This project started with my trip to The Woolery for a quick purchase of some fleece for my Friendship Spinners Guild meeting. I bought a pound of off-white roving, which is a blend of wool from 57 different sheep. I started spinning the yarn using long draw woolen method on my Lendrum portable spinning wheel while socializing with other spinners at the meeting. I decided to spin very thin yarn for a light-weight pullover for this exceptionally warm winter month.
The finely-spun yarn was finished in a few days. It’s amazing how much time it takes to spin just one bobbin when the yarn is so fine! After 24-hour setting time, I plied the fibers to create a two-ply yarn for knitting.
Following the routine, I transferred the spun and two-plied yarn from the bobbins into skeins using a hand reel with a bucolic name “niddy-noddy.”
The next step in preparation for knitting is to wash the spun yarn. My yarn was almost white. So I decided to combine the washing with dyeing. As with everything else I produce, I use only pigments derived from nature. This time, the natural dyes are found right here on the farm. The carpet of fallen autumn leaves has transformed the forested countryside into a cinnamon-colored landscape. The bright patches of the carpeted terrain found under the hickory trees are especially attractive.
I collected a few pounds of dry hickory leaves and used them to dye my wool. Dying with natural pigments is always a pleasurable experiment as one never knows what the resulting color, tone, and shade to expect. I could hardly wait to see the final color. To my great surprise, the result exceeded my expectations. I was very happy with this rich golden-brown hue.
The washed and dyed yarn is ready for knitting now.
A Swatch of Patterns
Recently, I have been reading about Orenburg goat down lacy shawls and became intrigued by their mesmerizingly intricate patterns. Although, I want to make gossamer shawls similar in design to those of Orenburg, I decided to create something even more complex in nature: a three-dimensional garment with the elaborate lacy needlework. A pullover was the best choice for me. I had a certain design in mind: 1) some Orenburg patterns; 2) a tunic cut with three-quarter sleeves; and 3) a round yoke.
My extensive search for patterns did not produce satisfying results. I am sure there is a pattern out there that would’ve been perfect for me, but I just couldn’t find it. So I decided to start knitting from scratch and create my own design in the process – sort of make a big swatch of various gossamer patterns in the shape of a tunic.
After making a small stockinette swatch to measure the knit gauge, I cast on and started knitting.
The lacy pattern makes the newly created fabric look very corrugated. It was turning out beautifully though.
The pattern that I selected for the bodice has even more relief. In fact, the shape looks to me like an egg carton.
Blocking the Garment
After a garment is made, it moves on to the next step of the process – blocking. There are different types of blocking depending on the fibers used and the desired result. I decided to wet-block followed by a steam-block.
I am satisfied with the resulting shape, pattern, color, and overall design. I already wore it once or twice before taking the picture below. When I look at this photo, I see myself in it. It is definitely me!
Below is a close up shot of the lower yoke and the bodice pattern.
I like knitted lace garments for their beautiful look and versatility. The tunic is warm and durable enough being made with 100% wool. It feels very comfortable on warm days because of the open lace pattern. It is also quite warm when worn with a jacket over it because the holes of the gossamer pattern trap air pockets acting as an insulator. Finally, great comfort is achieved with all knitted garments are providing unrestricted movements – this tunic is not an exception.