A while back I mentioned that I learned the weekend Liz was here that I shouldn’t dye in my washing machine. *How* I learned that was actually a lot more fun than it might sound.

As I am a knitter, my mother is a seamstress. But, as I actually don’t have an overwhelming stash of yarn, she does of fabric. So much so that dad has complained that she needs to use some of it up before she acquires more. Which found me some time ago sitting with her going through both patterns and fabric so she could make me some new work clothes. Among the fabric was some white linen that she’s purchased to make me a couple of underdresses, but as I’ve been on somewhat of an extended hiatus from the SCA, we decided to repurpose the linen for other things. After going through all the fabric, we decided that the linen would be used for some light jackets and that there was enough there to make two jackets, and that I would take the white linen and dye it something more appropriate for my wardrobe.

I’ve been wanting to play with vat dyeing for awhile, and with more modern dyes, so off I went to Dharma Trading to order some dyes appropriate for use with plant fibers. I got three colors (Oxblood Red, Royal Blue, and Moss Green) of fiber reactive procion dyes and the soda ash fixative and then .. waited for company. Fortunately, Liz was just the kind of company I needed to give me courage to make my first foray into modern dyes.

Let me start by saying that it’s dead simple. Dharma Trading has great directions on their website, and it really is pretty much 1-2-3. I started with the Oxblood Red and decided that for the first piece I would do it in my kitchen sink, which was pr’bly not quite big enough, but was easier to keep an eye on for my maiden attempt.

Photobucket (Clickable thumbnails, as usual.)

As I said, the process is pretty simple, and for most of it, the fabric just sits in the dyebath, soaking up the dye. I rinsed it out in the sink until the water ran clear and then threw it in the washing machine to wash out any residual dye.


It was a little brighter than I’d hoped (I really wanted it to stay the rich, dark blood red of the dye bath), but still pretty exciting. A quite run through the dryer and it was finished.


Because the sink wasn’t quite big enough, the fabric and the dye didn’t move around as much as they probably should have, so there’s some non-uniformity in the finished piece – though it’s not as noticeable as the camera flash makes it seem! I don’t really mind that, though and am pretty sure that we can make the finished garments look just fine. Additionally, the process of moving the fabric around using a large metal spoon appears to have put some stress and strain in some places, causes weaknesses in the material.

Fueled by my success with the red, I got a little bold and decided to do the green in the washing machine. And despite all the warnings (of which there are many!), I managed to run the dye bath down the drain after not nearly long enough not only once, but twice. While the fabric just out of the washer was rather pretty, it was very inconsistent and no where near colorfast.


Which was fortunately not too much of a concern since I still had the blue and figured that I could overdye the green and maybe get a nice aqua, or at least a decent blue. Not being brave enough to try the washer again, though, and not wanting to repeat the stress on the fabric from using the sink, it waiting for a few weeks until I found myself with an unexpectedly free afternoon Sunday. I picked up some bins that I thought would be big enough without being too big (they weren’t; I’d go with slightly taller sides next time) and set things to go in the bathtub:


The jar of dye for this color said to use 4 times the recommended amount for other dyes, but when I rinsed it out there was a *lot* of dye still in the bath. I suspect, though, that even with more room to move, the fabric was still not quite free enough to soak up all it could properly as it was still streaked a bit after rinsing (and very definitely blue, not the aqua I thought it might end up having started out green):

Photobucket Photobucket

As with the red, I ran it through the washer and dryer to finish it off, and even though it’s got some lighter and darker patches, they’re again not really as noticeable in person as the flash from the camera makes them seem:


All in all, I’d say it was a successful (and easy and fun!) first attempt at kettle dyeing. I’ll deliver the two pieces of linen back to mom at Easter, along with her socks – finished the first one and will be casting on for the second pr’bly tonight!



Dyeing rainbows

Right then, where were we? Oh, yes, drinkable dyes. This one’s pretty photo intensive, so for those using dial up or a feed reader, you may need to click through the jump to see it all. Continue reading

Blue Jean Kool Aid

A week or so ago, I was wearing my fingerless gloves in my office and a friend and colleague expressed an interest in a pair of her own. Since she requested that they match blue jeans – which she wears almost exclusively – and I didn’t have any suitable blue yarn to hand, I decided to try my hand at getting the color I wanted with Kool Aid.

I had most of a skein of Jagger yarn left over from the largesse stocking project from about a year ago and decided that was about the right weight and would likely take up the dye well:

(As usual, all pictures are clickable thumbnails)

I skeined the yarn with my niddy-noddy and started it soaking in some hot water and got a pot starting to boil on the stove. I wanted to pre-mix the color rather than just dump the packets into the boiling water and hope it worked, so I started with 4 packets of Berry Blue in a pint glass of hot water. And quickly decided that it was a bit too.. vibrant. So I added in a couple packets of Grape to darken it up a bit. I dipped a snippet of of spare yarn in it to make sure it was about the right color, but forgot to pre-soak the snippet, so it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. But I determined that I was generally in the right ballpark.

Once the water in the pot boiled, I turned off the heat, added the dye mix to the water and then dunked the pre-soaked skein.

After about 45 minutes, the dye appears to be exhausted..

.. though somewhat spotty. A quick rinse confirmed that the dye had not been taken up evenly.

Since blue jeans are often various shades of blue, however, I decided it was fine and would pr’bly look really neat once knit up. I hung it up to dry overnight..

..and voila! In the morning I had yarn that is perfect for the recipient!

Radio silence.

Hrm. Yup. Been awhile. Stuff’s been going on, including some knitting and spinning.

On the knitting, I finished the DNA scarf:

No, it’s not really that long, but I wasn’t sure just the two end pictures caught it all. Not that it matters given how hard it is to see anyway, but c’est la vie. *shrug* These pictures were taken while I blocked it on the back of my mom’s couch the night before giving it to the recipient.

Pattern – DNA Scarf
Author – June Oshiro, known in blogland as Two Sheep
Yarn – KnitPicks Swish DK in Coal
Needles – KnitPicks Options US size 4 16-inch circular (though I also dallied for awhile with a second circular)
Points of Departure – This scarf was knit for a friend in partial exchange for some sewing she did for Jack. Therefore many of the choices about it (color, etc.) are hers, and at her request it is not a fisherman’s scarf as I understand that creature to be (e.g., with a section of ribbing across the neck) but instead it is “reversible”. To achieve the reversible-ness, this is really two scarfs knit in the round and joined at the edges. I’ve tried to come up with a better way to describe that, but I can’t really, so if you can’t figure out what I did, drop a comment and I’ll try to come up with something better (though likely more verbose).

I liked this scarf – and the double-thickness gave it some substantial heft, which the recipient also liked (and has no doubt come in handy this week with the -20 weather in Wisconsin) – but I’m not sure I’ll ever make another. Mostly because I’m not myself geeky in that way and most of the folks I typically make gifts for aren’t either. *shrug* I will attempt to get an action shot of it at some point with the recipient that shows the reversible nature better.

On the spinning, I finished spinning the cashgora I got with Cate & Sara in St. Louis (or was that Kansas City? I always mess those two up..):

The rose/mauve bits are really understated in the singles, but I like that every now and again they just appear. I’ll eventually ply the singles, once I figure out if I want to try to 3-ply it to maintain the color runs or just let them fall where they may. While I decide, I’m working on spinning up the little ball of Clun Forest that I dyed with cochineal with my friend Carol:

It’s really quite lovely to spin and I’m very pleased with how it’s turning out. I have no idea what to do with it – there’s not very much of it there – but I’m contemplating writing up the documentation for the dyeing and spinning and entering it into an A&S (Arts & Sciences) display at an upcoming SCA event. We’ll see if I get around to that, though.

I also did some more Kool Aid dyeing earlier this week, but I think that may have to wait for another day..

Must resist.. ooh, shiny! (Updated with pictures)

(Okay, so now that I’ve put in the pictures, MOM: GO AWAY. You can come back in a week. Love you!)

Gah. I am not doing many knitted holiday gifts this year (really just one, maybe two.. or.. well, three if I .. make that *four*.. uh, hrm.. yeah, five.. if I can make it all work), but I’ve managed to totally lose my knitting mojo anyway. I have about 6 inches of sleeves left on one project and I just can’t seem to focus on it. I’ll sit down, knit a few rows.. and get distracted by.. anything.. everything. *sigh*

Updated to add pictures – here are the sleeves as of.. sometime this weekend, I think. They’re not much farther now. One of them is lying on top of the other in this picture as I’m knitting them both at the same time on a singular circular.

This weekend I thought I’d find my mojo again if I just kicked out one of the smaller projects, and that worked until I ran out of the yarn I was using for the project. The yarn which had been hand-dyed. *sigh*

(As usual, all the pictures are clickable thumbnails..)

The little white specs are from where the skein was tied, but I kind of like how they make the yarn look a little heathered. These are the Fiber Trends Felt Clogs, but without the bottoms as I have some fleece-lined slipper soles for the bottoms. The pattern is written to make this possible, but I’ve never seen a pair actually done this way, so here’s hoping they turn out! I’m knitting with two strands of Paton’s Classic Merino held together. As you can see, I just have the cuff on the second one to finish.

It’s *possible* that I can recreate it well enough (it was some Paton’s Classic Merino that I dyed with Tropical Punch Kool-Aid*, so it’s not like I can’t reproduce the conditions nearly exactly or anything), but at the same time, the idea of *fulling* something that was dyed like this made me a little nervous from the start (but then, I told myself that if the dye all went down the drain, I could just overdye the finished product in more Kool-Aid.. right?), so that ended up in a paroxysm of “was this really a good idea after all?”

All the same.. I think I’ll stop out at Michael’s on the way home tonight and grab another skein of the Paton’s and then stop at the grocery store and grab some more Tropical Punch.** I have a back up plan for this one if the Kool-Aid dyed stuff doesn’t work, so I’m not that concerned, but .. yeah.. that whole mojo thing, combined with the realization that there are just a mere *7* days until Christmas.. yeah.

* Yeah.. on that.. did that .. last week sometime, I think. It was very nifty and SO very easy. I mean.. really. Bring pot of water to boil, stir in Kool-Aid, drop in skein of yarn, wait until water goes clear. Yeah. Dead. Simple. And yes, I did take a picture of the finished skein, but the camera is at home, so I’ll post it later.

And I have a whole slew of yarn I got from KnitPicks in their “bare” states, so I’m sure there will be more Kool-Aid dyed goodness.. I just have to find that colorwheel that I know I saw somewhere that showed what colors you get from which flavors…

** Yeah.. on that.. did that.. last night. *smile* I love that this so both so easy and so predictable! I think the color matches *very* well.. (and yes, I was careful to tie the skein a little tight so that I’d still get the white speckles.. *grin*)

Project pondering..

Not that I need more projects right now, especially with the addition of a Dr. Who Scarf to my queue for my boy, but I was pondering what to do with the cashgora that I’ve been spinning

First skein, about half the total; all pictures are clickable thumbnails

A shot showing more of the color variations, especially the pinkish-purply bit

…and also pondering what to do with the cochineal-dyed handspun and roving we did a week and a half ago:

Clun Forest handspun is farthest left; SWS is middle and Paton’s Classic Merino is right

Front hangar

…and thinking that all my gloves and mittens have disappeared and I think I’m going to try to figure out a way to make something like Fetching out of the cashgora and handspun. I think the colors will blend well enough for it to work out, but I’m a little concerned that the cashgora will be thicker, especially since I might end up trying to learn to Navajo-ply it to maintain the color runs.. But then.. if that’s the case, I could also use the skein of Soy Wool Silk (center in the cochineal picture above), which might flow better for color, too. I think I’m thinking that the cashgora will be cuff-bits and the rest hand-bits, but we’ll have to see how much of the cashgora I end up with… I could also start with the darkest purple (Clun Forest handspun dyed in blue vitriol mordanted cochineal) and work through the cashgora and use the SWS or the rest of the Clun Forest roving (dyed in cream of tartar mordanted cochineal if memory serves) for the fingers.


(And while I’m pondering.. does anyone know an easy way to take all the Categories assigned to a WordPress post and make them Tags, either in addition or instead of Categories? Or should I just continue to use Categories and ignore the new Tags options?)

Random.. Thursday.

I lose whole days all the time. This year.. I think I lost the whole month of November. *sigh* So.. this will be a sort of catch-up, wrap up loose ends kind of post..

First up – the last photos from last weekend’s dyeing spree! When I last posted, there was some yarn soaking in the 2nd exhaust dye bath of the cochineal, along with some blue vitriol mordant. I promised pictures the next morning, but I forgot to actually take the yarn out until the next morning (or maybe I was supposed to do it in the morning and didn’t get to it until that night? Something like that) so here’s both skeins sitting in warm water but not really rinsed while I reheated the dye bath and added the 2nd mordant (cream of tartar):

(All images are clickable thumbnails; click to load a larger version)

Both skeins have a definite purplish cast to them which I believe is due to the blue vitriol mordant. I was tempted to just leave the cotton skein (the lighter, lavenderish one) because I really liked that color, but I was also aware that it would likely fade quite a bit once I rinsed it well. So back they both went in, and when they came out the second time and were rinsed, they looked like this (sort of.. this shot is a bit washed out from the flash):

Definitely more reddish, but still more purple than the previous stuff. I hung them to dry and they ended up like this:

It’s pretty neat, all in all, especially since this was essentially the third set of items we dyed with this dye bath. I really love how the skein of wool turned out – it’s got some variation in it, but it looks like it’s been dyed in a nice red wine – and I can’t wait to see what Carol makes with it. The cotton is fairly subtle, but still definitely purple, and I’m thinking I might need to figure out a little girl shirt of some for my niece for her birthday in May.

Right then – up next is the Easy Lace Jacket. I’ve had a few people contact me, either here or through Ravelry, with questions about this pattern, as well as asking for modeled pictures.

Generally speaking, if you have questions about any pattern, I would strongly recommend you contact the person who wrote the pattern – in this case Joan McGowan-Michael at White Lies Designs – as they’re going to be the best person to help you out. I can tell you, at least as far as I remember, how I did the decreases (one stitch in from the edge, adjusting the lace pattern as I went) but I really am not that great at relaying the details of exactly what I did to text. Similarly with the lace for the cuffs & collar – I followed the pattern, knit each piece separately, and sewed them all together at the end. Sorry not to be of more assistance, but really – contact Joan if you’re running into difficulty or have questions!

Modeled pictures, though, I can do. *smile* First, though, I should pr’bly admit that I never bothered to do buttons or button loops for this one. I pretty rarely ever close cardigans when I wear them and I was excited to start wearing this one pretty much as soon as I finished it, so that part never got finished. For me, it works fine, especially because the lace pattern – which acts very much like ribbing – would make the cardigan more clingy than I’d be comfortable with, but your mileage may vary.

Sort of profile.. (and a bonus shot of one of my favorite prints in the background!)
An attempt to better show the collar and sleeve lace better

I think I mentioned this when I first finished it, but it’s worth mentioning again now – if I were to do this one again (and I might), I’d change the sleeves a bit. They are both too wide and slightly too short at the cuff. I would make them a few inches longer and taper them more to the wrist, and also likely try to figure out shortening the lace dags so the seam fell closer to my actual wrist. That said, I wear this one as it is pretty frequently and I *LOVE* the length of the body.

Right then, moving on.. the holiday sweater I’m working on is not terribly exciting to photograph, but I will let you know that the back is finished and the front is about 2/3rds finished. It should be finished in plenty of time and I’ll take pictures when it gets there.

I’m continuing to work on the DNA scarf, though not as diligently as I thought I might.

I have the cable chart memorized at this point, though, so I can knit it just about anywhere. It will need some judicious blocking when I’m finished as it’s a little lumpy at the moment, and at some point I’ll need to figure out how long it will want to be so that I know when to start crossing the cables in the other direction (I’m not doing the ribbing in the middle because I don’t like how that would look, so I’ll just end up picking a point at which to make the helix twist in the other direction).

And since I’m pretty sure my sweetie doesn’t make it over here to check up on me, here’s a peek at one of his holiday gifts:

I’m doing a pair of Garter Rib socks, toe-up, in black Panda cotton. I’m glad I heeded Cathy‘s advice and went with a non-cabled pattern because the Panda is a bit splitty! Socks in a men’s size 11 are *huge*, too, and I’ve been trying not to knit them when he’s around (he doesn’t always pay that close of attention to what I’m working on, but sometimes he surprises me), so I’m hoping I can snag enough time in fits and starts to get them finished on time.