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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Eiffel Tower Finished

I knew this was going to be a quick knit.  It turned out a bit smaller than I'd thought, but I'm still happy with it.

I did notice one mistake when I was blocking it . . . I missed a picot on the edge.  Easy to rectify at a later date if I can be bothered.

Now, just need a new dress to wear it with!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

"Dinner in the Eiffel Tower" Shawl

This is what I've been knitting with my pink and blue baby alpaca.  The pink has quite dominated the whole thing, but I don't mind that - it's one of my favourite colours.

The pattern on this shawl was inspired by the architecture of the Eiffel Tower, but not having seen the Eiffel Tower for real, I can't comment.  I think it will be more obvious once the shawl is finished and blocked.

It's knitting up incredibly easily after the last few shawls I've made, but the rows are getting longer now.  It started off with 4 stitches and gradually increased to the size it is now.  This is a semi-circular shawl with just a plain, cast off edge, but if I have enough yarn I'll put a picot edge on the curved section.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Baby Alpaca . . .

. . . Baby blues, and baby pinks.  My colours!

I dipped the skeins (the ones I'd already dyed with woad) into the madder root dye solution and heated it gently.  I didn't want a deep red for this as I thought it might overpower the blue.  I kept the heat quite low and took the skeins out after about 20 minutes.  That seemed to be enough to get the pinks I needed.

It doesn't look quite as good when it's made into a yarn cake, but it's knitting up nicely. Photos soon!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Another Day Another Dye

Sunday - day off in France.  A time to do whatever we want to do . . . except work!

First of all, the final photos of my woad dyeing session the other day :-

I'd put some merino fleece and a skein of wool/silk in the dyepot overnight, and they came out as deep a blue as the previous two skeins.  I'm pretty sure I could have dyed more with this dyepot, but I didn't have any more yarn to put in there.  I'll try and be more organised with the next lot.

In the meantime, I decided to harvest my madder bed.  I recently dug up some roots for replanting, and then let the rest of the bed dry out, so this morning I dug the remaining roots.  These have to be washed quite well because any soil left on there can make the dye brown.

The red colour is quite visible on this photo.  There were some quite thick roots in there, but lots of thin ones as well, so I chopped the whole lot and put them to soak in cold water.  I reckoned the thin ones probably contained some colour, however little, which would add to the overall dye.  The roots started seeping colour almost as soon as I put them in the water.

This will sit overnight and I'll dye with it tomorrow.

I also harvested all the dried out plant tops to use as a separate dye.  I broke these up into pieces and heated them in water for about an hour.  The colour at that point was quite deep, so I dunked my two skeins from Thursday in there and got quite a pale dirty pinkish colour.

The skeins are still wet in this photo, so I think it'll probably be even paler when it's dry.  I might just re-dip this briefly in the madder root dye tomorrow to make it a better pink. Then the plan is to dye the remaining white stripes in the main madder dyebath.  I'll let you know how it turns out tomorrow.

This is the latest cotton boll which is just starting to open.  The centre has turned brown and is drying out and just beginning to split.  The white cotton should be visible tomorrow I think.  This is one of the bigger bolls, so it'll be interesting to see how it develops.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Oh Woad Is Me!!

Yeah, Ok, you've heard that one before.

Today I harvested my woad - all 3.25 pounds of it.  I've never had this amount before, so was hopeful of getting some nice blues.  Tammy came up for the day and we had a dye session.

It started quite early this morning with me picking leaves in the rain - first rain in a while. Then we washed and chopped the leaves

and poured boiling water over them.  They then had to sit for an hour before the next step.

Missed a few opportunities for photos here.  Lunch happened instead.  But the next step was straining and squeezing the leaves to get as much colour from them as possible. Then we heated the dye liquid to 50 deg C, added washing soda until it turned a greeny shade, and whisked it with an electric whisk to incorporate air into the mix.  Amazingly, the froth on top started to turn blue almost immediately, so I whisked for about 5 minutes just to make sure.

After that we re-heated to 50 deg C and sprinkled Spectralite (sodium hydrosulphite) over the top to remove the oxygen.  After sitting for 45 minutes, it was then ready to use.

First dip looks promising :-

Second dip :-

Eric thinks they look like Blackburn Rovers scarves!  I've left them with white stripes because I want to  dye them a different colour.  I've left some merino fleece and another skein of yarn soaking in the dye bath overnight but that'll probably be all I'll get from this batch.  Hoping to have another harvest in a month or so if the weather holds.

Oh, and two more cotton bolls have started to open, small ones again, but bigger than the first.

Three down, 30 or 40 to go!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Final Buds

At last, I've found time (and incentive!) to block out the Buds of May shawlette I finished recently.  It took me ages to pin it all out to shape, i.e. getting it the right shape!  But it was all worth it in the end.

Here it is airing off in the sunshine today.

And then our neighbours turned up just in time for a photo shoot.  This is Tammy showing off the shawl as it's meant to be.

Not quite full wingspan!

The whole thing, and a bit of detail :-

Hopefully, tomorrow this will be winging it's way north to my friend May.  Hope she likes it - it's scary spinning for a spinner!

Friday, 7 September 2012

First of Many?

Look what I found this evening when I was watering the garden :-

It might not be large, it might not be perfectly formed, but it is cotton!!!  I was beginning to think the bolls would never burst open.

This has given me hope that the rest will now follow, and there are lots to follow.  This was definitely not open this morning, so it must happen quite quickly.  I'll be checking every few hours now to see if there are any more!

From here to infinity . . .

. . . Tomatoes, that is :-

That's approx. 15 litres of chopped tomatoes on the right, and 10 litres of tomato pulp.

And they're still coming!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Butterflies and Buds

Found this gorgeous caterpillar the other day on my fennel in the garden.

I've been searching the internet to try and find out which butterfly it will become, and all information seemed to point to it being a black swallowtail.  The problem is, I've only ever seen white swallowtails here, so maybe that's what it is.

The other news is, I've finally finished the Buds of May shawl.  I've had lots of problems with this pattern, mainly because the whole thing was a series of charts, which I find very difficult to follow, especially when they have you constantly referring to other charts for parts of each row.  I'd rather have a written pattern any day.  It was pretty accurate though (my problems usually stemmed from my lack of understanding of the pattern, and I'm not what you would call a "beginner" by any means), but I did find a few errors in the last 4 or 5 rows.  I just followed my instincts there, and it worked out OK.

Preliminary photo (there'll be a final "showy" one when I've had time to sew in the ends and block it) :-

I only realised when I got near to the end of this, just how much wool I have left.  I think I could easily have done the next size up, but there's no way I'm taking it back now!

The next shawl is definitely for me - just have to work out which fleece I'll use, then spin it!  Will it be a Buds of May?  Probably, because I do really like the pattern.  Next time, though, it'll be a lot easier . . . I wrote out the pattern as I went along (a real labour of love that was!) so it definitely should be easier to do.