Sombre colours

I bought this fantastic linen yarn on a cone. It was quite fine and I usually like chunky yarns to knit.  But I love linen and this was a good price so I bought one kilo (about 2 ounds) in a natural white colour because I wanted to dye it and then knit a sweater.

I wanted sombre colours, grays, browns and some purple. My dye materials were Logwood which I had stashed away somewhere and i had tried to use in a soap once. It didn't work. At first there was this incredible purple colour in the soap, but it disappeared right before my eyes.

I also had some Alkanet root that I had bought off the internet and then I went and dug up the root of Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) that grows just about in every ditch one can find around here and dyed with that.

The result is what you see in the photo. At first the Logwood purple was just way too bright for my taste and clashed violently with the other muted shades. But Logwood is a fugitive dye and fades with time. It does so quite quickly…

Icelandic National Costume - The Vest

There is a saying in Icelandic that to have a choice is to be in pain.  I felt that way when it was time to make all the choices necessary to start to make the vest for the costume.

First you have to pick a colour for the body. For the 19th century costume, there is a choice between red, blue or green. The vest is outlined with a border of solid colour and under the silver "milla", there is a lining, often in tartan pattern.  On the back were either velvet ribbons flanked by gold or silver trim or lace. The lace was always bobbin lace made of wool. The colour of these could be almost anything. And then there is the embroidered part on the front "baldýring" which I have done. So, quite a daunting task to make all those decisions. And that is just for the vest.

Then there is the apron! It can be striped or plaid. Even a solid colour, although that is less common. Some prefer woven wool, others want silk. And the choice of colours is pretty unlimited. I made an apron…


I have had to rethink my life quite a bit lately so I thought it fitting that my blog should reflect that.

I've changed the way it looks. And I'm showing my face. The look of the blog is more "Now". It's cleaner and more streamlined. With fewer elements. Like my life. It has been in limbo, like this blog for quite some time. With something looming and no one quite knowing what the outcome would be. Or when it would be clear which direction life would take. But now it has been decided for me. My life is going to be a more streamlined life. With fewer elements. I've lost the biggest part of my life, but there still is much left to live for and much left to be thankful for. But the loss will be there and I, as so many before me, will have to live with it. On my own. I've no idea how to go about it. My profile description needs to change. It used to say: I have two daughters, two dogs, one son in law and one husband. Now it needs to change to: I am a widdow,…

Icelandic National Costume - Baldýring 2 - embroidery, using silk Part 2

I came across some written instructions for making the traditional embroidery "Baldýring" the other day.  It's from a course like the one that I took, except we didn't get a handout.  I got permission to copy it from the woman who had it and it's been really helpful to put into words the second half of this tutorial.  I have also updated the first post, where appropriate.

Unfortunately there wasn't any description of how to make the shapes, so I will attempt to describe that.

First you need to draw the individual shapes so that they can be cut out.

Use a fine line Sharpie and thick mylar to trace each shape once.

From this drawing all the shapes will be made, so be careful to trace accurately from the original pattern, but only once for each shape, even if the shape is repeated several times.

Cut out all the shapes, taking care to follow the lines carefully.  Nail scissors with a pointed end, preferable curved, work best.

Use old fashioned carbon paper to cop…

Japanese Indigo - That Irresistible Blue

This spring I sowed some Japanese Indigo. I have done that once before, but only really got one plant to live, but this time I had about eight healthy plants.

They got off to a slow start in the cold and wet Icelandic spring, but once I figured out that I really shouldn't expect a summer and covered them with fleece, they took off and turned into a vigorous bunch.

I harvested them all at the same time in fall and dyed some Alpaca wool with the thought of giving it to my daughter who wanted to make a simple garter stitch shawl.

Here is the method I used. A tutorial of sorts.

I cut the plants, stem and all and take them home.

I remove the leaves from the stems and chop them finely. I do this immediately after I get home. The leaves do not keep well and can not be dried.

I stuff the leaves into a jar and pour fresh water from the tap over the leaves. I put the jar in a pot - I always put a washcloth in the bottom of the pot - and heat it gently to 50°C / 120°F.

Then I sieve the liquid …

Orange for fall

Orange really isn't my colour at all.  I look like death warmed over, if I attempt to wear it, while my daughter on the other hand, simply glows.  But it is a beautiful vibrant colour that is both happy and energetic. And it is the undisputed colour of fall.

I didn't set out to make an orange soap.  I have been wanting to do a yellow one since early this year.  I was longing for spring and wanted the warm golden yellow that I got from Annatto once.  So I infused Annatto seeds and expected them to turn the oil a golden yellow overnight.  It didn't. I'm still waiting.  Then I thought of the left over unrefined palm oil that is in my cupboards and decided to use that.  I just had to try palm oil once so I bought it even if the environmental effects are questionable.  Since I bought it I might as well use it up, there is no reason to waste it.  
And then, as I was selecting my ingredients I looked at the infused rhubarb oil and decided to blend it in and see if I would ge…

Black Currant, Red Currant, Ginger and Mint Jelly

I made some red currant and black currant jelly, but really thought there was so much colour and goodness left after I had boiled the fruit and sieved it. So I added some wtaer to both and boiled them again, this time with a little piece of ginger and a handful of mint leaves.

I let it steep for a while, sieved it and added sugar. For 1 liter (about 1 quart) I added a bit less than 1 kilo (about a pound) of sugar.

I used a candy thermometer and boiled it to 104°C / 217°F and then poured it into canning jars. Let it cool. Close the lid and store in the fridge.

It turned out delicious.

Amazing how we always tend to think of everything as single use. Now I have my traditional Red Currant jelly, a traditional Black Currant Jelly and this great new experiment that I got for not a lot of trouble and leftover used berries that were on their way to the compost heap.