This weekend my fingers were itching to do some knitting. I had managed a couple of hours spinning over the week but felt the need to produce something other than wool. I looked into my stock pile and found 100 grammes of petrol coloured aran wool from Tivoli Spinners which was left over from a pair of mittens that I made during the summer. I figured that I would be able to get a hat out of it and duly cast on the stitches and started a k2p2 rib. At the end of the ribbing I thought that a bit of a design would be quite nice and I found a lovely ‘South American’ swirly design in ‘The Encyclopedia of Knitting’ by Stansfield and Griffiths (2011). The pattern for the design only covers 5 rows but I have to say that I was on tenterhooks the whole time that I was knitting it because I couldn’t be sure that it was going to be right until the five rows were actually complete. Thankfully I made no mistakes and I think that it really enhances the hat which will be sent over to my niece in the UK shortly.
Albie’s eye update
Poor lovely Albie is still suffering with eye problems. The vet came out on Thursday and announced that he has an ulcer on his eye. As she had never treated an alpaca before she went back to her surgery and called the Veterinary College in Dublin for advice. That evening I picked up three tubes of Isathal, which is basically penicillin, to insert into his eye twice a day. Now I have to say that this is easier said than done. Firstly it is a two person job and secondly Alpacas lashes are beautiful and long and get in the way of a novice trying to take aim with a tube of ointment at the eye beneath them. It’s looking slightly better but I’m not 100% sure yet. I have everything crossed that it will clear soon.
Yes I’m saving the best till last. A week ago I was dyeing with blackberries and boy was I thrilled with what came out of the pot.
It was a gentle shade of purple..almost lilac really. Spurred on by this success I decided that I would mordant another 500 grammes of wool and use the same dye liquid which I had put into the fridge with the small net curtain bag full of black berries and also, as it turned out, a maggot. Again I used alum (25g) as the mordant in two and a half litres of water. I simmered the wet wool in this for one and a half hours. I took the mordanted wool out and left it in the dark overnight. The following evening I warmed up the blackberry dye with the net bag of berries and placed the wet mordanted wool into it. I simmered it for one and a half hours and left it overnight. After work the next day I was the happiest dyer on the planet with 500g of a most gorgeous shade of my favourite colour. It’s so funny how the same mordant and the same dye solution were used but the shade variation is so great. The only variable is the age of the blackberry dye.
Now I am left with the quandry of what to do with the wool. At the moment I am content to sit and look at it and wonder on the magic of the whole process and how lucky I am that I have been able to do this but I’m sure those fingers of mine will get itchy again soon and find something new to knit.