Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Friday, October 5, 2012


Hello, everybody, and welcome once again to the Apple Basket! This time, we have a lot of knitting, a fair bit of dyeing, and a few odds and ends. So, settle in with your drink of choice and let’s get to it!

We have a new inhabitant in our garden! Or, maybe he’s not new, but we have only recently been aware of his presence. Last week, there he was, utterly confusing the cat: a hedgehog. Nosing across the lawn in the sunshine on the outlook for snails, I hope, to eat :o)
The next day, he came back, and we decided to name him Bob. We haven’t checked, obviously, to see if he is in fact a boy, but never mind. Girls can be called Bob, too.
A couple of days after that, Bob was back with his family – it turns out that he must be a kid, because there was a much bigger hedgehog and another one about the same size as Bob himself. The mum and the other kid shuffled along and disappeared into the hedge – where else? – while Bob decided to take a nap in the sunshine. He seems to enjoy our garden, which is great, of course, so much fun. And indeed, the other day, when I was picking oak leaves for dyeing, I had to tread carefully to not disturb Bob’s nap. He was lying quite still, but I could just make out his side moving with his breathing, so everything was fine; he makes a little sort of nest in the grass near the hedge or the fence, much like the cat does in fine weather. So cute.

The Knitting:
Now, where were we in the continuing saga of knitting obsessions?
After last week’s 3-months-till-Christmas planning panic, I developed a sudden and severe case of startitis and cast on several new things in an attempt, I think, to knit everything at once. Which leaves me with all too many wips and some confusion; so now I’m trying to finish projects before I cast on something new.
But: my mum brought me back from Ireland a 200-gram skein of Kerry Woollen Mills Aran in dark green, and at the same time my sister handed me a copy of the Owls pattern – so I am dying to cast on a sleeveless Owls in green. I do need it, too: going to England in November does justify something woollen to wear, doesn’t it?

I have made three different cowls in a super chunky silk yarn that I bought a couple of years ago, I think, with some sort of plan that never came to fruition. Bulky yarn is not really my thing, I’ve realised: it is rather difficult to use it for a garment without it getting too big and heavy. But a cowl can be bulky without becoming overwhelming, and the silk is sooo soft ... Lovely.
And one cowl is a Moebius, so I’ve learnt Cat Bordhi’s Moebius Cast-On – that is so much fun, knitting on one continuous edge and watching the cowl grow on both sides! Amazing.
One of the cowls I made in chunky wool and then decided it wasn’t soft enough compared to the others, so that one I’m keeping for myself, and I made it again in the silk yarn. So, four cowls in all. Not bad.

I cast on and am working on the Watson socks for Victor. Now, this project is not chosen randomly: the sock pattern itself is based on a sweater that the Watson in the BBC series Sherlock, set in modern times, wears, with cables and ‘flying geese’. Victor has been reading Sherlock Holmes, the collected stories, and noted that Watson at the time of their meeting had recently returned from working as an Army doctor in Afghanistan. I’m not sure if this modern Watson has also been to Afghanistan, but he might well have; which for once tells you more about Afghanistan than the (lack of) imagination of script writers. 
Anyway, these socks seemed appropriate for Victor – and I wanted to do them in an Army colour. So I planned to make a skein of walnut-dyed sock yarn for them; but it turned out too rich in colour, slightly salmony-pink, and Victor preferred the yellow-green done with fustic on copper mordant and modified with iron.
I divided the skein into two balls of 50 grams each, so that I can knit the first sock until the ball runs out – that is the beauty of toe-up socks, especially in the larger men’s sizes. Oh, and I learned yet another new technique: Judy’s Magic Cast-On.

The Hitchhiker is progressing; I work on it while I read. So, if the zen approach to knitting can be trusted, that you can knit your love and prayers into the fabric, I’m going to have an ... interesting time wearing this: I started it one evening while watching X-Files, and it has been accompanied by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and the second book in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher, Fool Moon. Murderous dolls, werewolves, warring gods ... great fun all around.

The Regrowth shawl is sitting there, waiting patiently for a bit of attention; I have tinked all of the blue and worked a few rows of the edge. It has somewhere between 1100 and 1200 live stitches now, so it takes about an hour to knit a row.

The Carnaby skirt has been put aside a bit by the cowl frenzy; it is by no means forgotten, and I will bring it back out. The heavily dyed yarn is crocking like mad, of course, so I need to wash my hands before touching anything else. I will wash the finished skirt before wearing it, of course, and rinse it about a million times.

So much for the knitting – I have been playing around with colours this week, trying out a couple of new dyestuffs and combining colours. Wood chips from 3 different types of tree give a whole range of colours:

Now, I can very well understand those who feel like cheating when working with these imported dyestuffs: it’s almost too easy to get strong, vibrant colours with very little work, and you can learn very quickly what’s going to happen when you do this or that. And the colours themselves are surreal: bubble gum pink, bright yellow – can this be natural?
It is a whole another experience going outside, picking leaves in your close environment, soaking and boiling and steeping for days to draw out colours that don’t seem to be there at first. Parallel to the bright, easy dyeing – that I love, don’t get me wrong – I worked with oak leaves again; and I relish the whole process of that, as well as the rich, deep colour that comes out of it:

So now, I just want to dye hundreds of skeins, in various mixes of wonderful colours; I know now what I’m going to do for the Georgia cardigan, and I have some further plans that I’m not telling you about yet (that time of year, you know!).

The yarn base that I’m mostly using for dyeing (and sock knitting) right now is Trekking XXL from Zitron, a nice sturdy sock yarn consisting of 75 % wool and 25 % nylon, with a high twist. You get 420 metres in a 100 g skein; I am knitting socks on 2.5 mm needles. So far, I really like working with this yarn: it has a crispness to it that gives a nice stitch definition.
I buy the yarn undyed from the lovely Ellen at; an online and, I think, physical yarn shop. And would you know, the address of the shop is on Minerva-vej! Isn’t that brilliant? A yarn shop situated on a road named for the Roman counterpart to Athene, goddess of crafting. What’s not to love.

Oh, and my sister asked me to overdye some baby clothes; she has a girl and a boy (in that order) and would like for some of the handed-down pink stuff to be blue. This is what happened with copper mordant and logwood:
Soaking in water

12 hours later

Thanks again for stopping by, I hope you have a wonderful time with your crafting of choice.
Happy knitting!

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