Sunday, August 29, 2010

After the Frenzy

It's been a few weeks now since my first design kits were launched by Renaissance Dyeing at Knit Nation 2010 in London. I believe the whole event was a huge success and many people are still settling down and gazing fondly at all the wool they bought and wondering what projects will be good enough to use it on. That's the nice thing about a kit, I suppose. It spares you the agony of wishing you'd made something else with that special skein.
I found the design process was less traumatic than I thought it would be but I also thought it might be an idea to make up some designs and kits for tams that many people have said they loved before designing anything new.
I've used Renaissance Dyeing wool to make up a couple of tams and am working on the patterns for them. So they should be available before too long. This first will be this Pink and Gold Tam in colours most suitable for the northern hemisphere autumn fast approaching.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Urban Troubadour 2

Here is a design that will also be launched at Knit Nation this month. This is one I test knitted for Mary Lena Lynx in Belgium. It's the second of two colourways. This one is softer and brighter than the first - more feminine, Mary Lena says. The wool is all dyed with natural dyes by Renaissance Dyeing and the colours are really lovely. It will be going to live in the Blue Mountains when it returns from London.
And here are the original colours -

Bug Socks

We have a small flock of Wiltshire sheep. They are the darlings of lifestyle block owners because they don't need shearing. They either don't grow much wool or they shed it themselves all over the place. I chose them because of their hardiness and the fact that they don't need drenching. However, I do like sheep to have useable wool so I have them shorn and this year I decided to experiment with the wool. They don't have a great deal of fleece and what they have is rather coarse but open and springy. It's very easy to spin and looks fine when it's washed. These socks are test to see how it stands up to hard wear. I expect socks are not the best use for it but we'll see. It has to be better than some of the commercial sock yarns I've tried that go to holes if you walk to the letterbox.
The bug patterns are Estonian from Nancy Bush's book of Estonian Folk Knitting, but the sock pattern is a basic generic design. the dyes are cochineal (bugs), eucalyptus and onion skins.

Yellow Roses

I realise I haven't added the other colourway for the Roman de la Rose Socks. This is the brunettes' version. The socks look rather nice with yellow roses but I wasn't too sure about making a matching tam because so much yellow in the centre might not be very successful. Anyway, both sock colours and the tam will be available from Renaissance Dyeing from the 29th July or thereabouts. I know Andie is taking them to Knit Nation then.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Roman de la Rose Socks

I had quite a lot of wool left over after I made the tam so naturally I made some matching socks. These will also be available as a kit from Renaissance Dyeing from July this year. They will be on display at Knit Nation 2010 if you happen to live in England. There are going to be several gorgeous designs on display at Renaissance Dyeing all using Andie's naturally dyed wools, some in lace weight, and mostly organically produced from a flock of Dorset sheep in France. The designers Andie has engaged come from all over the world and they have come up with some stunning work. Have a look at the website when you have a moment.

Roman de le Rose Tam

Here is the first design inspired by the beautiful naturally dyed wool from Renaissance Dyeing. As I said, the colours reminded me of medieval paintings and the story of the Romance of the Rose was what sprang to mind. I read the Chaucer translation at university and never forgot the image of the garden and its inhabitants. The tam is supposed to tell the story in wool, which is probably a bit ambitious but the colours certainly look right.

The kit for this design will be available from Renaissance Dyeing from July and the tam will be on display at Knit Nation 2010 in July along with some other marvellous creations using the Renaissance Dyeing wool from some very talented designers around the world.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Roman de la Rose

Andie from Renaissance Dyeing asked me if I could come up with a design using her beautiful naturally dyed and organic wool for KnitNation 2010 in July. she gave me a free hand to choose the colours and what I wanted to design. I chose a traditional group of colours dyed with woad, madder, indigo, weld and cutch. When I saw the colours she had produced with these dyes I was struck with their resemblance to the brilliant colours in medieval paintings. Hence the inspiration for my design.
Over the next few weeks more will be revealed.

Mermaids Tam

A few months ago I was writing to a Danish girl who was interested in designing a tam. Conventionally I thought of the little mermaid at Copenhagen and suggested a mermaid’s tail as a wheel motif. Then I thought what about the rest of the mermaid so I did a torso design. Afterwards I changed it to an almost complete mermaid - only the whole tail is not there.
We have a lighthouse nearby where the seals fish off the rocks. The mermaids probably live there and swim amongst the red parrot fish.
The dyes are red sandalwood, indigo, madder, poroporo, sticta coronata and safflower.

Pretty in Pink Tam

Another button, this time a pink pearl one with a petal pattern on it was the inspiration here. I’m not sure if I’ll attach it though. There are some pictures with and some without. What do you think? The pinks in the pearl shell don’t show up clearly unless the light is right.
The dyes were indigo, madder, red sandalwood and sticta coronata.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Star and Thistle Tam

The Oamaru Textile Exchange has been selling buttons from the collection of an American who recently moved here. Every Tuesday she brings in some more and I try to find an excuse to go to town and have a look at them. Of course, many of them are quite expensive, so mostly I just look but I have bought a few. This tam uses one of them for its design - an old Czech glass button with some nice bits of inlaid cut glass. It has a nine point star so the tam is bigger than usual to show it off. The button you can see securely (I hope) sewn in the centre.
The thistles are there because they're flowering everywhere I look and when I remove them my fingers get full of prickles and I end up knitting with the prickles still in place.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Batwing Cardigan

A couple of years ago I bought a very dirty white cria fleece for $20 and it’s been waiting to be used since then. I decided that a light weight cardigan would be most useful in this climate, so I spun it as finely as I could and asked Doespins if she would dye it for me. It came out a beautiful raspberry pink.
The pattern uses a wool called May Queen but I don’t know what it was exactly. The design seems to be early 1950s and the needle size is quite small. I imagine May Queen was a fine 2-ply. I had to go down a needle size to get the correct tension.
The buttons were a problem and I never quite solved it. I wanted vintage shank buttons in pearl or diamante but finding twelve to match was too difficult and in the end I just used what I had.
I particularly like the little cabled collar.

Joe's Socks

Because we lost our cow to milk fever, I’ve been hand rearing the calf. The milk powder costs a lot - more than $80 a bag - and he drinks a lot. Before Christmas our neighbour stopped in to visit while I was feeding the calf and asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I jokingly said a bag of milk powder. You can guess what happened. These socks are a small repayment for his generosity. And the calf is looking fat and happy.
The wool is from a fleece the same neighbour gave me last year. It’s Romney from a dry ewe, so it was quite lustrous and should be strong.
The dyes are two shades of madder, poroporo and brazilwood overdyed with indigo.

Finlandia Tam

I’ve been listening to a lot of Sibelius lately and I also just read Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book where she describes summers spent on an island in the Gulf of Finland. This tam is meant to try to capture some of the feel of the book and the music. It’s got anchors and pine trees and waves and I hope the colours are right. I’ve never been to Finland.
I used indigo, safflower, poroporo and a natural beige and black for the colours.

Logwood Tam

This is an experiment with the colour contrasts from the logwood dye. It gives a good background to the reds and pinks, as you would expect, but for the central wheel I replaced it as the main colour with the natural black to give more definition to the pattern.
The dyes I used are logwood, madder and red sandalwood, so it was a restrained selection.
I’ve been a bit slow with the tams lately but we’ll be shearing the sheep tomorrow and there’ll be lots of fresh wool to work with.

Woods in Winter Tam

This tam took a while to complete because of the cow going down with milk fever and needing constant care. It uses just primary colours and traditional dyes, madder, safflower, indigo and logwood. It was my first time dyeing with logwood and I was impressed by its colour and the quantity of dye from a small amount of powdered wood.
The centre wheel is an asymmetrical design of leafless trees.

Woodcutter's Socks

These socks are for a friend who is helping to cut trees in the woodlot. They’re made from handspun Romney which I’ve found to be very hard wearing for work socks. He’s cutting eucalyptus trees so the main colour - the orange - is dyed with eucalyptus leaves. The green is poroporo, a pioneer species which is growing in the woodlot. The other colours are from madder and onion skins.
Please note, this is not a self striping yarn, but a controlled mix of colours.