was time for magic: I put the kettle on with some dye and did some witchcraft...
My best witchy recipe...
Two pots on the stove with a lovely luscious aubergine soup (combination of Plum and Clematis)... I was pretty proud of myself having gotten this far!
After half an hour of heating the yarn, (carefully) turning it over a few times, I started to get a bit panicky, because the dye didn't seem to 'catch'. After a quick chat with my Twitter yarnies, I realized I should have actually degreased the yarn more (lesson number 1), because greasy yarn apparently doesn't really want to stick to the dye. I had spun the yarn straight from the dirty sheep, and it could have with a litle Olive soap or Woollite. Tip for next time!
Hanging the yarn out to dry
But soon, my yarns were proudly hanging on the cloths line, drying in the breeze. And actually, the colour came out a lot more saturated than I had thought in the beginning. Yes, not perfect, but I quite like variegated yarns!
I now have 539 grams of yarn to knit this little number, without the turtle neck...
A nice pile of dyed yarn, making me a happy bunny
Want to see how happy I am with the yarn? This is me being happy...
I made this!!!
I know, scary...

Anyway, encouraged by the kettle adventure, I ripped open some of the other sachets, mixed them up with hot water, plucked some (clean-ish) unspun fleece and dyed them in the microwave - until I ran out of clingfilm ;)
More spinning wool!!!
As the fleece was still a bit greesy, the colours are actually amazing! Very subtle greens, purples, a bit of red and yellow... I can't wait to see how this turns out when spun!
As the pots with dyewater were still very purple after dying the homespun yarn, I decided to dunk some more fleece in. What did I have to loose? And just see how that came out!
Another load of wool....
And a close-up...
From light to very dark purple...
This load is now drying outside... Tour de Fleece, here I come!!!!

Oh, and by the way, I finished the pink socks. After breaking two circular needles in the process... Tadaaaa:
New England - by Nancy Bush, knit in Fabel on 2.25mm bamboo circs
And from the side...
Lots of fagoting, which gives a very airy effect
The legs are knit according to the pattern, but when I decreased for the foot, I somehow 'lost' 10 stitches. Luckily I have big calves and dainty little feet (haha), which means the socks turned out just right. Almost too nice to hide in shoes!
The next small knitting project has already been started... And tonight I will start swatching properly for my new sweater!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Enhancing the stash...

It was supposed to be a nice outing, to see some more sheep being shorn, enjoy the glorious sunshine, buy some nice goodies, sit down and knit and spin with some of my homeys, chat some more as well, drink coffee, have cake, blah blah. And then the day came. And the heavens opened.
Even though it rained, we did go, me and the little Mermaid. See, we had seen on the good old tinternets that the rain would subside and it would become nice. It was just a bit of a shame that the good old tinternets was slightly accurate in that respect. The rain kept falling, although it was just a drizzle, and the wind kept blowing. But isn't it weird that when after three hours of tramping around on a field in your boots, when you don't even feel your toes anymore, you look at each other, smile, and go: THAT WAS GREAT!
It was great! We had a great time. And yes, sunshine would have helped, as the rain had scared some of the stallholders away (I didn't blame them, some actually got blown away yesterday), and the knitting workshop I had promised Mermaid was nowhere to be found... But, we made a sheep skin pompom, bought fudge, bought yarn, and most importantly, just had a great girls' day out. Eight-year-olds need that occasionally ;) (The four-year-old and his dad - on Father's Day - had a Star Wars day at home, so don't feel sorry for them).
Here's a frozen but beaming Mermaid with our purchases:
First up, the purchases for Mermaid. She is now the proud owner of a Lucet fork and some Zpagetti to go with it:
She quickly got the hang of it and actually forked her way through two balls on the journey home. She has lots of wild ideas about how to use the strings she made (and so have I ;). The set we bought came with a basket, which is great to put away her thingies before bedtime and keep all her crafting items together.
Don't think I got away with it so lightly, though... Miss Mermaid had seen a lovely shawl at the Marleen's stall and asked me if I could buy the pattern. And some yarn. And madam has an expensive taste (see, she IS my daughter after all...)... In the bag with the pattern went some sparkly Easyknits yarn, Twinkle-Witches Brew to be exact (superwash merino/nylon/stellina).
And while I was at the stand, chatting away, I noticed she had the most lovely and perfect sock yarn for the Aardbeientompoes pattern I bought last week (proceeds going to KIKA, a charity to research treatments for kids with cancer)... It's a bit more red than the picture, and strawberry enough to just want to sink your teeth into straight away. More Easyknits, this time Ruby Slipper-Superwash BFL.
And you thought I was finished, HA. No. They had a pin machine at the entrance. Talking about enabling addicts ;)
So, we filled up our purse, and headed back. First to get some coffee and hot chocolate, and then to fondle some spinning/felting wool. Yes, the type of stuff you can never have too much off. First, a whole batt to spin into sock yarn. 100 grams of Merino/Texel/Wensleydale in a lovely colour combo, dyed by Jeanet Koek, going from ochre via cream to light blue and the an almost turquoise green. Honestly, the hands are itching already...
And then, to finish it all of, a small bag of hand-dyed tussah silk (also by Jeanet Koek) and a bag of white Wensleydale curls by MeerVilt. Just because we liked the curls, and we want to experiment a bit with dying curls at home, to then make nice felted flowers or something else cool.

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the lovely ladies at the fashion show, of the strong ladies felting away at full fleeces, transforming them into rugs, or even the brave ladies dancing away on the fleeces barefoot (!). Too much to take in! We just stood their, enjoying the sights.
So now, I'm sitting on the sofa, finally warm again, still fondling yarn, frantically knitting at my pink socks (so hard in fact, that again I managed to break a bamboo needle - and repaired it again, hopefully it will last me long enough to finish this sock...), so I can start on one of my new projects. I'm off!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

From sheep to fleece

Some days you don't see any sheep, other days you're surrounded by them... Last weekend, we went camping with our new tent, quite close to home (an hour away) at a lovely nature campsite at Langedijke. In between the potato fields was a small field with high grass and some camping areas set out. We almost felt like we were in the south of France, it was that idyllic!
We looked out on to the sheep enclosure, where two black sheep were living the life of Riley. They obviously were used to people, because every time someone even walked along the fence, they would come up to you, in the hope you brougth them some nice food. Little scoundrels!
The weather on Sunday was glorious, and we had great fun at Doldersum, where there was a small sheep shearing fest. The shepherd took his time shearing the animals, doing only two and then taking a break to flex his (very brown) arms and wave his locks about, but in the mean time we could watch the sheepdog show off his tricks, felt a nice necklace, watch a young spinner in action and, finally, enjoy a performance by Harrie Harrewar. A great afternoon, all in all!
I decided to buy a fleece here, and as luck would have it, I ended up buying the one hubby took loads of whilst it was being shorn.
Right, who's next?
The shepherd in action with 'my' fleece...
All done!
And then it was bundled up into a plastic bag, stuffed into our boot with all our camping gear and brought home! It's a great way to support this lovely initiative...
And tomorrow, I'm going here... They are lucky with the weather today, apparently (while it has been gushing down here...), so I hope we will have a dry day visiting tomorrow!

In other news...
One of my pink socks is done. I've started on the second one, but in a very nice move Mermaid stood on my knitting bag and broke a bamboo needle. Yup, that is one of the drawbacks of wood. It can break... :(
I also finished Coachella. Hooray! Still need to upload some nice pictures to tinternets, but it is definitely sexy! I will mostly be wearing this in situations where I won't have to bend forward ;)
More on these two projects in a next post!

And I did a bit of crafting other than knitting... Mermaids teachers celebrated their birthdays last Friday, and to be slightly different (i.e. not give chocolates or shower gel...), I made something myself.
A cute little bird to hang on their key chain. Sweet, aren't they? I found the idea online somewhere, and it has definitely opened up a huge box of inspiration...
Another idea from the internet was this little fella...
It has found a home in Mermaid's bed and seems to be quite happy there!