Monday, August 31, 2009

Water Colour Flowers and Fibre

My friend Jo came to visit me the other day bringing with her a little plastic bag of a few dark purple pansy flowers that she had put into her freezer...turning them into ice flowers.
She showed me how to put the petals into a little muslin bag and then dipping the bag into a jar of warm water and squeezing the iced flowers gently until their purple colour is released into the water.
This process produced a beautiful result...bright inky purple dye.
I quickly unwound a couple of balls of was a white ball of kidsilk haze that I had left over from a baby shawl. I poured the water from the jar into two plastic containers adding a few drops of white vinegar to one and then adding a tiny amount of strained woodash to the other, and the water in each container changed colour immediately.
I immersed the wool into the containers and left them overnight to soak up the dye...and this is what I had the next day.

The green kidsilk haze was from the container with the tiny amount of woodash and the lavender was from the container with the vinegar.

Jo and I had both learnt to do this from the Eco Colour Workshop that we attended a few months ago, with India Flint. Jo has been regularly honing her skills and experimenting with colour and different plants and producing some wonderful results especially with lengths of silks.

I have not been so productive, but am well and truly hooked now, especially with all this Spring growth in the garden.

There was a storm yesterday and rain poured down continuously. It was the perfect day for creating lots of steamy, smelly dyepots. Jo arrived with a stove top, large dyepots and stirring spoons and I went outside and collected a mix of diffferent plants from the garden. I chose wallflowers, buddlia, red silverbeet and oxalis flowers (of which I had pleased I was that I hadn't weeded them all away last week.)

So we cooked up a marvellous brew and these are what I have to show today.

I have a pillowcase stuffed full of three and four ply baby wool, all in typical baby wool know don't you...aqua, lemon, pink and blue and white and I am going to redye all of them using these plant dyes.

Cheerio for now, I am off to stock up on purple pansy seeds !

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A lovely diversion

I always look forward to receiving Interweave Knits in my letterbox, and on Saturday morning when it arrived I knew what I had to do.

Sort through my stash and see if I could find a substitute yarn to make this;

I LOVE it, and didn't have to battle too long with my sensible self, who said in a very little voice "but what about all the other knitting that you haven't finished"."Ha , yes, what about that then ?"

No, my naughty, spur of the moment self decided to cast on as soon as possible.

I am using a 4ply soft Alpaca yarn instead of the yarn specified in the pattern, Road to China light,
which is a blend of alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk and far and away out of my price range.

The Inca wool comes from the trip I made to Norway last year, when I stood in a shop in Oslo as it was about to close, and randomly chose a few balls of my favorite colours. I shall use that as the fair isle pattern on the yoke, and for the main colour I had some 4 ply alpaca from a local shop here.

So, this sweater has been my very lovely diversion this week, but I shall share some pics of the Spring surprises also.

Hyacinths, and our beautiful plum tree.

I also enjoyed listening to Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl, and this Come With Me is my favourite. Their CD Two is beautiful...take a listen and have yourself a lovely diversion today !

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1/4 done

I have just spent a very pleasant hour or two, sitting in the spring sunshine and sewing together the first six panels of the Heirloom Cabled Afghan. Hurray, I am a quarter through this lovely blanket, and so far have enjoyed the process very much. I am spinning the wool as I go, and there is lots happening in each panel with the cables to make it interesting to work on.
I carefully blocked each of the six pieces as I finished knitting, and today I was so pleased that I had. It was very easy to sew together, each piece fitted perfectly to it's neighbour and I used mattress stitch to avoid seams.

I think I am about a 1/4 through this throw as well on the loom. I have used a chocolate brown 4 ply warp, and am using two different merino/alpaca blends in oatmeal and a grey/brown, both DK weight, and every now and then I am throwing in a shuttle or two of bright orange tussah silk. The weave is a twill, and its shaping up to be very tweedy looking....uummm I think I rather like it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Shoots

Would you like to take a ramble around the garden with me and see the new growth that is happening ?
Daffodils about to bloom beside my washing line.

These sweet peas seeds have just come through the potting mix that I planted in the egg carton. Dear little stems of green, what expectectations I have for you !

Our huge wattle tree, the flowers of which I cannot bring inside the house; they make me sneeze dreadfully, but their bright yellow clouds of fluffy blossom smell delicious.
The Datura Tree that is growing alongside the new rock garden. It's long flowers bloom in the summer and contain a very potent drug ( so I am told !)

Just a few steps away is the lovely Magnolia Stellata.

This princely Magnolia is almost ready to unfurl and produce a huge pink flower. It stands at bottom of our driveway, like a sentry.

These pretty and perky little polyanthus make me smile with delight each time I come home...they live at my back door.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Still Life

Two more and pear.
The beginnings of another ripple blanket. A very soothing thing to do, stretched out on the window seat with an ipod and a hot chocolate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fibre Arts

This is a little notice for all who live in Nelson and Motueka/Marlborough (maybe even Wellington) and read my blog.
On Sunday some friends and myself are having a market selling fabrics, yarns, books and crafty items from our stashes. Fabrics and wool will be coming out of their secret hiding places from under the beds, wardrobes and drawers in spare bedrooms, cupboards and (in my case) from under window seats. It is going to be a fun day and I am wondering if I shall be taking home more than I arrived with !!!
I shall try to be good, and stay focused on all the knitting and quilting that I have yet to finish this year.The fruit salad quilts for the granddaughters have come to an impasse, and I have several more weeks of quilting to do on Tristan and Sylvia's quilt, and Melissa's. I daren't confess to all the knitting projects that I have on the go at the moment, but that just seems to be how I work the best. Are any of you the same ?

Monday, August 10, 2009

weekend activities

Saturday morning saw me becoming all hot and bothered, as I wrestled with some large , straggly and very thorny rose bushes. My mission was to prune a circular bed of 25 or so ancient and gnarly prickly roses. I have roses all over the garden but this particular bed always leaves me procrastinating on the pruning and weeding. You see, it's not very manageable and after an hour or so I gave up and worked on my new warp in the studio.

Oh, and cutting lots of fat quarters to take for our Creative Fibre stall next weekend, a much more pleasant activity.

Sunday morning saw me at the same place in the garden, but this time DH was within earshot (he was pruning the feijoa trees) and heard me muttering away. A very fast, impulsive decision was made on the spot and by late afternoon that pesky flower bed was no more !
Instead I have a lovely rock garden. The roses are all intact and replanted, tucked in with compost and a kind word or two, and my amazing DH staggered around placing 55 very large rocks ( that he had been saving for another project) to make a rock garden with terraces.

I will take another picture in a couple of months when you will see flowers amongst the rocks. There are four terraces grouped in a fan shape, and it is all going to be much easier to look after.

While Ian was working like a trojan, I had a meeting with some Morris Dancers. A newly immigrated couple to Nelson is wanting to set up a side of Morris Dancers and they needed a fiddle player ( me) .Well, I had a lot of fun for a couple of hours and really would prefer to join in the dancing instead of playing the music, but maybe I will have a chance to do both as the group is set up. We are all getting together again on thursday night. My first encounter with Morris dancers was when I was sixteen and staying with my family at Corfe Castle in Dorset. We were having a holiday in the UK visiting all our relatives and saying our final goodbyes to my grandparents. It was 1972 and the Morris dancers were all young farming lads. I got to meet them later with my slightly older cousins, in the village pub !!

The blossom is starting to appear now in the garden and the first camellia.

I finished the weekend transplanting these lavender cuttings and making another border. Very enjoyable and satisfying.