Pivot Cowl

img_0985Some knitters find garter stitch to be tedious, and avoid it whenever possible. But as this cowl shows, garter doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it lends itself quite nicely to shaping, in a neat, tailored sort of way that stockinette or fancier stitches can’t quite match. This design combines short row triangles with rectangles, and one of the things that appealed to me when it caught my eye on the Purl Soho site this afternoon is the way it drapes without bunching up around the neck the way many cowls do. I also like the stitch definition that the yarn, Cashmere Merino Bloom, produces. Having now knitted several garments from Purl Soho kits, I can testify to the excellent quality of their yarns. Pivot is made on size 5 US straight or circular needles.

As soon as I finish the Purl Soho Drachenfels shawl that currently occupies my needles, the Pivot Cowl may just be my next project.

Plants for Dyeing: Comfrey

I’ve been doing natural dyeing for a long time, and was always exasperated about the absence of a good plant source for the color green. Paradoxical, isn’t it? But the green coloration in plants is due to the presence of chlorophyll. In fall, the chlorophyll ceases production and gradually disappears, leaving the leaf’s true color to show. Once, while making a dye with fern fiddleheads, the only plant material available that early spring day, I discovered to my dismay that I’d left my brass kettle at home. Had to make do with the iron one, and had a pleasant surprise. The result was a lovely, soft gray-green.

But fiddleheads are around for just a short time every year. I needed a source available in the summer. Comfrey to the rescue. This plant has many advantages, the primary one being the size and abundance of its leaves. Making comfrey dye is easy: Simmer the leaves, about a grocery bag full, in about a gallon of water for about 1/2 hour, then remove the plant material. Submerge wet, alum mordanted wool into the bath and simmer in an iron container for another 1/2 hour or so. Olive green should be the result.

Using brass, glass, stainless steel containers will not yield the same results; probably a watery yellow will emerge, but who knows? Natural dyeing is more art than science.

Comfrey in New England is a perennial known for its abundant proliferation. Its tiny flowers start to blossom in  June, but the flowers aren’t used for dyeing. Medicinally, comfrey has been used to treat bruises, sores, broken bones, hemorrhoids ( there they are again), gout and joint pain. It used to be eaten in salads and tonics but has been found to cause liver damage.

Broken Garter Scarf

Ohhh. I’m in trouble…. Purl Soho keeps posting beautiful free patterns made with their exquisite yarns. Broken Garter Scarf is the latest, posted just today. Just got through ordering the yarn to knit one up for my beautiful daughter, who truly appreciates my work (not everyone loves hand knits, I’m afraid. )

broken-garter-scarf-600-6-318x441

This is lovely in the shell pink, but not a good shade for Erica. She chose a beautiful pale blue, which, oh happy day, is on sale!

You can access this pattern right over here.

2016 Sheep/Wool Events, Southern New England

Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association SHEEP, WOOL & FIBER FESTIVAL

Saturday, April 30, 2016                                       cupcakes1.jpg

 Rain or Shine

9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tolland Agricultural Center

Route 30, Vernon/Rockville, CT

GPS – 24 Hyde Avenue, Vernon, CT

http://www.ctsheep.org/sheep_and_wool_festival

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RI Wool and Fiber Festival

SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2016

10 AM–5 PM
COGGESHALL FARM MUSEUM, 1 COLT DRIVE, BRISTOL, RI

coggeshallfarm.org

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Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair

May 28-29, 2016

Cummington Fairgrounds

97 Fairgrounds Road

Cummington, Massachusetts 01026

http://www.masheepwool.org/

 

Fair Admission:
Parking – $10 per car,  $15 for a two day pass
No ATM available, please plan accordingly.

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Fiber Revival

Saturday, August 13, 2016
9am to 4pm

Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

Newburyport Spinners Guild and Historic New England

5 Little’s Lane Newbury, Massachusetts

http://shop.historicnewengland.org/SPL-FIBERREVIVAL-8469/

$6 entrance fee ($4 children) to the property. Historic New England members free.

 

The Fiber Festival of New England

November 5 & 6
Saturday, 9am-5pm                            011
Sunday, 9am-3pm

Presented by Eastern States Exposition &
New England Sheep & Wool Growers Assn
Mallary Complex at Eastern States Exposition

http://www.thebige.com/ese/fiber-festival/

Textile Tools: Medieval Images of the Distaff

The Gospelles of Dystaues (or The Distaff Gospels), 1470

Luttrell Psalter 1320-1340

This woman is shown beating her husband with her distaff!

Family Scene, Wife With Spinning Distaff, Bourdichon, French, 15th c.

Eve spinning, from the Hunterian Psalter , English, ca 1170

Woman unwinding thread from a spindle into a skein MS Fr. 599, f. 48, Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris French, c. 15th Century

Historia Alexandri Magni. Flemish. 1470-1480

Fresco, 1304-06 Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua. Giotto.

Woman feeding a hen and chicks. Luttrell Salter 1325-1335.

Three queens. France, probably Paris, mid 14th cent. Pierpont Morgan Library. Manuscript. M.456.