Monday, September 21, 2009

Nightfall Tam

This is a traditional tam design with the central star but I've added extra stars around the body and used minimal colours - just the natural black and white and some madder and lichen to aim for a late evening look.

Summer Season Tam

I was never a great fan of Piers Plowman, but the opening lines are lovely and have always stayed in my head:

In a somer season, whan softe was the sonne,
I shope me into shroudes, as I a shep were,
In abite as an heremite, unholy of werkes,
Wente forth in the world wondres to here,
And saw many selles and selcouthe thynges.

So here's a tam for William Langland to wear to brighten up his hermit's garb. The dyes are madder, poroporo, indigo, weld and onion skins. The top shows trees, flowers and flowering vines and the underneath has a pattern of butterflies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In a Monastery Garden Tam

This is a hat for the Venerable Bede or Caedmon to wear on a sunny day for a walk in the monastery garden. It has the flowers of the garden reflected underneath and the top is ornamented with Celtic curlicues to appease the heavens.
Again it's handspun, dyed with madder, red sandalwood, safflower and indigo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

After the Fire Tam

A few years ago I was asked by a woman whose property had been completely burned out in a bad bushfire if I would have a look at it and do some replanting. When I went there I had to tiptoe round. Although the ground was still black there were tiny plants springing up everywhere and older plants were regrowing from their ligno-tubers. The gum trees were working on a new canopy. Signs of regeneration were everywhere. No replanting was needed.
The Victorian bushfires last year were so terrible that I don't know what can be regrowing there but I hope the signs of regeneration are coming. I put the blackened hearts on the back of this tam because that's how the fires affect us.
I used homespun and dyed it with indigo, weld, onion skins, safflower and poroporo.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oakleaves and Butterflies Tam

The oak leaf is one I picked up in the woodlot and the butterflies are for all the red and yellow admirals that love the lacebark trees. I used madder, poroporo, safflower, weld, onion skins and indigo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August Sunrise Tam

The days are getting longer here and when I go out to feed the chickens and the cows I am treated to the most beautiful sunrises. The sky across the ocean is streaked with all shades of pinks and reds and mauves. The blue sky shows through and in the distance to the north are snow covered mountains and the green earth is the centre. I tried to show this in a tam, although I realise that it's a bit ambitious and a tam is maybe not the best vehicle for it.
I've used handspun and dyed it with madder, red sandalwood, natural indigo, poroporo and lichen.
I've included a photo of two of the sheep who contribute their wool to my spinning wheel. The black one is my Pitt Island. She's very naughty but more fun than regular breeds. Pitt Island sheep are a feral breed and she is quite wild.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Coral Seas Tam

When I designed the wheel pattern for this tam it was supposed to look like gracefully intersecting lines but actually ended up resembling a six tentacled sea creature - a sectapus, I suppose. So I gave it some wave patterns and some warm water to live in. Although we live only a few minutes walk from a beautiful South Pacific beach the water is so cold I've never been in it. I believe you need to be a child or the owner of a wetsuit. This water is much warmer.
I used handspun wool, and the dyes are madder, red sandalwood, kangaroo apple and natural indigo.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First Flower of Spring Tam

Winter in Otago is rather different from winter in Australia. The days get very short and it's pretty cold getting up in the mornings to do the animals. The good side is that when the days start to get longer again and there are a few milder days it can feel like spring is arriving even though it's still officially winter. Now, in August, the sun is shining and the chooks are starting to lay. There are spring lambs in the village and and the first pink flower on an apricot tree in the orchard. This tam is to celebrate that. Of course, that flower is also a reminder to get out there and prune the fruit trees before everything really gets going.
i've used a faded black wool from our rare breed Pitt Island sheep and white wool dyed with red sandalwood, kangaroo apple (poroporo), lichen (Sticta coronata) and safflower. The pattern is supposed to show a dignified Gothic arch as well but the flower wanted to be the focus of attention.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tam Number Three

I started counting because I'm aiming to make one hundred and one. There's a nice moment when making a tam, rather like the last move in a string figure when you open it up and the pattern is displayed clearly for the first time. This is keeping me intrigued.
If Mr JB should look at this, yes, it is your design, but I haven't done the pattern quite how you said because I was experimenting with the traditional colours and how they combine.
I've used indigo, madder and safflower again and the colours have chaanged depending on whether they have yellow next to the blue or red. The pattern would probably work quite well in black and white.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A More Traditional Tam

I've now branched out from Mary Rowe's book and into new territory (though rather old territory, really). I designed this man's sized tam and used an eight point star for the wheel pattern, rather than Mary's seven section wheel. The pattern I drafted quite a few times in different variations while gazing at the coloured photo of tams in Sheila McGregor's Traditional Fair Isle book. I kept redoing it to suit the colours as they looked when I knitted them. The wool is my handspun dyed with madder (red), indigo (blue), and safflower (yellow). There are also three natural wool colours there. I liked the rather 1930s look to the colour scheme.
Because I am cutting grass every day for the cow with a scythe I feel a hay rake might be helpful so I'm hoping to be able to trade this tam for one. I do know the Oamaru maker of hay rakes would like a traditional tam.

Tons of Tammies

I've always loved looking at photos of tam o'shanters and wondering how to shape the wheel pattern in the centre, but until I bought Mary Rowe's book on tammies I didn't have the vital clues that make it possible to make tammies of any size and have them lie perfectly flat when they're finished. Now a new world has opened to me. I find them endlessly fascinating and I've been spending time designing my own, spinning and dyeing the wool to make them, knitting up samples from bits and pieces of wool and persuading my friends and their friends and relations to draw up designs for me.
This is the first patterned tam I've made to my own design, but I've got quite a few designs now ready to be made. I used some Jamieson and Smith 2-ply for this but from now on I'll use my own handspun.

For Sun Splashed Days

A few months ago a friend and I went op shopping in Dunedin and I picked up some rather conservative looking blue wool for $15 which seems like a lot of money to someone who usually spins their own. I worried about how to make it pay for itself and ended up making this pattern from 1938. It's in A Stitch in Time - the first edition. The original pattern tells you what to wear with the jumper. If you make it in cornflower blue, for instance, you need a blue linen skirt, a rose pink scarf, a blue flower clip and navy blue shoes. As I didn't have any of these essentials I made a tammie from the same wool and a skirt from a bit of left over woolen fabric I found in a cupboard. It turned out quite well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bushfire Socks

When the Victorian bushfire appeal was launched there was a number of donations of wool offered to people who donated cash to the appeal. I discovered this on and was lucky enough to be one of the winners. The wool was donated by The Loopy Ewe as was the pattern, which is Cookie A's Zanzibar Socks. It's merino wool which I imagine probably came from Australia originally. It was then spun and dyed in Germany, made its way to North America and then travelled all the way back to New Zealand. I thought of sending the socks on to Australia when they were finished, but I'm in need of socks and the wool has probably clocked up a large enough carbon footprint in its career so it had better stay here.
So with thanks to The Loopy Ewe, here are the finished socks:

Garden of Flowers Rug

This rug is the result of having a large stash of handspun wool which was fairly coarse and a very tatty old mat in the doorway which was irritating me. The pattern is adapted from a cushion design in a book called Ethnic Needlepoint but I made it in cross stitch and elongated it to make it more ruglike.
The dyes I used include eucalyptus, lichen, cochineal, brazilwood, nettles, onion skins and madder. It took a lot longer to make than I expected so I hope it lasts for a while so I don't need to make another.