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Weeds: 3 Wild Oats

Wild oats, (genus Avena), are a variety of tufted annual grasses of the family Poaceae, native to Eurasia and Africa. Wild oats are sometimes cut for hay, and young plants provide forage for grazing animals. All species have edible seeds, and domesticated oats (Avena sativa) are an important cereal crop in temperate climates around the world; several other species are locally important food crops. A number of wild oat species are considered weeds in agricultural fields and can be difficult to eradicate.

By Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10353691

Wild oats are erect grasses with long flat linear leaves. The inflorescences are typically large and loose and bear minute bisexual flowers. The ovary is characteristically hairy, and some species feature long awns (bristles) on the seeds.

One of the best-known species is the common wild oat (A. fatua), which has become a common field and roadside weed; originally native to Europe and C and SW Asia, it has now spread throughout temperate regions of the world. It grows in small tufts about 0.9 to 1.2 metres (3 to 4 feet) tall. Mature spikelets are bell-shaped, with bent bristle-like projections.

Wild oats grow with abandon all over my garden, popping up in borders and vegetable beds alike. I love seeing their feathery heads dancing in a summer breeze. Some heads are long and narrow, others, where the individual seeds within the seed head have started to separate and mature, are wide and bell-shaped.

By Kurt Stueber – www.biolib.de, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6294

As a food for humans, the seeds are particularly valuable. The seed ripens in the latter half of summer and, when harvested and dried, can be stored for several years. It has a floury texture and a mild, creamy flavour. It can be used as a staple food crop in either savoury or sweet dishes. The seed can be cooked whole, though it is more commonly ground into a flour and used as a cereal in all the ways that oats are used, especially as a porridge but also to make biscuits, sourdough bread, etc. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw or cooked in salads, stews, etc. Roasted, the seed can be used as a coffee substitute.

Birds love the seeds once they are ripe, my chickens can strip a plant of its seedheads in seconds.

Medicinally, it is considered a diuretic. Cosmetically, a meal made from oats can be added to bathwater or used as a facial scrub. The straw has a wide range of uses such as for bio-mass, fibre, mulch, paper-making and thatching.

My design for this tam uses several elements of the wild oat plant; the three-part seedhead on its drooping stem, the leaves, and the opening head revealing the three seeds themselves. The interlocking elements create another fortuitous motif, heart shapes in different sizes.

The Weeds Collection can be purchased from the Granary Knits Payhip Pattern Store.

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Weeds: 2 Teasel

This is the second in my collection of tam patterns based around the theme of Weeds, this pattern uses three colours of Jamieson’s Spindrift yarn to create a distinctive hat.

The teasel is a fascinating plant, very well guarded by sharp spikes along stem and leaf margins, with a mass of tiny lavender-coloured flowers bursting through the seed head in bands, starting with the centre of the flower head and then moving in waves down to the base and up to the tip. They may be little flowers but they nevertheless provide abundant nectar for bees, ants, and hoverflies, and once finished flowering the goldfinches move in to feast on the seeds.

Although the teasel does not generally provide food for humans, the young leaves are edible although one must take great care to avoid the spiny, stout hairs. Teasel leaves can be consumed raw, cooked or added to a smoothie. The root can be used in a tea or for making vinegar or tinctures. The root has many health benefits as it contains inulin and a chemical that destroys the itch mite causing scabies.

It does, also, have an important place in the history of fibre. Dipsacus fullonum or Fuller’s teasel, was widely used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for cleaning, aligning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool. It differs from the wild type in having stouter, somewhat recurved spines on the seed heads. The dried flower heads were attached to spindles, wheels, or cylinders, sometimes called teasel frames, to raise the nap on fabrics (or tease the fibres). By the 20th century, teasels had been largely replaced by metal cards, which can be made uniformly and do not require constant replacement as the teasel heads wear. However, some people who weave wool still prefer to use teasels for raising the nap, claiming that the result is better; in particular, if a teasel meets serious resistance in the fabric, it will break, whereas a metal tool will rip the cloth.

The brown, oval, spiky seed heads of the teasel are a familiar sight in all kinds of habitats, from grassland to waste ground, even cultivated in gardens for their use as an ornament.

The the design for this tam was inspired by the spiny bracts that guard the seed head, and the overall pattern of tiny flattened triangles seen when you look deep into the seed head.

The Weeds Collection can be purchased from the Granary Knits Payhip Pattern Store.

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Swifts

The European Swift is a much loved visitor to the UK, but one which is sadly in decline. This tam pattern celebrates swifts wheeling over the English countryside in summer, an iconic sight and sound. I have chosen a monochrome palette for this tam; you could use bright or muted colours. Instructions are given for four sizes, to fit small, medium narrow, medium wide, or large. The narrow and wide sizes refer to how full the tam part of the hat is. This tam is roomy and warm.

Suggested yarn: Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift; 4ply; 100% wool; 105 m/ 115 yds per 25 g / 0.88 oz ball:
1 or 2 balls of each colour, depending upon size. Sample shown in 104 Natural White and 126 Charcoal.

Small, medium narrow, medium wide, large, to fit head circumferences 54 cm (58 cm, 58 cm, 62 cm) / approx. 21 ¼” (23”, 23”, 24 ½”) at the brim. Finished sizes at the brim, unstretched, 45 cm (49 cm, 49 cm, 52 cm) / approx. 17 ¾” (19 ¼”, 19 ¼”, 20 ½”).

Needles: circular needles or DPNs, sizes 2.75 mm [UK/Can size 12, US size 2] and 3.25 mm [UK/Can size 10, US size 3].

The Swifts Tam pattern is available from the Granary Knits Payhip Store. There is a 25% discount on all tams, just enter coupon code Tam25 at checkout.

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Autumn Beech Tam

This tam pattern features the beautiful leaf colours of the European Beech tree in Autumn. While the lower branches are still green, the middle and upper tiers graduate through yellow, russets, and rich red shades. Instructions are given for four sizes, to fit small, medium narrow, medium wide, or large. The narrow and wide sizes refer to how full the tam part of the hat is. The hat, being a tam, is roomy and warm.

Suggested yarn: Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift; 4ply; 100% wool; 105 m/ 115 yds per 25 g / 0.88 oz ball. Sample shown uses 8 colours, no more than 45 m / 50 yds of any one colour:

Dark green 147 Moss
Pale green 998 Autumn
Pale yellow 230 Yellow Ochre
Dark yellow 1190 Burnt Umber
Orange 1200 Nutmeg
Russet 261 Paprika
Red 187 Sunrise
Dark Brown 235 Grouse

Sizes: Small, medium narrow, medium wide, large, to fit head circumferences 54 cm (58 cm, 58 cm, 62 cm) / approx. 21 ¼” (23”, 23”, 24 ½”) at the brim. Finished sizes at the brim, unstretched, 45 cm (49 cm, 49 cm, 52 cm) / approx. 17 ¾” (19 ¼”, 19 ¼”, 20 ½”).

The Autumn Beech Tam pattern is available from the Granary Knits Payhip Store.

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Feather Cowl pattern published

Feather Cowl complements the Feather Cap Beanie and Feather Mittens patterns previously published. It is worked in the round, in stranded colourwork, using ten colours of Jamieson’s of Shetland wonderful pure wool Spindrift yarn. The motif itself and the colours I have chosen reflect the feather patterns and colours of my flock of hens.

The pattern can be purchased from the Payhip Granary Knits Pattern store, either as the single pattern, or as part of the Chicken Knitting e-book containing all four patterns.

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Chicken Knitting Ebook

Of all animals, I think I have always like birds the best, probably influenced by my Mother, who kept Zebra Finches, Canaries, and Lovebirds, and avidly watched the wild birds in her garden. She even had a Silkie cockerel, rescued from a school egg-hatching program and given the run of the house and garden for many years. It was not until 2007 that I kept any birds of my own, and I started with hens. I liked the idea of fresh eggs for breakfast, but the day we acquired Hetty, Betty, and Letty, was the day I lost my heart to them. As soon as I held one in my arms, I was smitten, and the longer I have kept them, and the better I understand them, the more I see their individual characters, their behavioural traits, their likes and dislikes, their amazing colouring, the variation of comb and wattle shapes, their unique song.

When I started designing knitted textiles, my flock of hens (and one cockerel) featured very prominently in my inspiration. This first collection of patterns is a result of that inspiration, and covers the stranded colourwork designs based upon feather shapes and colours.

The patterns in the ebook collection are:

Feather Cap Beanie
Fingerless Feather Mittens
Full Feather Mittens
Feather Cowl

Each pattern is available individually at the Payhip Granary Knits Pattern Store.

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Full Feather Mittens Pattern Released

Designed to match the Feather Cap Beanie, and the Fingerless Feather Mittens released a few weeks ago, these full mittens reflect the patterns and colours of my little flock of beautiful Cream Legbar hens (and one cockerel).

Full Feather Mitts are stranded knit mittens, using ten colours of Jamieson’s of Shetland wonderful pure wool Spindrift yarn. The motif itself and the colours I have chosen reflect the feather patterns and colours of my lovely Cream Legbar chickens: Freddie, Sorrel, Sage, and Lavender. From a distance they look a like a dull brown, but close up, their feathers are a beautiful brown/grey, with touches of cream and pink. The four background colours and six foreground colours reflect this lovely effect.

Sorrel

Suggestions are made for other colourways, notably a lovely monochrome palette.

The pattern is available from the Granary Knits Pattern Store.

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Feather Cap Beanie Pattern Released!

The Feather Cap Beanie pattern is now available from the Granary Knits Pattern store.

Feather Cap is a stranded knit hat, using ten colours of Jamieson’s of Shetland wonderful pure wool Spindrift yarn. The motif itself and the colours I have chosen reflect the feather patterns and colours of my lovely Cream Legbar chickens: Freddie, Sorrel, Sage, and Lavender. From a distance they look a like a dull brown, but close up, their feathers are a beautiful brown/grey, with touches of cream and pink. The four background colours and six foreground colours reflect this lovely effect.

composite

compositehat

The pattern gives three sizes; teen/small adult, adult, and large adult. In addition to the subdued palette I also provide suggestions for a more brightly coloured palette and for a monochrome colourway in shades of grey.

There are matching mittens (full mitten and fingerless) and a matching cowl, also now available.

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/feather-cap-beanie

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what is a knitting stitch marker?

The vast majority of knitters go through life never having used a stitch marker. Even if they do need a marker for a project – to indicate a placeholder in a pattern repeat for instance, or to show where a round begins when knitting something in the round – they are quite likely to grab the nearest scrap of spare yarn, knot it into a little ring and slide it onto their needle.  It doesn’t matter that it is cumbersome to use,  won’t slip easily from one needle to the next, or gets inexplicably knitted into the fabric! It is only needed the once and can be discarded at the end of the project.
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If, however, you are like me,  and you love knitting complicated lace patterns, or intricate Fair Isle designs, then you find you need a constant supply of markers, and the little yarn rings are no longer adequate, indeed they are shown up as the irritating  awkward things that they are, actually impacting your creativity and slowing your productivity .image

I took up lace knitting about six years ago and immediately found that I had to buy some markers, as the pattern repeats were difficult to follow.  I bought a set of five markers from my local yarn store, which had imported them from a women’s collective in India. They were fabulous, colourful paper beads made from recycled material, and they worked very well, but there was one small problem; the large ring that slips onto the knitting needle was a jump ring, and with use began to open slightly. It only took a very small gap to occur and my yarn kept getting caught in the ring, and I had to keep stopping and disentanging the yarn before I could continue knitting. I bought a second set, this time online, and since they were specially modelled polymer clay, they were quite expensive. But they were in the shape of chickens so well worth it! I experienced the same problem – the gap in the jump ring eased slightly open and the yarn snagged. So the price didn’t matter,  the construction was the issue.
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My husband, whose hobby is electronics, came up with a solution; solder the jump ring shut. He did this for the first set I had bought, and when I saw how effective the result was, I asked him to teach me soldering so that I could make some more markers.
I riffled through my jewellery box and came up with a couple of pairs if fancy, cheap earrings, the kind you buy to wear on holiday and then push to the back of a drawer when you get home. They were easy to take apart, and each pair yielded six or eight charms or beads. Once attached to 8mm jump rings – and soldered of course – these provided me with a tidy number of stitch markers.
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Since then, I have made hundreds of stitch markers, from old bracelet charms and earrings, to new charms and beads found in the stash of shiny things left over from my jewellery-making hobby. Most I kept for myself, but some I gave to knitting friends and they encouraged me to try to sell them. I sell through my local yarn store, run by the lovely and supportive Mary, and in February 2016 I opened an Etsy store, listing some of my reclaimed and new one-of-a-kind stitch markers. It is early days yet, but I do see a market for well-made, unusual, slightly quirky knitting “jewellery”!
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