Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Frog and repeat

Yup - todays post contains both the word Frog and the word repeat, because I'm that kind of knitter. I'm a knitter that makes mistakes, or perhaps more accurately a knitter who takes risks. Some of those risks could be considered to be avoidable ... like picking up too many stitches around an armhole .. and knitting 30cm or more (that is 12 inches), but as I've been explaining I get a lot of knitting mileage from my yarn at times. This is one of those times. The last weekend was our local KSG(knitters study group) retreat, months earlier than usual and not as cold. Fifteen of us headed out of town and enjoyed a weekend of knitting and dying, Dartmore dyeing, and yes I have photo, thanks to Morag who remembered her camera whilst I did not. Then today there was the nicest surprise in the form of a spinning fibre swap parcel.

So away we went, 15 mostly local knitters to our annual retreat, and we knitted. There wasn't a specific class or project this year, rather instructions to bring our UFO's and deal to them, and a hands on demonstration of Dartmore dyeing. I'm not entirely sure how to explain Dartmore dyeing, KathyR organised the demonstration and perhaps explains it best. We had a mixture of handspun yarns and fleece ... enough to supply all the campers, and ended up with 48 related shades. The method of moving fleece and skeins from dyepot to dyepot, and repeat dying and over dying allows the colour of the fibre and of the dyepots to shift as the process progresses. I love the range of colours, pure magic ... and the last batch of skeins was particularly beautiful, the colour mix just seemed to shift entirely for that batch.....and yet they still work alongside the other skeins and fleeces.

Packing for camp I realized I don't really have a UFO, the fish blanket is ongoing rather than UFO'd, and Nightingale is a sock I love but not one I'm going to risk knitting when chatting. So I packed some fish, and Toby's new little possum sweater. I worked the last shoulder on the Friday night, and the neckband on the Saturday while the dyeing was demonstrated, and quickly moved on to picking up the stitches for the sleeve. Sleeves start wide and then narrow, so I picked up the 3 in 4 as recommended in several gansey books and decreased away the gusset, then decreased away until the sleeve stitch count was 40% of the body stitches. It still looked wide .. it had not narrowed fast enough but I knit on, knitting up not one but one and nearly two 50 gram balls of yarn into the sleeve.

Back home I fitted the sweater on Toby, and found the sleeve was far to wide. Toby loved it, the 3/4 length wide sleeve in soft brown seemed to him like a something a 'Jedi knight would wear'. I the ever practical 'mum' worried about two problems, first it wouldn't fit inside his coat, and second - I might run out of yarn.Sunday night I frogged the sleeve and started again, picking up 2 in 3 this time and decreasing again until I had 40% of the body stitch count. Because I had fewer stitches - this time the decreases worked out quickly and narrowed the sleeve to a better fit. Sucess and more knitting from those two balls of yarn than I expected!

Then this morning, 10 minutes before I left for work, and to drop the cubs at school on the way - a courier pulled up with a parcel. The fun of this is its a swap parcel of spinning fibre and this is beautiful .... look! Merino and silk, gotland lamb locks, real coffee beans, dutch licorice, ginger candy ... a huge thanks to CraftyKiwi from Ravelry. Amazingly he says there is more to come ... I am a very lucky spinner.

Take care
knit on - na Stella


neurula said...

Ah, I see you are training him well in the ways of Star Wars fandom. Every padawan needs jedi robes!

KathyR said...

Great photos of the Dartmoor colours - the pale-coloured wool really did dye up beautifully. I'm with you on the sleeve (it must be a "Mum" thing!) - the redone sleeve does look to be much more practical.

Great swap parcel - Dutch licorice, yum!

Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, those dyed yarns are absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful range of colors. And I love the roving in your surprise package, too -- I bet it'll make a beautiful yarn.

I admit to being drawn to jedi sleeves, too, but I always end up dragging them in my soup.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stella
A minor point but it's Dartmoor Dyeing, (not Dartmore Dying - an exception to the rule, this time you keep the "e" in dyeing otherwise it looks like you are nearly deceased!).
In 1989 a woman from Britain visited NZ and demonstrated this technique. She was from the Dartmoor area, somewhere between Plymouth and Exeter. I'm not sure of her name but the technique was published in June 1989 in "The Web", the old NZSWWS magazine and again recently in NZSWWS Creative Fibre magazine.