Monthly Archives: July 2008

Dyeing workshop

On 8th July Mummy and I went down to Basingstoke for a workshop on rainbow acid dyeing on wool with Jan Blight (unfortunately I don’t think she has a website). It was a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to doing more at home now I have an idea what I am up to.

There were four of us students at the workshop which was a nice number. Enough that we could gain a lot by seeing a great variety of different combinations of the same colours, and how different people approach dyeing in different ways. Yet few enough that there was comfortably enough space for everyone and we could all chat together. We all brought along our own yarns and Jan supplied Kemtex acid dyes and ammonium sulphate fixative. The yarn we took was aran weight, 100% blue faced leicester, from H W Hammand. A lovely yarn, it took the dye well and was a pleasure to knit with. We bought 1kg between us and dyed 100g each at the workshop so there is still 800g left. Mummy has earmarked some of it for a capelet from Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge: The Essential Collection of Decorative Borders. At the same time as buying the aran weight we also bought 1kg each of the same yarn in DK weight which I am really looking forward to experimenting with.

Jan had mixed up a selection of stock solutions of different colours of dye before our arrival, and after soaking our yarn well, we laid it out on cling film and set to with the colour mixing and painting. I got very carried away mixing different kinds of greens 🙂

Once we had finished dyeing, we wrapped up our little cling film parcels and let them sit for half an hour. Then unwrapped the parcels, sprinkled fixative over the yarn, and re-wrapped them to go in the steamer for half an hour. Once the parcels were cool enough we could rinse out the yarn in cool water and hang them up to dry.

For me part of the delight of going along to a workshop rather than just reading things from books is that you can see what a wonderful variety of different yarns everyone produces, starting with the same basic ingredients, and using broadly the same methods. The different combinations that people used, combined with different proportions of colour made all the yarns dyed look completely different. A real feast.

We all brought along pictures for our inspiration, but I’m afraid mine are really only very loosely inspired by them. After the first couple of skeins I just got carried away playing with all the lovely colours 🙂 The others were a lot more dedicated and it was lovely to see the beautiful and sometimes unexpected colours you can produce when inspired by a picture.

Jan also provided some fine yarn which she had put into very long circumference skeins, like you would do for socks, and some roving for us to play with too. I found the roving quite different to dyeing yarn, the dye didn’t seem to want to absorb as easily and I seemed to have more trouble controlling the colours.

When we got home we were so impatient to be knitting with the yarns that we had to put them in the airing cupboard over night to gee them along a bit.

Probably better than knitting with wet yarn though 🙂

When it came to the knitting I was interested to experiment with how the colours would look knitted up in different textures. To give a basic idea I knitted a section of garter stitch, a section of moss stitch (seed stitch to those over the pond) and a section of stocking stitch. Some of our skeins were slightly longer than others so I had enough yarn to knit a little ribbing as well. As you can see I was a bit obsessed with the green.

The palest sample (middle of the top row) shows the effect created when the steamer goes off the boil and you don’t notice until you come to rinse the yarn and all the dye rinses out, by which time it is a bit late. I like the effect of subtle shades of the same colour though and will be having an attempt at replicating this in a more controlled fashion.

On the right is the long skein, with a bit of ribbing at the top, then stocking stitch and then moss stitch, using the same number of stitches that I usually use for socks. I would like to try this again although the big skein was a bit unwieldy. The fibre was supposed to be shades of purple, rather than frighteningly pink. I think I am going to make some felted beads out of it, and make them into a necklace, possibly with a few other bits and pieces to tone it down a bit. That is the plan for now at any rate.

There are loads more photos of the workshop and the yarns here.

Knitting and Crochet Guild AGM

It has been a busy few weeks knitting-wise, so more will follow soon. First off though, on the 5th to the 7th of July I went to the Knitting and Crochet Guild AGM, this year held in Winchester.

I arrived shortly after lunch on the Friday, and after collecting my badge and saying a few hellos we had our first outing, to the Knitting Reference Library at Winchester School of Art. They hold the collections of Montse Stanley, Richard Rutt, and Jane Waller, and we had a very interesting and informative romp through the history and sociology of knitting, based on these collections, given by Linda Newington, Head Librarian, and helped by her assistant.

The Knitting Reference Library mostly holds patterns and books, with Montse’s extensive collection of objects held in the Special Collections at the Hartley Library, University of Southampton. The Knitting Reference Library does have a small handling collection though, which they use with students, and which they brought out to show us. Their collection really is varied, from knitted toys (some incredibly kitsch 🙂 )

to the most beautiful and detailed gloves and mittens, some knitted by Richard Rutt himself.

After an opportunity to briefly browse the shelves of the collection we piled back into the assortment of vehicles, and trundled back to the University of Winchester for a well-deserved cup of tea and a biscuit, and the serious task of checking out the stock Gill of the Woolly Workshop had brought with her for the shopping room. There were also two quizzes designed to celebrate 30 years of the guild, and as a getting-to-know-you exercise to fit in alongside the hectic round of shopping.

After dinner was the show and tell, a wonderful wide variety of knitted items were shown, lots of inspiration. Then off home to bed.

Saturday started with with AGM proper. It was interesting to hear about the progress of the guild this year, and plans for the future, but it would have been nice if there had been more time allowed, so that more of the questions could have been answered more satisfactorily.

Following the AGM, Linda Newington gave a talk on the Knitting Reference Library, and the In the Loop conference. It was interesting to hear a bit more about the library, and exhibition and conference, particularly since I wasn’t able to get to the conference itself. Then after lunch we had another expedition, this time to Winchester cathedral.

The cathedral doesn’t have any knitting in it, but it does have some lovely woven vestments, and some very interesting tiled floors. I love tiling, and got completely carried away with photographing all of the different tiles. I think I may try and use them for inspiration for knitting at some point.

After a much appreciated cup of tea back at the University, Imogen Semken, one of the Directors of the guild gave a very interesting talk and demonstration on millinery. I was amazed at how you could create a sturdy base for a hat just by wetting the material (I think it was banana fibre) and stretching it over a mould and waiting for it to dry.

After dinner Joyce Meader gave a fantastic talk on military knitting patterns. In the picture below she is holding up two pairs of American civil war socks, you can choose which flag you put on the sole of the foot so that you can walk on the opposition 🙂

Joyce is a wonderfully entertaining speaker who really knows her subject. She had us all rolling in the aisles for the whole duration of her talk. If you get the opportunity to hear one of her talks definitely jump at it.

Sunday morning brought a final opportunity for discussion of the guild and its future, and prizes for the two quizzes. I won a pattern book by Debbie Bliss! A surprise and a pleasure. Mary Hawkins rounded off the meeting with a demonstration of how to use a knitting frame (without the aid of an actual knitting frame) as a taster of what we might see when the AGM is held in Ruddington near the Framework Knitters Museum next year.

Of course I didn’t escape without a few purchases:

Here is my prize pattern book, a Lucy Neatby instruction booklet on buttonholes, a pattern leaflet, a book on the textiles at Winchester Cathedral and some stitch markers which were given in the welcome bag at the AGM. There were also a couple of pattern books in the welcome bag which I have given to my mum as a consolation prize for not being able to come along.

I took loads more pictures at the AGM (95 of them I think!) which I have finally managed to persuade flickr to upload here.

All in all, a fun time was had. A good opportunity to meet old friends, and make new ones, and of course to see what everyone is knitting.

Fortissima Socks

In amongst the forays into the garden to wage war on the weeds now that the weather is nice I have managed a little bit of knitting. I actually finished these a while ago and have finally managed to charge the camera battery and photograph them.

The yarn is Fortissima Colori, colour 2419.

I love these socks, great colour and very comfy but they demonstrate that I need to get a bit more organised with my stash. I bought the yarn a while ago, thinking what a nice colour it was. When I got home and looked at it again, it still looked nice, but increasingly familiar. I finally remembered I already owned a ball of this yarn, lurking in the stash. I have done this a couple of times recently with books too, definitely time to get more organised and get on top of things.

Talking of getting on top of things, the weather is still sunny (though the forecast said rain tonight and tomorrow), so I am going to take the opportunity to attack a few more weeds in the front garden. I may be some time …