Fibre festivals

First things first on the topic of yarn festivals – I recently participated in the Woolfest Auckland event. I will also be trading at the Capital Fibre Festival at Upper Hutt on 10 July.  I’m aware of (some of) the discussion and debate around participating in these festivals, CFF in particular, and have thought carefully about being present, or not. I recognise that having chosen to be part of the wider yarn/craft community that I will not agree with everyone, their decisions, positions and actions. Neither will everyone agree with me, but it seems important to keep trying to go forward in a way that encourages inclusivity and welcomes diversity and that we learn and improve as we go.

So, in choosing to participate here’s what you can expect from me.

I promise to live up to my philosophy of being kind by being inclusive and welcoming to all, treating people fairly, honestly with equality and dignity.

I respect the differing viewpoints other people express and offer my comment or opinion with respect.

I admire those who are confident and authentic sharing their views on social media. I don’t feel my voice is authentic in that space, I will however speak up in person when it’s needed. I understand that some people will want to know more about who you are potentially buying yarn from.

I’m a (former) medical scientist, I believe in science.  I support vaccination against infectious diseases in general and COVID-19 in particular. I support the public health measures put in place to protect us from Covid – mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing (etc) and I diligently scan the Covid tracker codes wherever I go.

I don’t and won’t get things right all the time, and I will do my best to right my wrongs. I know I have benefited from expanding my reading, listening and following to learn and understand new perspectives on important social issues like diversity, colonization and decolonization in the NZ context. I consider it an honour to be a treaty partner (Tangata Tiriti) and I aspire to be a good one. I will encourage and support shared learning.

I will be pleased to see you at Capital Fibre Festival, to kōrero, to enjoy your company.

Update on bunny kits

Back in October last year I wrote about the Bunny kits I had put together ahead of last year’s Capital Fibre Festival. I sold all of them at that festival, made up some more for people who asked, and sold the last few at Woolfest Auckland. In total, $570 was donated to Women’s Refuge to their Safe Nights campaign. Thank you so much for buying these kits – it’s a rewarding donation partnership between us.

I’ve put some more lovely skeins aside and I’ll make them up into kits – I’m trying my best to get a few ready for this weekend’s CFF. This time there will be some nice grey yarn just right for knitting a cute little mouse.


Fun with bundle dyeing

Recently I’ve had a real buzz from playing about with eco-printing, aka bundle dyeing. I’ve been doing this in a small way for a while with the Palliser Ridge Romney lambswool and wanted to try a different yarn base with the flowers and bits and bobs of foliage I’d gathered up. 

I knew, more or less, what I wanted the result to look like and had figured out how that ought to be achievable based on what I have observed from my dye pots over the last couple of years. As well I’m really grateful that other talented dyers write books, share video clips, pictures and stories of what they do – it all adds to developing my knowledge and practice of natural dyeing.

This time I used a fingering weight plied Merino (treated for machine washability) yarn base (expertly made by Wild Earth Yarns in Christchurch), and prepared it using a standard wash and Alum (plus Cream of Tartar) mordant process. While damp I inserted a planned selection of the plant material – one combination to give me bright bursts of colour amongst swampy neutrals and the other for a medley of bright floral colours on a light, but not quite white, background.

Freshly picked marigolds and coreopsis flowers, dried dahlia heads (these ones were blood red flowers dried to a dark purplish colour), Harakeke (flax) seed-pods, alder cones and 3 varieties of dried Eucalyptus gum leaves.As well I used ground cochineal grits saved in the cloth I use for filtering the cooked cochineal from a previous dye day. I cut this into strips and wound it into the skein.

A pair of skeins for each colour combination – wrapped in gardeners frost cloth and lightly tied. One pair into a pot of dilute flax seed pod dye jus and the other into a pot of avocado pip and skin dye jus. Both brews had been prepared for a previous dye day and the left over jus frozen, and thawed for today.After an hour (ish) at required temperature the bundles were gently removed, drained and cooled slightly before opening to reveal the colours. This is so exciting. The colours and blends are MAGIC.

The results of this play are some of my best I think.

The intensity of colour from the fresh coreopsis and marigolds is fabulous and the dried dahlia heads have imparted a definite greenish grey that is a wonderful combination with the various brown-neutral tones of the flax seed pod and Eucalyptus leaves.

The success of this is just what I needed to inspire me to do more and better still.

Here is a swatch of the bundle that was dyed in the flax seed pod jus. I’ve now finished making a Love Note sweater with this yarn held together with a strand of beige mohair that I had in my stash.


Thank You!- may your days be merry and bright

I love this point in the year when its legitimately time to sign-off work mode and indulge in some relaxation and reflection on the year nearly done.  

While 2020 has without doubt been a long hard slog with Covid impacts layered on top of all sorts of pressures and hurdles that happen in any year, we’re here, nigh on Christmas and the dawn of 2021. It’s a relief.

I am enormously grateful for the good things that have happened in 2020. We have been blessed to have two more grandchildren, and we’re able to see all 3 of our mokopuna regularly. We feel for our co-grandparents who are on the other side of the world and restricted to grandparenting by Skype or Zoom this year. Soon, soon……..

In August I was part of the wider Palliser Ridge whānau featured on Country Calendar doing a dye workshop. It was a super opportunity and really showed what a good operation Palliser Ridge farm is. As a result the word has spread about dye classes and they’ve become very popular.

I get such a buzz from the workshops; I always learn something new, the connection with other crafters is wonderful and especially the enthusiasm they bring. It is a fun-filled afternoon, rather like being allowed back to kindergarten to play in the paint. So thank you to all the people who have joined us at the woolshed, you really lift me up. 

I especially want to thank everyone who has bought Kindly Dyer yarns.  I do hope you are enjoying knitting, crocheting, and making with the yarns as much as I enjoyed colouring them. Selling still feels an unfamiliar activity for me and I appreciate every single purchase. Your support encourages me immensely.

And so as I reflect on 2020 and all the people who have put the GOOD into my year; family, friends near and far, workmates past and present, and customers, I’m getting into another favourite activity – planning for the year ahead.

Every year I make a plan for myself and write it down. I have done this since year 2000 using the 7thHabit “Sharpening the Saw” from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a framework for my personal goals. In 2021 I’m going to make a habit of reviewing and reflecting on my goals/plans more regularly and re-focusing my actions to keep on track.

Now, I’m off to do some gardening, to soak up inspiration and renew my energy tank. I’ve got my natural dyed yarns on the needles already and at least 2 more projects in the wings.

Belle shawl – designed by Truly Myrtle knit in progress with Kindly Dyer yarns Grace (100% NZ merino) and Clara (80/20 merino nylon sock)

I wish you all a joyous festive season.  May your days be merry and bright, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy nature, leisure pastimes and the good company of others. 

Hugs, kindness always – Keiry


Down the rabbit hole

Back in April this year – yep, lockdown time – Bonnie (@unionfibre) posted pics of an adorable little rabbit she was knitting called Bunny Odile designed by Cinthia Vallet (@fromcinthia).

I commented my delight and Bonnie suggested that some natural dyed yarn would be special. Well! What a great idea for lockdown dyeing. I had all the plant materials for rabbity-brown, and I had some lovely single-ply Merino from Wild Earth Yarns that was waiting for just the right project. So, down the rabbit hole I hurried.

I made a batch of dye with flax seed-pods from my garden that gave a lovely light brown and I splotched on some Logwood extract to give nice warm variegations and voilà, perfect rabbity-brown yarn.

As soon as that first skein was dry I cast on Bunny Odile and was transfixed with the process of knitting, in one piece, from the tip of her nose to her cute wee tail, a little lockdown bunny. I knit a pretty pink dress with bobbles to suit her plucky style.

One was not enough. I spent happy days making dyes with the flax seed pods, and Alder cones and walnut husks that I’d gathered at my friend Karen’s farm. I dyed up all the Merino single skeins I had left in various shade of rabbit; brown, beige and honey. I dyed yarn for clothes too, and knit another rabbit and sweater.

Thoughts gnawed at me during lockdown, that while I was happy, safe and secure at a home shared with my beloved, and having time to indulge my creative passions, outside my bubble I knew there were Mums and kids without such safety and security. And so, a little idea formed and percolated away and I’m pleased to share it here.

I’ve made up a number of Home Bunny yarn kits to sell. All the proceeds from these will go to Women’s Refuge to help them provide safe and secure homes for women and kids in need.  I’ll have these for sale at Capital Fibre Fest at Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre Upper Hutt on Saturday 24thOctober. I’ll be there on the Palliser Ridge stand with Kindly Dyer yarns and the bunny yarn kits.

Each bunny yarn kit contains :

~ One 35g mini cake of naturally dyed single ply yarn to knit Bunny Odile

~ Three 20g mini cakes of naturally dyed fingering weight yarns in 3 colours to knit a couple of garments

~ A length of black wool to embroider eyes and nose on your Bunny

The colours for the garments are all from trials or happy surprises in the dye pots and every kit is a different colour combination.

If you don’t already have the pattern for Bunny Odile, it’s available online for purchase here on Ravelry or on PayHip.

You’ll also need 2.0mm double pointed needles or circular needle, and stuffing for the finished bunny.

You can see Cinthia’s other adorable animal designs here on Ravelry.


Constancy

Well, hasn’t 2020 turned out to be a roller coaster! When 2019 ticked over into 2020 COVID-19 wasn’t on my to do list for the new year. But we all had to band together and do it.

To balance out the downhills I’ve had some absolute highlights – being mother-of-the-groom in January, becoming a second-time Nana in June,

and being part of the Palliser Ridge Country Calendar episode that screened last Sunday on TV1 NZ. It is a real privilege to be part of the Palliser Ridge story. I always talk about the good hands who touch the wool on its way from farm to yarn, and Country Calendar offers you the chance to see them in action.

Filming Country Calendar episode 23 Spinning a Yarn

Watching the episode reminded me how grounding nature is – the seasons arrive as expected, a constant cycle in the midst of turmoil. This week I’ve gathered seaweed washed up on the beach for the garden, I’ve weeded, pruned roses and dyed a batch of yarn a beautiful light olive green – spring green. The sure signs of impending spring are all about.  It feels good.  And as I’m writing this I’m enjoying watching the blackbirds flit and swoop about the garden. We have a birdbath and it’s popular – there’s frequently a queue to use it, thought it’s not in the slightest an orderly queue.

The thing is though, no matter the season there is always something to enjoy, and particularly for me, colours that set off my imagination and inspire what I want to try and create in the dye pots. Last year’s winter pruning inspired me to make these colours to partner with the Palliser Ridge rustic brown.

This daisy at a gatepost along the road from our place set me off on a pink and yellow path early last spring

and then my hydrangeas said try this…….

I’m percolating on another idea now, it will take a bit of organising and experimenting to see if i can make it work. For now, here’s a clue……

img_5170



Madder

The urge to re-start blogging has been nagging away in the back of my mind for some time.  I really enjoyed blogging when I lived in Paris, (keirybeesparis) it made me look at Parisian life with thoughtful eyes and even more importantly was the best way to keep me in touch with friends and family at home and stave off the pangs of homesickness. The knitting community here was really developing, Wei Siew @Kiwiyarns was blogging about so many interesting people and yarns and I was itching to return and immerse myself in the local yarn-and-craft community. It is a hugely important part of my life, the connections and friendships fill my heart and I’m thrilled at how this community continues to flourish. (BTW, @kiwiyarns is writing on her blog again too, hooray.)

 

Now, with rāhui we’re ensconced in our bubbles and the need for community is feeling strong. img_6438I’m missing my little mokopuna; for the last year, 3 days every week, my toddler granddaughter has been a chirpy (and all-consuming) “helper” from early morning until evening while Mama and Papa went out to work. But our bubbles are separate and I have time to indulge that urge to start writing and fill the void.

 

I think I want to write about natural dyeing, my garden, wool, knitting and crochet projects, maybe some sewing too if I keep up my newly developing skills, pretty much all the mahi that is keeping me occupied, helping me feel that I’m still being useful somehow and in control of my day. Do let me know if you have a thought about something I could write about.

 

I’ll start with something I’m literally tickled salmon-pink with. Read More