Dried Daffodils and Rhubarb Leaves

By now you are familiar with the photo below- drying yarn on my otherwise unused warp board. This time it may look a bit drab. So apparently when one dries daffodils you get a very muted yellow- more straw than daffodil. This isn’t unwelcome- a great many of us do not choose to walk around in bright yellow clothing. This was the same result I achieved when I dried golden rod. Marigolds are a bit hardier in terms of color retention and when I used them this winter, I got a stronger yellow orange. But this is all for my records and of little interest to you- except perhaps that these are all grown locally, picked by me and used with the least amount of water I can use- luckily this is not that difficult as soaking baths and exhaust baths are very reusable. The newest thing I tried was simmering rhubarb leaves to make a mordant solution. Mordant, you will recall, is that stuff which helps the yarn hold on to the dye we choose to use. With plant dyes, mordants are a must for colorfastness. Typically, I use alum to keep my life as toxic free as possible. For rhubarb I headed the warnings, donned rubber gloves and a good mask (for some reason, I just happen to have dozens of those lying around) and set up outside away from my house windows! The result looks promising, the yarn definitely took up the solution. Now the proof will be in the pudding. I will allow these skeins to dry then dye these skeins over the next few days. I can’t wait! I am all out of rhubarb leaves, but if it works, I have space for more plants. Also, I am dying mulberry silk yarn that is wonderful and very elegant. I will get this available as soon as I can with a cute hat pattern. In the meantime, do yourself a favor, look at your projects and work on the ones that bring you the most joy -or at least the ones that will reduce your feeling of dread of the unfinished projects. Think about how you approach knitting and crochet and slow down and enjoy. Be mindful of your yarns, your patterns and those for whom you knit. Life keeps going at the speed of, well life! Make sure you don’t miss it.

Knit Naturally, Christine

Tidying Up My Corner of the World

I am at it again, thinking that is…

It is tough to look around the world and see so much to do to “fix” things. I believe that the laws of the living are more about trajectories and the journey than solutions and the destination. In that vein, I want my “living with nature not against it” trajectory to be better today than it was yesterday. Years ago, I turned to look at what our home “produces” and how I can make that better. From gardens, to dyeing, from soaps making to crafts, from furnishing to dinner- I seek to make things healthier, better quality, sustainable and appropriate. When my kids left the house mostly for good, I went through cupboards of craft items and thought WOW we really accumulated a lot. I was not proud. I was able to hand down a great deal of what was left to families nearby with children and I found this fantastic shop in Cleveland called Upcycle Parts Shop that receives usable craft supplies for resale to a variety of outlets including providing resources for teacher. Check out their website. Please be mindful, like thrift stores, they only accept true usable stuff. In fact, they limit what individuals can bring in, not because they want to make it inconvenient, but because we as a society have not quite figured out how to donate items that will be used and separate that from trash that we need to learn to part with (or not buy in the first place). I may sound sanctimonious here, but I am talking to myself as much as anyone! Anyway, enough preachin’ more knittin’.

The big Rs come into play when we knit or crochet as much as anywhere in life. As you are choosing your next project, keep this in mind.

Reduce

  • Knit with intention. We feel pressure from social media to constantly turn out new bigger, better, brighter projects. STOP. Slow down. Thankfully knitting today does not require us to create every article of clothing needed by everyone in our family. Instead, we get to choose what items get our time. Choose wisely. Choose good quality ethically sourced yarn and spend the time on each project that it deserves. Choose a yarn that will be successful for your project with guidance from your local yarn store. Think carefully about where each project will end up, how it will be used. Care about the work you do. Care about where your supplies come from and of what they are made.

Reuse

  • This is harder with yarn crafts. But you can do it in places. I use leather salvaged from an old chair for the soles of my knitted slippers. I have used the good sections of an old duvet cover to attach to the wrong side of a stranded baby blanket to keep little fingers and toes from snagging floats. I have made t-shirt yarn for baskets. I can imagine a number of uses for yarn made from strips of fabric- rugs, place mats… Finally, look in your stash and see what you have to use. It pains me to say that, as I sell yarn, but don’t let those gorgeous skeins you bought 5 years ago stay tucked away out of sight in bins. Visit them periodically and be inspired to use them.

Recycle

  • When we think of recycling we usually think of plastic. Plastic has its place, just not everywhere. Ask about yarn made from recycled wool, cotton and plastic. There are a lot of great options that keep waste out of the landfill and oceans. Learn which yarns contain plastic (acrylics, Superwash yarns) and when you use them, learn how to wash these yarns to reduce the amount of microplastics shedding. Other ideas to “recycle” -Share unused yarn with friends. Your trash may be someone else’s treasure. Take that wool sweater you felted by accident and cut it into squares and felt it some more, it makes a great trivet or potholder! Compost- if your wool yarn is NOT Superwash, it can be composted. 100% cotton can as well. This usually applies to large projects that have lots of scraps, but you can also compost that Shetland wool sweater you made years ago and shoved in the back of the drawer, you know the one with one arm longer than the other and the waistline that just doesn’t come down far enough.

Maybe there is not a great deal of room to save the environment in the world of knitting. But living with intention in one place can change your trajectory in other places too.

Knit Naturally- Christine

chicken pants

The best part of being “out of session” is you get to experiment a lot, knit a lot and find new great things. I have spent December and will spend January dyeing new yarns, a mulberry silk/ wool blend that is natural, non superwash- but yes, the silk worms do not get to become moths. This is a fact I will need to weigh. It is a beautiful yarn and takes color very well.

This is in marigold and avocado, a double knit hat size 3 needles. I am making plans to dye the rest of this, choosing which colors I love. I kinda love these! Next I wanted to knit with and wear my merino wool in worsted weight. I had some yellow, not usually my thing for a whole garment but I am so happy I did. This is the Felix cardigan, I love it. I did take the buttons off and replaced them with penguin buttons. My daughter said I looked like a preschool teacher, but hey I am channeling my inner Antarctica. By the way the sweater is shone on the same weekend, different light. It is still very very bright yellow!

me modeling at The Artful Yarn
that’s me and my niece

Ok, so then I wanted to check out exactly what a certain color combo looked like. These photos are not well lit, but I achieved my goal. When you go buy a two color skein, what will happen when you knit?

These were natural and avocado. I like the look a lot on this simple 2×2 ribbed hat. I knitted that up in a night for my kid to take on a ski trip- will they ever know what we really do for them?

OK, so the big reveal is the CHICKEN PANTS as we have come to call them at my house. They are actually Hosenmatz by Mayumi Kaliciak and Antje Litzmann once published in Lanade in 2016, now available free online. You can locate the pattern via Ravelry. I have made many pairs of these pants from the pattern. In the past I had used a fingering weight and a smaller stripe but I wanted to try out The Darling Yarn Company’s alpaca sport and it is perfect! So soft!!!!!

Now you see why we call them CHICKEN PANTS. Anyway, these are knitted in the smallest size and are, as expected, a size I would call 3-6 months, instead of 0-3. This is a yarn substitution which, happily with babies, works well. The belly cuff and ankle cuffs can fold up or down to help with size and accommodate some growing (as they do so quickly). The only thing I will do differently in the future on these is indeed use the smaller needle on the belly cuff too so it will be a bit more snug. There is an option to add an I cord for larger sizes if you look through the pattern. If you look at the ankle cuff close up you can see the bind off is a ribbed bind off. I went through a gazillion videos and pdfs to find a ribbed bind off that was not overly cumbersome but still worked very well. I really like this bind off and will teach it in an upcoming class at The Artful Yarn this Spring, along with the other skills needed for these, German short rows, ribbed cast on, jogless stripes. Oh what fun. The other question these answered, as they are washed and blocked is THE COLORS DON’T RUN. I get asked that a lot. You can see no color migration to the natural wool from the yellow.

OK, so there was a lot of yellow in this knitting session. It happens to be my favorite color (not necessarily to wear) and it is a very happy color. There are many other colors available at the store. That is all for today- I need to get a baby blanket finished too. I am doing crocheted starburst granny squares in Mrs. Moons Plump DK, it is finally getting finished and is so cute. I will put it on Instagram once it gets all put together.

The Winter Dye Session is in the Shop

So I had fun with purple this session and did a few batches of hand painted yarns. These were not the bright many multicolor skeins you see from a lot of indy dyers (talented ones, I will add). I am more conservative in the number of colors I wear at any single outing. So I chose a more muted palette. I still love best knitting with the kettle dyed solids that have slight variation for interest in solid garments but not too much craziness. There is a yarn color for everyone and every project, right? With the cold settling in place, dyeing is a bit hard- so in addition to some travel, over the next few months I will be doing some experiments and developing a few color combinations for stranded work. These should show up in the Spring. In the meantime head to The Artful Yarn and check out what I have dyed. There are some 100% organic merino skeins in worsted weight from happy sheep in Virginia USA. These skeins soften more and more with use and wear, but are lovely and lofty right now. Also there are the super soft-right-out-of-the-box baby alpaca sport weight skeins waiting for you to knit them into a hat, or scarf or socks, maybe a sweater. I have seen some lovely baby garments made from the alpaca. I will be getting a pair of cute baggy baby pants started here soon for a baby on the way. The parents are so excited to be welcoming their second little one and I am excited to present them with a hand dyed, very natural garment to keep him warm this winter! Soon I will get to wear my Felix Cardigan knitted up in The Darling Yarn’s 100% merino worsted, dyed in daffodil. Photo will show up on Instagram just as soon as I block it and get some buttons. Send me photos of what you knit with my yarn. Insta is the_darling_yarn_company and you obviously found me at thedarlingyarn.com- spread the word. Keep creating and Knit Naturally.– Christine

Back from Vacay, got inspired

We had the privilege of travelling for a bit over two weeks out west in Sedona, Capital Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon. We had a lot of time to really explore Capitol Reef and I just got reminded once again why I want to work hard to make less of a footprint on this earth. (I know travel itself is a footprint.) I am zeroing in on making The Darling Yarn Company, Ltd. as superwash free as I can, but superwash yarn has its place. Why do I want to offer non-superwash yarns? Making superwash yarn is a pretty caustic process that suprised me when I learned about it. The process chemically removes parts of the yarn that are a little rougher then adds a very thin layer of plastic to the yarn that makes it not compostable. It is impossible, at this time, to buy all clothes and fiber that are unpolluting and do not contain plastics, but each non-superwash skein I produce will be a small effort from my hands to yours to offer a cleaner product. I continue to seek US made yarns and it looks like I will be in good shape for my winter dye session in that regard- more on that later when I actually secure the yarn bases. In the meantime I am knitting up some fun samples and will get those posted soon. The Artful Yarn has my yarn in stock, some alpaca sport and some 100% organic merino worsted weight, so stop by to check it out. My test yarn is sitting for three months now in the window and is unfazed! We are working on a mitten pattern to wow you and the Avocado Toast Hat by Tiffany is in the store (pattern on Ravelry) with yarn to choose from. OK, so I need to get ready for Winter Dye Session. I am thinking in blues!

Fall Sessions doowop

So the Fall Dyeing Session is wrapped up, well not yet wrapped, but hanging and drying. I can’t wait to get knitting with some of this yarn. For the worsted I am knitting up the Boyfriend Scarf by Angela Juergens available for free on Ravelry. It will look great in a single color- maybe happy happy yellow! My sport weight will be going into some knit caps for my husband and I for our upcoming 25th Anniversary trip. Not telling you where we are going but it will be cold so I am knitting my version of OneOne Winter Hat by Karen Fechter available on Ravelry for a small fee. I suspect some winter gifts will get worked out too in the form of cabled scarves and mittens. Next dye session is in January. I am going to try ice dyeing. Hmmmmm? Below are some yarns that came out of the pots today, green teas, golden rod, madder, iron and soda ash worked in various combinations brought me these alluring hues.

Fall Colors!

I have gathered fall foliage, extracted the colors and added the prepped yarn to the dye pots. I have cured and washed and am now drying the beautiful yelllows, oranges, reds, burgundies, pinks and tans and greys. Can’t wait to get them to the shop. Keep an eye out for an adorable hat pattern by Tiffany Perry. We will be pairing some alpaca sport with her deceivingly simply pattern.