knitting the gusset

Curiously, of all the nine movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, “Knitting the Gusset” is by far the most watched. I’m guessing that this follows from many knitters searching for a good explanation – and this is where learning from a video online is just so full of potential. All those household studies we might have grown up with in another era, now as a short movie. The thumb gusset is a basic problem, simply solved, best watched over someone’s shoulder rather than explained or diagrammed. Would you like to see how I like to knit it?

That’s how it’s done. Work along with the movies in the old schoolhouse (see the column to your left), to make the knitting projects in the appleturnovershop. The patterns are easily downloaded and printed, if you’ve got your own yarn and needles.

appleturnover handwarmer pattern

knitting preview

Things have been deceptively quiet on appleturnover lately. Behind the scenes my sweetheart and I have been working flat out, shooting four new homemade pictures for the old schoolhouse. We filmed the Knitting Series in my mother’s bright studio in Deep Cove, and like the Quilting Series, the camera looks over my shoulder as I work, to help you see, step-by-step, every method needed to cable-knit and honeycomb-stitch your own handwarmers and mittens.

There were many props to prepare, and organise, diagrams, storyboards, patterns and notes to draw up. Then we began editing (though my sweetheart is in England just now, so we are using high technology to collaborate!) returning to the intertitles that we loved using in the Quilting Series. For these movies we’ve added the dimension of animation, so another aspect of my art practice has reappeared. Lovely. We’re not drawing so much as writing on the screen, to help illustrate the old techniques clearly. As ever my work is a strange mixture of traditions and technology. I’ve designed printable patterns to take you through each step.

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

What do you think of the knitting preview? Watch all the tutorials, free, you’ll find them in the schoolhouse in the column to your left.

coracle

Since the earliest days of spring I’ve been visiting the pond on Old Plawhatch Farm, to document a project that grew out of a beautiful mentorship. A handmade boat. To celebrate the solstice and long days at the water, swimming days, boating days, I bring you the launch of the Flying Terapin.

coracle-beginning
When Callum, our 9-year-old mate in bushcraft, woodwork and art, first showed me the coracle, it was a skeleton of young coppiced branches stuck deep into the banks of the spring and woven together along the earth. Logs from a major pruning round the water (the algae on the pond needed to be reduced by exposing it to more sunlight!) weighted the top to create the boat’s shape as the young branches aged.
the coracle wood
This is the coppice where the new, bendy, sprouting branches were cut from. I love the tradition of building a boat beside the water where it will be set afloat, and using the materials found around it.
<the coracle woven
On my next walk on to the farm the framework had been woven together with more young shoots. In the farm shop one day I ran into Callum’s mentor, the affable Daniel Yabsley, and asked him about the project.
the coracle
Calico would be a traditional cover, but being fairly expensive, Dan helped Callum attach a tarpaulin to the framework instead. Canvas or animal skins were also used for these types of boats. One beautiful day in June a crowd of us joined the boatbuilders down at the old spring to launch the coracle. We flipped it over, off the bank and into the water. You can see the seat wedged in, not an easy project in itself.
the coracle launch
I think a mentorship is such a brilliant way to learn. One into the boat, two into the boat;
the coracle - they're off!
And they’re off! The boys used just one paddle and a wiggly sort of rowing.
coracle-passengers
Once round the pond and to the bank for passengers. The coracle is astonishingly stable! A race with the rowboat, and just about everyone (and their dog, truthfully) had a go.
the coracle © elisa rathje 2012 with thanks to james mccabe
Even me. What a thrill, to be out on the water on a beautiful day, in a handmade boat. Callum popped open a bottle of sparkling blueberry juice to mark the occasion.
the coracle © elisa rathje 2012 with thanks to james mccabe
(For the coracle thrill-seekers amongst you, you might like to know that one can spin round in circles rather quickly.) Such a wonderful old British tradition, coracle building. Happy summer solstice!

dyeing wool

The casual mentorship by family and friends in my life, introducing me to skills, tools, techniques, gives me tremendous courage. For months I’ve been actively avoiding a fleece, a wonderful big Jacob’s fleece that my sweetheart bought for a few quid at the farm shop. I’d never so much as watched someone washing or carding a fleece. Finally, my sweet friend Caz’s invitation to bring some wool and do some plant-dyeing over at Trefoil Farm School moved me to action. You know, the morning of our date. In fact it wasn’t difficult, or that messy. Out in the garden I clipped the tougher bits of wool from the fleece and put the rest into a tub of luke-warm, dish-soapy water, gently worked it, and repeated. Just to clean it a little and remove some of the oils. It’s amazing what scares me!

plant-dyed-yarn-1

At the farm school, such a peaceful place, handmade buildings and everything beautiful, we set up at a table outside and the children all helped to card some wool. More about carding later – I’m very much in love with it!

plant-dyed-yarn-2

The wool and yarn were placed in hot water, to soak before the dyebath.

plant-dyed-yarn-3

Caz has a gorgeous collection of dyer’s books. We used Wild Colour, a copy of which I plan to get my hands on. Tansy!

plant-dyed-yarn-4

We used dried tansy, prepare the day before. I think Caz had cooked the plant material and left it to soak and release more colour.

plant-dyed-yarn-5

The plant-dye was strained off;

plant-dyed-yarn-6

A mordant, one chosen to pop up the yellow colour, was added, carefully;

plant-dyed-yarn-7

And all the wool added to the pot and set on the stove to heat for half an hour. The effect when dry was very subtle. More experimentation!

plant-dyed-yarn-9

Most exciting of this process of dyeing wool with plants is feeling like we can begin wonderful experiments in colour now, with that courage you get from being shown how by a good friend. I have a red cabbage in the fridge and nettles in the garden that I might try first.

yarn_samples.jpg

You might like a couple of images I made of the plant-dying, spinning and weaving projects Caz does with the sweet children at the farm school. I think her fibre work is so beautiful. Thank you Caz, and everyone at Trefoil for the tremendous inspiration!

weaving_wool.jpg

papermaking

Making paper is such simple pleasure. A little circle of friends made some together today. We began, like bread bakers, a day or two in advance, ripping a dozen sheets of paper into small pieces and leaving it to soak in a few cups of water. One family cooked theirs up and spun it through the food processor to get a fine pulp; the others just rubbed the soaked paper for a few minutes, til the fibres came apart, to make a rough, porridgey texture.

papermaking-screen

You’ll need a screen. We had ready-made screens and homemade screens. An embroidery hoop with a pair of fine tights stretched across it works surprisingly well. You’ll also need a tub wide enough to accomodate the screens, and for good measure, a bit of mesh and a sponge to help press the water out.

papermaking-flowers

The children ran round the garden collecting flowers and leaves to add to the paper;

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

Plucked the petals from their stems and threw it all into the mixture in the tub, with a bit of extra water.

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

Ready? Here we go. Slip the screen (screen-side-up) under the pulp, and lift it up to catch a layer of paper. If you don’t like the effect, tap it out and try again.

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

If you choose to, lay the mesh over the pulp on your screen, and press gently with the sponge to release water, frequently squeezing out the sponge. I’m not sure it is necessary, but we admired the look of it after.

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

Set the papermaking screen somewhere warm to dry for a few hours. It’s far too miserable to leave ours outside, sadly. We’ll pry up our homemade paper with a butter knife, and show you later!

stoneware

From the beginning of September I’ve been studying wheel-throwing once a week in the next village. Pure joy. Half a year later I’m making things I’m pleased with and excited to use in the old cottage. Would you like to see?

stoneware © elisa rathje 2012

These pieces were slipped in white before a biscuit fire and glazed again in white. They’ll be fired once more, I have high hopes that they’ll come through this last step beautifully. This image of my stoneware was made with the enchanting Instagram, which I’ve grown very fond of, with its nostalgic filters and squared frames. I take pictures of everyday making and occasional adventures with it, if you’d like to follow appleturnover. I love to see the amazing images people are making.