I’ve had butt in chair, manuscript open on the laptop, and basic knitting keeping my brain focused and my fingers from clicking all over the internets a lot lately. Here’s part of the result – my Midnight Socks:
The yarn is my hand-dyed Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply, and I love the way the yarn knitted up in the very plain pattern.
The novel’s coming along – not quite as fast as I’d like, as the deadline is rapidly approaching, but edging forward every day. So now I’m going to get off the interwebs and go and write some more. Although I might have to cast on another pair of socks to meditate my brain into creative mode!
Things have been quiet on the blog because they haven’t been quiet in my life! Uni work was quite mad there for a while, with almost 200 essays to mark, and teaching to do, and preparing for this semester’s teaching as well. (Yes, I agreed to teach another semester. Darned mortgage has to be paid, and since I haven’t had a book out for almost 2 years, there is nothing in the way of royalties coming in.)
Now the uni work is (mostly) under control and manageable, I’m racing to finish writing my current book before the deadline. So, things will continue to be quiet here!
They’re just plain socks, easy to knit to keep my hands busy while I’m staring at the screen, thinking of what to write next in the novel. The photo is a little dark, but the colours are coming up beautifully. I’m in love with these socks already.
And in other textile-related news, the long saga of getting the sunroom organised into a proper, workable space for me is one step closer; Gordon decided that he didn’t need the hutches on his desks in his study, so I bought two credenzas – low cupboards – to put the hutches on at the end of the sunroom. They were delivered yesterday, and hopefully this weekend G and I will move the hutches into the sunroom and onto the cupboards – thus creating some more wonderful storage space for textile-related stash and books!
I’ve been itching to dye for a while, as I’m low on hand-dyed sock yarn, but it’s been raining, and I’ve got a book to finish writing so on the few sunny days I’ve been home, I’ve told myself I can’t afford the time. But for weeks – months, really – I’ve had a few skeins of yarn all wound and ready to dye, and I’ve felt so deprived that I wasn’t doing it.
Today, the sun shone, it wasn’t windy – and I decided I would feel better, and more able to focus on writing, once I’d finally sated the desire to dye some yarn! So here’s the results, drying in the winter afternoon sun:
I’ve been working full-time, teaching at the university this semester, and so there has not been much time for knitting. This morning, I finally finished a pair of socks that I started in early February:
The pattern is the popular Hedera (Rav link) by Cookie A, and this is the second time I’ve knitted it. As my ankle is thicker than Cookie’s, I’ve again used 3mm needles for the leg, and 2.75mm needle for the foot.
The yarn is Bendigo Luxury 4ply which I dyed myself, some months back; I’m very happy with the saturation of the aqua and the touches of deeper purple. In fact, I love the socks!
Now to cast on for my next project – as knitting time is so limited, I think I’ll use some deep blue yarn from Saffron Dyeworks for a pair of plain socks, as I have no dark blue socks in my sock drawer:
Sunday was a beautiful spring day, so I took the opportunity of the warmth and made up another indigo dyevat, having learned how a few weeks ago. Last time I was focusing more on learning the process, and I didn’t actually dye a lot. This time I wanted to cement my learning, overdye some yarns I dyed the first time, and experiment with some basic shibori. Gordon’s pair of old faded jeans also went into the vat – although I warned him i couldn’t guarantee a satisfactory outcome!
On top are the white cotton fabric pieces for experimental shibori. Clockwise from there – blue lace merino I previously dyed; gold reeled silk; green is the gold reeled silk I dyed last time; and the blue is a 15/3 silk dipped once last time.
The colour transformations in indigo dyeing are wonderful as the cloth is exposed to air and oxidises the dye – but it’s a but tricky to photograph them, as they change quickly, and getting rubber gloves off, getting a camera and snapping a photo takes time! I turned the jeans over on the drying rack, and the green stripes are where the cloth was pressed against the rack wires, and therefore hadn’t oxidised – yet. It’s a beautiful shade of green – for a minute or two, before it changes!
I could have dyed more with the two vats I had going, but this was enough for the time being – I wanted to see how things turned out, before committing more yarn or fabric to be eternally blue! We decided that the jeans might need to be washed and dried before being dipped again (and perhaps again… and again…). I also wanted to see how the shibori worked…
…and for quick shibori experiments, they worked well!
The yarn is still drying, but all in all, I’m quite happy with the results. And I can definitely see more shibori in my future!
It’s been a busy few weeks! So, what’s been happening?
The weekend before last, Emily (Rav link) and I set up a couple of indigo dye vats, and had a great afternoon gently dunking yarn, fibre and fabric into them, and watching the magic results as we took the dyed items from the vat, and on exposure to the air they gradually changed from green through lovely blue-green shades to blue. I didn’t dye a lot (I didn’t have a lot prepared), but now I know the process, I’m planning to do it again, very soon. Maybe even tomorrow. I want to re-dip a couple of the skeins I dyed, to get a deeper blue. Plus dye some more things!
It’s impossible to photograph things when you have blue-stained rubber gloves on, but fortunately Tara was there, too, and very handy with her camera. She’s put a set of photos from the day on Flickr.
A couple of days after the indigo-dyeing, I headed down to Sydney for the Romance Writers of Australia conference at Coogee. Very little in the way of knitting was achieved while I was away, other than a handful of rows on a present (now late) for my nephews birthday. More on that when it’s finished! But the conference was, as usual, fantastic, and I’m all energised and motivated to get really cracking with the new book. Although textile work is rewarding, it doesn’t pay the bills, so I’m going to have to put my writing work (mostly) first for a while.
However, now that I’m home again, I did finally take some time today to block the shawlette that I finished knitting two weeks ago. It’s the second prototype for my new design. I’m mostly happy with it, but in the final pattern I will make the ends of the spines deeper and more pointy over a few more rows, taking them down towards/into the border pattern.
The charts are all done; I ‘just’ have to finish the general instructions and do the written lace instructions for those who don’t like charts.
Oh, and come up with a name for her!!
Can you believe I’ve never taken part in a swap? The list of projects that I want to do is always so long that I’ve resisted the temptation… until recently, when the Indigo Luxury swap was announced on the Australian Swappers list on Ravelry. ‘Indigo’ and ‘Luxury’ are two words I find hard to resist… and together… well, let’s just say that my resistance and sensible arguments of ‘but you’ve got so much else to do just now’ lasted less than 24 hours before I signed up!
For the last week, I’ve been obsessively thinking blue thoughts The swap involves a skein of luxury yarn, plus something extra, in indigo or rich blue, which doesn’t have to be handmade. I’ve ordered the yarn – a luscious midnight-blue silk-merino fingering yarn – and I’m busy planning various other blue possibilities. What doesn’t go to my swap partner I will be very happy to keep myself!
On the spur of the moment, when I signed up, I arranged an indigo dye day with Emily, one of the local Ravellers. We’re going to do that this afternoon, at the Spinners & Weavers meeting, and there may be others join in as well. The indigo dye arrived on Thursday, my friend Margaret gave me all her leftover chemicals (indigo dyeing is a slightly complicated process), I have found and printed out several sets of instructions, and am half-way through gathering together all the bits I need to take in today. I must remember to take yarn & some fabric! Must also try to remember to a) take my camera and b) take some photos!
I’ve also been having fun making some indigo and rich blue stitchmarkers – they’re now in my Yarnosophy shop, in a special category of their own to make them easy to find. Here’s a sample of a couple of the sets:
My love of blue in fabrics and yarns (and pottery and glass!) means that I’ve always been interested, although never tried, the Japanese techniques of shibori (dyeing using various resist techniques) and sashiko (decorative stitching). So, if I can organise myself this morning to get off the computer (any minute now!), I’m going to do some shibori stitching on some white fabric (which is already cut and right beside me) and pop it into the dyepot this afternoon. (I found this excellent tutorial online.) I’m picturing a project bag, with a shibori panel one one or both sides…
Okay, I’m off to get myself organised! Hopefully our dyepot/s this afternoon will work well, and I’ll have some photos – and dyed goodies – to show later!
I seem to have multiple WIPs happening at the moment.
There’s an Aeolian Shawl, in Handmaiden Sea Silk, on which I’m only 24 (long!) rows from the end. I’m really enjoying the pattern; it’s well-written, intuitive, and it looks stunning. I’m doing the version with the narrower border, as I’m not sure whether I’ll have enough yarn. I’ve stil got just under 50% of the yarn left, but the edging does consume a heap of yarn, so I’m keeping m fingers crossed (and I’ve order another skein, just in case – because who can have too much sea silk??)
(The colour is actually not quite as bright, and there’s a bit more purple overall than in this little sample).
I’m enjoying the Aeolian so much, that I cast on a second one, so I could knit the shorter easier first section rows when I don’t have time or concentration for the first Aeolian’s long, beaded rows. I chose a KnitPicks alpaca and silk fine lace yarn from the stash, in beautiful turquoise colours. I’ve ordered beads for it, and they should be here tomorrow.
The Harris Tweed socks are 70% done – just have to turn the heel and knit the foot of the second one. No updated photo of those, but there should be a FO post soon.
I also cast on two other pairs of socks yesterday, as part of the Ravelry Sock Knitters Anonymous October Challenge – which includes socks designed for men. Since the menfolk in my family could do with some more hand-knitted socks, I started the two pairs before the challenge deadline of October 31. Now I just need to finish them before November 30!
The weaving has been slowly progressing. Because the warp has been on the loom for so long, and it’s very fine, I’m having a few broken warp threads. Here’s the view of the back of the loom:
Yes, that’s 6 film cannisters tensioning replacement threads – and there were two more earlier on that I’ve already woven back in. I’m running out of film cannisters to use!
Yesterday, I bought a small camping hotplate on special at Big W – and today I used it to dye some yarns. I didn’t get quite the colours I was aiming for; partly because of my very un-scientific approach to dyeing, and partly because I simply didn’t have the dye colours I wanted. But I’m still happy with the outcome:
The little stove worked very well. The gas cannisters were on special for $5 for 4, and I only used 1 and a half for close on three hours of ‘cooking’ – so I’ll be dyeing more regularly. But I’ll need to order some more dyes in the colours I want!