Finally finished

The birthday mitts are finished.  A bit late, but the winter is cold and they are perfect for cold classrooms.  I am not a very fast knitter but I love knitting in the round and this was a nice small project to learn fair isle.

Muckle Mitts, pattern by Mary Jane Mucklestone


Black and pink wool that was dyed with avocado skins


Pale colours

I feel like I am at a point when I have to make decisions.  What direction do I want to go with my animals and wool; production or teaching, to earn a living or to educate.

I don’t really have to make any decisions, nothing has happened that demands change, but I feel things moving and I am not sure which way the compass will point.

So while I am thinking, here is a picture of the wool I dyed last week in the solar oven.  Very pale colours, but they look pretty together and I think when it is spun it will be a bit stronger.


Pale colours

The Carded batt is the onion skins, next going clockwise is the avocado skins, then the ivy and then the eucalyptus leaves.  In the middle is the original white wool.  Very subtle, 🙂

And here is a some knitting that I am doing for my daughter.

Fingerless mitts

I had better get knitting if they are to be a birthday gift!


Living so far away from family my father and I know that we run the risk that bad news is going to sneak up on us.  We have been preparing ourselves for the possible death of my grandfather.  He is a brave, proud man who fought in WW2, and up until 2011 had lived alone with my grandmother.

Last year his mental and physical health meant that he was admitted to a mental health assessment unit – and then into a  residential care home.  My grandmother visits when she can, but he is rarely the man he used to be.  When I left the UK in January of 2011, I cried when I hugged him good bye, because we both knew it would probably be the last time I would see him, and I was his “little princess”.

So Monday morning when my uncle called, my dad was shocked to hear that my grandmother had died.  Dad knew that she had been sick with a cold the week before and my uncle had stayed with her trying to convince her to go to hospital.  However my grandmother was a very tough and stubborn woman and she has always had a profound fear of hospitals.  She refused absolutely to go until my uncle called the ambulance and forced her.  She died less than 24 hours later.

For the past 15 years I have been visiting both sets of grandparents and watching them age.  Every year that I go back to the UK has brought new worries about their health and quality of life.  My mother’s dad died first, (a knitter and I have all his needles), and in 2010 we were with my mom’s mother when she died.  Now my dad’s mother, also a knitter.  I still have all the sweaters she knit for the girls; from newborn up to 5 years, in all colours of the rainbow.

It is impossible for me to write in one post about my grandmother’s death; all of the mix of emotions, feelings and thoughts. Because granddad’s mind is now so damaged and confused – it is the end of an era.  It is not just who she was but also about all of my grandparents together, and about how we prepare for old age and care for our parents.

My Mom (who is here visiting me) says, “there went a woman in control – Ah that I will  have that kind of control to the end.”

Box of softness

Before my daughter became sick I had ordered some wool from Wingham Wool Work,  and while my Dad was visiting family in the UK he was going to bring it back.  Unfortunately he left before the order had arrived and the package was passed on to my Mom, who later sent it.

The box finally arrived when my daughter was in the hospital, and even though it was a lovely surprise, I couldn’t even think about doing something enjoyable untill she was better.

Mixed wool and alpaca

Once my daughter was out of the hospital and feeling a bit better, I let her choose some wool to spin.  I spun a mix of blues with white at the same time.

Hand spun yarn

My daughter has also been learning to knit, and wanted to use her hand spun to knit something.  She has only learned knit, not purl, and needed something small, easy and quick.  She made little wrist warmers, and was very pleased that she did them mostly alone.

Wrist warmers in the garden

She still had some yarn left over, so now is going to try a neck warmer.

The beginning of a neck warmer

She will need more yarn, but is happy knowing she can spin some more or use some of Mommy’s.

Solar dying and knitting mittens

A couple weeks ago my daughter’s school hosted an environmental day.  I took my solar ovens to show how I dye wool with them.  Another mother brought jam that she makes in her solar oven, and we displayed our products to the visiting schools.

Yarn and jam with solar ovens

Baskets of hand spun wool and a Peruvian drop spindle

I thought of making hot water-bottle covers with this wool, but I only had about 50g of each colour.  I love knitting hats and scarves, but thought I would try mittens.

Hand spun yarn dyed with walnut leaves and onion skins in my solar oven

I used the pattern from Weekend Knitting, by Melanie Falick, “super mittens”.  I made a slight change to the pattern by putting an opening for the fingers to come out.

Green and purple two ply

They were fun and easy to knit, and make great presents for people who work on computers in cold offices!

Fingers out

Now I need to knit some smaller mittens, for smaller hands.

Mittens for my kittens

Opening the Boxes

I am not very good at throwing things away.  I am a bit of a hoarder and collector of things.

This week we came back to our house on the farm.  A friend stayed and looked after the house for us, and before she came we put our whole house into boxes, put them into the smallest room, and then locked the door.  Now a year later I am opening them all and thinking “where am I going to put everything?”  And I am hoping to have a little space for all my fibre toys?  And there are more boxes to come? I realised with pain that the only thing left to do is start giving things away.

Having two daughters with eight years between them means I have kept a lot of clothes, from the first to the second.  (I know, poor second daughter, always second hand clothes.  However she thinks visiting the storeroom is like a trip to the store.)  With her help we have been going through boxes, and she is ruthless.  “I like this dress Mommy, but it is a bit small.”  There goes the dress my first daughter lived in and I have kept for 10 years.  I must admit though it is starting to feel good, jeans I haven’t worn in years, tops that I never really wore anyway, all to charity.  The house is still in chaos, and I still don’t know where I will put everything, but I am getting closer and it is nice to be home.

Small lap blanket with hand spun

Whiles at my in-laws I did a bit of spinning.  One was a two ply – one single of black, dark grey, and light grey, plied with a single of blue, blue/white/purple, and purple.  Later I bought some balls of hand dyed wool from Huella Indigena,  The colours looked so nice next to my hand spun that I decided to use them together to make a small lap blanket, (from Weekend Knitting, by Melanie Falick, p 20).  It was fun and easy to knit, and a great way to use small bits of hand spun.

Close up of lap blanket

Whiles organising the clothes my youngest said, “Don’t worry Mommy, you can buy more things if we give these away…or you can make stuff”.  Yes, already started with the making.

New Year, New Things

Today is the end of 2010.  I just turned 40 a few days ago, and we will be back on the farm in Chile in less than a month.  I hate the packing and sorting, the in-between time when you are not yet traveling but not living a “normal” life either.

My Traditional wheel is in pieces ready to be packed, and a table loom I got from the dump is also dismantled.  All I can do fibre-wise is knit and sew.  So, with my Mom’s help I have made a bag for carrying my knitting projects and a case for my knitpro interchangeable needles.

Knitting Bag with edge rolled over


Knitting Bag

Needle cases for knitpro needles

Needle cases with pockets