Natural dyeing: horse chestnut husks

I promised I’d show you some more of my experiments with natural dyeing.

Let me first show you the result and then I’ll tell you how I did it.

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Close to my home there are plenty of horse chestnuts. The fresher the husks are the better. I could actually hear – and feel- them drop while I was collecting these.

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Let’s number the skeins from left to right.

The recipes are for a skein of 100 grams.

Skein 1 and 2:
-Collection date and place: September 16 near home (center of Belgium); Depending on the time of year and the place, result can be different;
-No mordants;
-Boil 250 grams (skein 1) or 130 grams (skein 2) of husks with 1 table spoon of ammonia for 1h and let it cool down;
-Take the dyeing material out of the bath; that’s not essential for the recipe but I don’t like my yarn to get filled with dyeing material; this could become a problem when the dyeing material is tiny;
-Boil the yarn for 1h in the dye bath and let it cool down;
-Rince the yarn until the water runs clear and let it dry;
-Result: brown-red brick;

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Skein 4:
As above except:
-Mordant 15% alun;
-100 grams of husks and no ammonia;
-Result: peach;

Skein 3:
-As skein 4;
-In addition, afterbath with 3 grams of iron;
-Result: teak;

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Testing FF Backward for Alfaknits

As a Belgian I was so pleased and proud to be able to testknit this beauty for a Belgian designer.

Please prove me wrong, but I always get the feeling that the Belgian knitting scene is rather small when it comes to designers and high-end yarn brands and I regret that.

I envy some of you guys who seem to be living in knitting paradises like the UK, States, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia and closer to home Germany and France.

But okay, we might not have many designers but Anne from Alfaknits is just a wonderful designer. She’s a graphic designer and that shows in her designs.

Thanks Anne so much for having me as a tester!

The pattern will be released very soon, around October 15! Don’t miss it.

I used Drops Baby Alpaca & Silk. It’s a Norwegian brand but I ordered it in Belgium.
See, I’m trying hard to go Belgian but it’s difficult to go all the way when you live in a small country.

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Another thing I like about Anne’s designs are their versatility. It’s my favorite kind of knitting because it keeps my interest going.

I decided to add striping in the back. You can take a look at my Ravelry project page for more pictures but please also take a look at other people’s project just to see how different and great they all became.

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DROPS Baby Alpaca & Silk
Needle size 3mm

Discovering natural dyeing

I recently followed a workshop on natural dyeing and I’m thrilled. It’s so bonding with nature and the result is like magic.

We learned about “Grands Teints” and “Petits Teints”. “Grands Teints” indicates that the color has proven to be sustainable overtime even when being exposed to light.

We mainly used “Grands Teints” material like walnut, onion shells, cochineal, madder root and reseda.

We first learned about the traditional and ancient dyeing technique according to precise recipes.

Another method was to apply the dyes directly and randomly onto the yarn with a table spoon, wrap the yarn and put it in the microwave or steam oven. Aren’t these two skeins lovely?

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Cochineal and blue-wood.

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Cutch, reseda and a few onion shells.

Finally, we did some solar dyeing.

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Cochineal, walnut leafs, and – sorry for the latin name – Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ all went into the pot and then the sun could do the rest.

And here’s how it came out:

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About a month has gone by and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I’ve been collecting stuff I could use (you need a lot!) and made others collect for me too.
I’ve ordered undyed yarn and mordants.

I think I’m almost ready to do my own natural dyeing.

FO Friday – Stormy weather

I was lucky having the chance to testknit this great sweater for Maarzi.

I made a few changes to make it more like me, like a bit of color and no cables at the sides.

This project is RAVELLED here with additional information.

I am very pleased about the result and my daughter is totally happy with it! I think it really looks great on her.

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Recently I did a lot of very colorful projects – so much fun – but this time I felt I wanted/needed something more solid.

I still couldn’t help to add a bit of color though on the neck and sleeve borders.

I underestimated the work on this one because I used sock yarn, as in the description, and a needle size 3 mm (US 2.5), also as in the description.

My gauge was 28 stitches x 41 rows and so you’ll understand how slowly this one grew.

To be honest, it was a bit of a boring project to me. Stockinette stitch? I think I got it now:):) But as I said, I’m really happy with the result!

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Again I had a surprise with the online ordering of a colorway called “Gothic”.

I expected to get a very dark grey and I got purple.

In retrospect, when I go back to the website I can see the purple shine now, but I can still see how one can think it’s dark grey.

And admittedly, the name doesn’t really help neither, it can perfectly go both ways.

But I don’t think those small risks from online ordering will stop me now!

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The yarn is from Northbound Knitting. It’s very soft and it must be really ideal for socks (not for sweaters!). One skein still had a lot of white spots, as you can see in the lower part of the body. It’s a perfect example of how useful it can be to alternate two skeins…

Northbound Knitting – Superwash Merino Fingering
Nld size 3 mm (US 2.5)

Lopapeysa

I finally finished my Lopapeysa or Icelandic sweater.

I love Icelandic sweaters or in fact any knitwear with Scandinavian patterns.

I don’t mind the scratchiness of the yarn, I think that once you have it on you get used to it and it’s really nice and warm.

I already casted this one on in January and knit both the body and the sleeves until the underarm in no time.

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But then I had to start the yoke, the fun part, the part that magically turns this sweater into an icelandic sweater.

I realized that I only ordered 5 different colors, whereas I needed 7 colors. Don’t ask me why.

I also realized that I would need more contrasting colors to bring forward the dark brown in the yoke.

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Fortunately I had exactly what I needed: white and grey.

See, you always NEED to have an important stash in order to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances:) like this one.

I had to do some thinking to determine the order of the different colors, taking into account all the contrast.

It’s not as simple as it looks, especially when no exact examples are available.

So I tried some color combo’s on paper.

I knew I had no choice on the lower and upper band of the yoke since those had to be worked like the borders of the body and the sleeves.

I decided on the two center colors (white and red) and then used the same color order below and above the center lines.

The project is RAVELLED here with additional information.

The pattern is a free download!

Léttlopi
Nld 4,5 mm (US 7)

Midsummer Travel

I’m so excited about my latest Stephen West project “REIS”, which means trip or travel in Dutch.

As soon as this pattern was released months ago I couldn’t stop myself going back to it, over and over again.

I thought I would probably enjoy it as much as I did my Enchanted Mesa.

And yes, I confirm, all I had was great fun!

The project is RAVELLED here with additional information.

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I love playing around with yarn and color. I used a total of 18 different yarns! The sweater is supposed to be worked in DK. I didn’t have enough of that so I used fingering and sock weight yarns held together and played around with the combinations.

When so many different colors are involved in one project, I always find it challenging to find a right balance between keeping the colors interesting enough without overdoing it.

I just followed my intuition as I went along and hoped it would all come together in the end.

For the body I mainly used blues and pinks in all varieties and for the sleeves I mainly used grey and blues. I added small spots of yellow & green in order to break the other colors.

Malabrigo Rastita

The pattern I chose for this cardigan is from the wonderful designer Veera Välimäki. In my opinion she’s without any doubt one of the leading ladies in knitting design.

I’m so happy with this cardigan and I absolutely like everything about it!

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This is the first time I tried “Rastita” yarn that belongs to the wonderful Malabrigo family. What a very nice discovery!

But to be honest, it sure wasn’t love at first sight, especially not the color!

When I ordered this yarn I expected to get some kind of deep yellow with little bits of brown. So when the yarn arrived I was quite surprised and even disappointed to see it was so much darker and browner than I thought it would be.

But gradually this color totally grew on me and now I just love it! The yarn is fantastic, so soft and light and I just love that warm autumn color.

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This project is RAVELLED here with additional information.

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Malabrigo Rastita-colorway Glitter
Nld 6mm