Posts tagged handmade
Dyeing with Black Walnuts

I've found that black walnuts are an excellent go-to dye. I can always count on them. They are easily foraged for, don't require any mordant and will always give me some shade of brown, from dark chocolate to caramel. The skeins shown above were dyed the same day I did the marigold and red cabbage.

The dark skeins are a merino/silk blend while the lighter skeins are an alpaca/wool blend. The lighter ones were unmordanted, a bit of an afterthought I threw in the pot later. As you can see the one didn't take up the color as evenly as the other. I love these variegated results I've been getting and am looking forward to seeing how it knits up this winter.

PS: Thank you all for following me over to this new space and taking the time to comment! I'm having some trouble getting Bloglovin' to recognize my RSS so I apologize to those of you who follow that way. (Any tips on how to fix it?) As I said earlier, I can only carve out short periods of time for "blog work." Have a great weekend!

Dyeing with Avocado + Dandelions

Last summer, I ventured into the world of natural dyeing. I started off with cheaper yarn and easier dyes like onion skins, black walnuts, beet greens and parsley. After the summer faded, I knew I was hooked on this medium and started planning for the next season. I’ve been stock piling yarn and planting things specifically for dyeing.

I like the idea of focusing on sourcing my dye material locally, using what I’ve grown or foraged for around here*, but occasionally kitchen scraps are too precious to pass up. And after only getting browns and yellows, I’m itching to get some other colors this year. So when avocados (which usually yield a pink hue) came into the house over the last few months, I made sure I saved the skins and pits (storing them in a bag in the freezer.) The pink-from-avocado always stumped me (and most other people) and it wasn’t until I cracked open the pits and saw some orange-y inside did I see how it could happen.

Since I was taking the time and energy to do up the avocado dye, I figured I’d try some dandelions as well. They are dotting the newly lush green lawn and (unsurprisingly) yield yellow. The whole time I was doing this dye job, I realized something about myself as a dyer: I don’t like measuring. I don’t like specifics or technicality. After last season, I told myself I should learn more of the ins-and-outs of how dyeing works, on a scientific level, like PH and reactions and mordant, etc. But I’d rather keep it all simple, intuitive and (surprising for me) a mystery. Some of you have asked if I will start selling hand dyed yarns and honestly, I would love to, especially if I can keep the process as it as it is now: simple, creative and fun. (And I might be looking for testers this year, to give me feedback on quality and whatnot!)

But here are some more specific notes if anyone comes across this post and is looking for a bit of guidance in their own dyeing. Both dyes were 50gm skeins of superwash merino with an alum and cream of tartar mordant. I used the broken pits and ripped up skins of 9 frozen-then-thawed avocados and a bowl full of fresh picked dandelions. I cut back on timing for everything so I might have ended up with richer colors.

*As this little passion grows, I hope to source my yarn and fiber more locally. Then perhaps take a stab at spinning my own yarn to dye. And maybe even raising fiber someday. (Oh, but that is quite the long-term goal…)

Gifting No. 1 - Elder Tree Shawl

This is the first of a new series of making and sharing gifts for people who mean a lot to me. I was going to set myself up with a monthly or bi-weekly challenge (similar to the Knit 12 Hats challenge) but instead, decided to just see how many gifts I could make in the rest of this calendar year. It’ll be at least one project a month, hopefully two. But, maybe sometimes more. There are a lot of amazing, inspiring and warm-hearted people in my life that I want to give back to in my stitch-y way. I’m calling the series “Gifting” because I’m hoping to expand beyond just knitted gifts and plan to sew and craft and make all sorts of things.

One nice thing about making for other people is that you can play with colors and designs that you wouldn’t necessarily choose for yourself. When Andi offered me this skein of orange Mountain Meadow Wool, I said yes. Not because I’m an orange fan (I’m stuck on gray) but because I have a few friends who exude a colorful energy. I asked the first choice among that list if she was indeed into wearing this color—it’s an orange not too many people are bold enough to sport. She said yes and that she would love a cowl or scarf. So, I went with the Elder Tree Shawl.

Even though this skein is a generous 216 yards of DK, it’s still wasn’t enough for a decent sized shawl. So I added some Knit Picks Palette (held double) in a teal color to the border. (The recipient likes the orange/teal combo but the best I could do was a dusky teal.) Overall, I like the shawl—it was a fun knit and once you get the hang of the lace pattern, its smooth sailing.

Ravelry Notes

What about you? Do you brave bold colors?

Hat Twelve of Twelve - A Knitting Challenge

I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I joined in this challenge. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure why I joined, considering I never saw myself a much of “hat person.” There was just something about the monthly challenge—-not too frequent to stress me out but not too spaced out to make me lose interest. It really is doable to fit a hat in every month. And at the end of the year, you have twelve hand knit hats for yourself and others. Give it a try!

I wasn’t sure how the daisy stitch pattern would translate in a solid yarn. (A lot of projects used a variegated yarn which gave the hats a joyful, starburst-y look.) The resulting textural bands are quite nice. This was my first time doing the daisy stitch. Overall, it’s a great pattern. (And free!) But If I made it again, I’d probably make it a bit taller by added another repeat since it fits me more like a beanie than a slouchy hat.


Pattern: Gin & Tonic

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash (hand dyed with black walnuts)

Needles: sz 8

More details and notes at it’s Ravelry project link

The Twelve Hats in One Year Challenge is being run by two lovely French ladies: Melody of Mandarine’s and Charlotte of Fille d’hiver. You can join in and share your creations at the Facebook Page.

12 Hats 1 Year
Paid In Full - My Recipe Box

Up until now, my recipes were all shoved, haphazardly, in a binder. It was always a chore to find the one I needed. I knew exactly what I wanted to fix this but couldn’t seem to find it in any store. Instead of a box to hold standard index cards, I wanted something bigger that could hold standard sheets of paper folded in half, since most of my recipes are printouts or photocopies. Last summer, I asked my Dad if he could make me exactly what I was looking for. Then back in December, his schedule slowed a little and we sat down to discuss the details. I had to keep steering him away from adding anything fancy. Frankly, from adding anything at all, reminding him I just wanted a simple box in the prettiest piece of walnut he could find. He has plans for recipe and trinket boxes for his shop in the future and he can have free reign over the specifics and design of them. But my taste is very simple. Some might consider it plain. But to me, beautiful wood, showcased like this, doesn’t need bells or whistles. Somewhere, in between these brutally cold winter days, he managed to complete the exact box I wanted. It’s about 7” x 10” x 8”. It turned out better than I hoped.

Technically, this is my payment for all the work I did, helping him get his Etsy shop rolling last year. I’ll admit, now I feel a bit overpaid.

Last Night I Dreamt That I Grew Wings - A Gosling Shawl

The Ysolda Teague Follow Your Arrow Mystery Knit Along is over and my shawl is complete! Ideally, I hoped to debut it with photos of me modeling it but I realized I don’t quite know how to style a wispy, asymmetrical shawl like this. (Luckily, the gallery of finished projects on Ravelry is giving me some ideas.) If given a visual from the beginning, I probably would have opted to go with the more circular, symmetrical shawl that clue 1B sets up. I actually originally intended to go with 1B but the fact that you had to pick up a bunch of stitches (something I am not good at), right in the beginning, turned me off and I went with clue 1A instead.In the end, I went with straight A’s for all the clues. Turns out this was a great choice. Combine the yarn color (very much a dirty gray, the shade of goose feathers and aptly named “gosling”) and an angular, textural starting point and this shawl was destined for feathery greatness from the beginning.


Pattern: Follow Your Arrow Mystery Knit Along (Clues 1A+2A+3A+4A+5A)

Yarn: Knit Pick’s Palette in Gosling

Needle: sz 6

Ravelry notes

(Title inspiration via “Wings” by Josh Ritter.)