Last Friday, I traveled to Edmonds, Washington, a sweet little town only 35 minutes by train from Seattle. I was invited to come to Edmonds by a woman from Indonesian descent. Her name is Bianca and we were both linked together by that tall man wearing a batik button down shirt who stepped into the yarnshop several months ago and held in front of me a mirror of Javanese Heritage.
Before I write about my Edmonds adventure I would like to talk a bit about knitting. I haven’t done that in a while and it is about time.
Gauging Eco Alpaca by Cascade Yarns
Lately, I haven’t really been captured by a particular yarn…In days gone by, I would be tickled by yarns continuously, but it seems that nowadays it is harder to please this knitter.
Several months ago, I went to a yarnshop over at Sellwood in Portland with my friends and co-workers Adrienne and Jenni. I was scoping the yarnshop for some yarn that would tickle my fancy and when I almost gave up, my eye fell on this beautiful natural colored alpaca yarn.
It is called Eco Alpaca by Cascade Yarns, and let me tell ya… it is delicous!
More than anything I am so very taken by the fact that this Eco Alpaca is not dyed at all. All these natural colors… I am so incredibly drawn to it.
Making my swatch
Regular readers of this blog know by now that I am an avid swatch knitter. See, when you knit, and especially when you design your own, it is very important to make a swatch.
A swatch will give you so much information about how the yarn will behave once knitted up. What you are doing when you knit, is you make a fabric. When you knit, you make a fabric AND you construct a garment both at the same time.
Once you realize that, you must understand that making a gauge swatch is very important. Without my gauge swatch I am utterly lost. I don’t know how many stitches per inch I have and this is crucial for making calculation in order to design a garment.
Having this said, I just made two gauge swatches with my Eco Alpaca. I used two different needles: US5 and US7. Not only do I make swatches, I wetblock my swatches too before measuring my gauge.
I give them a 5 minute soak in cold water, then gently squeeze all the excess water out and roll them in a towel. Once rolled up in towel I press firmly on the towel to get even more excess water out.
Finally, I lay my swatches flat to dry.
Tomorrow, my swatches will be dry and ready to be measured. Why do I make two swatches with two different needles you might wonder?
Here’s the answer:
Again, I am aware that I am actually making a fabric. I want to see what kind of knitted fabric I produce against two different needles.
I want to know how this Eco Alpaca yarn behaves and hangs, gauged against two different needlesizes. Once I see how my little knitted fabric behaves, I can determine what type of garment I will design with it.
The Dutch Indies – Photos of Days Gone By
Bianca and me met during a dinner party organized by Mike (the tall man wearing a batik button down shirt and who walked into the yarnstore). After this dinner party we staid in contact and last weekend I visited her.
Reason for my visit was to talk about the Dutch Indies and colonialism. See, me and Bianca have one thing in common: both our families have lineage to Indonesia. And allthough under very different circumstances, both our families left Indonesia against their will.
The Dutch-Indies, what was to become modern Indonesia, were occupied by the Dutch for about 350 years roughly between the 16th and middle of the 20th century. The Dutch also colonized a little country in South-America called Suriname.
From 1863 to 1930, the Dutch shipped 33.000 Javanese people to Suriname to work on the plantations. Among them were my great grandparents. According to history, these Javanese people were “contract workers”.
I don’t want to go into further details about this period in this post. All I want to show you are some pictures I found in a book at Bianca’s place. These pictures were taken during 1870-1920 in the Dutch East Indies and are of value to me with regard to painting a picture how things looked like right about the time my great grandparents were shipped.
No words…just pictures.
Thank you for reading and until the next entry.