Friday, October 2, 2015


A cold wind scrapes the branches against my windowpanes, which means there is much knitting happening right now. I am up to my ears in wool. I have to tear myself away from working on this pullover, inspired by my conversation at the Fiber Festival with the brilliant indie yarn dyer and knitwear artist Jill Draper, and her installation art piece, the Each Stitch sweater. I feel kind of hopped up on this project. I think about it all the time. Knitting as art. Oh, deep happy sigh. Here's the very messy working chart I made from Jill's instructions. Ten points and a gold star if you can tell where the words I chose are from:

The stripes-in-every-color pullover is flying off the needles, too, because it is plain stockinette and because the color changes keep me interested well past my bedtime. I'm knitting both sleeves at the same time so I don't have to keep track of where I may or may not have decreased, gah, I am no good at that. This might end up being one of those things I made for the sake of making it, or maybe it will go with every single thing in my closet and I'll wear it every day. Somehow, it doesn't even matter right now.

In natural dyeing, I had a little bit of fun with some black beans--you wouldn't believe the huge array of beautiful colors that can be achieved (probably temporarily, it turns out) with them: bright indigo, navy, red, green, lilac, pink, black--crazy. Have a quick search, you will be amazed. I soaked beans for 24 hours and then strained the dark and cloudy liquid into five big jars. The beans went into a soup pot for dinner, and mordanted yarn went into the dye--I left the sediment in because I was hoping for gray, and other grayed colors--somebody out there said they got a color they called "zombie" and I aimed for that, with success. I also got greenish yellow (far right) by adding washing soda to the dye, and pink (second from right) by adding vinegar. Sadly, it looks like color from black beans is probably fugitive, so I don't have my hopes up that these very pretty silvery gray/pink/yellow skeins won't fade, but right now they look like Miss Havisham's wedding dress, which is perfect. My results are very pale probably because of my lack of experience with pre-mordanting. There is so much to be learned. It was a fun science experiment, and the beans were delicious, too. It seems to be all about the process around here right now.

Thank you all for your lovely anniversary well-wishes and sweet comments. It's so good to be here with all of you. Doc wore his gorgeous kilt and kilt hose to the Fair and looked like the Prince of the Realm, drawing much admiration from the knitters. He carried the bags and waited patiently while I felt up every skein of yarn in the place, and bought me this amazingly beautiful hank of handspun shetland wool, absolutely the smooshiest piece of magically spun fiber I've ever felt, because he totally gets me. On the label is a picture of the sheep who grew it. Swoon! I think I will never knit this into anything, because I want it to be just like this, smooshy and perfect, for all time. That's just fine.



  1. I don't think I would be able to use the perfect skein of yarn either, it is stunning. I love the colour combinations you achieved from the dying process what a great experiment. Have a great weekend.

  2. Oh I love the colors in your sweater. And the subtle color changes in your dyed yarn. Beautiful. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  3. I rather like the idea of the gifted skein with portrait of sheep sitting in splendour as objet d'art on a bookcase in tribute to a husband who gets you, to knitting, and to sheep, the source of your craft. Btw I giggled so much at 'felt up every skein'. Not for the first time I see a glimpse of crochet here and my mind wanders off into 'what would it take for me to learn to crochet and produce one of these...I must learn to crochet' moments.

  4. I thought the words were from one of my favourite poems - 'Come sit with me' by Gail Grierson - but on checking in my little notebook where I collect my favourites, I've come to the conclusion it's not that. But once again, your knitting inspires me and your pictures of lovely soft balls of wool make me want to surround myself with baskets of the same.

  5. I have some undyed pure alpaca from a herd of alpaca who graze just a few miles up in the hills from where I live. I knitted a swatch and it was sublime. I have no idea what I could knit that could do justice to this beautiful wool so I've decided to use it as the colour work snowflake in the Knitty hat that I saw on your blog last year and which re-introduced me to the pleasure of knitting. The body of the hat is Blue Leicester grey and the hat will be gifted to my son's girlfriend for Christmas. I love your inspirational/can-do/experimental approach to life Kristen. Thanks!

  6. Kristen, every single bit of this post was a delight to see. Wonderful colors, bright or subtle, and very interesting words to accompany those photographs. Isn't knitting great? xo

  7. I love the idea of having a picture of the sheep the wool came from on the front! But how could you not use it? I'd have to make something to use every day so that I had maximum enjoyment.

  8. Intrigued - the quote?

  9. what a splendid post! Love your new Jill Draper inspired - she is a neighbor of mine and I buy her yarn regularly. Your Sunday Knits sweater looks delicious - you inspire me to get mine on the needles. You never disappoint - thank you!

  10. Replies
    1. YES! I'm so glad someone got it. *Davydances*