Category Archives: dyeing

Sock Camp Onwards and Upwards!

Last night’s Saturday Sky sunset here

just didn’t have the same grandeur as the sunset over Ludlow Bay, somehow.

(Though it was good to be home.  Well, except I missed my breakfast buffet, and wonderful coffee, and decadent desserts, and non-stop fun, and most of all MY KNITTING CAMPER PEEPS!)

Speaking of:  A few of the faces of Sock Camp!

My friend Cece and her baby Maggie.

Maggie got around.

With Steph and Tina, as they laid down the law welcomed us on the first evening;

Dancing to the Glee soundtrack with Sockateer – Counselor Cockeyed, who is practicing her grandma moves in preparation for an exciting event (by the way, Maggie is definitely a music baby; when the Glee CD stopped temporarily, she told us about it loud and clear!);

Helping Janel teach class as we knit on our little sockies:

Group shot!  Foxes with Josh (from the Inn), the Totem Pole , and our little Maggie Fox Cub!

And with another camper friend.

Though she was also plenty cute all by herself.

(Click for even bigger cuteness if you can stand it.)

She wasn’t even the only baby at Sock Camp: we had two other well-behaved babies there.

No toddlers or other kids in class (this is not quite kid camp) but the babies had fun, and were fun!

The awesomely cute solo pics above were from our dyeing class with Tina on the last day (classes were taken with your tribe, and were in the morning).

We were asked to bring yarn that we didn’t care for the color of, to overdye, though not everyone had such (“Why would I buy something I didn’t like?”)

Me, I did have a couple skeins to overdye. One was a purchase with a specific sock design (in my head) in mind, and when I saw it in person, it wasn’t right; and I have come to the realization after a couple years that I just will never knit with this yarn as is.  It was something about the brightness of its magenta coupled with the paleness of the mint green.  I don’t know.  I didn’t get a ‘before’, but this is an ‘after’:

I placed blue on the magenta and somewhat on the minty green, and I like it better.  This was a merino/bamboo/nylon blend, so took the dye interestingly.  (It looked a lot darker when it was wet!)

Also, I had a skein from one of my favorite dyers that had not turned out quite as expected, back when she had been forced to change dyes abruptly, as the dyes she had used for years for all her colorways were suddenly discontinued.  This was the first attempt at this particular colorway with the new dyes, and didn’t come out quite as it was supposed to.

In reality, the skein has more chunks of brown and tan than this early morning picture makes it look like.  Once again (probably partly because I *know* what it’s supposed to look like), I wasn’t sold on this, or on how it would look knitted up (though that’s a bit of a crap shoot).

So I tried overdyeing it partially with blues and blue-greens.  With this result:

(Heh, in this picture, it doesn’t look TOO Much different.  It really does in person.)  I stopped short of what I could have done, as I wanted to preserve some of the original colors also;  one can always overdye!  But I have a second skein, and I might overdye that totally, kettle-dyeing it blue or blue-green.  The difference will be interesting.

Before getting to do those, Tina showed us how to do a color value study (using a couple different techniques).  Examples are in the picture above.  Although not usually my favoritest color, I was in the mood for a spring green, and that was what I dyed for my gradient yarn.  I was pleased with how it turned out….until someone else’s yarn leaked onto it (which tells me both she and I could have wrapped our yarn better).

See the blue-green-purple bits?  Not original.  Oh, well.  After I got over my grumpy, I realized it should knit up in a very interesting way, and I have the technology to do another gradient-type skein if I wish!

And last, we just got to play with color on a blank skein (the above and this skein were both STR medium weight).  I just changed colors somewhat randomly, but thinking about what would blend well with what:  magenta through reds to rusty browns to blue-greens is what I ended up putting on the skein. (And then I forgot the vinegar, so it was a wee bit lighter, I think.)

It’s a little reminiscent of the sunset over Ludlow Bay, actually!  I suspect I like this one better in the skein than I may like it knit up, opposite of the gradient skein…

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So, last year was Tina’s first dyeing class ever.  And my group was her first class of that first class!  I don’t think I ever showed you the yarn I dyed last year (it was very busy when I got back from camp).

Last year, we dyed three skeins, and the first was an assignment from Tina: which had something to do with getting us out of our comfort zone.  We first talked about our favorite colors and why they were, and then had to speak about colors that were NOT our favorite.

My favorite colors are jewel tones, with deep greens, blues, blue-greens, and wine being my absolute favorites.  My least favorite colors are probably yellow and orange: though I used to dislike them, and now not so much.  Knitting and dyeing has made me love color more for its own sake.

So: my assignment from Tina was to put my not-so-happy-place color (yellow) in with my happy place colors.

And this yarn was the result:

(heh, I was hiding the yellow a bit in that picture.  Still wasn’t convinced, I guess!)

Well….

I just finished knitting socks made from that very yarn.  Which I cast on, on the night of the December blue moon (the Blue Moon Cast-On!)  In fact, I cast those socks off and wove in the ends in the Yarn Harlot’s sock class at Sock Camp.  It seemed so appropriate somehow!

And now I am very happy with them, not least with the yellow bits, which make all the lovely blues and greens ‘pop’.

It reminds me of irises, or yellow waterlilies on a lake.

My own design, a simple toe-up sock with gusset & flap heel à la Widdershins, and a slip stitch rib to break up the variegation while still resulting in loads of stretchiness.

Works for me!  And now I have Sock Camp on my feet!

(I’m knitting up the second skein I dyed last year now too….I’ll show you that sometime later.  But this post is quite long enough.  More to come about camp, however!)

Singin’ those Forest Canopy Blues

Not because I’m unhappy–

but because my Forest Canopy is now blue!

Here’s your regulation blocking shot:

(just for Cookie, the dimensions are 68 inches by 36 inches; definitely no Icarus! but substantially bigger than the original Forest Canopy shoulder shawl)

and another Preteen modeling shot.

(She may be 12, for a bit longer, but she’s 5 feet 4 inches, so makes a good model when I can get her to acquiesce. Sometimes…. )

It’s not quite as vivid a blue as it looks in some of these pictures; the photo below is perhaps a little more accurate. A little.

The green stripes certainly don’t stick out any more!

Though, in the light, you can see the green, but it’s subtle. It looks almost peacock-like, in a way.

So, here’s the story.

Being lazy efficient in my actions, I did not block the shawl first as so many of you very sagely advised me to do. I pinned it out firmly as if it were blocked, in one area, and still saw only green stripes.

Right about then, I got an email from ISE 6, looking for angels for a few people who had never received scarves. I have three scarves on the needles right now, including the one you saw the other day, which is going fast when I let myself work on it. So I volunteered.

The person I got assigned to ‘angel’ is a crocheter, who however loves knit items. She admitted in her questionnaire to a longing for lace, and in fact shyly asked for a lace shawl if there was any chance of such a thing. Her favorite colors are jewel blues and purples, and she doesn’t like too much variegation.

K. I don’t QUITE need to be hit with a bolt of lightning to get it! Let’s see — should I overdye the lace shawl that I’m about to cast off, overdye it blue as I was fretting and fussing about doing anyway, and make someone who’s been waiting way too long for their swap scarf, very happy? Or should I knit a scarf from (almost) scratch that won’t, given the interests of time, be a lace scarf or shawl? Remembering that Forest Canopy was started primarily to use up this raffle prize yarn, and keep Nora company, and had no designated recipient (it was probably going to be for me, but Wendy’s Kay’s shawl is DEFINITELY (I think) going to be for me, so how many shawls do I need?)

So, decision made. I dyed it perhaps more of a jewel sapphire blue than I otherwise would have (I otherwise probably would have re-overdyed it with a bit more green or black to tone it down a bit; I did put in a bit of purple with the sapphire blue); had to do Jennifer‘s cat p— trick (read halfway down in the link to find out more!) to get the excess dye out, then stay up way late last night blocking; but I think and hope it will be just what the jewel-tone lace-loving scarf-lacking swapper will like.

Now to find a couple other treats to send her, but that’s the easy part.

Boy, am I happy to have that decision made, and the shawl all done! Not all blues are sad blues, you know — and the blues are one of my favorite things to play and sing.  Get out that big dreadnought guitar, a nice low key like A, and I’m good.

Here’s to singin’ the blues!

A Thousand Comments are Worth…

. . . a lovely skein of hand-dyed yarn?

(Somehow, I’m not sure that’s quite how the saying goes.)

Anyhoo, Astrid is the lucky 1000th commenter, and let me tell you, she knows from lovely skeins of yarn; go check out her etsy shop, Damselfly Yarns, with wonderful hand-dyed yarn and roving.

So, although it seems like mailing coal to Newcastle, Astrid will be receiving a skein of hand-dyed, hand-painted yarn; and although she likes all colors, as befits a yarn aficionado, she expressed a current desire for the green/blue/purple end of the spectrum.

Since we here in Wisconsin are suffering from a serious green deficit, I opted to select a skein from the WonderStash in greens with a bit of blue (for good luck, hoping to see some of both here some time this year). And I wanted to send Astrid something she couldn’t get just anywhere, so she’s getting something different and unique (here you go, this will surprise her as much as anyone, she doesn’t know yet):

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A skein of yarn from a fellow Etsy artist but with an entirely different dyeing style, Meg of Twisted Fiber Art; Colorway “Karma”, a Mutating Variegated pattern, in “Playful” yarn base, superwash Merino fingering weight yarn. Meg’s yarn and colorways are SO much fun to knit up that I keep knitting to see what’s going to happen next!

I hope you enjoy it, Astrid!

Wheere Be Dragone?

Did you notice what wasn’t there in my epic weekend account?

I had planned to cast on for the intriguing and complex “Heere be Dragone” shawl, for the Gothlet, on her birthday.

The sad truth is that, not only was the day just packed (as several of you commented! and that was leaving out skiing with the church group as the Gothlet also wanted to do!), but I awoke with a migraine which got worse with the day and the driving, so by the time the birthday dinner was done, all I could do was lay down with even more drugs on board. It hung over into the next day too, part of why I feel so far behind, I suppose. (I didn’t miss work, but I left all things that did not HAVE to be done, undone. But they have to be done sometime!)

Perhaps I’ll start the shawl next weekend, when I have a knitting weekend planned (yes, yes, I know, didn’t I just have a knitting weekend? Well, not really, it was a talking to knitters and talking about knitting and letting the Gothlet play at the MOA and driving around weekend! Very little actual knitting happened, unfortunately!)

But I can show you the yarn, having finally gotten a decent picture of the result of overdyeing (which I’m happy with).

First, before:

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Kind of a muddy purplish-brownish-reddish color.

After:

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This is just what I hoped for, a semisolid saturated purple, so dark that it’s almost, but not really, black. I’m happy, and I should have more than enough of this lovely suri alpaca laceweight. Now — all I need to do is start the shawl!

In other breaking news, liquid water was spotted in the wild yesterday.

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Alert the media, if you would be so kind.

ClearAndCold

…go together this time of year like knitters and cats, like books and tea, like cocoa and peppermint schnapps (okay, maybe that last is just a Midwestern thing).

Not that I approve, you understand. It’s frickin’ February — time for a February thaw! But around here, you know when the snow rolls through, that there’s a good chance of a cold front right behind — with some accompanying sunshine, at least. I had to take a picture just now, because I may have to remind myself what blue skies look like again soon.

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You can see the chimney smoke going straight up from the house across the street; a good sign; the wind has died down so the wind chill warnings have been downgraded from this morning, when I walked to church in -31 degrees F windchills (colder in Minneapolis, though, it usually is). It never did get above -3 today, though.

So a good day for drinking hot beverages and knitting! There were a few other things to do, but I did make visible progress on my brother’s Printed Circuitboard Fingerless Mitts (that’s the name of the Yarn Nerd colorway, in case anyone is wondering!). They should achieve FO status, or very close, tonight. Here they are, chillin’ on the front porch (literally chillin’).

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I did a little yarn dyeing this afternoon too: some of the same sort of lovely suri alpaca yarn that became the Wedding Pi Shawl. It was a murky brownish-purple to begin with. (I’ll show you before and after pictures once it’s all dry and reskeined.) It’s for the Gothlet’s birthday next week. Since she appreciates hand-knit gifts, and lace, and soft, fuzzy, warm things (what a treasure of a daughter!), I am making her this very special shawl.

Since I think it would be impossible to knit something like this for someone you live in the same house with, when you are a busy working mom, in less than, oh, two years or so, the Gothlet already knows about it (I also decided before putting months of my life into it, that it behooved me to make certain it was really something she liked — even though I was pretty sure — so I showed her the pattern and asked). (Gulp! While Googling pictures to show you — the shop pictures are smaller — I ran across Fleegle’s blog entry that said, as she was starting this, that this was about the hardest lace project she’d ever knit. She’s a master lace knitter. Hooboy.)

So: I will ceremoniously cast it on, on her birthday! With the newly much more purple suri alpaca yarn. I’m excited about it. Not that I don’t have many other things on my needles and in my head (I have to sit down and chart my EPS cardi and watch Meg’s DVD, before that big project can get going, for example), but this looks like new lace techniques to me and is rated “challenging”, which I take as — a challenge! No promises, no pressure, about when it’s getting done, but this should be a fun ride.

(Fleegle said it was hard. Wish me luck…)

Loving the Mail!

No, not the mailMAN! (We have a female mail carrier these days, anyway, not my type; though the UPS guy that always used to deliver was a good-looking redhead!)

Here was my mail last night:

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which contained this:

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and THIS:

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(knitted, beaded wire flower, artfully posed against the tree reflection on the hood of my car. Apparently, a blue-black Saturn is not a bad backdrop when needed!)

and most especially, the reason for it all, THIS!

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Although a nice dramatic background, I know you want to see this gorgeous hand-dyed sock yarn bigger, so here you go, briefly hanging out on what’s left of our snow:

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Can you read the colorway names? Cranberry Sauce, and Brrrr! I love, love, love it! And them!

These are so what makes me happy in colors — rich, vivid jewel tones, mmmm.

Thanks so much, Bridget, my swap partner in the Hand-Dyed Yarn Swap!

What welcome color during this gray-brown, foggy, melting, weird January Wisconsin weather! Thanks, I definitely needed that. Off I go just to feast my eyes on it again.

Peppermint to Autumn

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The Transformation of the Suri Alpaca Laceweight.

So I bought this yarn on eBay. . . .

Some stories that don’t end well, start this way. This is not one of those stories. Although it is not without its own drama.

Some Cherry Tree Hill Suri Lace mill ends were up for auction on eBay, about the time I was on a roll buying yarn on eBay (it can be addictive). Suri alpaca is the rarer form of alpaca, though becoming more common as this breed is increasingly being raised in the United States and elsewhere. Suri fiber is longer and more lustrous than the more common huacaya alpaca fiber. This particular Cherry Tree Hill yarn normally comes in 50g hanks, 440 yards for about $26. These mill ends were naturally less than full yardage, being mill ends, but respectable lengths, and totalled, if I remember correctly, about 7 oz (almost 200g!). They were, however, ‘potluck’ dyed in red and pink. Not perhaps the most alluring; therefore, I bought them for a relative song. I thought the colors might grow on me, or when I dared, I might try dyeing the yarn (I was a dyeing neophyte then).

Well, the colors did NOT grow on me. All I could see when I looked at the yarn was melted Peppermint. And I was not in the mood for Melted Peppermint Lace at that point. So, after some initial Kool-Aid dyeing successes, I dared to overdye the alpaca laceweight with fairly concentrated orange Kool-Aid. It turned out intense, but improved, to my way of thinking. Sorry, no picture, this was pre-blogging.

I put the red-orange yarn away, waiting for the right project. I did have my red-headed friend who loves orange in the back of my head. I did not love orange in the past, necessarily, but I really liked this deep orange interspersed with warm red. Is it that when you dye something, it’s kind of like your child and you can’t regard it objectively? Although I certainly am aware of those areas where my children may be less than perfect. And I would certainly hope if I dyed something truly fugly, I would be cognizant. I think so. But be that as it may, although the orange/red-orange thing may not be to all people’s tastes, or even always to mine, the yarn pleased me more than peppermint blotches.

When I found out about my friend’s engagement, I did think of this yarn immediately, as the suri is a special fiber and would be worthy of a wedding gift. But I also had started the Mystery Stole 3 in an off-white laceweight with pearly gold-centered beads, which would make a lovely wedding stole. And I didn’t know if she had a wrap already in mind/bought/on hand.

So first I asked if I could make her something of the sort for her November wedding.

Yes!

Then I asked if she wanted a stole — a narrower, more dressy wrap to go over her shoulders — or a larger shawl.

She would love a larger shawl, to cozily wrap up with in the future, so that it wasn’t a one-time only dressy sort of thing.

OK. White or off-white — or color?

In colors like the wedding colors — her favorite — would be awesome! Fall colors of orange/red/gold/brown.

I had already been plotting a Pi shawl in the recesses of my brain, so this clinched it — a large circular shawl in the Suri Lace, which I had plenty of, was destined to be. But as I thought about a wedding shawl, the colors seemed a little too brightly intense; and I didn’t trust the Kool-Aid not to fade or transfer.

So, now having dabbled in acid dyes, I decided to overdye the orange/red with a little subtle brown. I had Jacquard Acid Dye in Chestnut. I put what seemed like a small amount in my newly-designated dyeing kettle, along with lots of water and some vinegar, and plopped in the hanks.

Whoa! It started to turn significantly brown a little faster than I anticipated! It was in the dye bath all of about 60 seconds before I whipped that puppy out of there. It looked pretty good, maybe; hard to tell wet. Because it hadn’t had the simmering time to set, I microwaved the yarn a few times to heat set the yarn.

Then I rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. It kept bleeding color every rinse — hard to tell if it was red or orange (didn’t look chestnut). I microwaved a little more. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. I used up the brown dye bath on some KnitPicks Bare worsted, and filled the dye pot with clean water with vinegar and simmered for 30 min. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. Seriously, I must have rinsed 15 to 20 times. And every time, there was still red/?orange coming from the yarn. Was this Kool-Aid? Though typically, after microwaving, I had not had any color leakage. Was this the Cherry Tree Hill red, red being notoriously not colorfast? And — HORROR — those lovely long suri fibers were starting to mat together — the Yarn Was Starting to FELT!

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(There’s the drama. Okay, I know it’s not what some would think of as drama. But imagine if you have almost 2000 yards of the perfect yarn for your friend’s wedding shawl and it all felts and can never be truly recreated — I can tell you, my heart rate went up!)

So I stopped rinsing and pressing, let it cool and hung it up. And brooded. Did I take the chance that the yarn might not be colorfast? The rinse water was a lot less red by the 20th rinse. But on top of a white wedding dress; maybe a little bit of perspiration bridal glow after dancing; can you imagine if my shawl turned the wedding gown orange?? What to do??

Well, not long thereafter, I had a passing correspondence (about yarn I had ordered) with Jennifer of VanCalcar Acres. I knew she had been so kind as to help Astrid with a dyeing question. So I ventured (a little reluctantly, I hate to presume on people’s kindness and professional time) to ask if she would be willing to give me any advice. She was and she did!

Give the yarn a bath with ammonia added to the water to flush out the excess dye; repeat if necessary; then rinse gently followed by a short soak with vinegar to neutralize the residual ammonia. (What Jennifer refers to as the “Cat P—” part of the dyeing process.) She also suggested re-skeining the yarn to separate the fibers that were starting to think about felting.

Ooh, just doing that (and I wouldn’t have done that on my own, I don’t think), allowed me to see how lovely the yarn was looking. The process was slightly involved and intrigued the cat greatly; first, winding from the swift,

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to the ball winder,

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then back to the swift.

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Before re-skeining, again: yarn-after-kool-aid-dyeing.jpg close-up-preskeining.jpg

After re-skeining.

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This is pre-ammonia, so a little redder than it turned out in the end.

Now the ammonia bath. Look at all this color coming out!

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I did need to repeat the ammonia treatment, but eventually the rinse water was clear, Clear, CLEAR!

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Hooray! I’m not going to ruin the bride’s dress after all!

Now, I could finally get designing and then knitting. And, as I said yesterday, this yarn is heaven to work with. It’s subtly lustrous, almost as though it has silk blended in (now I realize that that’s the long, lustrous suri fiber); soft, and resilient. And the colors make me so happy; rich, deep, toned down a bit by the variegated Chestnut, and blending beautifully as they knit up.

Autumn on my lap.

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