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.

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Making Madewell Progress

Since March last year, I’ve been slowly but surely working on a cardigan: Madewell by Joji Locatelli.  It’s a fingering weight project, and because I like, ahem, challenges, I decided to make it with black yarn.  When I’m working on it around others, like at a LYS, people often share their own black sock yarn horror stories (“Never again” is often exclaimed), and on a few occasions I’ve been asked why am I punishing myself. Black sock weight yarn can be a wee bit hard on the eyes. Challenges aside, I love it, and with my wardrobe, a black cardigan will be worn time and time again, hence my colour choice.

This has been a great project to pick up after having put it down for weeks at a time. It’s largely stockinette, lots of knits and purls. Because I no longer feel the urgency of holiday knitting, I’ve been able to dedicate more time towards this project. I was nearing the end of the body, no more shaping increases or decreases, so the knits and purls proved to be great mindless knitting, working on a row or two while watching TV or reading on my e-reader.

I feel like I’ve actually made some progress with it this weekend, finishing the bottom ribbing and starting working on the sleeve.  This is my first experience with raglan sleeves, and I must say I love it. You don’t need to worry about setting in and seeming. The stitches came off the holder, onto a 16″ circular needle and away I knit in the round. Once again, being all stockinette, it’s proving to be fantastic for mindless knitting.

One whimsical feature of this sweater are the elbow patches, a great way to use up a few metres of that extra sock yarn everyone has in their stash.  I had three colours of Manos Del Uruguay that worked well together, so after binding off the main body, I took a break and knit up one elbow patch. They add a great pop of colour to this staple sweater.

Can’t wait to get back to knitting and hopefully in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to show off the finished cardigan!

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.

Knitter’s Frolic 2017

It’s that wonderful time of the year: the grass is getting greener, the flowers are starting to bloom, the temperature is rising, and in Toronto, the knitters are frolicking.  The end of April means the Knitter’s Frolic, an annual event hosted by the Toronto Knitter’s Guild.

This is not my first time frolicking. I’ve attended this event in 2015 and in 2016, but this is the first time where I’ve debated attending. In an effort to be ‘financially responsible’ and making ‘adult decisions,’ I actually thought hard about not attending, but I’m glad my irresponsible (or should I say fun-loving) side won out, not for the things I bought, but for the chance to hang out with friends.

The Frolic is a wonderful event for those who are addicted to all things woolen. Walking around the Japanese Cultural Centre, you know you’re among your people. Overheard phrases include ‘stashes’ and ‘skeins,’ and I giggle to myself every time I hear an ‘knitting-ism.’

I met up with two friends at the Frolic (one of them is the delightful Knitter Nerd) and we had fun looking at all the different offerings from suppliers, and Amy pointed out every time we got ‘Atherley-ed’ (meaning we walked past Kate Atherley, one of the workshop instructors, knitwear designer, and all around cool knitter).  We all left with a little less in our wallets, but I was proud that I stuck to the budget I allowed for myself, as finances were the big reason I was hesitant to attend.

So, the good stuff! What did I purchase? Two skeins came home with me that day, this amazing skein from Dragon Strings – I immediately had to untwist the skein to see the colours and how it was dyed. I also bought myself a skein from Dye-Version, something which is now becoming a Frolic tradition as I have bought from them every year.


What didn’t make it home with me immediately was the skein I bought from Indigodragonfly.  Every year they make a special Frolic colourway and I fell in love. Really, how could I not. But, I was able to order a skein which will arrive right at to my door.

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Image ©Indigodragonfly, from their Facebook Page
All three skeins were from indie dyers, which I love and makes me love my purchases even more. I don’t know yet what they will grow up to be, but in the meantime, I can admire them, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.

Stash Busters

How do you use up your left overs? You know what I’m talking about: those little part balls, left over from that pair of socks or sweater you finished months ago.

I’m very much a Type A personality (or as a friend says, Type A++), and I’m super organized, so having these odds and ends kicking about my very precious yarn storage space drives me nuts.  When you have a quarter of a skein left, what do you do? It’s not enough to make anything of true substance… but sometimes it’s just enough.

I’ve been on a stash busting kick, trying to clear away those part skeins and odds and ends.

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A few odd balls of DK acrylic are quickly becoming a simple triangle shawl. I may need to buy one more ball to make it a good, proper shawl length.

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The left over Diamond Tradition from the Soper Creek Yarn Challenge are becoming a quick seed stitch cowl.

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Finally, those odd sock ends are becoming squares for a sock yarn blanket. I am ultimately pondering if I make it a true sock yarn memory blanket and only make one square with the yarn, or do I keep busting that stash and just make as many little squares with the yarn that I can. Decisions, decisions.

Happy knitting!