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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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Weeds: 1 Shepherd’s Purse

Weeds are just plants that are growing in the wrong place. They may have been self seeded, blown by the wind or dropped by passing birds. We root them out and throw them on the compost heap, or burn them, or smother them in toxic chemicals; we rarely look at them and see their beauty, we disregard their utility as food or medicine for either ourselves or for animals or insects; they are not worthy of study or preservation.

There are so many weeds that I admire, my so-called vegetable garden is full of them. It is true, not everything can find a place in a garden, but everything has something to offer the earth. Take stinging nettles, for instance; they sting you if you are unwary, they grow where you don’t want them, and scurry underground to pop up to form large clumps if you let them. But they are an enormously useful plant. They are a host plant for butterflies such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, and for ladybirds, which lay their eggs on nettle leaves to provide food for their larvae. Their seeds are a nutritious food source for wild birds, shrews, field mice. They provide nitrogen to enrich the compost heap, their leaves and stems can be steeped in water to provide “nettle tea”, a valuable liquid feed for vegetables and fruit bushes. They can be used to feed animals and humans; they contain a lot of minerals and vitamins: they are high in magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin A, as well as protein, making them a superfood for humans and livestock. The leaves can be used for teas, pesto, soup and as a vegetable, cooked like spinach. The leaves can be dried and crumbled into feed for chickens to give a vitamin boost during the winter months. And beyond all of that, the stems can be left to dry where they stand during the winter, and in the spring, the retted fibres can be processed into a yarn not unlike hemp. Not so useless after all!

I have chosen five weeds as inspiration for this collection of tam patterns: Shepherd’s Purse, Wild Oats, Poppy, Teasel, and Thistle. All grow very well in my garden in West Yorkshire, UK; some I leave for birds to eat the seeds (goldfinches are particularly fond of teasel and thistle seeds), some seeds I collect to scatter in wild places (poppies are a delightful and welcome sight growing in unlikely places), some I root out when their work as foodsource has completed, and they become valuable compost additions.

Everything has a place and a purpose, even weeds.

Shepherd’s Purse

The first weed I have chosen for the collection is the Shepherd’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris. It grows almost unnoticed in my vegetable beds, and then suddenly everywhere there are stems covered in seed capsules. I collected and pressed a number of the stems so that I would have a permanent design resource. The result is the tam pattern based upon the seed capsules, but also utilising the tiny star-like flowers and the corona of leaves typical of the plant.

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

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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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Pheasant Tam

This tam features some of the myriad patterns seen in the feathers of the female pheasant. Often overlooked because of their shy nature and outshone by the more flamboyant colouring of the male, these beautiful pheasants inhabit my garden all year round and are a constant source of delight and inspiration. 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, sample shown in 106 Mooskit and 246 Wren, depending upon size.

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 Pheasant 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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Fingerless Feather Mittens Pattern Released

Designed to match the Feather Cap Beanie, these fingerless mittens reflect the patterns and colours of my little flock of beautiful Cream Legbar hens (and one cockerel).

Fingerless 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