Category Archives: Yarn

Joy of colour

It’s been a grey monotone winter, and I’ve been working on a large project with a theme of rain. More greys and damp and sombreness. Every now and again, there’s a tiny break in the grey blanket of sky, shadows, even a bit of blue. It doesn’t matter if it’s morning or night, it’s all a progression of grey.

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Detail of Sari Splendor square by Laura Wythe

Into the grey came a workshop called Indian Splendor led by Donna Funnel, hosted by the London branch of the Canadian Embroiders Guild. Step by step we were led to a guarantee of colour harmony and wonder. It really is important to trust the instructor, especially when they say, choose your colours, any colours will work.

Sari ribbon is a new material for me, and of course, the ribbons came in brilliant colours and textures. Donna also had some sari silk yarn that matched the silks but brought another layer of texture when all was done. We created a base with the ribbons, then cut and embellished. Of course, I bling-ed my project up with shiny yarns, sequins and beads–and some variegated silk thread.

So, here’s the finished project.

SariSplendor_full

Full size Sari Splendor square by Laura Wythe

Donna has used the squares in an entirely different way to create a stunningly detailed wall hanging. Simple structure, amazing results.

What a riot of colour for a dull winter’s day.

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Knitting short cut

Easy.

Start with a cast-off, men’s large pure wool sweater from Goodwill’s thrift store, and then go to the best yarn shop in town. Pick up beautiful yarn that costs more than three times the sweater  did.

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Timberland pullover split for cardigan opening with bottom ribbing cut off and tacked on front openings.

Felt the sweater to within an inch of its life, and try not to poke holes in it as you agitate it in boiling water with a wooden spoon in the kitchen sink. Dry the sweater in the dryer on high heat, a cringe-worthy experience, or most gleeful.

Cut the bottom ribbing off the body of the sweater.  Unpick the short zipper from the placket at the neckline, and the collar too. Be careful to save the yarn from the pickin’s as it matches the sweater perfectly and can be used to sew it up again later. Separate the sleeve caps from the body of the sweater from where they start to curve for the underarm. You don’t have linebacker broad shoulders or want that bunchy look at the bust line.

Casablanca hombre yarn separated into tones.

Casablanca hombre yarn separated into tones.

Get out the beautiful hombre-dyed yarn and unwind it so that each hombre section is wound in in a discrete unit. Turn pale at the thought of cutting up such a lovely skein. Do not cut until you figure out exactly what you’re going to do with it.  A collar, yes. Something at the hem, yes. Some decorative yet sturdy stitch to hold the arms onto the body, yes. But what, exactly?

Fool around with the yarn. Don’t cry when it unravels and comes apart as you cast on. Make tea. Carry on.

Timberland sweater remake details of collar and inset sleeve.

Timberland sweater remake details of collar and inset sleeve.

Decide. Use the leaf motif that you love. It drapes perfectly with this yarn. Calculate for the hem and keep the stitches simple. Knit, knit, knit and it’s done. The tedious body has already been knit on a machine somewhere in the Timberland universe.

Put it together. Use the chain stitch for the major joinings–the front band and arm holes. Remember,  after the yarn breaks about 8″ in,  to twist the yarn tightly at ten minute intervals.  Strong now. When that’s done, use the yarn you unpicked from the sweater to tack the edges down. You don’t want it to look handmade-clumsy!

Finished remake of Timberland pullover.

Finished remake of Timberland pullover.

In the end, you will have tried the sweater on one hundred times.  Try it on one last time. Oh, you need some kind of pin or button to close it across the chest?  Return to the wonderful yarn store and pick something up. Take your sweater with you.  The saleswoman who helped you at the beginning of this project will like to see the proof of your creative madness. She didn’t see how it would work.  How could she, when you didn’t either?  You just had the intuition that it would.

Okay, so recycling a sweater seem like it’s as much work as knitting, but it’s different work–combining machine/mass market with hand knitting.  And I kind a like the result.

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Yarn “bombing” in the Capital

Tulip Festival, city Hall, Ottawa, Canada

Tulip Festival, city Hall, Ottawa, Canada

The Tulip festival was in full bloom when I visited Ottawa.  Ties between Canada and Holland, made during World War II, continue and I love that it’s through planting flowers and not through war memorials.  The activity of planting bulbs each fall and waiting for the winter snow to melt, for the tulip bulbs to burst into our Canadian spring, however short it may be, is full of hope.

I walked back to my daughter’s house after checking out the Tulip Festival activities at City Hall, past the Nanny Goat Hill Community Garden, and then I came across a yarn bombing by seniors in the trees in front of The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre.  They are getting ready for their annual Walk of Ages fundraiser.  All the flags attached to the trees were knit or crocheted.

Yarn bombing in front of The Good Companions Seniors' Centre, Ottawa Canada

Yarn bombing in front of The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, Ottawa Canada

Yarn bombing at The Good Companions Seniors' Centre, Ottawa

Yarn bombing at The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, Ottawa

Yarn bombing at The Good Companions Seniors' Centre, Ottawa

Yarn bombing at The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, Ottawa

Imagine the history of the last century if this tactic had been used.  If Dickens had written not of Mme Lafarge merely watching the beheadings and knitting the names into the fabric, but of her knitting covers for the guillotines, crocheting a woman’s discontent and fixing it to icons of her displeasure.

Perhaps more lives can be saved as cunning fingers wrap yarn around people and place.

The Good Companions Seniors' Centre, Ottawa

The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, Ottawa

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