It was red and yellow and green and brown and…

This has been a very visually stimulating week for me, so I hope you won’t mind a rather picture filled blog post.

A friend I used to work with in a former life send me a cryptic message a couple of weeks ago: “Look out for a parcel in the post”. I had no idea what to expect. What arrived was this!

There was an accompanying postcard, but all it told me was that my friend was having a sort through her textiles collection and she thought I might like this and that it was ‘authentic’. It is a small hat, for a child, knitted from the top down with ear flaps and knitted to a very tight gauge. The inside shows it was made using the intarsia technique which is perfect for designs with lots of patches of different colours in the same row. However, this technique is usually worked when knitting a flat piece of fabric and I cannot find a seam anywhere on this hat. It must have been knitted in the round. This leaves me puzzled. I contacted my friend to see if she had any more information. She thinks it’s from Peru, but really has forgotten as she’s had it for about 25 years or more. The bright colours were seen as desirable as they were Western chemical dyes. It really is bright – some of the colours are neon and they contrast so strongly with the probably undyed yarn used as the background colour.

I want to do some research into this and find out more about the knitting traditions from Peru and the surrounding areas.

My own colourwork knitting of the Little Orme Cowl has progressed well this week from the tiny circle of knitting I included in my picture on the previous post. It’s going to be super warm as not only is the fabric double layered from being stranded, the cowl is actually a flattened tube so you get four layers of wool between your neck and the icy winds! Ideal for when we can walk up the Little Orme (and the Great Orme) again. It’s always cold at the top! Remember that the mitts pattern is already available – it won’t be long before the cowl is as well.

Little Orme Cowl in progress next to Little Orme Mitts.

I think I’m about halfway round here. Once the knitting is finished I must remember to weave the yarn ends in before I graft the two ends of the tube together or there will be some unsecured ends that I won’t be able to access!

I had two creative successes this week as well. I finished spinning my gorgeous yarn from Anne Murray on Saturday. After letting it sit overnight I plied the two bobbins of ‘singles’ together on Sunday. Monday was skeining and washing and today it is dry. I’m probably biased, but it is a thing of beauty. Anne told me that it would fluff up and bloom after washing and she wasn’t wrong.

The yarn now has a bounce and body that wasn’t there yesterday morning. It also looks more green in real life than I can get the images to show, but either way, I love it! I think it will be the first of my hand spun yarns that I actually knit up as I can’t wait to see how it looks. But what to make?

On the baking front, last week’s sourdough was not great, despite being an improvement on the previous loaf. Yesterday I changed a whole bunch of things at once (which I know isn’t the scientific approach). I fed my starter with rye flour, put the heating on (I know it’s late winter/early spring, but it usually has to be making me shiver before I put the heating on in the daytime), left the starter on the window sill in the sunshine. For the first time ever it doubled in size!

Then more changes: I used 100g of starter instead of 50g, I reduced the water from 350ml to 300ml (along with 500g flour and 10g salt). It was a bit scary at first as I thought the flour was never all going to mix in. But it did. The dough felt and looked just right yesterday evening. I put its shower cap on and let it rest overnight on the counter. The mistake I made was not leaving the shower cap loose as the dough had risen to the top of the bowl and was completely stuck to the underside of it this morning. I finally managed to peel it off, but was a bit concerned I might have wrecked it.

Then, the cold proof in the fridge and the bake. I am delighted! There are still some improvements to be made, but this one is looking far more like a loaf. It’s taking a lot of will power to wait before cutting it open.

While I have been doing all these pursuits I have been listening to a new set of audiobooks. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and read by Jennifer Ikeda is keeping me gripped, and I do like an audiobook that’s over 20 hours long. I’m just a few chapters into the second book of the trilogy at the moment (Shadow of Night) and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

So, I shall put the kettle on, continue knitting the cowl and listen to another chapter.

Stay safe and keep knitting, K x

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