Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Knitting My Day Away

Hello, everybody, and welcome again to the Apple Basket!
I hope you are well and enjoying the late autumn weather – or spring, if you are so situated; and if you happen to be somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard I do hope that you are not suffering too much from the aftermath of Sandy.

It has been a very long time, I know; and I do apologise about that. I have missed chatting to you all ... I managed to pick up some English infection when my eldest son, Andreas, and I went to Nottingham two weeks ago, and my brain hasn’t quite been up to scratch.

Hence the title of this (or rather, these) week’s goings-on: what can you do when feeling under the weather, and the actual outside weather is not very accommodating? Yes, of course: knit. Danish readers, and maybe others, will recognise the provenance of the title: in the early 90’s, a heavy rock band named initially Disneyland After Dark and soon after that, unsurprisingly, D.A.D. (yes, they were told to ‘cease and desist’ and all that), put out a song with the uplifting and encouraging refrain ‘I’m sleeping my day away’.
Well, I don’t generally do that, even when ill, and not only because I have three kids around the house. But some days you just do what is necessary to keep the wheels turning, and the rest of day is spent waiting for the energy to come back. And how better to spend waiting time than with knitting?

The Knitting:

I can’t talk as much as I would like about my knitting right now, since most of it is Christmas knitting ... Suffice it to say that I am working on items from The List that I put together a few weeks back; so far, I’ve made four hats, two pairs of mittens and started the third, and I’ve started one of the shawlettes and the socks for my Dad. And something else.
I am making notes to give a full report on it all after Christmas – with pictures. So watch this space!
Farmer McGregor socks from Socktopus by Alice Yu

I love all this knitting for others: considering the best pattern and colour for a particular person, looking forward to giving the gift and helping people around me keep warm. It makes me feel all warm & fuzzy – and also has me fantasising about all the things I want to knit for ME afterwards ... see, I am not a saint. I want stuff, too; but I don’t want to only knit for myself. I guess the best thing for me is to find a balance between ‘selfish’ knitting and knitting for loved ones, with a bit of charity knitting thrown into the mix as well.

Sometimes the colours in active projects seem to ‘pool’: last week, I was working on a pair of mittens, a hat, the Bowtie socks for Thomas and a little owl. All in blue, for some reason.

I’m enjoying the interplay of colour in several of my hand dyed yarns when they get together at random – because as usual, I have at least three projects literally within reach, and they seem to huddle for breaks when they are not working.

And, as I may have mentioned before, plant dyes almost always go well together; of course, various blues made with logwood on copper will go together, being shades of the same basic colour, but all of the colours mix & match, so to speak. Their secret is that, unlike chemical dyes which consist of one colour only, plant dyes are really in themselves a mixture of shades and tones. When seen under a microscope, the orangey red of madder contains yellow, brown, and even blue, as well; and the same goes for other natural dyestuffs. So when they are put together, the subtleties inherent in each main colour are brought out by the others.
Which is why this accidental piling up of a sock, a shawl and a skirt looks so appealing:

You may have noticed last week that I put up a post in Danish, for once: at last month’s Sunday knitting café, I was working on my Carnaby skirt to finish it before going to England (more on that in a bit), and several of the ladies there admired it and asked about the pattern. So, I said I would translate it – trust me to take on a project on a whim. I e-mailed the designer to get her consent, got it, and dug into it. It did get put on hold for about a week surrounding the weekend away, but I came back to it and finished it last week. So that’s that.

Working with someone else’s pattern has been quite interesting; I write up my own patterns in both Danish and English – or mostly, I have notes-to-self in Danish and write the full pattern in English for Ravelry. And since a Danish Raveller asked about a pattern in Danish, I have been (slowly) working on writing the proper pattern in Danish to put up as well. No reason not to, really.

About the Carnaby skirt itself: well, I did mention that I wanted to wear it during the weekend in Nottingham – so, I knitted away, ran out of blue yarn (my calculation guess about the amount needed, when I was using a heavier yarn than the pattern calls for, was apparently somewhat off ...) and chose a walnut brown for the buttonhole band. I was aiming for a uniform-trouser-with-leather-trimmings kind of look, embellished with goldlike buttons. 

I finished the skirt on the Thursday evening – and decided that I had better try it on before actually closing my suitcase and setting off. Good thing I did: the waist edging was way too loose, and the skirt itself seemed scratchy. I knew that it isn’t the softest yarn, the ridge across my left forefinger had told me that during the knitting, but I hadn’t foreseen actual scratchiness. Quick rethinking of the packing ... and the skirt was left to think about its behaviour for a few days; which turned into nearly two weeks.
Last week, I finally picked up the thing again – and decided that I didn’t really like the blue and the brown together. Somehow, it was a bit too harsh for me. The colours in themselves worked well, being plant dyes and all, and of the same level of warmth; but I wasn’t happy. 

So, I chose a purple yarn, frogged the edgings and re-knit them; this time, I knit a waistband as well, with two buttons. Nice and snug. And purple, which always makes me happy. This purple is made with logwood, as is the blue, so they are closely related and make for a much more relaxed colour scheme.

Also, only the top button on the skirt itself opens; the others are sewn into both layers of fabric. The scratchiness seems less offensive now, somehow, and barely noticeable; maybe I was just surprised at first.

Speaking of plant dyes: I am finally ready to do the experiments for the burgundy red that I had planned on doing two weeks ago. This stupid airway infection stole my energy and pretty much kept me indoors for a while; but I’m better now. I have plans ... and yarn soaking to be ready for mordants.
You may remember that my Mum more or less requested a second Haruni shawl, this time in burgundy, for Christmas. Well, she is not getting a Haruni – not that I don’t like the pattern or anything, I just want to knit something new. So I found a similar shawl, the Cassandra, and if I can make the colour work out, I will knit it from hand-dyed yarn. Otherwise, I’m going shopping.
And the season for outdoor – or practically outdoor – dyeing is coming to an end; my dye studio (sounds grand, doesn’t it?) is in the bike shed, because I don’t want the chemicals and, frankly, the mess, in my kitchen. So I have a very nicely ventilated workspace, which is important, but it is also not heated in any way, and the temperatures outside are creeping downwards. We have had a touch of frost some nights ago, and the air smells of winter. So, now is the time, if I want to get any dyeing done in the foreseeable future.


Now, I know I promised you pictures from Nottingham, and you will get them – later this week. For now, I’ll just say that we had a great trip, I learned a lot, and we are going again next year.

Oh, and if you are at all a Bond fan – or a Daniel Craig fan – and you haven’t yet seen Skyfall: go, go, go! We went the weekend before last, all four of us, for once, and it is brilliant.
I even managed to start a hat! 
One of the Christmas hats, a ribbed and cabled beanie in Aran weight wool, called Nottingham; I made one for my cousin while actually in Nottingham, and decided to make another one for a friend, since it is a good pattern and a very nice hat. I think so, anyway, let’s hope the recipients agree :o) 
This second one is done with hand-dyed yarn, logwood blue.

So, that’s it for now; I will go cut up some madder root now and soak it – and I will be back in a few days’ time!
Have a very good week, and
Happy knitting!

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