Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Superwash Dyeing Adventures

I dyed the superwash merino from Woodland Woolworks last week.
This was quite the adventure. I've dyed superwash wool once before, and learned that the dye strikes faster, and that much more dye is needed, but I had no idea how much more for this roving. I used Kool-Aid, in various reds, using the cold pour method. I unwrapped and recoiled the roving into two twists, about 4 oz each.

Unwrapped and Coiled Soaked and Ready
I covered my kitchen table in newspaper and plastic wrap. I mixed up Black Cherry, Berry Cherry, Orange/Cherry, Berry Blue/Cherry/Neon McCormicks Purple, Strawberry. The food dye cup got a little extra vinegar.
I was going for a progression of reds, from the orange end to the purple. I laid the wet roving out in long zigzags, poured the colors, flipped the whole thing over, and poured more. I was stunned at how fast the color took. Almost immediately, the extra liquid running off was clear, and there were a lot of white spots on the underside when I flipped it. After I was done, I wrapped the roving in two packages, and microwaved it. Two minutes, rest two minutes, repeat twice, until the packages were puffed up a little. I set the packages to cool overnight, and cleaned up (big mistake, I poured out the extra Kool-Aid).

Supplies and cooling roving.
Note the bottle of Baileys. I'm adding this to my list of needed supplies for late night dyeing.

The next morning, I unwrapped and inspected my job. Ack! What I thought were round lengths of roving were actually flat strips with the edges rolled in. Lots of white appeared.

This red, white and blue crap? Not the look I was going for.

Time to overdye. Since I had poured out the dye from the first round, I mixed more. I was running seriously low, and couln't get to the store to get more. So I decided to treat each half a little differently. The first batch I laid out and repeated the cold pour method. The rest of it I dyed in a hybrid immersion/hot pour technique. I mixed some Berry Cherry in a pot of cold water with a little extra red food dye and vinegar, added the roving, and brought it to a simmer. After the dye exhausted, I poured different mixes of Orange, Cherry, and Neon McCormicks, letting each exhaust before pouring the next. Once the water was clear, I turned it off, and let it cool.

In the pot
(ignore the yellow center, that's the lightbulb reflecting)


Amazingly, the two batches look remarkably similar. I was getting really stressed out over finding a few more white/pink splotches after all this. Margene's post on Zen-like spinning really came to my rescue. I have decided that I am going to do this for the process, and enjoy learning and developing my skills. Probably a good idea for someone who's spun a grand total of about 200 yards ever.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

So much to blog, so little time.

Well, no time that I'm willing to tear away from the actual crafting, that is. Add on the fact that Kid One is sick again, and that I've been tearing my hair out trying to make heads or tails out of web design/publishing, and the blog has suffered.

Presenting (in the face of Kid One's taunting skepticism) . . . The Blue Sweater !

On MeMaw's bed. Artsy Closeup.

I've been spending a lot of time dyeing, too. A couple of experiments with natural dyeing, using alum, cream of tartar, and iron (otherwise known as rusty nails soaked in vinegar) as mordants. I was intrigued by a rosemary dye article , but I didn't get that great, bright, green. Maybe my rosemary was older, different season, different water, who knows? The snip I dyed would be right at home in That Seventies Show. My other experiment went much better, but since it's for a swap, it'll have to wait until the package is received.

On more familiar territory, I dyed up LB Fishermans in several Kool-Aid colors for making fruits and veggies toys.

Lemon-Lime/Arctic Green Apple, Lemonade/Yellow Food Dye, Lime/Grape, Orange, Grape/Neon Purple Food Dye.

On the home front, SNOW! Poor kid was too sick to enjoy it, and Delayed Start school day is no fun when you are too sick to go anyway, but the babe had a great time exploring this new stuff. Last night, he watched out the window, saying "Wow!" in an amazing range of inflections and tones. This morning we bundled up and trudged around the yard, until I had to drag him in kicking and screaming, lest his fingers or nose suffer permanent damage.

I dyed my roving for Twisted Knitters but that gets its own post. Hopefully tomorrow. I'll try to get my mug and coffee shop pics up for Knitters' Coffee Swap, too.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Knitter's Coffee Swap Questions

1. Whole bean or ground?
Whole bean
2. Fully-loaded or decaf?
Either. Usually I drink the caff. in the morning, but sometimes I like a little decaf in the late afternoon.
3. Regular or flavored?
4. How do you drink your coffee?
Lots of ways. I like black, with cream, mochas, cappuccinos, etc. Most often I drink espresso with a little half-and-half.
5. Favorite coffee ever?
The cappuccino at Torrefazione. Perfect temperature, milk actually steamed, not just heated, and a creamy layer of foam. All that, served in beautiful Italian cups, in a great setting. That would've been my contest entry, but they've all been closed.
6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do?
The darker the roast, the better.
7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee?
Anything chocolate. Or cookies.
8. Anything else about your coffee preferences?
I usually try to get fair trade.
9. What treats do you enjoy with your coffee?
More chocolate ;)
10. Yarn/fiber you love?
I love wool and wool blends, and other animal fibers.
11. Yarn/fiber you hate?
Red Heart, lol.
12. What's on your needles?
Perfection Pants, baby hat, socks, and that blue cardigan.
13. Favorite colors?
I love lots of colors. Earth tones, jewel tones, reds.
14. Allergies?
15. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


No, I'm not posting a much belated TLAP entry. I'm suffering from some serious knitting curse.

Shortly after I did a celebratory, I-am-a-grafting-genius dance around my house, I spread out all the sweater bits to seam, and realized that there is something seriously wrong with the sleeve cap. Having never knit (or sewn) anything with set-in sleeves, I didn't know what I was doing, and the pattern is rather vague.

But it is now painfully obvious. The sleeve caps are definitely shorter than the armholes. Again, "Aaargh!" sez I.

So, time to rip back to the last increase row, and give it another go.

I decided to start the coordinating pants. When I picked out the yarn, I thought everything would match nicely. I had a plan. NO seat of my pants knitting for me. I picked out blue cotton for the sweater, blue and brown marled wool, and a solid brown for waist and cuffs on the pants.
I even waited a couple extra weeks for the back-ordered brown.

When I finally saw my yarn, I realized I'd made a big oops with the cotton. 4/2 cotton is not DK weight. OK. I can deal, I'll just pick a new pattern on smaller needles. (bwahahahahaha!)

And . . . the blues are not the same. Not at all. I really should have learned my lesson about colors and online ordering last winter (ordered yarn described as burgundy, black ,and cream. Got mauve, charcoal, grayish-white). So much for the whole matching outfit idea, but at least I'll get two nice garments out of the deal, right? Ha! The solid brown is not the same brown as the marled. And, not only are the blues in the cotton and the wool different, they really don't look that great next to each other.

I am determined to finish this godforsaken sweater, but I may very well sell/trade/? the wool. I only ordered it to do this particular project.

I did manage to finish a hat this week, but not before knitting to the the 2nd to last row, realizing I'd done the decreases asymmetrically, ripping back, and then finishing anew. Poor babe's been sick , so no pix yet.

How do I get my knitting karma back on track?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Grafting breakthrough!

Wow! I thought I was going to cry trying to graft the new length onto the cardigan. Then I finally "got it." I had to let go of any previously memorized methods (the old "knit, off, purl, purl off, knit" mantra). I made a swatch with one row of contrasting color and copied that. I've done both fronts, now just the back to go. I can only work on this during naps, so it's going super fast, but I no longer have to puzzle over every stitch.

The brown yarn is the row above the graft.

Ignore the weird color changes, it's just the lighting, and bad photography.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I hate being sick. Really. Ugh.

I laid the blue cardi out to start seaming, and decided I'd better hold it up on the babe. Aaarg! He's got such a long torso. It's barely long enough. So . . . I unraveled the bottom, and am going to (eeek) graft it back together after I add a couple pattern repeats. I knit a swatch with one row of contrasting color, so I can follow that when I graft. I was all set to give it a try, then this yuckiness overcame me.

So, grafting, posting Halloween pix, and more updates will have to wait. I seem to be on the mend. If I get a good night's sleep, maybe tomorrow will work out.