Daelyn Test

I was so happy I could test this beautiful sweater designed by Lilalu. All it’s beauty is in the simplicity. It’s what I like best!

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More pictures and more information can be found on my Ravelry project page here.

Obviously I like the colorful knitworks too, a lot in fact, it makes the knitting so much fun. I love to play around with color and yarn and I often feel like a painter with needles instead of brushes. It’s a big part of what knitting is about for me.

It’s just, all these colorful things … I don’t wear them enough. Now I’m trying to chose more subtle, natural colors.

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For this sweater I used French yarn called Masgot from Polo&Co. Here’s how Sylvie from Polo&Co describes this yarn:

Masgot is a natural yarn left undyed. This wool comes from one of the last French spinneries, it’s a rustic wool.

I agree with the “rustic”, it’s a good description. It’s not itchy though, not like icelandic yarn for example. At first I was a bit worried about this yarn because it has little drape. It’s the kind of yarn you don’t fall in love with immediately, but you slowly get to understand and appreciate it. I would definitely use it again! My hesitations about this yarn were unjustified, and I think this yarn and this pattern turned out to be very happy together. I’ve been wearing this sweater a lot. I’m so happy I have more of this Masgot in my stash, in a lovely watery green.

Sylvie gave me some good advice on how to wash it and how to soften it up. She puts hers in a softening liquid for about 2 hours. After that it can go into the washing machine using a wool program. The wool program should have low spinning turns. Mine can go down to 400 turns per minute and on cold temperature by preference. Obviously handwash will always do.

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Masgot by Polo&Co, “Grès”
Nld 4 and 4,5 mm

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Hand dyed yarn – Volcano Blue

From one thing sometimes comes the next.

Do I need to say I’m passionate about knitting? Okay, thought so …

However, there’s that one thing I keep feeling frustrated about and that’s the limited choice of hand dyed yarns in Belgium.
Some Belgian LYS have them of course but usually only in small amounts and never mind the colors.
I’ve learned to become “flexible” though on colorways because there’s a big chance I won’t find what I was looking for in the first place.
But sometimes I don’t want to be “flexible” and I’ll probably end up ordering outside Belgium after all.
Mainly in Germany and France and I’ll be paying too much on transportation costs, as usual.

I always have some bad feeling about this.

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There’re only a few brick and mortar LYS left in Belgium and they seem to have a hard time.
Lots of them are offering other things like fancy fabrics and that’s basically a matter of surviving.
Sewing is immensely popular here, rather than knitting.

But ME? I’m NOT a sewer and I never will be!
When it comes to yarn, Belgian LYS mainly offer manufactured yarns and loads of sock yarn.
Sock yarn – manufactured – is really all over the place.

I’ve always wondered, are Belgian knitters seriously mainly sock knitters?
Suppose we’re mainly sock knitters, then who’s wearing all these socks?
I never saw one person wearing knit socks.
Okay, Belgian people are often told to be discrete 🙂
Just imagine all these little treasures hidden away in boots 🙂

Don’t get me wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with manufactured yarns and I buy them too.
But I think they can’t compete with hand dyed yarns.
What’s the difference?
Without any doubt, it has to be LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
But beware, once you go fancy, there’s no way back.

I just wished I didn’t have to order my hand dyed yarns outside Belgium so much.

Because …
What about stimulating local economy?
What about ecological footprint?
What about handmade?
What about slow?
Sigh, sigh …

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As I said, from one thing comes the next.

I’m a knitter, but in fact I like many other crafts.
Last year I took a workshop on spinning and two on dyeing.
Knitting, spinning, dyeing, these processes take time but that’s exactly what I like.
They are slow and relaxing.

The dyeing is absolutely fascinating and I’m experimenting with different techniques and color blends. I love it!
Wouldn’t it be nice if I was able to dye up my own yarn.
I don’t need another challenge, but too late for that I’m afraid.

This came out of my dye pot the other day and I’m really in love with it!
I’ve called it Volcano Blue.
When you look at this, can you also see the dark blues and purples from the outside of the volcano and the red and oranges from the lava?

Let me know what you think of it.

Light grey structure

Sometimes small knitting miracles do happen.

When EVERYTHING (and you know lots can go wrong) works out the way you wanted it: the yarn, the drape, the color, the fit, the pattern, the instructions and last but not least that comfy and cozy feeling when you put in on … and again … and again.

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I’m totally in love with it!

I used two yarns held together, Northbound knitting and Isager Alpaca 1. They made a very happy couple.

More details and pictures can be found on my Ravelry project page.

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I admire Regina Moessmer for this design, I could not do this. I think textured sweaters must be amongst the most complicated patterns to design, because the mathematics need to be spot on! I was lucky to participate in the testknit of this beauty, so thank you Regina for making this one of my TOP favorites!!!

Goed begonnen.

Such a Winter’s Day

I absolutely wanted to finish all of my WIP’s before the year is over. I know, sometimes I can become a bit of a maniac.

It’s a first Heidi Kirrmaier design for me and I have never followed a pattern that was so clear and mathematically correct. The fit is absolutely perfect!

I used Holst Garn for a first time. Next time I would wash it first before using because my hands came out blue everytime and I even had to protect my clothes. When this sweater was finished I gave it a gentle soak and the water turned totally blue.

But it’s just a miracle how my sweater totally softened up after washing it.

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My daughter is my favorite customer : she’s very grateful and she’s also critical about it.

She’s able to tell me exactly what she wants in terms of yarn, color, fit.

And last but not least she’s always a willing model 🙂

Heidi Kirrmaier is such a talented designer and I love the perfectly designed details like the side slits and the shaping of the neck.

More pictures and more detailed information can be found on my Ravelry page here.

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Holst Garn Supersoft Uld
Nld 4,5 mm

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.