Seeking Ravenclaw

I just couldn’t find the right yarn, so I dyed my own. My co-worker asked me to make a pair of socks for her daughter for Christmas, made in the colours of her Hogwarts House, Ravenclaw.  I was heading to Toronto last week and thought, since I’m on Queen Street, I’ll take a trip to Romni. Surely, they should have some self-striping yarn in blue and grey/silver. Romni has rows upon rows of yarn, but I couldn’t find the right yarn.  I found something close, though:

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This is Regia 4-fädig, and I think it was part of a sports-team/college colours line, but it was a blue (check) self striping (check) sock yarn (check). It just wasn’t grey.  Halfway between buying it and walking to my car, I thought it could be fun to try and dye it, making the white grey and hopefully making the blue a little deeper.  If it works, awesome! If not, it was an experiment and I’d have a blue and something self-striping yarn that could become socks sometime down the line.

Unfortunately, grey is a really challenging colour to achieve with food dyes as most grey/black colours are comprised of many different colours to look black.  Example, when I dyed yarn for my Captain America shawl, they grey looks great in the slow cooker, but when it dried, it became obvious the colours broke, giving a variegated purple/green look.

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It was pretty, and it looks great in the finished shawl, but this certainly wasn’t what I was trying to achieve.

As the Regia soaked, I experimented with a few colour combos. Ultimately, I was happiest with the look of Americolor Soft Gel Paste in ‘Slate.’  You can test your dye by dipping paper towels into what you’ve prepared.  All the Wilton tests were giving off too much green, but this one looked like it would be a muted grey with a hint of green/blue halo. I held my breath, added the dye to the slow cooker, and walked away, lest I compulsively checked the crock pot every three minutes or so.

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To prepare the dye, I used 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp of vinegar, and about 1/4 tsp of the Americolor gel (fun fact, I had to type ‘color’ about four times to spell it the American way). Ultimately, I prepared the dye twice, so it had about 1/2 tsp of the colour added.

The finished skein?

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I am rather pleased! There’s only the hint of a green hue, but overall, it’s grey and blue and oh-so-Ravenclaw!

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A Finishing Kind of Mood

What a productive week, at least for knitting.  I can’t really comment about the rest of the week because my time was largely spent knitting.  Because of this, I now have two new shawls to add to my ever growing collection.  Earlier in the week, I finished my Bigger on the Inside shawl, pattern by Kate Atherley.  I posted months ago about dyeing the yarn for this shawl, my first foray into home-dyeing.  After working on this shawl for months, I’m rather happy to see it off the needles.


The other project I happily finished had only been on the needles for two weeks.  It was a very fast knit.  The pattern is called Tipsoo Cowl from Creative Knitting magazine.  I checked libraries in my city and surrounding towns, but no branch had this issue; my desire to make this pattern was strong enough that I caved and bought the digital edition of this magazine.  Totally worth it because I love this finished cowl.


The cowl was part of yet another challenge I joined (apparently I can’t help myself).  The Toronto Knitter’s Frolic is hosting a challenge, encouraging people to use yarns in your stash from previous frolics, and if you do so, you may have a chance to win prizes. I bought this beautiful yarn from Indigodragonfly from last year’s frolic.

AND, on top of all this, I’ve been dyeing again.  I’m a huge fan of the MCU and am very excited for when Infinity Wars hits the theatres. I’m so excited, that I’ve started knitting a Captain America shawl, because, why not at this point. I had enough blue yarn left from the Tardis shawl, and I thought it would be nice to have the shawl made entirely from yarn I’ve dyed.  Red was dyed on Saturday, and I had today, Monday, off, so the grey/silver was dyed this afternoon.  It was a tricky colour to get right, but all afternoon, I’ve been peaking at my slow cooker, getting increasingly happy with what I saw.


So, what have I been up to this week, you ask? Yarn.  All the yarn.

On Pinterest Enabling My Addictions

Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m a yarn-aholic. (Hi Lisa). In fact, I have a new yarn related habit. I cannot stop pinning beautiful hand dyed yarns on Pinterest.

It starts so innocently, you search dyed yarn and you find a few beautiful pictures. You then create a board dedicated to dyed yarns so that all the pretty is in one place. You think your habits are under control, but then Pinterest takes over. As soon as you start the app, there are suggest pins of variegated yarns, speckled, hand painted, and everything in between. And you can’t stop. You pin and repin and the cycle continues.

And then this addiction of looking at the lovely yarns spins into the desire to replicate the lovely yarns and get dyeing. So this innocent habit of simply looking means going out, buying bare yarn, and dyeing. So far, my bank account has let me dive that deep into the addiction, but man oh man, these yarns are really inspirational.

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Experimenting with Yarn Dyeing

A few weeks ago, while enjoying the remaining days of my Christmas holidays, I spent an afternoon experimenting with yarn dyeing. I had about 95g of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in my stash – about half was white and half was grey. What would happen if I joined these balls and dyed the skein together?

Here is the yarn skeined:

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I must admit, it looks super cool like this.

In order for the dye to adhere to the fibres, an acid needs to be used, because, science. A common acid to use with dyeing is vinegar, so in prepping my yarn, I added it to my slow cooker with 8 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar, and I let it sit in that solution for about an hour.

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I decided to dye/overdye the yarn purple, and in the past have used Wilton food colours with great success.  I took 1/2 tsp food colour and mixed it with 2 cups boiled water. Mason jars worked great for colour prep.

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See the blue on that paper towel? The purple Wilton makes must use blue to achieve its purple colour. I’m not trying to get a specific colour with this, I’m simply experimenting, so after the yarn soaked for an hour or so, I turned the slow cooker to low and added the dye.

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I’ve only dyed a few times, and I’ve been amazed every time with the process of ‘exhausting the dye.’ This happens when the colour of the water, which at the beginning is a vivid shade, becomes clear, the fibres absorbing the dye that was in the water. You doubt it will happen, but inevitably, this happens:

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Water on the spoon is clear. So cool.

After this dyeing experiment, my skein looks like this:

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And this:

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Seeing it caked, it gave me some pause as to what to make with it. It would make for a very dramatic gradient.  I could unravel and separate the two colours (using a Russian Join to connect them), and make something with the two smaller colours.  There are some lovely hats or cowls with colour work easing the transition between the dramatic colours.

Unhappy with the softness of the purple shade, I redyed it this weekend, using a dye that was such a deep purple, it was like Smoke On The Water was my soundtrack. Once again, I used the crockpot and I’m a lot happier with the final colour.

Having only tried home dyeing a few times now, each skein truly is an experiment for me. I’m still learning the tricks, playing with colours and their vibrancy, and admittedly having a LOT of fun each time while making a glorious mess in my kitchen.

Get busy living, or get busy dyeing: A post about dyeing yarn

Okay, so I MIGHT have mis-quoted Stephen King, but the quote works much better for my purposes this way.¹

It turns out yarn dyeing is a LOT of fun!

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Rows of dye

Last week, I went with a friend from my knitting circle to a yarn dyeing workshop.  It was held at a local art studio, and the Yarn Enabler introduced us to the fun world of yarn dyeing.  She explained some basic science behind dyeing and explained the materials she brought along, then essentially said, have fun.  Amanda and I looked at each other, and eventually dove right in!  It’s a little overwhelming for your first time to say ‘have fun,’ but we got there!

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Three shades of grey, and one shade of teal

I’m not afraid of colour.  I typically gravitate towards bright colours of yarn, and teal is one of my favourites.  It should serve as no surprise that I ended up dyeing my yarn in hues of teal and grey.  I was so very happy with how it turned out.  That wasn’t the only skein I dyed – my second skein was pinks, blues, and purples.  As I said, not afraid of colour and once again, the yarn and colours make me just so happy! I’m rather easily amused with the simple things of life.

My finished yarn.
My finished yarn.

I’m not sure what my yarn is destined to be.  One will likely become a cowl, because what else to make with lovely DK cashmere and merino yarn? Once I cast something on, I’ll be sure to share!


¹The original quote from Mr. King is: Get busy living, or get busy dying.  I think I like it better my way.