Tuesday, 27 June 2017

more plant/wool interaction

I may have got the dyeing bug again! Following last week's effort I did a bit more reading and went on an expedition with Miss M to a) get some burn water to top up the pond (without falling into nettles this time) and b) collect some cow parsley to dye with. This is not as easy as it sounds - there are a squillion plants that look something like cow parsley (*shakes fist at umbellifera*). My plant book seemed to think that quite a few are uncommon in Scotland, but there still seemed to be a lot. I googled as well of course and found loads of websites telling you how to distinguish cow parsley from hemlock, and hemlock from wild carrot, and hogweed from Queen Anne's Lace, as well as a certain amount of confusion over which plant Queen Anne's Lace actually refers to anyway.

Anyway, we found a substantial amount of what we chose to believe was cow parsley, and it yielded a huge amount of really quite bright yellow. The skein on the right in the picture above is the 4-ply I used first, and then when that was done and the dye seemed far from exhausted I chucked in the last skein of aran weight and it came out just as strong. I'd left that one in overnight and by morning the dye liqor was clear so I'm guessing I really had exhausted the exhaust by then!

I should probably add, the 4-ply skein was mordanted with alum before being dyed but the aran weight skein was unmordanted so I chucked some alum into the dye bath with the wool and did a two-in-one. It'll be interesting to see if this affects the fastness.

It always surprises me how much dye you can get from of the most unlikely plants. There really wasn't a lot to the cow parsley, or whatever it was, we collected - just skinny dryish stalks and tiny flowers - yet it dyed two skeins a really strong yellow. It was the same when I tried dyeing with horsetails a few years back - I felt as if I were dyeing with a pile of dead stick insects there's so little to them, but I got a pale but strong yellow from them.

In addition to all that I also turned the two-toned skein from last week into a ball:

I want to start knitting this into something soon, I'm so curious about how it'll turn out.

And here it is while still in the skein with that other skein I did with the fuchsia bark and the alchemilla mollis, last seen drying on a door handle!

It looks quite beigey in that picture but in reality it's a soft, warm, (maybe buttery?) yellow. When it stops raining* I'd like to get all my naturally-dyed yellows lined up and try to get a photo showing the range. It's worthwhile doing anyway because I'm inclined to think 'oh, another yellow' rather than 'yay, another yellow!'.

Anyway that's what I've done with some of my spare time this week. Also den-building with Miss M, a school trip to Edinburgh Zoo, and a school disco. Think I'd quite like a snooze now.

* for today was the last day of term for the kids and therefore it is bucketing down out there. This happens every year. It's traditional.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Dye day

It's been ages again hasn't it? It's all been a bit frenzied here recently, with the kids' schools doing stuff and so on. But today for the first time in ages I fancied doing a bit of dyeing. Come to think of it, it's the first time in ages that I've had the time! Part of it is that Miss M is away on a residential thing with her gymnastics club, and the gentlemen of the family were going to build a shed for my mother-in-law (well, put together a shed, it was a flatpack thing) so this afternoon I had an unusually quiet Saturday afternoon stretching before me. One thing I wanted to do was dig up the docken sprouting in the front garden, and then it occurred to me that it would be nice to try dyeing with it.

With a quick look at Wild Colour (one of Jenny Dean's books) and a bit of googling, I found out that the tap root can be used for dyeing, but I fancied just trying the leaves. Of course when I dug the flaming thing up I realised that the tap root is enormous! In fact I bent my trowel trying to lever it up..
So I've saved the taproot and will try it another time.

There were loads of leaves so after a bit of leisurely winding of wool into skeins and a bit of mordanting, I got to the dyeing bit. The end colour was a pleasant enough soft yellow but I fancied messing around with an alkaline modifier and as luck would have it there was a bag of soda crystals in the cupboard under the sink. I draped half of the skein into the modifier and it turned a more mustardy yellow. It's not the most gorgeous colour really, but I really like the two tone effect and I'm looking forward to knitting it up and seeing how it looks!

I had a second smaller skein mordanted so I had a go at dyeing with fuchsia bark, mainly because I hacked back the Fuchsia of Doom a few weeks ago and had loads of twigs/sticks left from it with lovely soft papery outer bark. Note to Self of the Future though, it gives beige, don't bother again! So I chucked in some alchemilla mollis leaves and flowers to simmer with the wool, and got another yellow:

That's it still damp and drip drying on the handle of the back door to the garage so I'll have to check the colour properly tomorrow morning.

So it's been a day that has been both lazy and productive - pretty good!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A bit of knitting

I'm posting this from my mobile, and I can't figure out how to rearrange my pictures, so here's an out of order knitting photostory.

Once upon a time there was half-knitted hat. The wool was Noro Cash Island which I bought years ago, cheap I think because it was being discontinued. Which was a bit of a shame really because knitting with it is a real tactile pleasure.

Then the hat was finished (this afternoon) and the colours look quite different in different light.

And finally I cast it on. This was only a few days ago - it's been a very fast knit for me! Especially given that it was quite a busy week one way or another. 

This used to be a knitting blog; occasionally it still is!

Friday, 12 May 2017

And a real post!

 We've had a very dry and sunny spell here recently - not desperately warm maybe as there's been a cool breeze, but perfectly nice in our fairly sheltered garden. The frog has been sunning him/herself.

And the first poppy flowered.

And the dandelions have been flourishing - well, when don't they?

It's all been very pleasant!

fauxdori pics

This is just a brief blogpost to show some pictures to redfox-knits.

Ink Bandits Field Notes size, extra wide in Espresso:

And end on: 

Open, lies flat:

Face down - this is with the contents still in:

With the A5 'dori  (Leather4craft kit one):

And showing comparative thickness of the leather. They look about the same thickness here but I think the brown one is a bit thinner. It's certainly worn thinner where the band wraps around it.

Hope that helps!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

More frogs

So this is the picture I took yesterday morning, with the amazing zoom, from an upstairs window:

The other two I took were slightly blurry but I'm more than happy with how sharp this one is. And then this morning I went out and had a look and there's another pile of spawn, though no sign of frog or frogs. Our pond is just a plastic garden tub sunk in the ground with gravel, aquatic compost and plants added. It's not big or fancy - in fact it's probably only about 50cm across - but year after year it gets spawned in. That's quite flattering when you're trying to make your garden wildlife friendly. As far as I know none of the tadpoles matured last year, but this year I managed to clear some of the old sludge and weed out of the water before the frog returned so there's a bit more space and I hope that will help. Although I read somewhere that frogs like shallow water and will even lay their spawn in puddles, which seems staggeringly short-sighted of them!

It turns out my blog-composing issue is in Firefox (probably an outdated version, though to be honest I can never see why something that always has worked should suddenly not work) but not in Chrome so I've used Chrome for this. It's very much easier than trying to post from my tablet, so I'm glad I figured it out.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Frogspawned that is.

I can still post from my tablet but that means using the camera on my tablet, which is a shame because I took a picture of the spawning in action this morning with my actual camera. From the Boy's bedroom window, i.e. upstairs. The zoom on that camera is amazing! And I was really pleased with the pictures I got but I haven't time to mess with html just now so I'll just go with this one. Thus spake the Frog - Spring is happening!

In other news, I've been missing studying so I'm doing a free online course about moons (it's an OU one but I'm doing it via Futurelearn), and it's fascinating. I've had an interest in space and astronomy for a long time, and already had a favourite moon (Enceladus), but not much of a science background academically-speaking, so it's interesting and pushing me a bit. It's supposed to take about three hours studying time a week, but the first week took me much longer because there were some things to do with orbits that it took me a while, and some juggling of apples, to get my head around. The second week was more geology-related (what the moons are made of*, and craters) and I found that much easier, probably thanks to my dad's interest in geology. So I think the study time will very quite a bit from week to week.

I suppose I'd better go and feed the family now..

* Green cheese with a core of Stilton and a Brie mantle. Of course.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Frog Returns

Well, I seem to be having problems posting to my blog from my computer, so apologies if this looking funny - but, yay, the frog is back! It seems I cleaned out the pond just in time and hopefully there's enough water in it for her! I do have a picture waiting to be added to this post but it doesn't seem to be letting me, for reasons I can't fathom yet.

Edit: I've finally added it the old-fashioned way of my youth, using actual HTML. And a chisel probably. I hope it looks okay. I'm off to whittle something..

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Random happy things


I bought a new metronome today. My old one got broken years ago, when the kids were small - as far as I remember it got knocked off whatever it was sitting on (piano probably) and the mechanism was irretrievably bashed about. I tried a metronome app but the sound was so annoying, so back to analogue ticking it is!

And flowers on my windowsill are also making me happy. I really love hyacinths and daffodils - spring is awesome!

Friday, 10 March 2017

I was doing quite well for a bit there

Blog-wise, I mean. Still, I got through January, and I must have blinked and missed February, or mislaid it somewhere - probably down the back of the settee.. But I'm back and it's March, the days are getting longer and the weather is occasionally pleasant. I sat on the back doorstep drinking my coffee yesterday. The sun was shining and just there it was reasonably sheltered from the (rather chilly) wind, and it was... pleasant.

Also pleasant is that Miss M found my missing pencil sharpener, so I've just sharpened some pencils. Small pleasures.

That is easily the best sharpener I've ever had (it's the Spanish company, Milan, if anybody's stationery nerdy), so I'd missed it. I've just sharpened another nine, just for the fun of it - this is clearly the House of Blunt Pencils.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

We're getting there

 Things keeping me going in January are:

A little bit of snow last week. I even have snowballing pictures but the kids wouldn't like it if I made them public. But it was great seeing them have fun in the snow!

The first daffodils in the shops

My new diary insert (by Morgan Le Fae's Trinkets - I love these; this particular layout suits me perfectly).  This took a random route from the Netherlands and I thought it had got irretrievably lost. Monique had posted it well before Christmas so goodness knows where it went on its travels!

Winding more wool.

And today I watched Rams (Hrútar) which I'd been meaning to watch for ages, and loved it. I even knitted while I watched, though it was only a sample to check how the variegated wool knitted up. I was meaning to make a hat with it but all my circular needles seem to have vanished. I must have put them somewhere particularly safe...

We're all more or less recovered from our various lurgies now, and although the first couple of weeks were pretty awful even by January standards, I think settling back into the normal routine has helped.

Monday, 9 January 2017

a better picture

1. a better picture of the wool, in daylight and all fluffed back up.

2. a picture of the moon, possibly the least fuzzy I've ever taken.

The anti-sickness tablets also turn out to be anti-sleep tablets* so after four days of insomnia** I've decided to stop them and just hope I don't throw up too much.  I've only three more days of the antibiotics left. I'm sure it'll be fine. FINE. When making 'January bearable' amounts to not being sick there's not really much you can illustrate it with...

*surprisingly - the first dose knocked me out.

** actually on adding it up it's been three nights of insomnia. Addled.

Friday, 6 January 2017


 I got a package in the post today - it was flattish with odd lumps. When I opened it I realised it was some wool I'd ordered which had been packed in the most awesome and cool way - it had been vacuum-packed.  Yes, it looks like plasticene.

The best fun I had today was cutting a tiny hole in the packaging and watching it inflate (reflate? reinflate..?). Call me easily amused but it made me laugh. It also made Miss M laugh so it's not just me. That said, we've both been giggling at really bad cracker jokes this evening..

The pictures are dark and gloomy once again because once again I pretty much missed daylight. I had to go back to the doctor because the current antibiotics were making me very queasy. But as they do seem to be working on the chest infection, rather than stop them she's given me anti-nausea tablets to go with them. These are a kind of antihistamine, most of which make me sleepy, so I spent most of this afternoon sleeping or dozing. On the upside, no nausea, and it's only until I finish the antibiotics so just a few days. A few days of sleeping? Why thank you!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

A coffee and a chocolate biscuit

That's a very dark picture.

So we're five days into January and I'm clutching at straws here but, dammit, I'm going to enjoy that coffee!

There are other things making January bearable but I keep forgetting to photograph them in daylight - daylight being in short supply at the moment. And anyway the antibiotics I'm taking have dire warnings on the packaging about avoiding daylight, even on overcast days - apparently they've turned me into a vampire. I'm not sure what'll happen if I do go into the sunlight but I'm imagining some Buffy-like crumbling into dust. Or perhaps not. So perhaps the dark, mysterious picture of my coffee is entirely appropriate!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Throw Another Log on the Fire

We don't have an open fire or a wood-burning stove. Or even one of those gas fake fires. But we have a Youtube video of a burning fireplace and a spare television. So our cats do get to curl up in front of the fire!

Our favourite video has just the right balance of crackling and burning sounds and the odd spitting log, and it's all very restful - and no ashes to clean out either. Alas, of course, no actual heat, but that's probably just as well given how close Boycat is to the 'flames'!

Without any real intention, this is turning into a series of 'things to make January bearable' posts. It's no secret (i.e. I whinge about this every year) that I always find January a bit of a slog, and at the moment I'm on a second course of antibiotics for a chest infection so obviously it's my least healthy time of the year as well (last year it was 'flu, the year before it was conjunctivitis and an ear infection..). The obvious answer to this is to make December less frenetic and look after myself better next year (and I'm typing this partly as reminder to the me of Autumn 2017), but for now I'm just aiming to enjoy what I can out of January.  Even if it's just the little things, like a pretend logfire.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Wool and books

We wound another ball of wool today - this is one of my home-dyed efforts (anthemis tinctoria).

And I'm reading The Tempest, which I haven't read for years.

Also I've pulled muscle and it hurts too much to type, so a short post it is!

Monday, 2 January 2017

January and Jigsaws

We have a jigsaw on the go for idle moments. Miss M got the current one for Christmas and was a bit confused about the Christmas tree in the water. It turns out that the painting is of Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds, where they do in fact put a Christmas tree in the middle of the river. I don't know how - a crane perhaps? So we've learned something new, if completely useless. The jigsaw itself is surprisingly tough (for a 500-piece jigsaw) because there are so many similar patches of snow, patches of river and patches of sky. If it were a 1000-piece jigsaw I'd be crying into my coffee by now.

Before we did the Bourton at Christmas one we did the books one in the middle of the picture.  That was brilliant - so much colour, and interesting without being too frustrating. We'll probably do the top one next - that's a portion of Benozzo Gozzoli's Procession of the Magi, and is great because there's so much detail. Also because I have soft spot for Renaissance art. And then I'll dig out the 1000-piece jigsaws...

Sunday, 1 January 2017

A New Year's Day walk

The wind finally dropped and the rain finally stopped (it feels as if it's been wet and windy for weeks), and although there was a frost this morning it had gone by lunchtime. So the Boychild and I went for a walk in the mid-afternoon. He's a good companion for a walk - not chatty, but quite happy to be wander peacefully and enjoy the scenery and weather. And patient when I stop to take pictures. These were all taken with my 'phone, so I didn't have much control over how they turned out, but they're okay I think.

I never did get any knitting done last night. We all sat around reading until midnight, at which point fireworks went off in various directions and bagpipes resounded (not kidding - the boy over the road plays the pipes and did a quick rendition of Scotland the Brave as midnight struck). Miss M and I wrapped ourselves in a blanket and watched the fireworks from her bedroom window. The gentlemen of the house are largely disinterested in fireworks but Miss M and I like sparkly stuff. And then we all went to sleep, even the cats.