Dye Another Day


In 1946 my mother’s Aunt returned to Ireland to retire, having spent all her working-life in England. This Aunt gained a reputation for prefacing any anecdote with the words: “When I came home in ’46” and, in our family, the phrase became a coded by-word for anyone who tended to go on-and-on about an event in their life. I say this, because I’m about to post – yet again – with a mention of my trip to the I Knit Weekender last September.

So… when I was at the I Knit Weekender last September my purchases included Alice Starmore’s book “Fair-Isle Knitting” and a book by Helen Deighan and Linda De Ruiter “Dye one knit one” as well as a few un-dyed hanks and dyes from Linda’s stand “Tall Yarns”.

And… the day I returned from the I Knit Weekender last September was one of the few beautifully sunny days we had all summer. We went down to one of our local beaches with the dogs (and the kids, but that’s a given). We were joined later in the afternoon by my sister and her kids, who were also on the look-out for the perfect place to spend a rare, sunny day here.

As I lolled around in the sunshine, re-counting my tales of “when I was at the I Knit Weekender” to my sister’s sardonic ears – and my slightly more tolerant nieces – I was also mulling over Alice Starmore’s chapter on “Colour”. In her own words:

“I live on a wild and windswept island, very similar to Shetland. The moors, hills, locks and sea are my main sources of inspiration, but inspiration can come from anywhere. Nature, of course, provides us with endless beautiful colours, and art and textiles offer a similar wealth of inspiration.” quote from Fair-Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore

On the pages that follow the above quotation there is a beautiful array of Fair-Isle knits alongside the images that inspired the colour selection.


Naturally, I was thinking: “I can do that!” Only… not in Fair-Isle – at least, not yet! In hand-painted yarn. And, as I was thinking all this, I was lying there – on a beach of my adopted hometown, basking in glorious September sunshine – admiring scenes like these:   So when Clarabel and Bootie and I decided to crack open the dyes and undyed hanks from Tall Yarns the following weekend I knew exactly what I wanted to create: a colourway that captured – in yarn – the glory of a sun-drenched day spent on a beach in North County Dublin. I think I was successful. I love the colourway that resulted. I call it “South Shore Rush”. I believe I found the perfect pattern to show off the subtleties of the colours – Rainbow Socks from Magknits.

Colourway: South Shore Rush by: me

The “Dye one knit one” book contains instructions on how to dye self-striping yarn. Being a technique-geek, that’s what I had to try my hand at. I’ll give you the details of what I did on a Thursday-Tour post some Thursday soon – most likely when I set about my next dying session, as I neglected to take photos on this occasion.


Delicious Musings

Mmmm Brioche...

On Saturday I collected “Knitting Brioche” by Nancy Marchant from the Post Office. Last September, during my trip to the I Knit Weekender, I had seen samples of her work and her patterns at the Dutch Knitters stand, and had been mightily impressed. Pretty-much after I got in the door from my return flight, I pre-ordered it on Amazon. I would get regular updates from Amazon about it delivery date being pushed back – yet again –  just when I’d forgotten all about it. When I got yet another update during last week, I wasn’t expecting them to say they were actually about to deliver it.

So, when I went to Post Office, I wasn’t terribly surprised to be handed a package emblazoned with Amazon logos. However, if the contents of the package itself was no surprise the contents of the book certainly were. And if you think Brioche stitch is just a fancy-looking rib: think again. Nancy Marchant brings Brioche Stitch to a whole new level: to the edge, to the back of beyond, and back again.

The author has been really generous with her knowledge in this book. It is a much thicker book than I was expecting. It is certainly more detailed and more thorough than many other knitting books that I’ve seen recently. This book is of the same ilk as Margaret Radcliffe’s “The Essential Guide to Colour Knitting Techniques”, in my opinion. I think I understand now why the delivery date kept being pushed back. Nothing has been done by halves here.

There are three main sections to the book, each as thoroughly detailed and mind-warping as each other: a “how-to” section; a stitch dictionary; and a projects/ patterns section.

In the “how-to” section she takes you from explaining what exactly a yarn-over is to

“Two-color Right Slant, Light Side and Left Slant, Dark Side Reversible Decreases”;

which sounds like the knitting equivalent of something incredibly complicated in ice-skating.

The stitch dictionary includes no less than 60 variants; not to mention several multi-colour options and photos of both the right and wrong side. We’re talking multiple permutations here! So if you thought Brioche stitch was “cute” to do in two colours, I’ve got… er… eight words for you:

“Three-Colour Diagonal Waffle Crossed Demi Brioche Stitch”

Don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to feel hungry!

Then there’s the patterns section. “Ah!” you say, “I bet that’ll be the Achilles Heel, where it all comes undone”. Not so! Of the the 25 patterns, there’s not a single dud – in my opinion. There are several I want to cast-on for very soon, and many that I will return to repeatedly as great stash-busters.

And can I just give credit to the photography, while I’m at it. For once the photography is both beautiful and descriptive of the knitting. This is something most photographers of knitting books just don’t seem to understand. The photographs of the finished projects are styled and set attractively but you can also see what the finished product is meant to look like – how novel!

I Knit Stash

When I posted about my plans for Ravelympics the other day I realised I was showing off my Dazzle before it had been properly debuted! Scandalous! 

It’s one of a few (okay – many!) purchases I made at the I Knit Weekender last September.

Here’s the main three, plus a little prezzie that Caroline had in store for me when she returned from her holidays in the U.S.

Just Desserts

From the top:

Heritage Hand-painted Sock yarn by Cascade Yarn (not bought at I Knit – a present Caroline brought back from her holidays)

Dazzle, BFL by The Natural Dye Studio; as previously mentioned  – bought with Ishbel in mind

Dream in Colour, Smooshy bought from Skein Queen’s stand; reminds me of petrol in a puddle

Bamboo Mix by Easy Knits – colourway “Rhubarb”

There were other purchases, but you’ll be hearing more of them another day.

Ravelympics Tournament

The Events List for Ravelympics 2010 was posted up the other day. It’s got me all excited about what medals I’m going to try for this year. So your Tour this Thursday is all about my plans for the Ravelympics Tournament (see what I did there?). 

(Don’t know what I’m talking about? Take a look at this link and it might give you more of an idea.) 

So you might remember from my knitting list for 2010 I was thinking of three main projects over the 17 days. 

Blackberry Socks

WIPs Dancing Queen?

Events: WIPs Dancing and Sock Hockey 

Pattern: Adirondack Socks from Interweave Crochet Fall 2009 

Yarn: ShoppelWolle Zauberball in Blackberry 

This project has been languishing since The Knitting and Stitching Show last October, when a certain colour purple caught my eye and a whole new Glenvar got started. 

I absolutely love working with this yarn, so I can’t wait to get started again. 




King Cole Merino Blend in Pink

Events: Designer Bi-athlon and Hat Half-pipe 

Pattern: my own 

Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend in Pink 

The thing to bear for Ravelympics is “The One Rule To Rule Them All: Challenge yourself by starting and finishing projects during the 2010 Winter Olympics.”

 Writing and publishing a pattern of my own on Ravelry will be quite a challenge for me. I’m planning to give the pattern to P/Hop if I do manage this.



Ishbel and Dazzle

Events: Short Track Shawls and Lace Luge 

Pattern: Ishbel from Whimsical Knits by Ysolda Teague

Yarn: Dazzle BFL by Natural Dye Studio 

I bought the yarn at I Knit Weekender in London last September with Ishbel in mind. Then, later that day, I won a copy of Whimsical Knits in the raffle that P/Hop were running. 

My Knit-night knitting buddies laughed heartily when they saw I had only allowed one week in my knitting calander to knit an Ishbel – one challenge too far, perhaps? 

Perusing the Events List I’m like a child in a sweet-shop. I want to enter into so many events: 

  • The Aerial Unwind Event could be a good one to pick up a few medals and I have two projects in need of frogging. Ravelympics might be just the thing to recapture some lovely yarn from the claws of defeat.
  • I have a skein of undyed cotton – also bought at I Knit Weekender last September – that I could enter in the Downhill Dyeing Event. I’ll need to organise myself with the proper dyes for dyeing cotton, however.
  • I might try for another WIPs Dancing Event. Below you’ll see a jacket that I’m wearing to death these days even though I don’t consider it to be finished. I feel it needs an additional collar all around the front edges. Again, the impetus of Ravelympics might be just the motivation I need to get the hook out again – if I haven’t collapsed in a heap by the end of February.

I have to be honest and admit that the overall challenge I’m setting myself is to collect as many medals as I can. By the above reckoning I count ten.

WiP or Rip?

Thanks to my WIP-Busting I’m quite the one-wip-wonder these days. Doesn’t monogamy helps things grow? I have very few UFOs loitering about making a nuisance of themselves. Or maybe I’ve hidden them so well they don’t register on my conscious mind.

When we were at the I Knit shop during our trip last Feburary I discovered Debbie New and her mind-blowing book Unexpected Knitting. I hatched a plan with one of my Knitting-Knight buddies to return to London in September for the I Knit Weekender. I didn’t really care who or what else was also going to be at the show. That I was going to hear this woman speak about her knitting and her inspiration; and see her work “in the flesh”; was draw enough for me. I signed up for her work-shop on Ouroborus Knitting. I take my knitting with acid!

As it turned out, Alice Starmore was also there that weekend and I signed up for her work-shop on Fair Isle… and bought her book… and got her to sign my design notebook… and watched, with baited breath, as she cut a huge, long steek in a beautiful Fair Isle lap blanket she’d knit as a tube. Oh the heady-heights we reached that weekend!!!

After my work-shop on Ourobourus Knitting – my mind still “out-of-it” after what can only be described as the knitting equivalent of electro-shock-therapy – I cast on an Ourobourus of my own. I thought I could handle it. I thought I was ready. I thought: “I could do this in Fair Isle!” I even thought it would be cool to show Debbie New what I had done… <<cringe!!!>>

To Infinity... and beyond!

You’re looking at the “seam” accross the back – from underarm to underarm; which I cast on using Judy’s Magic Cast On. I increase at the white markers and decrease at the orange markers. (I’ve just realised that I mounted it upside-down for the photograph. This is why I need markers that expressly say “inc” and “dec”, see?) Thusly a jacket will grow as an elongated circle (more a lozenge shape, really) down my back, up over my sholders and around my arms. Trust me.

Now that I’ve “come down” I’m wracked with doubts. I know there are errors. I know it’s a learning piece. I know the errors will be part of the character of the finished piece. Right? Or do I rip it now and only cast-on again when I’m completely sober; when I’ve only been exposed to “sensible” knitting, like stocking-stitch tube socks?

WIP it? or RIP it?…

You decide…