Summer Days

Hi all,

How is everyone doing? Personally, I haven’t been feeling great, with everything going on everywhere. I mean, 2020 is just the year that keeps on giving in absolutely every way isn’t it? I suppose it is more remarkable if you haven’t been affected at all by the past months, but that is not exactly a reassurance. I have been making though, so I though I would write a bit about the things I’ve been filling my summer days with.

A black and white spotted cat on top of two finished garments, draped over each other

I finished both my Chestnut allover cardigan and my Tundra yoke jumper – projects that I started more or less simultaneously too. It seems I’m always knitting with lopi at the hight of summer (you can tell I’m a great gauger of seasonal appropriate knitting projects). They were both long-term projects, what with pandemic happening, knitting mojo going up and down etc. Thing is, I kept returning to finding them enjoyable to knit on throughout those months so I really don’t mind. They will get their own full project posts later on and I will talk more about them then. Though with summer going on, I will probably wait until the weather cools down a bit to take photos, so it might be a bit before they appear here. On the plus side, that should give me time to work through the pile of Other Stuff I still want to show you!

A yarn cake of terracotta coloured Holst. In the background, the contrast colours in cakes or balls and two big terracotta flower pots.

In the meantime I have cast on for a new sweater. I’m using a wool and silk mix yarn from Holst Garn that I got on sale when it was discontinued For the main colour and leftovers from a shawl for contrast. This is not a fibre combination that I often knit with and I haven’t used the yarn before so I started with the sleeve to see how the fabric behaves before committing to knitting the body. The yarn is super thin, which suits my current heatwave knitting needs, but it also means that I’m knitting it on toothpicks (factual term!). So it’ll probably be some time before it starts to looks like anything.

The ribbing for a single sleeve in Holst. Thin DPNs are sticking out at every angle

Happily I have been able to use my serger again. Rejoice! I actually had to do another round of home repairs on it when the replacement parts arrived but I won’t bore you with the details of that. Just believe me when I say I’m happy that it’s running again and I was able to fix it more or less myself. I did a real quick shirt project to really test if it is running well again now but otherwise I first have some scrap and other serger-less projects that I will finish up first.

A small budding chili pepper

Exciting stuff happening in the balcony garden is seeing the first tomatoes starting to appear and the first baby chilli peppers have also showed up! Our strawberries are still producing fruit (ours are strawberries that have an ongoing fruit producing capacity so we could be picking them until autumn!). I harvested the lavender from our lavender bushes to make lavender bags/satchels. I used to do this a lot with my mum when I was a child and I still have some of these (they keep their smell for a really long time!). I first let the lavender dry and then sewed small bags from cotton scraps in my stash which I just filled. They will live among my knits and wool to chase away any rogue moth.

A bowl of lavender buds with a small cotton bag next to it.

This summer I’ve also been out foraging a bit here and there. Mostly with a mind for natural dyeing, which as you might have gathered from my previous post, I currently got on the brain. I get the hunch for natural dyeing every once in a while, but especially during the summer period. I guess everything in bloom helps to entice me to the dye pots. This is also the period that for years I used to be a frequent visitor to living history and general history and nature focussed festivals. So it’s a period I associate with pots on camp-fires, earthy colours on wool, live music and people around me doing and exploring ancient crafts. I guess sometimes I want to recreate that experience in my tiny kitchen.

A close-up of chamomile drying on a plastic sheet

I’ve been keeping an eye out for wildflowers in my regular stomping grounds, to use in the dye pots. While I was taking careful measures to not over-harvest any given bush, it turns out a small group of my older boomer neighbours were plotting something else; the neighbourhood committee petitioned the authorities to have the expanse of wild flowers mowed down and turned into a meticulously green lawn. They have apparently been at it for over a year, without asking anyone else in the surrounding buildings for input on the matter. That said, if you don’t have the powers that be cutting down all that blooms and you take a responsible approach yourself, foraging can be really rewarding! I’ve got the harvest I took drying in small nets, so I can use the dried materials for dyeing some time in the future.

Close-up of a spindle with a small amount of hand spun yarn on it

For the past two or so weeks I’ve also really gotten into a new interest: Spinning! Ok, so I did not see this coming at all, but about halfway into July I all of the sudden got a massive fancy about spinning. I think it was maybe seeing one wool spinning post for the Tour de Fleece, which made me hang out on the hashtag for a bit which got the interest going. I have actually done a bit of spinning before, but this was years ago. Proper years ago, like when I was a beginning knitter. I remember I tried really hard to get it to take off, but I really struggled. I think part of the reason was that I was still very much a beginner knitting and trying to learn everything about both crafts at once and it just didn’t really work out.

On the tip of the spindle, there's a fluff of wool top

So I decided to try it again at the end of July and just trying to take it slow and enjoy the process. I’m using a low whorl drop spindle that I have had since that first go at trying to learn about 10 years ago. I got it at a living history festival, but it is just the simplest standard spindle with a hook that you can get (i.e not historical or something). I’m using wool roving that is equally ancient, bought years ago in a kilo pack to use as filling for dolls. It has been with me for years and I had about half of it left (yeah I don’t make dolls that often). Using all these materials that I already had in my possession made it a really low stakes commitment to try and see how I would fare. So far though I’m really enjoying it, surprisingly so. Of course the yarn I’m spinning is a thick ‘n thin fest as I’m starting from scratch, but that’s ok. My focus for now is on drafting and spinning technique and trying to spin a bit everyday. So far it’s been fun and I can definitely see progress in what I’m doing so that is nice to see too. I’m not making grand speeches or commitments in where I want to go with this but for now I’m relishing in this interest and appreciation for a new craft.

My journal, open on a page detailing the status and materials used of a knitting project

Finally this summer marked the one year anniversary of me starting my make journal. I started the practise at the start of June last year when I was in a desperate creative rut and had no real idea what would become of it. One filled notebook and a second following closely I can say that it enriched my making in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I will also say that what happened with Ravelry has also made me really appreciate to have a personal notebook where I can log project information, notes and ideas that is not at the mercy of powers that I have no control over. Obviously that wasn’t on my mind at all when I started the practise, but little over a year later is a nice extra to have so much an independent documentation of my stuff.

Hope you are all keeping well. Until next time!

Two ripening strawberries

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