The kindness of strangers

That’s a lofty title for a simple blogpost, I admit.

There isn’t a philosophical commentary on kindness and people to come, sorry…. I don’t think my boring style of writing would be up for the task.

Anyway, what I’m meaning to talk about today is natural dyes. And incidentally mention Freecycle.

The natural dyes have been kindly donated by a sweet elder lady through Freecycle (a site where one can offer or ask for free things). Freecycle is “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. […] Membership is free”. Isn’t Freecycle a wonderful thing? And there are local groups across the world, I believe. I’ve used it to give and get items countless times – it’s fabulous. Go check it out, maybe there’s a local group near you?

The lady was offering quite a few of colours, dyes and art supplies. I hope she didn’t have to relocate or downsize, but she was just tidying up her home. I didn’t want to be nosey and ask…

Back to the main topic, I’ve long been curious about natural dyes. The only experience with them was in my teens when I used some walnut powder to dye the dark squares of a chess board I was making.

I’d love to try them again. Two things hold me back though: lack of space and the desire to avoid any harsh chemicals. So I’ll need to do a bit of reading on the best way for me to fast the colours. And then I may need to wait to have space somewhere at some point to do the process.

This is what I was kindly given:

  • madder
  • quebracho red
  • pomegranate
  • logwood purple
  • teal
  • indigo? (unlabelled blue powder)
  • woad
  • Brazil wood chips
  • cutch
  • sorghum
  • old fustic
  • cochineal
  • some unused packets of tannic acid and cream of tartar

If you have advice on easy and gentle dyeing, please do let me know 🙂

PS I’ve just learnt that off Freecycle (wikipedia link), a new non-profit organisation was born in the UK: Freegle (wikipedia link). I think I’ll join them too!

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Yarn shopping

Recently I had a bit of a hard and tiring weekend dealing with teenaged relatives…and it left me with a bit of a weird mood.

On Sunday I was in a state that made me feel like doing a stint at yarn shopping (totally unneeded! Obviously).

So off I went, without the other half, to the LYS Loop in London.

They have a nice range of beautiful yarns, albeit rather expensive 😉

So this therapy session wasted a good deal of money. Luckily it doesn’t happen often!!!

Here”s a pic of the haul:

After filling up my basket with pretty yarns, I browsed through books and single patterns.

Loop’s Zabadoo shawl looks very nice – who knows what I will do with so many shawls…. if I knit it it will be with yarn from my collection as I dint fancy the colour combinations and really don’t need to spend £££ on a shawl!

At the shop they had a sample of the Oak Knot beanie knit in the very same shade as the one I was buying (like the one also pictured in the pattern) and the comfortable fit was perfect for my liking (I dislike tight beanies) and large head! So I grabbed that one too, because I yet don’t have enough patterns (lol)

And the skeins in details…

Eden Cottage Yarns Bowland DK in Yassop (British yarn):

La Bien Aimee Merino Singles in Sosu:

The Uncommon Thread BFL Light DK in Citrus Peel (orange) and Fern (green) – another British yarn:

Madeline Tosh Tosh DK in Deep (blue) and Patagonia (light blue):

Well, was adding yarn to my collection sensible? I don’t think so.

Did I feel better after the shopping “therapy”? Somewhat.

So maybe, while not rational, it was a good thing to do (one-off). My wallet tells me that it disagrees…

Next, some natural dyes and maybe new projects (or at least preparations for them)

Little Bird is growing

The Nurmilintu shawl (a little bird, alas a wee child, lullaby in Finnish) hit a standstill some time ago because there was a mistake in the stitches quite a while below.

After long pondering I decided to incorporate that as a “feature”. I didn’t fancy unraveling because the yarn is really slippery and thin, which most probably would result in me having to frog it all!

The shawl is for myself and I don’t mind this feature too much, I hope. This is how it looks after the first lace repeat:

I was happy to see progress after the standstill… when I realised that I may be short of yarn… eek!

I tried to couple the current yarn with others in my “collection” but the only one that seems to match the shades, albeit rather lighter in tones, is The Little Grey Sheep Hampshire, of which I had three mini skeins. This is a swatch next to the main knit (the most accurate colours are shown in the second photo):

It looks ok, but I’m not 100% convinced. What do you think?

Alternatively, I’ll be playing the yarn-chicken game, which I wouldn’t mind, being it not for the prospect of unravelling back some section to then include the new yarn – which I really wouldn’t want to do (it would be difficult to unravel this yarn safely).

So what do I do??

Next time, of yarn shopping therapy (terrible, I know) and natural dyes

Antiques

I’ve always had a passion for vintage and quirky items and recently it steered towards antiques.

Of the many items I acquire, a part is then let go and sold on my Etsy shop.

Apart from yarn and silver, there have been a few antique finds recently. Some of them will soon be listed on the shop, because, you know, space….

The latest trove is a vintage (possibly antique) tray with beatific cutout paper decorations and brass corner elements. I love those old papers and faces.

Then there was this beautiful antique large teapot , with its orientale feel, delicate flowers and details that are slightly in relief.

Just last night an exquisite copper and brass miniature set made in England by Peerage sold and is now ready to be shipped to Arizona.

There are still many pieces that need to be listed but as the shop is a hobby, I can’t spend long hours listing, so from time to time I get around to add some item 🙂

A few more finds that I still have to decide whether to keep…

An end, a begin… and a mistake

The Old Shale Shawl is finished and awaiting to be blocked. I promise it will happen some day!

The pattern by Amanda Clark is free and really easy to follow. I’m very happy with the finished object and it took me only 4 years… yep.

Short after the Nurmilintu Shawl was cast on, because I just couldn’t wait to try that pretty yarn. It’s Natural Dye Studio’s Dazzle, a British wool, 100% Bluefaced Leicester, in delicate shades of blues, greens and purples – very soft.

The first section before the lace is done

but obviously not everything could go well…

Sigh

See what happened?

That’s about 3/5 from the start. Mep

Whatever. It’ll get a lifeline (because this yarn is very slippery and would unravel to the next rows before I could blink) and hopefully I can recover from there. Not tonight though.

By the way, yes, I love blue and green, if you were wondering.

The weekend was overall quite productive and some tidy up was done, which leaves one with such a good feeling!

Some vintage yarn purchase also happened, because really, I need to build back some of my “collection”. And some antique silver – my new interest since I read some blog posts on silver items! Contagious. But expensive, so only done in wee bits. The best buy was a spoon with my initial engraved (well not mine originally but we share that letter), so now I feel very decadent to enjoy yoghurt with an antique silver spoon (1853) – that is when it arrives!

How was your weekend?

What next

I’m about to complete the Old Shale Shawl, after a long time in the making (and hibernating).

I cannot yet officially start projects for the Summer of Basics 2018 (aka Make your Own Basics), so this morning I’ve been perusing my Ravelry queue and picked up a couple of projects (this may be a wildly optimistic plan…).

The first is the famous Nurmilintu shawl, because it looks pretty and easy, and it’s also free. Plus I have a weak spot for Finnish (Nurmilintu means “sleep, sleep, little bird” from an old Finnish lullaby). I plan to make it with Natural Dye Studio Sock yarn in Dragonfly:

The other project is the Pixel Stitch Socks, a beautiful free pattern by Putl Soho, to be made in Natural Dye Studio’s Dazzle HT Sock in Whitby Pool and Lynmouth – high twist yarn for longer durability.

I’m sure I won’t get much done with them until the end of the month, but it’ll be fun anyway!

What are you up to?

Have a lovely weekend!