The Trollen Wheel. What it is and a flat braid turorial.


Well, it’s been an interesting week. I seem to be in a state of injuring myself. Nothing major, a few cuts, a strained ankle, several bruises.
We have had some very temperamental weather, from glorious sunshine one moment to heavy rain the next. We have been woken twice in the mornings by thunderstorms which have been spectacular.
I have been working on a new blog, Inspired by Waldorf, where I am sharing our homeschooling adventures.
Still working on my “tiny knitting” I have also been learning a new braid on my Trollen Wheel and I thought I would share a step by step guide for this basic flat braid.
But first, a little history.

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The Trollen wheel is a much debated historical braiding tool. Some say it is Viking, though others will argue there is no historical evidence to support it; no archaeological finds of the tool or the resulting braid. It seems to be known as solid fact by some, utter nonsense by others. How can it be Viking if one of the earliest examples found was from the 1600s?
So if not Viking, what else could it be?
The National trust state here that the Romans used Trollen wheels.
In Japan they had the Kumihimo method. This dates back to the 8th century. The handheld ones look pretty much identical while there are also disks mounted on a stand.
Does it stand to reason, that if we were trading with, or being invaded by these people, we would have learned a thing or two from them? Women and wool being how they are would have surely talked and passed on skills. Perhaps if our disks were not as common spread as a loom or lucet, and made from wood they could have simply rotted away, as could any braids.
I think that until time travel exists we will never know for sure and the topic will continue to be debated.
Either way, they are fun to use. If you have children there is a guide in the book Creative Wool; making woollen crafts with children by Karin Neuschutz (Floris Books).
Otherwise I hope this guide inspires you to give it a go. You can find a guide on making a disk here in wood, here from an old CD or here from card.

Once you have your wheel or disc, Gather eight strands of yarn, four in colour A and four in colour B. I have used two colours to better the photographs. Tie your strands below the opening in the centre and add a weight to aid your tension.

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Move strands 1and 2 one place to the left and strands 3 and 4 one to the right.h 067

Bring strands B and C up into the now empty slotsh 068 (599x800)

Strands 2 and 3 come downh 069 (598x800)

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Strand 1 will now cross from the top left to the bottom righth 071 (600x800)

Strand 4 from the top right to bottom left
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Simply repeat these steps until your braid is the desired length. The back and front should look as below. To finish the braid off, carefully remove it from the disc and tie a firm knot.h 074

 

Happy Braiding!

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Finding Inspiration


I have been getting the urge to make something tiny lately… my limit was 2mm needles, so I went hunting for some lace-weight yarn.

I found a lovely colour-way from Schoppel; a gradient lace-weight that drifts from greens through to pinks, passing on it’s way slate blues and soft purples.

I have a little something in mind for it’s use so I began swatching.

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I have divided the yarn into smaller balls of each colour to enable the use of the feather and fan stich. Why did I not think the do this before with gradient yarn?? Colour-work may not be quite so pricey now!

The shades in the yarn reminded me so much of spring… what do you think?

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Where do you draw your inspiration from? Do you find yarn first? A pattern? A stitch you want to play with? Or do you have a different method?

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One ring (shawl) to rule them all


Oh dear, time does seem to have escaped me again. We have moved house twice since my last entry. I would love to say my time has been spent knitting furiously, spinning skeins of luxurious fibres and exploring a world of new crafts. Sadly for me this is not the case at all. Decorating has kind of replaced my favourite pastime and rollers have become my new knitting needles. Thankfully though, this is now over and I can treat the creatively deprived half of my mind with some much yearned for making time.
I had the honour of having been asked to create a wedding shawl for an old school friend. It took a while to find a pattern to be honest. It had to carry an image of the forest; leaves and lace had to inspire the image of Elvish elegance, whilst at the same time allow for use of emerald green and amethyst purple.
What made this harder for me was the fact that said friend is a creative genius herself (eek-how do I make this good enough) and the description of her dress sounded so beautiful I was terrified I would let it down.
A present for a generic event is one thing, but a wedding? The pressure was on. The yarn wasn’t hard to find. I instantly had a few dyers pop into my mind, but settled on Fyberspates Twizzle Silk Sock as the jewel tones complimented each other perfectly.
The pattern though was another story. There are many stunning shawl patterns out there, but finding ones with leaves and lace and two colour opportunities are less easy. Until I found the Vanilla Orchid pattern on Ravelry that is, then the Woodland Wedding was born.

 

Woodland Wedding shawl

Woodland Wedding shawl

It was such a fun pattern to work with, and as rare as this is, I think I will be making another in both the yarn and the colours that the design is actually suggesting.

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A traditional wedding shawl would have been made so delicately, with such fine, lace weight yarn that it could be passed through the wedding ring itself, giving it the name – the ring shawl.
Bearing a rich, global history, the ring shawl is a subject to keep you mesmerised for many an hour. Russia have their Orenburg shawls, spun and knitted from the young hair of the Orenburg goat, who’s fibre is extremely fine and lends itself beautifully to the art. It is so delicate it has to be plied with silk to give it strength.
Estonia boast shawls of exquisite detail, usually knitted in around three parts and later sewn together. There is a museum in Haapsalu which boasts many examples of these pieces, somewhere certainly on my “to travel to” list!
But closer to home for me is Shetland – a far more likely destination – whose women have made equally awe inspiring works of art for generations passed. Still in high demand, the Empress of Japan was presented with one of these shawls just before the millennium by Queen Elizabeth II.
During the nineteenth century, Queen Victoria was fortunate enough to be witness to the art form during its most fashionable era, due to travel becoming so much more accessible. She proved to be a very loyal customer with frequent orders of hosiery and fine lace shawls.
I would urge you to pop the phrase “ring shawl” into Google images, and prepare for your eyes to be popped. Remember, each shawl would take around two hundred hours to complete, they would very often be as tall as you, and would more often than not weigh in at around two ounces – about the same weight as two CDs without cases.
Here I offer my goodbyes and pay homage to those knitters gone by, who I am sure took the question, “would you knit my wedding shawl?” far more seriously than I!

 

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A village wrapped in woollens – and some serious yarn deprivation


Hello – I have missed you all!

What a month! We very unexpectedly moved house and everything has been in utter chaos. We are only in this house for a very short period of time and then it’s another move.

I’m living next door to a friend though, who is also a yarn addict which makes things a lot easier! The only problem is the sweet torture of having to walk through her little shop of handmade woolly beauty and stunning hand-spun yarns every day. It’s not as bad now, but when we first moved in the only knitty bits I had with me were two DPNs and a ball of Rowan fine tweed. Believe me, there are only so many uses for I-cords!

 

Even a street can look like a knitting pattern when you're yarn deprived... can you see the chevron and garter border?

Even a street can look like a knitting pattern when you’re yarn deprived… can you see the chevron and garter border?

Thankfully now I have my yarn stash with me and my spinning wheels. I won’t tell you too much about the storage facility where the rest of our possessions are currently living, but I couldn’t leave my poor yarn there; not where fishing bait is being cooked 5 days a week… Shudder… Anyway!

We are about 10 miles from the Shropshire village of Bishops Castle. An afternoon out one day and we spotted a little something I had to return back to photograph just for you lovely people today!

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Even the fairy got pom-poms

Even the fairy got pom-poms

The only thing without knitwear... maybe that's why he looks so sullen?

The only thing without knitwear… maybe that’s why he looks so sullen?

 

 

This is yarn bombing with style! If ever you can you must see it!

So, what else is new? My lovely neighbour taught me how to make dream catchers which I have always wanted to be able to do…

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Otherwise it has been lots of knitting for yuletide presents now. Have you started yours? Do you dread it and knit like mad at the last moment or plan months ahead, or even never knit for Christmas at all?

We had our first snow this morning so my current favourite spot is curled up in front of the log burner!

Please do keep popping back, I have not forgotten about you all, I’m just without internet access so posts may be less frequent than normal…  xxx

Spot the house

Spot the house

 

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Woodland Knits – and spotting dragons


Shhh – come over here! Look what I found in the toadstool patch!

Woodland Knits by Stephanie Dosen aka Tiny Owl Knits

Woodland Knits by Stephanie Dosen aka Tiny Owl Knits

OK, so I didn’t actually find it in the toadstool patch, I actually found it on Amazon, but that’s not the point!

Do you long for a little more enchantment in your life? Do your feet itch to dance in the fairy ring at the end of your garden but struggle to see them in the starlight? Do you simply want a gorgeous knitting pattern for your next project? Then this book is for you!

I will be honest. I have waited to blog about it as I knew otherwise this post would be full of squeaks and gushes and “it’s just so amazing”s. So, I knitted two projects first and waited for the excitement to calm down. It didn’t, and it is still taking my full restraint not to do just that anyway.

The first thing that struck me was the beautiful ethereal imagery used throughout the book – just look at this one from the back cover…

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I had to cast on the moment the book arrived, literally. The Dragon Watcher’s Hood simply couldn’t wait, and the yarn for Midsummer Night’s dream was ordered within days, nay, hours.

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A midsummer night’s dream

 

Each pattern is utterly beautiful. The attention to detail is wonderful, as is the creativity and imagination in each one. I am convinced Stephanie is in fact part fae.

So many of her captivating patterns are quick knits too – the Dragon Watchers hood took only 3 days and the Seedpod Purse about 2. I can see lots of Yuletide presents being born from this book!

The patterns are truly well written, but in a friendly and inviting way, almost as though they have been written for you by a good friend. I have found myself flicking through to find the little comments about how dragons love to dance and rubbing fern seed into your eyes to see fairies. Vital information when woodland walking with a four year old.

There is information about all the yarns used and how to substitute them  with a weight guide. It makes the patterns feel far more approachable when the designer tells you not to feel limited to the yarns used as it could work out expensive.

The book includes lots of information about how to perform certain techniques, like the best way to gently hand felt or machine felt, but not in a solid block at the back of the book like so many others, rather included where and when you need it.

The owl experience level gives a really handy idea of what you can make according to your skill levels and there are plenty of pattern notes to help you along your knitting journey.

I adore the edgings of each page; woodland leaves and branches gracing each pattern in soft changing colours and designs.

I really cannot tell you how much I honestly LOVE this book.

While I wait for my yarn to arrive I will be casting on several flower crowns for the little people in my life. Maybe, probably, even for myself.

Wildflower Crown

Wildflower Crown

Any bad points to this enchanted work of art? Yes. And its name is Emily. I keep finding it stashed in her treasure chest, or under her bed, or even in her cheeky little hands under the pretense that it is her story book. Here she is having just stolen it when my back was turned!

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This book is now easily my favorite knitting book. It will be my inspiration. My vade mecum.

I leave you with a few pictures of my newly made tinkling dragon watching hood.

Have you bought the book yet? Which is your favorite Tiny Owl Knits pattern? And more importantly, how many dragons and fairies have you seen so far while wearing your woodland knits?

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Oh dear, it would appear she will be stealing the finished goods too!

Oh dear, it would appear she will be stealing the finished goods too!

P.S. Images of Stephanie Dosen and the wildflower crown have been  used with kind permission from TinyOwlKnits.

 

 

 

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Woolly Anticipation


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I was a little late hearing about the yarn show Yarndale this year. It was one of those things I had heard about but having already been to Wonderwool Wales I was content not to go. Or rather, my bank balance was content with me not going. But when I found out that most of my knitting friends were going I realised it would simply be rude not to. So, leaving the kiddywinkles with their Daddy, I hitched a lift with a lovely friend and off we went to Skipton.

I think we got there at the right time, the traffic was gridlocked by later in the afternoon and the queues for toilets and food were very, very long. It shows a true hardcore yarn-a-holic when  you watch women diving into the men’s just to get back to the yarn!

The show its self was a little smaller than I expected and upon initial arrival the sheer volume of bodies made several stalls inaccessible. A second trip around later on in the day meant we didn’t miss anything.

Several of my very favorite stalls were there, Fivemoons, Bigwigs Angora, Eden Cottage Yarns,  Freyalyn’s Fibres,  Hilltop cloud, and Triskelion Yarns  to name but a few. Though the palpitation inducing Oliver Twists were not there, even though their stall was sitting there empty.

Triskelion rainbows

Triskelion rainbows

always a happy sight - the Freyalyn sheep!

always a happy sight – the Freyalyn sheep!

 

Naturally dyed spectrum

Naturally dyed spectrum

 

It is the first time I have been to a yarn show with a friend rather than the family.It made me ponder the question as to which are more dangerous to go with. The family wait for me to go around, either popping out for a while and coming back, or following behind with the odd “hurry up Mum”. this usually results in me going round faster than I possibly would and panic buying knowing I need to be quick.

On the other hand going round with a friend who has impeccable yarn taste results in looking at stalls which my tiny amount of self restraint would force me to walk past. Then said friend says those ever deadly words; “feel this”. Two simple little words. And I do. My fingers come out and make contact with the most luxuriously soft alpaca/angora/wool and that little devil on my shoulder is in seventh heaven.  Before I even know it has happened I am thanking a stall holder and walking away with the touched yarn.

Oops.

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Undyed alpaca

But my woolly anticipation has not been limited to Yarndale this week. My favorite designer has just announced the release of her first book. The enchanted world of Tiny Owl Knits is now available in print under the title of “Woodland Knits”!!!!!

I can honestly say I actually jumped off my chair and squealed when I read this. Within 5 minuted the book was ordered from Amazon and the anticipation of its arrival is torture!

She is also running a give away on her blog here.

Did you go to Yarndale? What are your favorite things about yarn shows?

I leave you with a few more pictures of Yarndale…

woolly works of art

woolly works of art

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The Mulberry Dyer

The Mulberry Dyer

 

Hedgehogs!

Hedgehogs!

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More natural alpaca

More natural alpaca

 

 

 

 

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A rainbow dress and a trip through time


A week or so ago we went to the historic town of Ludlow for their annual Food Festival.

As vegetarians we were pretty limited to what we could actually buy as the main products for sale seemed to be sausages and cider, however there were a few attractions. Firstly the festival itself was held within the castle walls which made for plenty of entertainment for the children; that and the circus skills tent. Emily can now officially walk on stilts and Toby can juggle…nearly! Thankfully there was not a clown in sight or otherwise Mummy wouldn’t have been seen for dust!

But I learned never to say never – I tasted some hot chocolate from an 18th century recipe. I don’t ever drink hot chocolate as a rule, but who could resist the display from the Copper Pot?

The copper pot

The copper pot – yes, that is liquid chocolate!!

A blend of chocolate (70% cocoa solids) Cinnamon, Cardamon and Long Pepper. This was not hot chocolate. This was close your eyes and be swept off to exotic lands in a cup.

Sorry, I zoned out for a moment there.

I also sampled something which I never thought I could or would try. Jerky. Not something you really get in the UK, and if you do its something strange in vacuum packs hanging in a forgotten corner. This jerky however was made from Tofu. Not very attractive looking little brown pieces in a bag gave me no trouble refusing a sample. Until I was told they had Marmite flavour. I must say, I am a convert. Vegan Marmite jerky is good! Even more so if the stall looks like this

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The children enjoyed watching butter being made Victorian style

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Although it was a fun afternoon I’m not convinced I would part with the £20 to get in again. Another visit to the castle is a must though.

And at least I finally managed to photograph Emily’s new “Itchy Rainbow Dress”

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Foraging for an Autumn Rainbow


Has it been that long already?

To be honest, we have finally had our car back and have been using every spare moment we have to go out and see what we have been missing in the woodlands, on the hill tops and the shore.

My goodness autumn is coming quickly. We have seen so many varieties of mushrooms that it has become a bit of a hobby photographing them and trying to identify them. I would love to have the confidence to be able to forage a few to eat but I think a little course in edible mushrooms is a must first.

Foraging at this time of year is so much fun. Taking a little basket out and coming home with blackberries, windberries, chestnuts, wild raspberries (the list goes on) and within a few hours having all kinds of yummy treats.

But the magic of summer becoming autumn aside, I have finally had some success with natural dyeing!

The “Wild Colour” book by Jenny Dean did a spectacular vanishing act from my amazon account twice so I have yet to obtain or use it, but I bit the bullet and decided to just go for it.

Here is heather dyeing adventure

 

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Having picked for an hour we had a bucket of pre sorted heather flowers which took the plunge that evening

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and the resulting colour?

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Is this one on the bottom. It is actually a little greener than I could capture through the lens…

Above (bottom to top) is Rhubarb root on an alpaca and cotton blend, Rhubarb root on some handspun lambswool, Madder, Brazil Wood, Windberries (Bilberries), and Hollyhock flowers.

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Isn’t it lovely the way the colours all go together so well? Nature never seems to clash, does it?

I am delighted with the outcome, particularly the windberries which gave the most unexpected rich shade of chocolate brown, even if half of our pick once again ended up in the bubbling pot with some home grown raspberries and plums for more jam!

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The Jam however was the lovely windberry red and not the chocolate shades it gave the merino yarn!

What do you forage for, if at all, and what do you do with your findings?

 

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Walnut Mary – the colour changing cardigan


I do not have much of a success story with natural dyeing. I get this fanciful idea in my head that I can experiment and this usually ends in yarn the same colour as when I started.

Take my recent attempts with a cardigan I knitted.

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Walnut Mary was knitted in pure undyed wool which I had a vision of dyeing  with some lovely honesty flowers from my garden.

Honesty (Lunaria)

Honesty (Lunaria)

The water became a stunning shade and my hopes were high that I would get a beautifully coloured cardigan. It stayed in the pot over night and came out exactly the same colour it had gone in. But the water was beautiful!

Honesty water

Honesty water

Then I attempted some moss dyeing from a favorite tree which had fallen in the winter…

I tried to convince myself that the smell of damp, mouldy woodland that filled my kitchen would be worth it. Once again I was left very disappointed. I had a slightly greeny grey cardigan which smelled to high heaven.

Post moss dyeing

Post moss dyeing

Finally I decided to give in and try crushed Walnut shells.

My kitchen smelled divine and the colour which came from the warm soaking shells was stunning. Almost the instant that the shells touched the water a deep brown shade drifted into the pan. Just the act of stirring the concoction was a delight. It looked almost like velvet; thick and soup like and with such richness.

I dared not believe it would work – but this time, I seemed to have hit the nail on the head.

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The moral of this story? Buy “Wild Colour” by Jenny Dean and actually learn about what I’m trying to achieve.

Have you had any dyeing disasters? What is your favorite natural dye? Which natural dyeing books would you recommend?

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Felt for Foraging and Jam making


Phew, what a crafty week I have put my poor hands through.

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After discovering a fallen oak branch laden with baby acorns I realised soon would be the time for autumnal treasure gathering in the forest.

Technically we have a couple of weeks of summer left, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Our garden has not produced very much this year other than cherries so we decided to make “Garden Jam” with the small amounts that we did have remaining from hungry children in the garden.

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Clockwise from top – redcurrants, Gooseberries and careless gooseberries, cherries, loganberries and raspberries with a few alpine strawberries

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*****A simple recipe; 100G fruit and approx 85G jam sugar. Add a splash of water to the fruit and boil until the fruit begins to mulch. Add the sugar and allow to simmer until it has all dissolved. Add the juice from a lemon and a pinch of freshly grated ginger then boil the jam hard. Test by popping a small amount onto a saucer and if it resembles jam you’re good to go. Carefully pour into sterile jars and pop the lid on quickly to seal. Laugh quietly to yourself when friends complain they can’t get into your jam when the seal works too well.*****

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The branches now look rather bare with just a few apples left to ripen away in the dwindling summer weeks.

It may not be autumn yet, but I always seem to get caught short whilst walking with the children so this year I vow to be prepared.

A few little things I have made this week for our treasure seeking (should we get our car back before the autumn!)…

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Soon we will have to say goodbye to sitting under a tree in the sunshine with a story book and hello to woolly jumpers and travel mugs of hot chocolate with lots of cuddles to keep warm.

story time in the woods

story time in the woods

I just have my fingers crossed for another little wave of heat to blow in and let us have a few more days in the sun’s warmth and light.

Where in the world are you – can you feel autumn on the wind yet? What do you look forward to most of all?

Posted in children, cooking, craft adventures, felting, garden, knitting, nature, seasonal, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments