crochet | knit | sew | spin

Inside the Ribbon Tin: February

February 16, 2014

IMG_1078Another month has passed and it is time to open the Ribbon Tin.  Inside the Ribbon Tin is a monthly series featuring a miscellany of bits and bobs, odds and sods, knicks and knacks, all sorts of interesting things related to textiles and making.

It is high summer here. The lawns are brown, the parks cracked and parched and the leaves on my tomatoes are burnt to a crisp. Alas. The sunflower is thriving however.

IMG_1668On the other side of the world it is deep Winter, deep Wintery Olympics.  Our family watches it to keep cool but I am secretly sweater and hat watching.  My kids spotted the Finnish Ski team knitting during the heats.  Them thinking this is important, fills me with pride. I spotted a fabulous Fair Isle vest on the German figure skating team. But what most delights and surprises me is the patchworky diamond logo of Sochi 2014 in hot, patterned brights.  Who knew Putin was a patchworker?

banner-designsThe patchwork motifs feature on flags, competitor vests, planes, cars and athletes’ bedding.  It looks a whole lot more rainbow friendly than Putin meant to be!

Organised Chaos ShahHere is an actual quilt that beguiled me recently.  It is called Organised Chaos by Sujata Shah of The Root Connection. Isn’t it marvellous.

Sujata is a US quilter who is passionate about using scraps to make quilts. This one is entirely made from leftovers from other projects! It is a veritable kaleidoscope of scraps.  Read about it here. I am most intrigued by how she extended the patterns inside the small squares to make larger shapes but in a non uniform way.  I reckon I could stare at this quilt for days and still not see all the pattern connections.  Sujata has just posted a great tutorial for this quilt revealing the workings of all its hidden marvels.

If it’s the kaleidoscopic splendour of the quilt which gets you, but you know not the art of quilting, you might like to visit or even join Natural Dye Studio’s Kaleidoscope crochet club.  It is a kit and pattern that unfolds over the weeks.  Amanda has taken crochet design to another place and combined with the luminous colour palette from NDS, the unfolding kaleidoscopes are breathtaking.

The Natural Dye Studio is nestled in Exmoor, UK, surrounded by moorland bred sheep. Some of their yarns are spun from fleece from these sheep at a local mill creating a truly local product.  Everywhere you travel in the UK, there are breeds of sheep particular to the area.  Driving North to South, you can see the sheep change with the landscape.

IMG_1779In the recent Winter 2014 Spin-off edition, I was reading about Debbie Zawinski, a walker in Scotland, who as she walks across the landscape, through fields and over hills, spins local fleece and knits the yarn into socks, that are quite literally generated from the land she has walked. She fashions a spindle from twigs and gathers bits of fleece from bushes and fences, spinning as she walks.  She sometimes dyes the yarn with lichens, oak galls or particular leaves over her campfire at night.  The resultant socks are not only imbued with the landscape in their materials but also in the act of traversing the landscape.

Although it sounds like my kind of walking, spindle hiking is not really an option in Australia.  Farmland is private property and we don’t have the right of ways that enable UK walkers to criss-cross sheep paddocks.  The closest I have come to such an experience is ‘discovering’ Australian Country Spinners mill shop in Wangaratta on our way back from camping! They make Cleckheaton and Patons among other yarns.

IMG_1723It was closed of course, but they have an online shop here. For Australian customers only, they have hugely discounted yarn on sale.  Tempted by the prices and the assumption I was buying Australian produced yarn, I bought yarn.  The sock yarn was bizarrely was made in Germany.  Possibly it was Australian wool, processed in Germany and then transported back to Australia to be sold by Australian Country Spinners.   It is a strange, strange world we live in.

It can be good strange too. Craftivism is featuring a year of weekly posts about historic acts of craft in activism.  So far, the site has explored Ghandi’s spinning led revolution and the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina.

The Ribbon Tin is almost empty now, except for a bit of Playmobil rattling around in the bottom.

IMG_1564I appropriated from this from my children before it ever came into their possession.  She feels the same way about her spinning stuff as I do.