A new shawl

This week I have been dyeing yarn for a shawl commission, which will be winging it’s way to France when it is finished.  It’s always quite stressful dyeing yarn for people when they can’t just pop around to see the colours.  I can photograph them and e mail them, but the colours are never as true as they are in the flesh so you just have to hope it will be ok.  It does help that I now have a brand new SLR camera which takes much truer photos than my old compact or my phone which I used to use a lot because it was so easy to upload photos to Twitter etc.  But no more!!  It’s actually quite easy to upload images from the SLR as there is an SD card port on my Laptop and it will mean I can be more organised about photo storage too.

The colours that had been requested for the commission were silvers and silvery blues.  Because these are very similar I also dyed some dark grey so that I can use this as a darker contrast in the middle of the shawl border.

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The dark grey, which is blurred in the background is ‘Blackbird’. On top of this is the main colour for the shawl, ‘Woodpigeon’ and the two colours in the foreground are ‘Lapwing’ – the small ball on top and ‘Stock Dove’ on the bottom.

All my yarns are dyed in skeins and then I have to wind them into balls before they can be knitted with.  The smaller ball has been wound round a friend’s hands..it looks like a traditional ball of wool that you see in pictures or drawings.  The ball on the bottom looks more like a cake and has been wound using a swift and a ball winder.

A swift looks like an umbrella and is used for holding the skein.

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This keeps the wool at an even tension while it is being wound onto the ball winder

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So now the wool is all wound I had better get on with the knitting. Design is a secret for now 🙂

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Visual Overload

Visual OverloadYesterday saw me leaving home at 8am to drive to Unravel at Farnham Maltings in Surrey to attend Unravel, a 2 day knitting festival.  I only went for one day as I failed to persuade E to be in charge at home for the whole weekend.  He says I spend too much of my life surrounded by yarn as it is, so I guess I was lucky to even escape at all.

Farnham Maltings is a fabulous creative space based in the heart of the lovely Surrey town of Farnham.  It is home to artists’ studios, has a theatre and runs numerous courses and exhibitions.  In its history it has been both a tannery and a brewery. You can read more about its interesting past here.

The 2013 theme was focussed around the Best In Show illustration which was commissioned by Farnham Maltings from Illustrator Amy Blackwell and gorgeous project bags with the image were available to buy.  I of course had to grab one even though I have a trillion project bags already.  Oh well, I can always hide my yarn in it.

My friend H and I started the day doing a two hour workshop on dyeing using dye powders derived from plants and natural sources with the very talented Judy Hardman. You can’t do a huge amount in 2 hours but we got to mix a variety of naturally derived dyes to get different colours

2013-02-23 11.15.31 The yellows along the top were from pomegranate, Fustic, Dyers Broom, Coreopsis

The second row are purples and reds from Logwood, Madder and Lac with the yellow of Weld at the end

The third row shows Teal, Saxon Blue, Logwood Purple (which gives a grey) and Sorghum

We then dyed small skeins of wool and silk using a microwave to fix the colours.  It has definitely enthused me to try more dyeing from plants, both using available powders as well as plants from the garden. A selection of yarns dyed by Judy were on show which were beautiful.  Unfortunately she wouldn’t let me take any of them away 😦

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I love Unravel for its support of independent dyers, pattern designers and small British yarn companies and wasn’t disappointed this year.

I saw my lovely friends Max and Margaret on the Millamia stand and got to have a sneak preview of their latest adult collection Colour Coded which is beautiful and I cannot wait to knit the sweetest 3/4 length sleeve tie neck cardi.  Don’t think Margaret wanted her photo taken!!

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I also got to meet some lovely people who I chat to on Twitter. Danielle who runs A Stash Addict was exhibiting for the first time.

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 I bought a skein of vareigated pink/purple sock yarn to knit a small shawl

And there were some lovely woolly sculptures

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It was a compete overload of visual amazement, a day of joy of catching up with old friend and of seeing new friends.  I was bowled over to meet the very talented designer Ruth of Rock and Purl and Green Triangle Girl who broadcasts the fabulous knitting podcast and blogs at A Playful Day and can’t wait for next year.

Kirsty xx

Steel Works Shawl

This week I completed my ‘Steel Works’ Shawl.  The pattern is Holden by Mindy Wilkes and it is a free pattern on Ravelry:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/holden-shawlette

An amazing 5,483 people have knitted this shawl and although I’m not usually one to follow the crowd I love the simplicity of the lace design which is easy to memorise but looks fabulous.  The picot edging also adds another edge of interest, although it took a lot of pins to block out each of those points!

Holden Shawl in my own hand dyed yarn I dyed the yarn myself in shades of silver and slate dye, varying the intensity of the dye bath by adding more water or dye powder until I was happy with the 4 colours.  The dye powder came from the lovely Linda at Tall Yarns n Tales.   I dyed one 100g skein in the main silver grey, and then split another skein into 35g balls and dyed them separately, so that I didn’t waste yarn or have too much left over.

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This shawl would be a great lace project for a beginner as the main body is stocking stitch and the lace border is not difficult to master.  I did the border in three separate colours but the shawl would look just as good in one solid colour or just with the border in contrasting or complimentary colour to the main body.  Oh the possibilities!!!

Kirsty xx