Home-Dyed Yarn

Apparently, making things with sticks and string isn’t enough for me as I’ve had the urge for quite some time try home-dyeing.

In Fall 2015, a friend and I went to a dyeing workshop, and under the guidance and supervision of a local indie dyer, we used various chemical-based dyes to create our own hand-dyed yarn.  Here’s the post I wrote about this fun experience, and here are the yarns I dyed:

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My finished yarn.

Dyeing‘ to try this again (do you see what I did there), I took to the interwebs to read how I could do this at home. I didn’t want to delve into using the chemicals, so I looked into food-based methods. Kool-Aid powder was a common method, however, they’ve stopped selling the powder in Canada. What I did have an abundance of is Wilton Icing Colours.  I’ve been cake decorating as a hobby for years and my stash of gel icing colour is quite full. And it works quite well for dyeing yarn.

As my base yarn, I used Lions Brand Sock Ease. It’s was easily available at a big box craft store and rather affordable – a huge plus for this new experiment!

I’ve been eyeing Kate Atherley’s Bigger on the Inside Shawl as my next shawl project, but I haven’t found the right yarn. This is how I chose my dyeing colour – TARDIS blue.  The icing colour I used was Wilton’s Royal Blue.

I followed the instructions as posted by Creative Green Living for dyeing yarn in a slow cooker. I soaked my yarn in vinegar and water, the acidity in the vinegar helps the dye bond with the fibre.  I mixed the colour with water, preparing the dye base. I wish I could tell you exactly how much I used, but i just kept adding the colour until it looked like the right shade.  I didn’t need it to be precise; I just needed it to be TARDIS blue.  Yarn and dye base were placed in the slow cooker and cranked on high until the dye became exhausted – this happens when the yarn absorbs all dye, and the liquid that remains behind is clear.  Cool your yarn, rinse your yarn, dry your yarn.

After a few hours in the crock pot, here is my finished yarn:

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It isn’t a solid colour, instead it’s rather tonal, but I like it.  As well, the colour ‘broke’ in a few places. What does that mean? Some icing dyes are made with different colours to achieve their hue. Royal Blue, for instance, is comprised of both blue and red colours. When the colours ‘break,’ it means that one has separated out.  There are more serious instances of colour breaking, but here’s what it looks like on my skein:

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That pinkish splotch is where the colour broke. With this yarn, I wasn’t aiming for perfection, I was aiming for TARDIS blue. I’m beyond thrilled with my yarn.

As for home dyeing? I am hooked. Completely hooked. It was so much fun playing with colour, preparing the yarn, and watching something that is white become something brilliant. In my mind, I’m already planning out other skeins I can dye, different colour combinations, and am just generally excited by the potential of it all.

A Sontag by Any Other Name

When historic patterns are on Raverly’s Hot Right Now page, my day is made. This happened last week when the Ladies’ Knitted Hug-Me-Tight, or Zouave Jacket made it to page 1 on Hot Right Now. As any good history nerd would do, I followed the link and started reading the book where it was originally published, made available online at archive.org.  The book was The Art of Knitting published in 1892 by the Butterick Publishing Company.

From my quick flip through, it appears to be a fascinating publication.  The first part is what we might call a Stitch Dictionary, with many interesting lace work and other stitch patterns to follow.  The chapters that follow look at different articles of knitwear, tips on how to work them, and patterns that one could make, provided that knitter is fluent in patterns from the 19th century.

My quick flipping was interrupted in the Useful Articles for Children’s Wear chapter as one pattern provided was for a Child’s Chest Protector.  Here’s the image accompanying the pattern:

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Child’s Chest Protector, The Art of Knitting, p. 112; accessed from archive.org

Why did this pattern catch my eye? Because it looks awfully similar to Godey’s Sontag, a pattern I’ve made so many times now I can basically knit it in my sleep.

1860sontag
Originally from Godey’s; image from http://katedaviesdesigns.com/2013/06/28/sontag/

 

 

The ‘Child’s Chest Protector’ has incorporated the garter ridge into the actual design and pattern notes, rather than with Godey’s where the border (garter ridge or otherwise) was added after the main piece was completed.

The pattern reads:

To begin the protector – Cast on 30 stitches and knit back and forth plain until there are 7 rows

To make the first row of blocks – after finishing the first row, turn and knit as follows: knit 10, purl 5, knit 5, purl 5, knit 5 (in knitting the rows, 5 stitches must be knit plain at each site of every row, in order to firm the boder seen in the engraving). Turn

Knit 10, p 5, k5, p5, k5. Turn

K 10, p 5, k 5, p 5, k 5. Turn

Knit back and forth in this order until there are 6 rows, each formed by knitting across and back. This completed the first set of blocks.

To begin the second set of blocks – (These blocks must alternate with those of the first set). Knit 5, then widen by knitting a stitch out of the next stitch, but to not slip it off the needle; then purl out of this same stitch and slip it off; purl 4, k 5, p 5, k 5, now purl 1 out of the next stitch, but do not slip it off the needle, to widen, and then knit 5. Turn.

K 7, but do not slip off the last stitch; p 5, k 5, p 5, k 7 but do not slip the last stitch off the needle; p 1, k 5. Turn.

Complete this set of blocks after this manner, widening as described at each side between the blocks and border. Then make a set of blocks to correspond with the first set, widening as in the second set, and so on until the widest part of the protector is reached.

To make the Tabs – when the neck edge is reached (in the protector illustrated) pass all the stitches of the border at one side and those of 6 blocks onto another needle; then bind off the stitches of 4 blocks for the neck-edge. Now continue the knitting after the manner directed, to form the tab at one side, making the plain border at each side of the tab and narrowing at the outer border instead of widening as before. Complete for the other tab to correspond.

For the outer Edge – Use Angora wool and crochet shells along the border as follows: 1 single crochet and 2 doubles all in the same space, selecting the spaces so that the shells will be perfectly flat. Fasten ties of ribbon at the sides as seen in the engraving, to tie the protector about the waist.

 

There are slight differences to the patterns – Godey’s has an increase of one stitch every row while Art of Knitting increases 2 stitches every other row; as well, once you reach the arms, or ‘tabs,’ Godey’s has you decreasing on the inner edge while Art of Knitting decreases on the outer edge.  These slight changes aside, following either pattern will result in a garment which will keep your torso warm while your arms are free to move about as you want.

If 100 year old patterns are your thing, or if you’re simply interested in an old read, I’d recommend checking out The Art of Knitting, available to view online.

Time to Knit

Last week, we had a long weekend up here in Canada, and I enjoyed three days out of the office.  Despite our very soggy spring here in southern Ontario, those three days were bright and sun-filled.  My days off were blissfully spent on my back deck, reading and of course knitting.

Between life, work, and other commitments, I haven’t had much time to dedicate to sitting and knitting.  When I finally make it home after those long days, I find I’m zoning out on the couch in front of the TV. The act of picking up needles somehow seems like too much hard work, and I’d rather zone out and be inactive than passively knitting. However, spending those hours outside over the Canada Day weekend, enjoying the sun and nothingness really made me realize how much I missed having dedicated knitting time. I went back to work on the Wednesday and missed being able to pick up yarn and create.  Socks were worked on, rows on my Madewell cardigan were knit, and I improvised a bowl cozy for my mum. I was able to set knitting goals and (gasp) attain them!

The moral of this blog post – I need a vacation, or a knit-cation.

“How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Need?”

Lunch hour at the office. After I announce that I’m leaving the lunch room to knit at my desk, my dear co-worker asks me what I’m working on.

“Oh, just a pair of socks,” I inform her.

“How many pairs of socks do you need? Every time I ask, you’re always working on socks!” She replied.

A beat passes. I don’t know how to answer that question. How many pairs of socks does a person need?

Socks are the perfect transportable project. Throw the yarn, pattern notes and needles into a small bag and they are ideal for keeping in a purse, ready to be broken out and a few rounds worked at any time.  Admittedly, my sock drawer is fuller now-a-days than it has ever been, brimming with sports socks and hand knit beauties.  Do I really need another pair of hand knit, hand-dyed merino nylon socks? Well, maybe not. But do I want them? You know it.

And because I know you’re curious, here are the socks in question. The pattern is Dumbledore’s Christmas Stockings by Erica Lueder; the yarn is Riverside Studio Superwash Merino Nylong Sock, colourway Mica.

Knit In Public Day 2017

Is there anything better than getting together with friends and spending an afternoon knitting? Why, yes there is! Getting together and knitting with friends IN PUBLIC for Worldwide Knit In Public Day!

Are you asking yourself what is Worldwide Knit In Public Day? Take a moment and read my post from last year where I touch on its history.

This year, we met at the same place, the courtyard in front of the Whitby Public Library; the group may have been smaller, but it was a beautiful day spent outside.  My friend Polo over at the Knitter Nerd co-ordinated it, in partnership with Whitby’s LYS, Kniterary. Side note: if you’re not following Polo, you really should because she writes about really cool/yarny/nerdy stuff, and she just revamped her site and it looks awesome.

People were knitting, people were using knitting machines (quite the set up!), and I spent my afternoon seaming a baby sweater which will be mailed to its recipient later this week.


Last year I asked the question isn’t every day knit in public day, because I’m not shy about my habit; I’ve knit on planes, trains, automobiles, in restaurants, coffee shops, on sidewalk benches, and in the middle of parks. What makes WWKIP day so amazing is that there is power in numbers. When you get a sizable group together, everyone partaking in the same activity, passers-by want to come over and want to learn more about what we’re up to. We get to showcase our pastime, our passion. We get to spend time outside on a lovely June day with other knitters with the knowledge that around the world, there are others doing the exact same thing as you.


I’m going to keep knitting in public, but I’m already looking forward to WWKIP Day 2018!

Finding the Right Pattern

Sometimes, you just want a big, cozy, wooly sweater.


This Briggs and Little Yarn has been in my stash for well over two years, gifted to me by a friend who knows I’m a knitter. It sat in my stash because even though four skeins is a lot of yardage, it isn’t quite enough to make a sweater. A little over a year later, I bought this yarn from a craft fair, the fleece from a local farm.


The natural brown would compliment the natural grey of the Briggs and Little quite well. But still the yarns sat, unsure of how to take these two yarns and make a sweater. I could have alternated the colours of the sleeves and edging, but I wasn’t so keen on that. However, I had a stroke of inspiration.

If you’re in the ‘knitting world,’ you’ve of course heard all about Andrea Mowry’s Find Your Fade, a beautiful shawl made from five different colours of yarn.  It’s stunning for its size, construction, and originality.   Well, why couldn’t I find my fade with these complimentary yarns?  The basic idea is that you knit continuously with one colour, and when you’re ready to introduce the next, you knit a few rows of stripes, helping the colours ‘fade’ into each other. Find the right sweater pattern and fade the colours into each other.  Simple enough in theory.

Enter Fezziwig: a warm, cozy sweater designed by Melissa Schaschwary.  I have the yarn, I have the pattern, I have the general idea for how I’ll fade the two colours into each other.  And if it doesn’t work, I can always rip back, re-wind and it can keep my other stashed yarn company awaiting new inspiration.


Stay tuned.