About this blog space

This blog space is a place for me to primarily put all my wool gatherings, adventures, experiments. I am now a mum of two astounding daughters, and I used to be a DIY musician and co-ran a tiny independent label (Slampt), so this punk can-do attitude plus feminist analysis and Art school experience somehow informs my wool work! I am also deeply moved by GREEN, trees, weather, colour combinations in nature, and texture. I aim to source wool from round the corner or at the very least UK grown and processed, and to create no toxic waste. This means I get to see sheep as often as I can, sometimes at wool fests.
I am on Ravelry and Etsy as FatHenWildWool and Facebook as Rachel Holborow.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Tree of Life Eco mitts

A dream realised, and I am mostly content with the result!
The reality is that REALITY and IDEAS ABOUT REALITY are not the same thing. This is especially true in the world of arts and crafts where you can have a brilliant creative idea, and what comes out of your dyepot or off your wheel and needles is just, well, disappointing. So mostly I am of the don't plan TOO much and see what happens persuasion. This is what doing abstract art at Art School does to your creativity...
However THIS project was pretty methodical! That's a knitting thing I think, knitting can be a very left brainy thing... The "see what happens" part of it was the dyeing and allowing a little magic into the yarn by not worrying too much where the 2 plies fell next to each other.
So. I found a pattern I really liked, although the mitts were a little too pointy for my tastes. (I understand it's a traditional shape, but it wasn't exactly me.) So "Tree of  Life". What could be more perfect for my "as low as I can go" low impact mittens?
Back in the summer I was gifted two fleeces from a friend who lives just up the road.(Yay! Very little carbon footprint there!) One a black hebredean, and one an unknown shearling. Upon sampling, they were both full of double cuts, but soft and springy. The shearling a little softer, the hebredean a little longer in staple. I set about gradually dyeing up the shearling fleece, mostly solar (& eco) dyeing over the summer, although the woad urine vat (see other blog post...) was heated on the stove every night and then wrapped up in a wool hotbox to maintain the required vat temps for the dyeing magic to occur.
Come the Autumn I got a drum carder! I was thinking of mittens. I was thinking of how the sky is in Yorkshire in the winter : layers of subtle greys, blues, pale yellows, odd hints of other colours. So I rummaged through my summer dyed stash and found a range of yellow to rust to grey to green, to beautiful woad dyed blues, all from Karen's shearling...., soft and springy. So I made them up into about 100g of batts: I carefully faded the batts from yellow on one side through browns and greys then to blues (with flecks of other colours here and there). I made two batts. I spun two bobbins short draw, (madly pulling out double cuts as I went) aiming to keep the colour sequence similar in both, and then plied them together to get " Wintery sky" the yarn above. The colours came out great, some parts more solid, some more heathery, which worked great for the winter sky effect I was going for. This was to be the background to the tree silouette, which I spun longdraw from rolags in the hebredean. (When I'd sampled it, longdraw worked out nice and soft, short draw, a bit too ropey...). The WPI was very very slightly thicker on the hebredean, which didn't matter too much...
On and off between Advent Fair and first snowfall, I squeezed in knitting up the mittens ( I was also knitting 3 Christmas presents at the same time...). Why is it harder to justify knitting for yourself?! I have no Catholic ancestory (or presentory...)...
I have done very little of this kind of knitting (stranding? colourwork?) before, only really some sampling of trad fair isle patterns on a scarf. So I was pleased it went so well, although some of the tree branches are a little improvised! The leaves were very pleasing to do, especially on the thumbs. One of the mitts has slight furrowing where I LINED UP MY FLOATS instead of staggering them, as I learned was best to do AFTERWARDS. But hey! live and learn. I'm not a perfectionist, and I'm pretty proud of the whole project, not least because they are very low impact on the sourcing and dyeing fronts, and quite beautiful in the snow/ bright sunlight!