Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Happy Imbolc! (A couple of days late…)

How did it get to be February already? I’m feeling somewhat better now and most of my energy is returned. The sun is out but it’s really cold – at least in local terms. I had to put a blanket on my rosemary in the greenhouse at night and my poor primulas in the front door basket got a little frozen. You can always tell when the temp drops down past a certain level because all the rhododendron leaves curl and droop down. They seem to recuperate ok when it warms up again. However despite the current chill it’s actually been a pretty mild winter. It’s odd to look up at our North Shore mountains which hardly have any snow at all on them.

So what have I been up to? (Besides blowing my nose?) I completed another test knit for Sanjo. I don’t think they’d mind me showing you this time:


It’s a silk and kid mohair cowl or infinity scarf exactly like the collar I made for my last test knit except that it’s 3 times the number of stitches. I like this one much better. You can wear it in a number of different ways and my favourite is to wrap it around the neck twice. Deliciously slinky and lightly fuzzy and very warm.

Next up I dyed the demo skein of NZ crossbred wool and angelina fibre:

Burning Embers handspun

I used some of my aging acid dyes and made a semi-solid that I call Burning Embers. The angelina looks like tiny sparks! Very pretty. Then I knit it into the Bandana Cowl pattern. I used this knit to learn how to do Ysolda’s Wrapless Short-Rows from her new video. I love this technique and will adopt it as my go-to method from now on!

Burning Embers Bandana Cowl_prog

I’ve actually completed the cowl but haven’t blocked it yet. After a quick steam under the iron, I wore it out in the cold yesterday! Yummm…. Proper photo to come. I’m also currently knitting fingerless mitts from the remaining 40g of this yarn.

In keeping with my deep orange-red colour theme I also dyed some unbleached cotton canvas for a Spectrum project. After scouring and mordanting first in 8% tannin and then 15% alum, I used some very old Red Sandalwood dyestuff that had been soaking for…ummm….a couple of years! It never went mouldy or anything and this time worked really well:

RedSandalwood on canvas

I also added a little calcium carbonate and soda ash to the bath to offset our soft acidic water. Of course the dried fabric is quite a few shades lighter and came out kind of marbled. I like it though and now it will be printed with natural dye paints. Eventually I’m planning to sew a tote bag for my larger knitting projects. I seem to be working with large coned yarns and dragging the projects around the house. It would be nice to have a very specific bag to keep everything together. More on this later.

Now it took me about 5 sessions but I finally hemmed the Japanese damselfly fabric strip that Heather gifted me with:


It’s a lovely sheer crisp cloth and I think it’s what the Japanese call asa (hemp) though that could also mean any bast fibre including ramie,  linen, banana or wisteria. The printing in indigo is exquisite and I almost can’t tell which is the right or wrong side. The finished piece is just long enough to wear as a scarf. Thanks again, Heather!

So now I must go and sort out my seeds for this year’s plantings. We will be going to the garden shop today so I want to make a list of anything that I need to look for. I know it’s still early to plant even for our West Coast weather but seeds sell out quickly and I don’t want to miss my chance. It’ll only be a few more weeks before my basement “grow-op” gets started! Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?


Heather said...

I'm so glad you are feeling better. Nice job on the scarf (scarves)! You continue to amaze me with your productivity. And seeds,mmmmmm, so tempting. There is a seed exchange on Gabriola tomorrow night and even though I have plenty I know I will be unable to resist some new pretty faces.

pao said...

My the energy you have! I can just see you in your dying laboratory with vats and dried plants and bits hanging on lines. My, my.

Louisa said...

Heather, I spent way too much on seeds but they will last me more than one year! Plus I didn't buy any at all last year. You're right - so fun to try new things.

Gee, Pao dear, I hope you meant "dyEing". I'm not quite ready for dying yet. Sorry, couldn't help myself. This one is a running joke in our group! :0