Hand Spinning & Natural Dyeing - Sarah Matthess

Monday, 12 January 2015

'Lough Navar Forest' Art Yarn

Lough Navar Forest is a riot of green in the Summer. The views are tremendous. The Sperrins and Blue-Stack mountains can be seen from there. In that area of County Fermanagh there are fields of white tufted grasses, and little lilac coloured flowers at certain times of the year.  I've tried to paint that picture here in this new art yarn, just off my spinning-wheel and now up on Etsy. It's super-soft with merino, silk, lambswool, suri-alpaca, cotton, silk fabric and thread, and embroidery floss.
Around 5 or 6 wraps per inch, this will knit up nicely on 6 or 7mm needles - maybe even 8mm, depending on your project. It's bulky yarn and could be worn next to the skin.

Because this is a blog all-about-it, I'll get a bit more technical. I've spun this on my Kromski wheel.  My spools hold about 80 grams per spool so this super-big skein of 168 grams is made up of 2 identical skeins. Well, that's as 'identical' as hand-spun ever gets!! I use the large size whorl, and I select the smaller of the 2 options on that whorl.  It's slower work, but makes a better finished product on a bulky art yarn. This also allows me a chance to incorporate the silk and ribbon, and all that good stuff, as I go.  I keep a pot of it by my wheel, and I grab up a bit of this and a bit of that as I go.
I tried hard to dye the merino and the silk as near to grass green as I could. I think I got a pretty good match.  The grass is VERY green in this part of the world. Probably that's due to the ceaseless rain. And believe me, there's even more of it in County Fermanagh.
In Enniskillen Castle Museum, Co. Fermanagh, there is a visual display of a ' crannog' recently excavated right in the water of Lough Erne.  Most interesting to discover that there were ancient man-made islands on Lough Erne that were built to live on. Houses in fact. I can't imagine how people lived like that. Water underneath, water all about, and rain from above.
I decided to spin up a couple more skeins of this yarn, but this time added some novelty yarns, to make it even more textured. This is that same yarn knitted into a hat, now up on Etsy. Check out that lovely green field in the background of the photo.  Snow just melted today and the camera didn't pick up on the fact that we were getting wet taking these pictures!! (as usual).
 I knitted it in the round on double pointed 6mm needles. It weighs 98grams, just a little more than 1 skein. As above, this is approx. 5 wpi, so it is a bulky yarn. I cast on 60 stitches, 20 onto each of my 3 double pointed needles, and then knit away at that, knit 2, purl 2, for about 6", then stocking stitch for the rest. Bring it to a close at the top by decreasing for 3 rows, then pick up the remaining stitches and sew through them with the 'tail' and a darning needle. Pull up firmly and weave the tail away in to the knitting.

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