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25.11.14

55 A Christmas wish list, and some happy news


Christmas presents. They're a hot topic hereabouts. There's talk of a spending cap. Adult children with budgets piggy banks of assorted sizes are embroiled in a debate about who to buy for and how many pennies they can spare. And I'm wistfully remembering their carefully pencilled childhood missives to Father Christmas ("at The North Pole"), and wondering if there'll be anything in my stocking.

Of course were I to be asked which gift/s I might hope to receive I'd need a ready answer, wouldn't I ... so I made a list of delights such as this girl's dreams are made of*. Books mostly - I'll tell you about those another time - but also a middle sized Lantern Moon rice basket to store knitty stuff in*; enough Isager Highland Wool yarn for a half hap shawl* (Jared Flood's Kelpie maybe); a fforest 'coldatnight' Welsh blanket, in burnt oak or pebble grey, I'm really liking both; and these 'nib' earrings (I confess I've already bought the pair pictured, an early Christmas present to myself)**.

So, what do you want for Christmas? And how do you organise the gift giving in your family?

Next year we'll no doubt be rethinking things again here, because by then we'll have a little one in the family ... yes, I'm going to be a grandmother! I really don't feel old enough to be the mother of a mother but clearly I am - we started our family of four (two girls, two boys) when I was 21 - and I guess I'd better get used to the grandparent thing, given the likelihood that this small person will be the first of many. Meanwhile, that he or she has a smooth ride into the world, that's all I really want for Christmas. Happy days!




I've been messing about with the blog's tag line again, my apologies if you popped by while it was in flux. I think I'm happy with it now. I write and I take photographs, I dye yarn and I knit - I've even been known to make money from doing those things - yes, that's me. And I'm way more comfortable with signposting what readers might find here than I was with labelling myself. Maybe I'll even leave the darn thing alone now.




* I've linked to UK suppliers. If you're in the USA you can buy rice baskets from Fringe Supply Co., and Isager Highland Wool from KnitPurl.

** This is in addition to world peace, a cure for ebola, and everything else that's more necessary than owning yet more stuff, obviously.

Please note, this is NOT a sponsored post.

20.11.14

36 The Colour Collaborative: November: Leaf


Confession time. I had a detailed post on natural dyeing with leaves planned, for next week. Oops. We switched the Colour Collaborative from the fourth Thursday in the month to the third and guess who forgot? Yes, that would be me. So this is the 'lite' version*, with apologies.




Leaves that yield dye are the natural dyers' best friend. Always available, even in the depths of winter - think eucalyptus, ivy, juniper, mahonia - and often giving stronger colours than the flowers or berries that they support - blackberry, for example, comfrey, even dandelion. And then there's indigo, and of course woad, among the most ancient of dyes and both requiring fermentation to coax the blues from them.

The yarn in the pic above was dyed with woad, and the boiled wool fabric everything's sitting on in an almost exhausted** eucalyptus dye bath. The maple leaves are there only to show you what else the eucalypts can do ... autumn leaves sadly won't dye anything the colours they've become, but eucalyptus dye will mimic them on fibre.

I'm rather liking the colour palette in that photograph. To repeat it, in addition to woad and euclayptus, I'd need either nettles (spring through summer) or blackberry leaves (autumn into winter), with an alum mordant and an iron modifier** to achieve that greeny grey on wool. And possibly mahonia leaves, for a slightly less peachy tan; or more woad ... without fermentation and simply simmered the leaves yield a similar colour.

I'm seeing a Fair Isle sweater, or maybe a Log Cabin quilt, how about you?


For a how-to post on creating colour palettes in PicMonkey see my March Colour Collaborative post.

* I'll endeavour to post properly about each of the dye plants and processes featured here in the weeks to come.

** An exhaust dyebath is one that has already been used at least once and so has already given up most of its colour. Mordants are metal salts that alter the chemistry of what's going on, thus aiding the take up of dye and the permanence of colour. Alum is generally used to mordant wool. Modifiers are added after dyeing to change the pH and thus the hue. An iron modifier will sadden colours, i.e. grey them.



Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below ...


Sandra at Cherry Heart       Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

CJ at Above the River       Jennifer at Thistlebear     


What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

16.11.14

39 Brown with a chance of rainbows


All of the bulbs are finally in the ground. Mostly tulips, some daffs. A promise of colour, to be kept in the spring.

And colour of a more immediate variety is promised by the dye pots that are doing their thing in the kitchen ... more on that soon. (Meanwhile, I do post the occasional progress pic on the knitsofacto Facebook page.)

And then there's the promise I made to myself ... a yarny destash followed by a yarny restash. Lately I'm coveting undyed delights in the 'as they grew it' colours of ... well sheep mostly, but alpaca too, and yak, and the odd camel, and I've been updating the Big List of Yarn Shops to reflect what I'm finding*.




If you were thinking I've been notable by my absence lately you'd be right. My laptop is ailing, and an intermittent electricity supply has been plaguing us all week. There are builders renovating an old cottage that's just feet from the village substation and they keep taking the power out!

Also of note in the past ten days ... an unexpected visit from some dear old friends, bad news and good news for one daughter, a weekend at home for another, a lot of fireworks, a birthday (not mine), a work crisis (not mine either), and a teeny bit of teaching (absolutely mine ... it's been a while, years, I'd forgotten how much I relish a good natural dyeing workshop).

So, I've been busy, mostly in a good way but I'm running to catch up with myself when it comes to all things blog. Please pardon my neglect, normal service really will be resumed soon next week. And in the meantime, why not read CJ's brilliant post about a carrot. It's hilarious.

* The UK's done, Europe's next, then the USA. (Postscript, for the confused commenters below. The yarn shop list here on the blog is split into sections by continent.) Oh, and I've updated the blog crush pages too. I've rearranged things so that no blog is listed on both - a few were - and I've deleted a few blogs that are dormant at the moment - I'll reinstate them when, if, there are new posts. Do let me know if anything's gone missing that shouldn't have, won't you, or if you have any recommendations for blogs that you think I might like to add.

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