#1. Jam. I blame Sarah. She brought a jar of her homemade jam round for lunch, and it was so damn fine I had to try my hand. These jars combine the last of our allotment raspberries with some extra from the farmer’s market. Jamtastic! It set, and everything. We have already guzzled our way through one of the six jars.


#2. Baking. I blame Felix. She turned up here a few weeks ago with a jar full of sourdough starter, and her characteristic culinary enthusiasm. Since, then, I’ve not been able to stop baking. I’ve made several loaves, flatbread, a victoria sandwich, scones, a marmalade cake, and, um, buns . . . with varying degrees of success. The less said about these buns, the better.


#3. Technique. I am researching knitting accessories, and since acquiring one of these am keen to discover exactly what using it involves. As my own experiments have been rather clumsy, I defer to someone with superlative expertise, who is here pictured mastering the makkin, and knitting with two strands in the right hand, Shetland style.


#4. Colour. I am completely obsessed with colourwork, and blame the current depth of my obsession on Alice Starmore’s Hebridean 2ply, with which I knit this experimental hat a few weeks ago. My experiment was not entirely successful, but it has certainly whet my appetite for further experimental forays with this yarn. To make the hat, I simply selected four colours that I liked, measured my head and my gauge swatch, picked out a few 10 stitch peerie patterns, and cast on. (I didn’t cast on in icord — but found that I had to add some later — I just couldn’t stop myself . . .). Now, while the palette I chose is perhaps too muted to be successful, and while the crown shaping is certainly not quite right, I really learnt a lot when knitting this hat: about colour behaviour and placement, and about the relationship between colour and pattern. I also finished knitting it with a confirmed sense of Starmore’s genius. Her colourways really are amazing. For example, ‘pebble beach’ – the pale colour that I tried to make pop out of the centre of the first few sets of peeries — is a truly gorgeous mercurial shade. It looks greenish here, but its colour dominance shifts dramatically depending on its placement. I’ve tried it in other combinations since, and against different colours it can look fawn or mauve, gold or pink (much like the pebble beach behind me, in fact). These shifting tones are apparently produced by a blend of more than thirty shades. The funny thing about this hat is that, despite the fact that it is a sort of large swatch with several design deficiencies, I have developed a deep fondness for it. I brought it to Islay, and I barely took it off my head. I think the precise and thoughtful relationship of Starmore’s palete to the Hebridean landscape has a lot to do with my affection. Anyway, my peerie-sampler-hat-experiment is ravelled here, and the colours I used were capercaillie, fulmar, pebble beach, and driftwood.

I am now knitting experimentally with an allotment-inspired colour pallette. I also find Felix’s wise words about knitted vegetables very inspiring. More soon!

17 thoughts on “experiments

  1. I am delighted to read that my Sourdough starter had such a galvanising effect!

    It’s magic stuff; I have been experimenting with it in camping contexts and can confirm that it brings its magical yeasty goodness on trips and to campfires as well as to more conventional cooking spaces.

    And I am looking forward to allotment-inspired knits no end, as you know how I love the vegetables.

    Your fairisle hat is a thing of great beauty and I love how you have written about knitting with the Starmore colours here.


  2. I love the muted colours in the hat…I always tend to go for the more organic looking ones too! I tried and failed at the knitting with both strands in the right hand thing….will have to give it another go!


  3. English is not my mother tongue, but reading through your post, and as usual enjoying myself immensely and learning much at the same time, I kept thinking that palate surely means the roof of your mouth. The word you want is palette – think I spelled that right (sorry, don’t have time to check right now).
    Your hat is exquisite, and I envy your living where you do and having easy access to Alice Starmore’s yarns. I loved your descriptions of the colours and their interactions as well as the nature that inspired them.


  4. Since you and Felix talked about Alice Starmore I have become obsessed by the idea of a storm petrol shawl for this winter. Would be beautiful. I love the fact that her yarns have such lovely names (including bird names!) Lovely hat and tasty looking jam – those buns look ok to me and hurrah for lovely domestic times! Lx


  5. I have a makkin, given to me by an eighty-year old lady from Lerwick named Ann. Her mother had been a professional lace knitter on Unst, and Ann herself had made some stunnung prize-winning wedding ring shawls. Anyway, I find the makkin really uncomfortable, in that I keep imagining getting gored through the stomach by my own knitting needle! That’s a bit dramatic perhaps, but there’s this loss of control and flexibility that’s too awkward for me. However I still treasure it as a rather lovely object and and historical artefact.

    And I really love your hat, particularly for its subtlety!


  6. I think that it is time for you to meet Aaron: http://gansey.blogspot.com/
    He has blogged extensively about the history and practical use (including videos) of knitting sheaths and belts, and making one’s own knitting sheaths and needles. You will also find him on Ravelry as Agres, where he heads a group about Knitting Sheaths.

    Thanks again for the easier loading photos. I cannot tell you how happy this has made me!


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