Friday, 9 November 2018

Dyeing For Colour. . .

Last month, I attended a really fun workshop at Ovis Yarns in Liverpool.  In celebration of Wool Week, we got to test out acid dyeing on mini-skeins of different breeds of British wool, finishing up with the chance to dye a larger quantity on our favourite base.

There are lots of different techniques to hand-dyeing;  we dipped, painted, splashed, speckled, and smooshed the dye - both in powder and liquid form -   onto our wool.  Below is a mini-skein of Wensleydale that I dyed.  Once you are happy with the result, you wrap it up in clingfilm like a sausage and put it in the microwave to set.

And this was the finished result. The setting softens the colours and brings out more depth.  I was very happy with my efforts.

We dyed a mini-skein of Jacob - the natural brown of the wool  goes really well with the greens.

And this was a mini-skein of superwash Bluefaced Leicester.  I'll admit to going a little bonkers with all the colours, but it'll make a nice contrast toe or cuff on a pair of socks. 

I wasn't at all happy with my initial attempts on this mix of Bluefaced Leicester and Masham - I was going for teals and mustards and it ended up becoming a really insipid limey-yellow.  So I overdyed the lot with a mossy green and it turned out fabulous!

Practice skeins completed, we were then let loose on some full 100g skeins of 4ply. I had ordered a few extra skeins of the BFL/Masham blend (my favourite) in advance to get a garment quantity. I really wanted to try speckling and though it looked okay initially . . . 

. . . a little of the powder goes a long way.  It got too squished in the rolling stage and when it was set, it came out more variegated than speckled.  I still like the colours though and I think these are destined for a striped garment of some sort.  I have several undyed skeins of BFL/Masham in my stash. 

Then I tried to replicate my mossy green practice skein, but dyeing is a precise recipe and this was as close as I could get. I am still pleased with them however - I did get the deeper greens in places, and I quite like the hints of turquoise and yellow that pop out every so often.  I think I will turn these into a summer top and alternate the skeins while knitting. It will be fascinating to see how they knit up.

There were five of us in the workshop and part of the fun (apart from getting to know some very friendly and inspiring knitters), was seeing all the different colour combinations that we came up with. We all had very different palettes and were drawn also to different styles of dyeing.  These group shots do show however, the similarities in tone and undertone that the different sheep breeds offered.



BFL superwash: 


But my absolute favourites were these gorgeous skeins dyed by Jane. They look so professional and she nailed the soft autumnal colours that she was going for.  I can't wait to see these knitted up.

If you are in Liverpool, do check out Becky's workshop schedule here.  She's also starting to offer drop in dye sessions where you can bring your own skeins or purchase some from her.  I will conquer those speckles yet!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Some Final Photos: Walking in Scotland Part Four. . .

Last photos from Scotland, I promise, but since I've pulled out the best shots from the hundreds on my phone, if nothing else, this post will serve as reminder to me of an area that I would definitely like to return to.

Weather was a bit murky on our fifth day, so our guide took us on a very touristy trail up the bottom slopes of the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. We took the circular mountain trail and it's well marked with good paths. The descent is a bit tricky and steep, but you just have to take your time.

It starts on the banks of Loch Maree.

And the higher you get, the more of the surrounding mountain ranges you see.

This is about mid-way along the trail and where I separated from the group.  They wanted to go up that mountain in the background (which is a lot higher and steeper than it looks in this photo - for scale, if you peer closely, you can just see the colourful jackets of the group just heading towards the hill above the water). But I saw grey clouds in the distance and the wind was already fairly strong, so I chose to head back to the van. Our guide assured me I would not get lost as long as I stuck to the path. He gave me the car keys and said they would be about two hours behind me, but that was just fine as I had my knitting with me (of course!)

Being alone, I could also take my time and stop and take as many photos as I wanted to.  I love the deep ochre and brown colours of this lochan.

And it was great to see a rainbow over Loch Maree on the descent.  The circular walk takes about four hours at a steady pace and a good choice if you don't have a guide and want to get up into the hills.

Finally, on our last day, the sun shone brightly and we headed up to the Rua Reidh Peninsula, northwest of Gairloch. As we climbed a small hill, we had the Minch behind us and could just see the outline of Skye in the distance.

And then we came upon a really spectacular view on the other side.  From this one point, we could see the landscape of all three of our last Scotland holidays.  Looking north, we could see the hills around and away from Ullapool and could just make out Suilven which remains one of my favourite climbs ever. To the west, we could see the outline of Harris. And to the southeast, we could see the Torridon mountain range. It was quite emotional, especially since this was our last day and not only had we had the same guide for three years running, but four of us in the group had been on all three holidays.

The walk ended with several miles of coastline.

Until we got to Rua Reidh Lighthouse which you can actually book if you'd like to stay there.

And so ends another Scottish adventure.  I don't think I'll ever tire of visiting this beautiful area.  So many more walks to do. . . .

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Hills Behind Gairloch: Walking in Scotland Part Three. . .

Day 4 of our trip was definitely my favourite walk and just another example of how you don't have to be bagging the munros to get the gorgeous views.  I'm afraid I don't have the names of every little hill we climbed in this circular walk but I can tell you that we started from the village of Gairloch and An Groban was definitely one of them ( possibly the first one, but alas, I was so busy taking in the scenery, I wasn't pay attention to our guide).  There is a very good website here that provides more information about the area if anyone is keen to explore these hills.

The start of the walk is along a very manicured touristy path that takes in a waterfall. But shortly after, you are at the foot of the first hill.

Again, the colours were stunning and you don't have to climb far to see the sea.

Once up, there is a landscape of wonderful little lochans and bumpy hills. If you've ever climbed Haystacks in the Lake District, this is a very similar terrain and height.

Just look at the colours in this rock!!!!!

And could there be a more spectacular view? You have all the big, mighty Torridon hills in the distance and in the foreground, these majestic, rocky outcrops, surrounded by intense orange bracken and above and below moody skies and watery shadows.  I was just in awe at the beauty but also the emptiness of it all. Not a soul to be seen.

We walked from lump to lump in a circle - they may all look close together, but there is a lot of undulation and distance involved.

And finally from the far side, we got a lovely view of Loch Maree.

We then scrambled down and returned via a path that skirted this larger lochan. 

It was a fabulous walk - about 7 miles in total and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Colour Inspiration: Walking in Scotland Part Two. . .

Day three of our Scottish holiday brought sun and promising weather.  We had to leave Ullapool and travel to the Torridon area so our walks were a bit shorter.

We first went on a river/gorge walk following the Cuileig river which is used for hydro-electric power.

Climbing out of the gorge after viewing several lovely waterfalls, we emerged onto the moors and took a scenic path back.

Then we headed off onto the North Coast 500 road which curves its way south along the coast. Near Gairloch we stopped off to stretch our legs and have a beach walk.  I absolutely love the beaches in Scotland; there is no better place for colour inspiration.  Gairloch Beach proper is quite popular with tourists, but our guide knew just where to stop on the highway, park the van and lead us through an obscure path to a lesser known and just as beautiful part of the beach.  Even the walk towards the water was gorgeous with the hillsides covered in autumn hues. I love the orange bracken against the purple heather with this almost minty green dancing before it.

And here is the deserted beach, just waiting for us.

Just look at the strata of colour in this one section of rock!

Before heading for our hotel, we just had time to stop for an hour at Inverewe Gardens, where ironically, we got completely drenched in a sudden downpour. It was the wettest I got during the whole holiday.

But it has one of the most vibrant lily ponds I've ever seen.

Our base for the next few days was right on the banks of Loch Maree. So peaceful and beautiful with the water just lapping on the hotel's backyard.

The next day was my favourite walk of the whole trip and deserves a post all on its own.