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Posts Tagged ‘rabbit brush’

A few months ago, my good friend Lesley, an avid knitter, started a Thursday night knitting group amongst our bevy of ladies. Always being one to love a crafty get together with friends, and having never tried knitting before, I was up for the adventure.

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Of course, the instant I decided to start a knitting project, I wanted to dye the yarn. Lesley suggested this wool from Flint Knits as one she liked. I purchased six skeins and dyed them yellow with rabbit brush flowers. You can read more about that and see lovely pictures here.

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Many of us were interested in knitting a sweater, and Lesley suggested the February Lady Sweater as a good beginning sweater to knit. At the first Thursday Night Knitting get together, I wound my skeins into balls.

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Then, we learned to cast on.

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And then we learned to knit. And then pearl.

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The February Lady Sweater is knit from the top down, so here’s the beginning stitches, which would be the neck on the finished product. Sweaters have such humbling beginnings, don’t they?

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The garter stitch went quickly, and soon it was time for the button holes. Yikes! Three of them. Soon, the top shoulder piece was done.

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Then began the body of the sweater, learning yarn overs, knit two togethers, and the like to make the lacy pattern. I enjoyed the challenge of following a pattern and the look of the lace as it emerged.

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Soon, the lace body was getting long enough I needed to try it on for size. Looking good!

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The knitting nights continued, and soon I was on to the sleeves. There were a plethora of knitting projects being made, from little knit animals to scarves, hats, and quite a few February Lady Sweaters. Through it all, Lesley tirelessly troubleshot our mistakes, fixed dropped stitches, helped interpret patterns, and encouraged us to continue on despite the odds.

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And just in time for Christmas gifts, the sweater was finished. Last step, blocking. I’d never heard of this step before. We got the sweater wet, lay it out on soft tiles, then pinned and stretched it into shape, leaving it for a few days to dry.

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For the last piece, I sewed on big wooden buttons, wrapped it up, and presented it to my sister for Christmas.

IMG_0039What’s next? I’ve been knitting a scarf over the holidays with the remaining rabbit brush yarn. Another challenging and complicated lacy pattern. More on that when it is complete!

What have you knit recently?

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Saturday morning, Lesley, Becca and I hopped on our bikes and rode down to the Owens River to harvest rabbit brush.

We quickly noticed that there were a lot of bees, all going for the same flowers we were! This made for slow work, but luckily no one got stung.

Some bushes had larger flowers than others, and we gravitated towards those, which filled our buckets quicker. We harvested from one bush and then moved onto another, covering a pretty large area, but there was no end to the rabbit brush!

After almost an hour of collecting, we had ten pounds of rabbit brush, which would dye about three pounds of yarn and fabric. Yikes!

We loaded the flowers into my bike trailer, and pedaled home.

Then the boiling began. First, we mordanted the yarn and fabric in alum, and rinsed it prior to dyeing.

Next we boiled the rabbit brush for an hour. I started to get excited when the stirring spoon started to get yellow! After boiling for an hour, we removed the flowers to make room in the dye pots for the fiber.

The second the yarn was placed in the water, it started to turn yellow!

Then we simmered the fiber and dye together for another hour. With great anticipation, we removed the dyed fibers from the dye pot to much oohing and aahing, and rinsed before hanging to dry.

Some rabbit brush flowers still stuck to the yarn!

Just look at the color. So brilliant and happy.

The work went quickly with three of us working to rinse and hang the fibers to dry.

The finished product: nine hanks of yarn and two yards of fabric. Note the color difference, the cotton not taking up the color as brilliantly as the wool.

What would you do with yarn of this brilliant nature?

Learn to knit a sweater of course! More on that coming soon.

What’s next? Maybe dyeing with pear bark from Lesley’s tree?

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As you might remember, I shared a past post on printing photographs on fabric. I was inspired by the fall colors and early snow on the mountains. This week I started to play around with the fabric, and getting caught in the moment, finished the quilt in two days!

The quilt measures 16″x18.5″, and features blooming rabbit brush, fresh snow on Mt. Tom, and Aaron’s new cross bike. Winston made it into the quilt too, can you spot him?

This is one of my favorite fabrics in the quilt. Classic Owens Valley view of Mt. Tom off in the distance. I had fun with adding stitching to the image, enhancing the fence and mountain snow.

Close-up of the snowy mountains. Didn't that turn out nice?

Detail of the fence. Notice how the thread mimics the wood grain, so sweet!

I played around with repeating the bike's shapes with stitching around the quilt.

I think this will be a quilt to hang at home, and imagine it will always remind us of our bike rides here in the Owens Valley.

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