Today I have a little indigo dyeing going on. I needed a light blue for a piece I have been commissioned to create, a blue to echo the Salish Sea. Indigo dyeing requires a lot of time and preparation. Yesterday I worked on creating the stock solution. Today was creating the working vat and then […]
Blue. Yes everyone we are back to our regular programming. Back to wool, silk and cotton. Back to art, fine craft, and handmade.
The last two weeks have been indigo intensive. It is an outside endeavour that needs to be completed before it gets too cold. This week I attacked the scrap pile, small pieces of fabric that I had been dyed colors I didn’t love, pieces of selvedge edge, and remnants that were awkward shapes and sizes. Into the vat they went and out of the vat they came in shades of blue, green and everything in between (with a little shibori thrown in for good measure!). That is except for the brown piece of silk on the left hand side.
I have yet to figure out what has happened with this piece of silk fabric. It is either dyed in cutch or arbutus and it seems to be resisting the indigo dye. It has been dyed three times more than every other piece shown here and it shows just a mere haze of indigo dyeing. I will have to test this in the future to see if it happens again or if it is one of those strange “one off” dyeing experiences.
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Late Sunday night my youngest, most huggy, kissy son came up to me and asked “Mama can you knit me a dinosaur?” I gave my standard “We’ll see.” response and it was left at that. By midnight I was thinking of how sweet he had been and thought why not, how hard can it be (a la “Top Gear”), and so I trekked off to the basement to find some yarn suitable for a dinosaur.
Turquoise seemed the right color for a stuffie knitted dinosaur for a preschooler. Not having a pattern I decided to start with the head and see how it went, knitting well past midnight. I figured if it went bad I could just abandon the project and my littlest one would be none the wiser, in fact he would probably have forgotten about his request by morning.
The head went well and I even managed to get a nice curve to it, and of course then I just had to see if the neck would work. By 2 am I had winged it enough to have a recognizable dinosaur head, neck and top of body.
In the morning he awoke to see the started project on the kitchen table and the excitement kicked in. This dinosaur was going to be knit….today. Our son ran to get his huge multi-color dinosaur book, plopped himself down next to me, and opened the book of cartoon dinosaurs to be used for reference. After a quick discussion regarding the fact that this dinosaur was never going to be a triceratops (ever), he found a picture of the type of dinosaur his stuffie could be.
Sitting next to me, my son was the foreman. He told me how to knit the tummy, the number of legs the dinosaur needed and how long his tail should be. We did have our creative differences over the tail; I convinced him some trendy yellow stripes would look better than the red and green Christmas colors he wanted. We knit all morning and all afternoon until the dinosaur was knit, stuffed and assembled. There was NO downtime. Looking a little under dressed we decided he needed a wooly scarf and that was knit this evening while playing (and losing) a game of Ticket to Ride.
We have named our dinosaur Woolisaurus….what else do you name a wooly dinosaur!? He measures 18 inches long and 6.5 inches high, and he has been hugged a lot already.
Being a patternless project, I probably should have written down what I was knitting as I did it, as I have now had more dinosaur requests from our other children. Maybe it is best this dinosaur is one of a kind, maybe that makes him even more special.
( www.thehuntergroup.ca for other knit items…..just not dinosaurs!)
Last night I spent a bit of time down in the studio shooting product shots of my most recent naturally dyed hand knit items. I am putting together promo booklets for a couple of local businesses. Last year I did the promo booklets a bit later in the year which left me knitting furiously to fill the orders in time for Christmas shopping. A shot of all the patterns together can be seen HERE on my other blog. I haven’t provided all the details of the items yet as I am hoping to finally get the shop on my website up and running first and then share the items on the blogs. Of course building a shop takes time and also has a “learning curve” according to the support guy at Shaw, so perhaps a task for next week or the week after once the promo booklets are done and out.
The latest batch are following my theme of locally produced wool that I dye in natural dyes by hand in micro batches. In the picture above the red tones are achieved by dyeing in lac and the purple is logwood.
Hand cut wooden buttons are being featured more and more; they add to the rustic “log cabin” feel of the knitting. This piece has been dyed in pomegranate, marigold and madder, while the piece just to the left has been dyed in cutch.
A few pieces also explore inspiration from the Cowichan style of knitting. I love the black, white and gray combination. If you have every been to the coast, this style of knitting will remind you of forest, rocks, moss, fog and sea. Can you tell my mind seems to be constantly living at the coast at the moment?
Once the promo books are done I can finish up the piece I am working on with my first ever hand spun yarn. I think you will find it to be quite interesting.
Art, photography and handmades by Debra Hunter
Hunter Photographics / Studio H
Red Deer, Alberta and Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada
I have been working on a “fulled” project. In this case it is knitted items that are then partially felted through the process of hot water, cold water and agitation. The process shrinks the item and makes it quite dense and compressed.
I have discovered that there seems to be no science or guarantee with fulling, quite honestly it is one big science experiment that will drive you insane if you let it. For example, I have now tested 4 different yarns plus about 6 different needle sizes, a couple of different wash/agitation methods and tested dyeing before fulling and after. This has been a project of testing for almost a year. This has produced numerous failed test swatches, that are now known as “Barbie blankets”. Yes indeed the Barbie doll house has been furnished nicely with my rejects (but our daughters are thrilled!).
I think I have finally figured what works best. Strangely the knit is so big and sloppy in the beginning, yet this is the combination that shrinks down the tightest and most compact. The best wash/agitation method turned out to be the washing machine which is awfully convenient as our household with five children means the washing machine is ALWAYS running.
The funny thing about this whole process of figuring out fulling is the fourth combination I ever did was the one that gave the best results. Somehow I was convinced it could be better so I kept knitting and fulling more and more versions and only seeing disappointment. I guess there is something to be said for the saying “quit while you are ahead”.