Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Yarn Dyeing with Lichen - Dyeing Handspun with Cladonia Mitis

Having read numerous 'how-tos' on the process of natural yarn dyeing utilising lichen, I felt the urge to experiment with a local variety of lichen and a small swatch sample of handspun.

Lichen on Apple Tree (West Kent, UK) 

Before investigating natural dyes, I was aware of the existence of lichen and their particular properties as fungi. Yet, I had no idea of the longstanding history of fabric dyeing with these mysterious organisms. And even though lichen are omnipresent in everyday life, I hardly took any notice of them. I subsequently had my first conscious encounter with a particularly impressive variety in an old orchard in West Kent (UK) back in August 2014. More on  this is available here. Shortly thereafter I came across several articles and selected blogs on lichen dyes and was naturally cursing myself for not having taken a small sample on the day to experiment.

Lichen on Apple Tree, West Kent (UK)

During a recent trip across Kent - this time to the Kent / Sussex border - I once again came up close and personal with another variety of lichen. This time I not only collected a very small sample (just enough to dye a swatch of homespun), I was also able to identify the variety: Cladonia Mitis. 

What follows is a brief description of my lichen dye experiment with 

You will require: 

  • 1 small swatch sample of undyed homespun yarn 12cm x 6cm (as pictured below)
  • 1 small sample of lichen (as pictured below)
  • 1 jam jar (to soak the lichen for one to two nights prior to simmering it together with the handspun swatch sample)
  • 1 saucepan

Homespun Swatch Sample

Cladonia Mitis

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Weekly Swatch: The Smocking Stitch

The Smocking Stitch is a slightly more advanced stitch motif, creating a two-dimensional texture, which resembles the lattice stitch in appearance. This is achieved through a very limited amount of cabling on both the 4th and 8th rows of the stitch sequence. All other rows require simple knitting or purling. 

Smocking Stitch

Multiple of 6 stitches

Row 1 (wrong side): P2, *K2, P4; rep from * to last 4 sts., K2, P2.

Row 2 (right side)K2, *sl. 2 sts. purlwise, K4; rep. from * to last 4 sts., sl 2 sts. knitwise, K2.

Row 3: P2*sl. 2 sts. knitwise, P4; rep. from to last 4 sts., sl 2 sts. knitwise, P2.

Row 4:  *Sl 1st knitwise, place 2sts. onto CN (Cable Needle) and hold at back of work, K1, K2 sts. from CN, sl next st. onto CN and hold at front of work, K2, K1 st from CN; rep. from * to end. 

Row 5: K1, P4, *K2, P4; rep from * to last st., K1.

Row 6: Sl1 st knitwise, K4, *sl 2 sts knitwise, K4; rep from * to last st., sl 1st knitwise.

Row 7: Sl1 st knitwise, P4, *sl 2 sts knitwise, P4; rep from * to last st., sl 1st knitwise.

Row 8:  *Place 1st. onto CN and hold at front of work, K2, K1 st. from CN, sl next 2 sts. onto CN and hold at back of work, K1, K2 sts. from CN; rep. from * to end. 

Repeat Row 1 - Row 8 for pattern.

Smocking Stitch

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