vital mending

I have a couple of free days, days where all I actually HAVE to do are the usual minutiae of life, no appointments, no deadlines.  Perfect for spinning or knitting.

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Only it’s not.  It’s too hot to be playing with wool, and I am not knitting with this on my lap.

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I’m not complaining about the weather (well I was when I was stuck in my daughter’s car for over an hour, no idea how to get home,  with no air con, no map (who doesn’t have a map in their car) and no phone charger, so no google maps either).  I was complaining about a lot then.

I have been doing a spot of decluttering over the past week (stay with me, there is a sequitur).  Finally, those irritating things around the house have tipped me over the edge and they are all allocated to new homes (divided between the local Clothing bank and a friend who runs charity sales every week – she ought to be on the route to canonisation if you are reading this up there!)   Even our old fridge (working but surplus to requirements), a duvet, some linen and a memory foam mattress went somewhere where they will be appreciated rather than snarled at as we pass by.

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Yesterday I decided it was time to face my studio, which is rather overstocked.  Part of the overstock is the pile of mending that has been waiting patiently for attention.  Top of the pile is a dress I made out of two dresses that no longer fitted.  It’s a summer dress, it’s cool (as in temperature, I wouldn’t dream of aspiring to social or fashion coolness) and perfect for the railway track melting temperatures we are currently experiencing.  Well it would be if I mended it.  So I did.

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Then I hemmed a pair of trousers, sewed on quite a lot of buttons, ran up a few seams and done!  I love the colours.  Now I have to wash and iron it all.

 

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I, like many of my generation, was fortunate enough to have been brought up in a family where mending was the norm.  There were times when my mother’s frugal ways mortified the arrogant youth in me.  Grating up soap heels to make new bars was something I don’t believe any of my friends did on a Saturday afternoon.  But guess what I still do it.

I’m not banging a new drum in saying that we have become a throwaway society, but we have done it at remarkable speed.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could become a mending society just as quickly.  Actually, it wouldn’t just be lovely …. it’s vital.

Love Gillie x

I give you blood orange

First there was Spring Onion, now I give you Blood Orange.

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It’s a quiet weekend and I thought I was getting over the last of a nasty virus (I was wrong, it came back for a second wave last night) so I thought a quick visit to see Lucy at Woolaballo would perk me up.  It most certainly did – I had turned up in time for an impromptu dying session.

Dying with food dye is easy and offers such a huge potential for colour experiments.  Sadly I had come out without my phone so the photos are from the session I did with Lucy last year (the one that produced Spring Onion).  Lucy offers regular dying sessions,  so if you are in the area give her a call.  If you are a bit further afield, here are the instructions to make your own personal yarn.

You need

  • warm water
  • white distilled vinegar
  • food colouring gels (I used Wiltons) they are stronger than most liquid colour
  • dropper (the ones that come with liquid paracetamol are perfect)
  • Wide paintbrush

The first step is to soak the yarn in a white vinegar and water mix (1 part vinegar to 4 parts water).  Food dyes need an acid environment to fix the colour and prevent it running off in the first wash.  It doesn’t need long,  15-30 minutes is fine.  Remove and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Now comes the fun, and the messy part.  Dissolve your chosen food colouring in warm water.  Add colouring until you get the strength you want, test by dropping on a piece of kitchen paper or an old white cloth.  Then start painting your yarn.

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Both Spring Onion and Blood Orange were dyed in solid blocks, but you can get a lovely  mottled effect by dropping dye on the yarn using the dropper/paracetamol syringe.  If you are going for the block colour look you will need to turn your yarn over and ensure that you have covered it entirely with dye.

Once you are happy with your yarn you will need to set it.  You have two options.  Either roll up and place in a steamer on the oven top for 45-60 minutes.  Or if time is limited you can microwave.  The latter works just as well but you must be careful not to overheat or you will felt your yarn.

If you are going to microwave you will need cling film (personally imho a good reason to go for the stove top method which doesn’t require plastic) but everyone has different needs and in a workshop or perhaps a birthday party, the steamer method might not be practical!  Wrap up your yarn into a long sausage ensuring that there are no gaps or holes where water or steam can escape.

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Then roll up like a multicoloured Cumberland sausage.

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This is where you need to pay attention.  Place in the microwave slightly below top temperature (about 75% depending on how fancy your microwave is – mine is extremely basic).  Heat for 60 seconds and remove,  let it cool until you can comfortably touch it and pour off any water that has escaped.  Repeat until the water you have poured off runs clear (usually three goes).

Leave to cool, unwrap the cling film and leave to cool again until you can comfortably hold the yarn.  Wash in warm water with a little washing up liquid.  Rinse in warm water (not cold).  Squeeze out the excess liquid and hang up to dry – or give it a go in a salad spinner!

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Bespoke yarn 🙂

Thank you to Lucy for introducing me to dying with food colouring.  Now I am going to take Blood Orange and have a root through Ravelry for the best pattern to show her off.

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Love Gillie x

knitting in a not quite summer

Despite purchasing a pair of splendid summer shoes, summer has failed to turn up in our corner of the UK.

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The upside is that the garden is wild and lush, a northeastern jungle.  Unfortunately it is too wet to actually sit in it and enjoy the smell and sounds.  We have to admire it through the window.

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However, it does make for excellent knitting.  At this time of year I am usually more inclined to sew or embroider, knitting in hot weather can be a little hard work.  But this year the productivity rate is soaring.

These came along with me on our trip to London a couple of weeks ago.  I dyed the yarn using Wilton’s food dye on a wonderful Saturday morning with Lucy at Woolaballoo.  There is definitely a yellow and green theme to my wardrobe this [not quite] summer.

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Unfortunately I forgot the stitch holder and the yarn shop I found only had large ones ,  too big for my socks.  So I had little option but to put them aside and purchase a replacement yarn.  I couldn’t spend the entire weekend without something to knit!

I discovered The Village Haberdashery was only a hop, skip and a jump from our Airbnb and I was persuaded to step back from the yellows and greens so plumped for this gorgeous colour combination, Almond Rocks from Knit the Bed.

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Meanwhile back at home (too big for a weekend away project) The Boxy by Joji Locatelli is coming along well.  The yarn is The Barber by Uschitita.  I originally read the name as The Berber, which explained why I failed to find any examples of what it looked like knitted up!

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However, I am feeling the urge for something a little more challenging.  So I intend to finish the socks this weekend and start on The Roadside Beanie so I am ready for Shetland Wool Week.  I think that will play along nicely with the Boxy, something to think about and something I can knit on autopilot.  Perfect.

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Love Gillie

 

hats

On my return from Loch Ness Knit Fest in October, I showed the Boss my purchases.  Yes, all my purchases!  One of them was this gorgeous little number from Tine and Floyd.

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The Boss took a shine to it and suggested it would make a fine hat.  In particular it would make a fine hat with ear flaps.  A fine hat with ear flaps that would be perfect to keep his head and ears warm whilst out fishing.   Since the wind off the North Sea is pretty piercing if you are on land I can only assume it is vicious when out at sea.

So I disappeared down the rabbit hole that is Ravelry and found this wonderful pattern by Mitzy Moore

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Obviously I am doing it in one colour way, but after a month or so of lacework I am loving the speed with which it knits up!  I’m not sure about the bobble though.  Not quite his style I don’t think!

What’s on your needles today?

Love Gillie x

 

 

lacework


It was  many years before I was brave enough to try lace work.  I will never forget going to a workshop at the wonderful WhistlebareYarns and after we had chosen our yarn and settled down I saw a line that could have been written in Arabic for all I understood it.  I panicked.  I looked at the women around me who were all happily clicking away.  And then I got to the dreaded line, it was line 9 I can remember it well.

My heart headed south faster than a swallow in autumn.  But do you know what it was dead easy!  Just follow the instructions and keep knitting.  It does help to  have pencil and paper to record where you are up to.  I rather like these as well.

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Also if you are easily distracted, don’t do the lace row when you are watching television or people are trying to talk to you.  It is the Devil’s own job to frog a lace row!

When people look at lacework so many of them take a deep in breath and declaim they couldn’t possibly do that.  But in all honesty all lacework is is a planned pattern of holes!  I think we can all put our hand on our hearts and say we can make holes in knitting.  If you can knit, purl and wind yarn around a needle you can do lacework!

This is my work in progress using the silk and baby camel hair (just writing that makes me go all gooey) I bought from Dye Ninjaat Loch Ness Knit Fest.  The pattern is Rogue Wrap by Helen Dillon (available on Ravelry) and is a doddle to knit, particularly when using such gorgeous yarn.

Only a short post today as the weather is awful and it feels like a knitting kind of day!

Love Gillie x

P.S.  Don’t worry if you lacework looks like a dishrag!  All lacework looks like a dishrag until it is blocked (well mine does!).

baby camels and silk

This week I have been mostly frogging.  When you are knitting with lace-weight silk and baby camel hair yarn you don’t want mistakes.  Knitting with this yarn is like knitting with the dreams of baby fairies, it  makes cashmere feel like barbed wire and is quite frankly the stuff of which unicorn dreams are made.

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I’m sorry I can’t offer a touch and feel blog.  I’m sure that will be possible in time, meanwhile you will just have to take my word for it.  Or go to Dye Ninja and buy some for yourself.  Hand dyed bliss from Livingston.

I didn’t go to Livingston to get mine, I went to Inverness.  For my birthday the Boss took me to a lovely cosy cabin on the Beauly Firth and sent me to the Loch Ness Knit Fest.  Seriously, how good can a guy be at present buying?  Two of the daughters (Medic 1 and the Rock Geek) joined us as did a friend travelling home to Thurso from Ayrshire.  And of course Poppy came too.  She spent the week making friends, particularly on the train.  She is quite the seasoned train traveller now.

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LNKF was the bees knees.  It wasn’t huge, but every single stall was interesting and had something worth stopping for.  Lots of hand dyers (oh my the colours ….), spinners, unusual yarns (camel of course, but have you tried husky hair?)  But what really singled it out was the knitting hub.  It was big, it was comfortable with big tables and chairs and big squishy sofas and a splendid stage with live music, talks, demonstrations.  I sat and knitted and made lots of new friends from Denmark, from Birmingham, from the West Country.

It is a rather splendid fact that the best yarn festivals are held in places where the fishing is excellent.  Hence the enthusiasm of the Boss to join me at Shetland Wool Week, possibly the Iceland Wool Festival and maybe even Farnøstrik .  Lucky girl!

love gillie x

 

Repurpose challenge day two

Tuesday challenge:  Repurpose something you have made.  I am not short of things I have made.  I am unable to sit down in the evening and not have something to fiddle with.  Mostly I stick to knitting and crochet in the evenings, but handstitching, embroidery, tapestry all have their moments depending on my mood.IMG_2933

I got into free form knitting earlier this year (see here) The wall hanging still has pride of place on our newly painted walls but the cushion cover didn’t make the post redecoration cut.  I still love it but it doesn’t go with the room and I couldn’t bring myself to put it in the charity bag not least because it is an acquired taste and I wasn’t sure it would find somebody who loved it like I did!

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Recently two of our (five) cats have died.  They were old and each had a good life so I am not sad but I did have to get rid of one of the cat beds.  As she came to the end of her life Morley only left it to use the litter tray (which had to be placed by her bed) and to eat.  It was pretty horrid by the time she died and even a boil wash didn’t make it attractive to the three remaining felines.

So Tah Dah!  A new cat bed.  And as everyone, feline and canine has just been dewormed and defleaed I am hoping it stays bright and clean for a while!

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Love Gillie x