shop update

Just a wee heads-up that I’ve just added a good handful of pouches to the shop! There’s a lovely range of sources and vintages in this group; some great, well-loved Harris Tweed jackets that I brought back from Australia at Christmas-time (including one particularly old one) an well-loved garment from my generous friend Anna, vintage campervan seats, upholstery offcuts… I always enjoy putting disparate fabrics together to make an interesting but cohesive group- and pairing 1940’s HT with a charcoal and red Smiths-esque check was particularly fun!

Tweed pouches

Tweed pouches

Vintage Harris Tweed

Vintage Harris Tweed

1970's Harris Tweed

1970’s Harris Tweed

Anna's Oma's skirt

Anna’s Oma’s skirt

Lairy check

Lairy check

I hope you love these fabrics as much as I do!

dye workshop: nettle, coreopsis, elder and logwood

Another group of newbies got a taste of natural dyeing a couple of weeks ago… as always, I was too busy setting up and then teaching to get any photos of the workshop itself but here are the results from our dye baths…

Samples of silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

Samples of silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

We worked with both protein and cellulose fibres and four plants that display some important  aspects of the dye process: nettle as a readily-available, weedy species with a strong affinity with different mordants; dyers coreopsis, a flower that is easy to grow and requires very little processing to extract its dye compounds; logwood extract for easy, quick colour and elderberry for its crazy colour response to pH change. (I’d also hoped to use iron to modify some of our logwood samples but had a scale malfunction and the samples were WAY too dark to show any further colour modification!)

Nettle on silk velvet, silk, habutai, cotton and linen

Nettle on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

Nettle on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

Nettle on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

Nettle on organic merino on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

Nettle on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

coreopsis2

Dyers coreopsis on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

coreopsis2

Dyers coreopsis on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

coreopsis2

Dyers coreopsis on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

logwood1

Logwood on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

logwood1

Logwood on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

logwood1

Logwood on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

elder1

Elderberry on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen; we dyed extra samples of silk velvet and habutai and then treated them with acid (upper) and alkali (lower) in order to demonstrate the influence of pH on the colour achieved from anthocyanin-rich plants (middle)

elder1

Elderberry on organic merino, mordanted with alum + acid, alum, alum + alkali, copper and iron

As always, it was interesting to see how different fibres took up the dyes; I was particularly interested to try a yarn base with two strands of merino and 1 of superwash merino (third from the left in the bundle), as it is commonly thought that superwash yarns take up dye more readily and are less able to hold onto the colour over time. So it was fascinating to see that, while that proved true in this case, the degree of difference in colour uptake seems to depend on the dye! It definitely needs more work but it certainly looks like there is more difference in colour in the coreopsis sample than in the others…

And I was thrilled to get such strong blues on wool using the logwood extract, because dyeing with indigo, while a magical and essentially simple process, requires a lot more work to set up (and a bit tricky in an indoor rental space!). The downside is that logwood is not as colourfast as indigo but using an iron modifier will greatly improve fastness…Something to play around with more.

Logwood on organic merino over dyers chamomile

Logwood on organic merino (over dyers chamomile)

If you are interested in learning more about plant dyes, there are places available in my next class on June 19 at the Glasgow Botanics Kibble Palace; you can find more information through my shop.  And, bonus, here will be so many plants to try by then!

classes, shop update and newsletter

Just a wee heads-up that I have a few classes coming up, as well as a shop update!

I’m back teaching at two of my favourite knitting shops again this month:
 
Sunday April 3: Finishing and Introduction to Lace at Ginger Twist Studio, Edinburgh
Saturday April 23: Portuguese knitting at Queen of Purls, Glasgow

I’m also really excited to start preparing for this year’s natural dye workshops at the Kibble Palace, Glasgow Botanics! The first couple of classes on Sunday May 1 and June 19 will be full-day introductions to natural dyeing and will cover the essential practical and theoretical aspects of extracting colour from plants and applying it to fibres. Later in the summer, I hope to hold more advanced classes for those keen to delve deeper into the dyepots… You can find details and book through the shop.

Tweed pouch

Tweed pouch

Shetland Pine Cowl

Shetland Pine Cowl

Tweed pouch

Tweed pouch

A good handful of pouches and cowls will be up for grabs from 10am Glasgow time on Sunday April 3.

Alongside these regulars will be a small number of craft journals that were a collaborative project between Emily K. Williams of Flutterby Knits; after taking a class in bookbinding at last year’s Shetland Wool Week, my Shetland room-mate Emily approached me with the idea of combining skills and making a knit-covered journal for craft project notes and planning. An exclusive for Edinburgh Yarn Festival, these few are the last left of a lovely joint project!

Also launched at Edinburgh was a small collection of plant-dyed yarns: fine-gauge blends of beautiful, soft-handed fibres including alpaca, silk, linen and cashmere. I was thrilled with the response to them and will be adding yarns to the shop on an ongoing basis. I have a small number of skeins left and will be adding them to the next shop update in a few weeks.

Plant-dyed yarns

Plant-dyed yarns

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve added the option of signing up for a monthly newsletter to my sidebar, as I’ve been finding my diverse activities a bit hard to juggle here and on other social media platforms! If you’re interested, you can keep up with what I’m up to through my monthly newsletter outlining not only what I’m up to but also any related things that I think you might be interested in.

I hope you are have a lovely spring (or autumn) weekend!

spring

Without us even realising, spring has arrived! After all the preparation for Edinburgh Yarn Festival and then the joy of the actual weekend itself (more on that soon!), it feels like I’ve now stopped to look around and everything has changed… the daylight lasts two hours longer than it did a couple of months ago, we all have a spring in our step, the tiny birds are out collecting for their nests and calling at all hours and there are green shoots everywhere!

Buds

Buds

Fresh green leaves!

Fresh green leaves!

Tiny bundles of larch needles

Larix decidua: European Larch

Cercidophyllum magnficum: Katsura

Cercidophyllum magnficum: Katsura

japmaple

Acer palmatum ‘Sangu-kaku’: Coral-bark Maple

We recently moved and are lucky enough to now overlook the river Kelvin (just a ten-minute walk along the river to the Botanics!) so those shoots are whispering promises of the green cathedral that will be on our doorstep in just a few weeks… and, although we are so excited about the idea of all that green, we can’t quite believe it will actually happen! I’m wondering if that is just because we’ve only had one spring here or if it is another expression of the human capacity to forget all but the physical state we are currently in? Perhaps part of the reason that the ancients performed midwinter rituals to recall the sun back to them was because they didn’t quite believe that it would return of its own accord! We haven’t been ritualising but we certainly have been willing the sun to come… For those who’ve grown up in cold climates, te’ll me, do you begin to remember the seasons as you see years pass?

The early spring flowers are certainly nudging us to remember the colourful beauty of last year’s warmer months…

Salix sp: Willow

Salix sp: Willow

cornus

Cornus mas: Cornelian Cherry

Gold

Forsythia sp.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus: Daffodil

Narcissus pseudonarcissus: Daffodil

Flowering currant

Ribes sanguineum: Flowering Currant

We were lucky enough to head out on Good Friday with one of Scotland’s great foragers, Mark Williams, to learn about recognising and harvesting wild foods which shows that, even this early in the growing season, there is plenty of stuff out and about!

I hope you’re enjoying the swing of the seasons, wherever you live xx

shop update

Just a heads-up that I’ll be adding some pouches and cowls to the shop this time tomorrow- that’s at 6pm Saturday, Glasgow time…

Over the past six months, I’ve been blessed to have a steady stream of people hand their much-loved tweed or woollen garments over in the hope that what is no longer wearable may have a second life as a pouch. I’m always intrigued by the stories behind these fabrics and like to bring them to mind as I work with the fabric- evoking the memories held in them feels important to me.

 

Pouches

Pouches

Within this run of pouches are treasured pieces from a lovely friend, Anna (more on her lovely Penguin book next week), including some skirts made and worn by her Oma (so lovely to see the hand-stitching and marks of life) and a commercial Munrospun skirt (lovely to see one of these after writing this post).

Tweed pouch made from Anna's Munrospun skirt

Tweed pouch made from Anna’s Munrospun skirt

Tweed pouch from Anna's Oma's skirt

Tweed pouch from Anna’s Oma’s skirt

There are also pouches made from the seat covers from a Scottish camper van- with the occasional dog hair included!

Tweed pouch made from camper van seat covers

Tweed pouch made from camper van seat covers

And some from one of my favourite old Harris Tweed jackets…

Tweed pouch made from a 1050's Harris Tweed jacket

Tweed pouch made from a 1050’s Harris Tweed jacket

And there are a few new colourways in my favourite cowl patterns too…

Parterre Cowl in Oatmeal and Sage Blue

Parterre Cowl in Oatmeal and Sage Blue

All are up in the shop already but marked as coming soon if you are interested in having a sneak peek. And I look forward to showing you more of the lovely fabrics I’ve been given recently over the coming weeks…

Hoping you have a lovely weekend!