The Retreat Shawl, worked in the Nutmeg Fibers Retreat base, was my very first shawl design, and (for me at least), it was a doozy! I’d never really thought of myself as much of a shawl knitter, or a shawl wearer for that matter. I loved the idea of shawls and have knit (and frogged) a few, but they’re certainly not a go-to knit for me. My lack of shawl confidence was made very apparent with this project!
Week 1 is finished, and I’m a tiny bit behind on posting this….due to some fun activities this weekend with my kids, but now I’m ready to go!
Week 1 Progress!
Here’s a quick photo of how far I’ve come on my Retreat Shawl……..like I said, not too far cause of how busy we were! Ooops!! That’s ok, though! I’m hoping to make WWWWWAAAAAYYYY more progress this week. I’m already in love with the repetitive nature of the reverse stockinette, and just need to make a bit of time to sit and get a bit further!
First Week Prize Give-Aways!!!
But let’s get down to the real business! Let’s give away some prizes! I’ve gotten several emails from you all out there in the world, so I know that lots of you have been joining in, but we need ya to make sure to post pictures on Instagram, Ravelry or here, so we can enter your name in the prize drawing.
We have 2 Winners for this week! The are…..drumroll please!!!
@nmknitter on Instagram!
Karen R. from here on the website!
They’ll both be receiving a 15% coupon code for the our website, as well as a free Project Journal!! Congratulations @nmknitter and Karen R.! Thanks so much for joining in! We’ll be sending you details on how to claim your 15% off code in an email.
Action Points for You:
Keep working away on your Shawl! I’m gonna commit to getting at least 4 inches done this week!
Keep an eye out for a guest blog this week from Dawn Henderson!
Make sure to post comments here, on Insta or the Ravelry group so we can all see how the projects are coming along!
That’s all for now!
So!!! Here we are, at the beginning of June, lots and lots of KALs to join in on. I hope that lots of you are joining in with us here and making yourself a lovely lovely shawl this summer!
Pattern Picking: Retreat Shawl by Dawn Henderson
So, I’m gonna make something that’s been in my queue since this debuted back in early Spring/late winter. I mentioned it in the last blog post! It’s Dawn Henderson’s Retreat Shawl!
Here we are again, in what has developed (due to time constraints) into a quarterly installment, rather than bi-monthly. Sorry for the delay! Enough with the apologies. Let’s get into what I’m here to share what I’ve been researching the past few months: the history of the Egyptian area’s natural dye culture. I’ve split this into several parts since there’s a lot of documentation and information that I found regarding this area of the world’s history with dyes, so this will be Part 1 of I think…3. Here we go!
Now, when I speak about this here, I’ll be referring to the geographic area of the globe that existed since ancient days in the Early Dynastic Period (app. 3150 - 2613 BCE) all the way to our more modern definition of geographic Egypt.
As was discussed during the article about the traditions of natural dyes in Korea, in Egypt, in ancient times, use of color was very much connected with spiritual significance for the people of the Egyptian region. According to Joshua J. Mark’s “Color in Ancient Egypt”, “Color in ancient Egypt was used not only in realistic representations of scenes from everyday life, but to illustrate the heavenly realms of the gods, the afterlife, and the stories and histories of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon.” In art from this period, gods were depicted as having gold skin, The following is a list of colors that contained spiritual significance during the Early Dynastic period:
Associated with : Hathor (goddess of the sun), Osiris (god of the dead), and Horus (god of the sky)
Represented: Goodness, growth, life, the afterlife, resurrection, renewal, transformation and rebirth.
Associated with: Set (god of chaos)
Represented: Life, vitality and energy, but also evil, danger and destruction. Symbolized both fire and blood.
Associated with: Amun (god of the air), Bes (the protector god), Thoth (god of wisdom)
Represented: Fertility, birth, rebirth and life. Often depicted water or the heavens.
Associated with: Ra (god of the sun), Isis
Represented: the sun, eternity, suggest purity or the sacred aspects of objects
Associated with: Nefertun (goddess of beauty)
Represented: Purity, sacredness, cleanliness and clarity. Represented the close connection to the gods enjoyed by the kings. Also associated with daily life….as it was the color of everyday clothing
Associated with: Anubis (god of death), Osiris (god of death), Bastet (goddess of women)
Represented: Death, darkness, the underworld, but also life, birth and resurrection. Connected with fertile soil of the Nile after the annual floods. Although connected with death, never represented evil.
Life of the Dyer in Ancient Egypt
In the dyehouses of ancient Egypt, conditions were trying. The space was often quite small, with hot, stinky air floating up from the dye vats and filling the cramped quarters. The plants and minerals bubbling away produced quite a stink, that could leave a scent on the dyers skin as they went through the rest of their daily life. Woad, a color still used today, that produces blues similar to indigo, is so stinky that I only use it in an open air environment. I can only imagine that dyers of this time period wore linen around their faces to protect from inhaling too much of this stinky air. Or perhaps they became accustomed to it, and didn’t even notice that ferrous smell after a while.
In Athribis, a city in what would have been Lower Egypt during ancient times, a dyer’s workshop was discovered during archealogical excavations. The space had it’s own well, providing a constant water source to the dyers. It had a lead-lined cistern, and walls tiled with stone. Around the room were workbenches with deep vats carved into them, some of them stained a dark blue, probably from the indigo or woad dyes used in this dye space so many years ago.
I did a bit of digging on why the cisterns would have been lead-lined, and while I definitely didn’t come to any firm conclusion, I’m guessing it’s cause it would make it waterproof, and thus able to hold amounts of water for the dyer’s work purposes.
A Few Historical Accounts of Dyeing -
Pliny the Elder, a Roman historical writer, who is often known for his often inaccurate and definitely interesting medical treatments and diagnosis, wrote in his book, The Natural History, about the process of dyeing in Egypt:
This method of dyeing would have been optimal for color saturation. When dyers mordant the fibers before plunging them into the dye vats, the fibers have a chance to FULLY absorb all of the mordant powders. Then, when the dyeing is happening, more color fragments are able to be absorbed because more mordant remains in the fibers. Pliny also recorded his personal thoughts on use of color during the time of Mark Antony and Cleopatra:
We see here again that color, and purple specifically, is being used to mark royalty and upper class status, a representation that Roman, Greek and Egyptian armies all adhered to. Clothing during the Early Dynastic Period would have been most commonly made of linen fibers. They would have been worn in their natural pale brown or pale grey shade. However, the people that could afford to wear dyed garments, did so with natural dyes, or even bleached by methods unique to this region of the world to produce white linen. The upper classes in Egypt would have been more likely to wear brightly dyed linen clothes, to show off their wealth, while the working class people would have worn the natural colored linens.
Alum was readily available in Egypt, as it’s a natural resource in the Mediterranean region. In the more volcanic regions of the Aegean, it’s constantly renewable due to the activity of the volcanoes….there’s a science-y reason for why, but I’m not too sure about it so I’ll let you learn more about that on your own if you’d like! Haha!
With alum being readily available, that meant that Egyptian dyers were able to easily work with the dye stuffs in their area that might have otherwise washed out easily or not have adhered to the fibers well. The colors produced were vibrant and long-lasting, and we can see them even today in fragments that remain on textiles and art from times as early as the Old Kingdom (2613-2181 BCE).
This is a good stopping place for now! I’ll be talking more about the dyestuffs that were most commonly utilized as well as the way that Egyptians in ancient times developed methods to bleach linens to a pristine white!
Thanks for reading and keeping up with this!
Gahhhh!!! I’m so ready for this! School just ended for my kiddos, and the heat is settled in here in Tennessee, so I’m totally ready for some kind of fun KAL this summer.
So our KAL theme is SHAWLS!!! There have been so many beautiful ones popping up on Ravelry and in my Instagram feed, and I wanted to take some time away from sweaters for just a minute to make one. Thus, the Nutmeg Fibers Summer Shawl-Along!
So here’s the details:
pick any shawl pattern
join us here on the blog, document your progress for us here, on Insta or in the Ravelry group and
make a beautiful shawl between June 10th and August 19th! Let’s work through this summer heat together!
Are you going to participate?! Make sure to let us know on Instagram, here in the comments or in our Ravelry group, so that we can find you when it’s time to give out prizes for our participants!! Last KAL we gave out about $500 worth of door prizes over the span of our event, so you don’t want to miss out! If you’re on Insta, make sure to tag your photos with #summershawlalong #retreatshawlalong #NutmegKAL so that we can see all our lovely participants and put your name in the “hat” for prizes each week.
We’ll be having a wonderful guest blogger one week, can’t wait to tell you more about that, and I’ll be documenting my own process of making the Retreat Shawl. Can’t wait to see what kind of new friends we make through this!
ACTION POINTS FOR YOU:
Pick your pattern and yarn by June 10th and share that with us all!
Introduce yourself here in the comments! I’m excited to see who all will be participating
Get your supplies together and get ready to SHAWL!
Pick any shawl pattern you’d like. Personally, I’m gonna be making Dawn’s Retreat Shawl, cause it’s beautiful and I’ve been dying to make it since she debuted this pattern back in the early spring! Trying to decide on yarn now…haha! She designed it with our Retreat base, but I think I might try it in a linen and see what happens!
We’ll be starting this officially on June 10th with the first blog post up for everyone. Here’s a calendar with our schedule for this Shawl-Along! Scroll to June to see the info!
Ok, this was just a brief announcement about this so that people can get excited to join in. I’ll be giving a lot more details over the next few weeks as we all get ready to begin!
I’m so thrilled that the 3rd issue of our magazine is finally arriving next week from the printer!! I wanted to tell you a little bit more about what will be inside. So, this issue is a collection of 3 patterns and 4 recipes. The theme of this issue is Growth, which seemed perfect for spring, when shoots and blooms and leaves are all pushing their way up from their long winter sleep.
Well, It’s that time of year! Time for me to get a bit crazy in the head with preparations for the multiple trade shows coming up! We wanted to write a quick blog post to let you know about when and where we’ll be! Be sure to come visit us if you're in the New York area this month at Vogue Knitting Live, and in February at Stitches West!
In a new series on my blog every other month, I’ll be delving into a bit of nerdy, fiber art history. Specifically, in-depth looks into the history of dyeing around the world. I’ve decided to focus on specific cultures for each of these, so that I can go a bit deeper into that area’s dye story. Looking closely at the way art techniques developed opens a window into that culture’s entire history. New textile making processes might be added after the introduction of a new maker’s tool following a historic event, new dyestuffs are used after new trade routes open and flourish, and items are exchanged between countries, and periods of unrest result in new and unique ways to produce fibers and colors, meant for specific political, social or religious purposes. Color is literally woven into our past, and these are the stories of our ancestors, working to make those colors come to life.
I can hardly believe that it’s been 5 years since I started dyeing yarn in my kitchen for Nutmeg Fibers!!! And also, that I’ve been in business as Nutmeg for 7 years! This post is over a week after “New Years” but it takes me a little time to get around to my blogging schedule after the holiday season is over. Oh well! That’s how life works.