Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dyeing to Dye

ILDERTON – 12th August will long be remembered as the Olympic day in 2008 when a small group of seemingly sensible and responsible knitting friends allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by something so much BIGGER than yarn.

Jenny - cult leader?

Reports indicate that prior to their new found dyeing addiction, the local London knitters partook in one of the nation’s most celebrated events; the pot luck dinner.

Pot luck dinner

Was the food partially to blame for their agitated behaviour? According to the province’s leading researcher “the food is one possibility that cannot be discounted, but there may have been other sinister forces at work”.

Lead by Spinning Jenny, a fantastically skilled but terribly enabling mentor, the cult-like group participated in a dyeing ritual that was held on property disguised as a water garden center, and rumored to be owned by one of the local knitters. Investigations are continuing.

Jenny demonstrating dyeing techniques

Sacrificial virgin yarns were subjected to vast quantities of kool aid, white vinegar, dish detergent, warm water and a microwave oven. This seemingly cruel dyeing process is reported to have produced some spectacular and unique colour combinations. Note: no yarns were harmed during experimentation.

This reporter caught up with one very starry-eyed young woman who exclaimed excitedly: “this is totally awesome! I think I’m gonna have a new addiction”! Enthusiasm or new obsession? This reporter was not convinced.

Following the demonstration of several techniques, the knitters reportedly commenced their own dyeing experiments. Armed with rubber gloves, wooden spoons, syringes, hot water and unbridled enthusiasm, what followed can only be described as yarn mugging!

Jenny mixing kool aid dye

Maria using kool aid dye

Barb (assisted by her granddaughter) using kool aid dye

Shelaine gloved up and ready to dye with kool aid

Kanna using kool aid dye and showing how it's done

“Yarn must be thoroughly soaked in warm water and gently pressed several times to ensure all air bubbles have been removed”, Jenny explained.

In response to a question about the addition of dish detergent to the warm water, Jenny replied that “the dish detergent helps the dye penetrate the yarn”.

She went on to explain that glass or plastic containers are the most suitable for soaking and dyeing yarn as they can be safely placed in a microwave oven. Although kool aid dyes are acidic, vinegar may be added to the water to help set the dyes.

Another colouring agent being tested by two of the participants was Jacquard Acid dyes. These concentrated, powdered, hot water dyes produce the most vibrant colours possible, but are reported to be toxic and must be handled with care. Jacquard dyes require acid for activation, and the simplest form of acid is white vinegar.

Some knitters hand painted their yarns using squeeze bottles.

Kata harnessing her creative talents using jacquard acid dye

I am making a raspberry and chocolate mess with jacquard acid dyes

Others dipped yarns in pots of colour and spread colour them with wooden spoons.

Once dyeing was completed, yarn was placed in the microwave oven for up to six minutes until the dye was completely taken up by the yarn, and the water was clear.

Jenny setting dye with the microwave

Yarn was then hung on a line to cool and drip dry. Once cooled, the dyed yarn was thoroughly rinsed in cool tap water.

When asked, one of the participants commented on the results of her yarn dyeing. “I’m not sure what to call this colour or variegation. I think it's open to interpretation and that's the great thing”.

As is often the case in these types of ritualistic gatherings, there was a disturbance - loose cannons if you will at the wrong end of a camera! The evidence speaks for itself:

Imaginations together with a kaleidoscope of colour produced some amazing results.

Kata's dyed skeins

My dyed skeins

The lone male participant seemed delighted to be involved in the yarn dyeing experiments. Surrounded by so many gorgeous women….what man wouldn’t be lovin’ it??

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vicky M's Got Sleeves!

I've just finished blocking Vicky M's sleeves! Hooray! Do you know what that means?? Uh huh....I'm finished knitting my Tempest pieces [SQUEAL!]

The sleeves are drying as I type, and they won't take long in this heat.

Later tonight I will start putting her together. Ohmigosh! It's so exciting. It's like I'm creating this "entity", not just a cardigan.... Yeah, I know I'm nucking futs!

Earlier tonight is the Ravelry get-together at Wortley Roadhouse, so I think I'll take my Pink Confetti Hoodie project - that doesn't require great concentration.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Would I Knit a Hood?

If I could, I would.....

And I should.

So, yes! Yes I will knit a hood....

And a good hood it will be!

But only because my 3.4 year old niece, Jaycee Mae, is such a sweetie, and I’m her Aunty and Godmother and love her!

Mission assigned, my pattern search on Ravelry began. Hours later I had it – Kid’s Hoodie designed by Betsy Westman. And lookie here….what a coincidence….one of the categories in the 157th Ilderton Fall Fair's hand knitting division is for a Child’s Hooded Sweater! Hah! What a kwinky dink!!!

Yup, yup, yup….I’m one of THOSE people that *loves* country fall fairs. Every year for the last five, I’ve entered my baking, violets and knitting! I’ve got a whack of ribbons and prizes, but the ONE category I strive to win is the Country Fair Baking Contest. This year I’m going for the “hat trick” with my Black Forest Cherry Cake. In 2003 & 2004 I won 1st place ribbons. Then in 2005 I won a 2nd place (and deservedly so). In 2006 & 2007 I made a comeback and won 1st place ribbons. And now it’s 2008 – my second chance to score the trifecta!

Black Forest Cherry Cake 2007

Oops! Got a bit side-tracked there. Now getting back to the hoodie... My next search was for the perfect yarn. The pattern called for a worsted weight Lana Grossa yarn, but I decided to sub the yarn for Cascade 220. And what colour is Jaycee Mae’s favourite colour? Ugh! PINK! Well of course it is….

Since the hoodie is knit in stockinette stitch, I decided that a variegated yarn would be much nicer than a solid colour, so I phoned my LYS and picked up some Cascade 220 Dip Dyed Confetti #601 [ya, ya….fancy for variegated pink]. I wound the skeins last night, and swatched straight away. Perfect tension! I cast on while enjoying a re-run mini marathon of Sex and The City, and despite the colour, the pink is looking rather … nice … EEK! Did I just write that? [note to self: don’t ever let me year you say that pink is nice again!].

I’m making a little change to the pattern - professional rib cast-ons for all the ribbings using smaller sized needles instead of the usual cast-on method and the same sized needle as for the body.

Thus far:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Knit 1, Split 2, Curse 3 ...

As the dust in my lounge-room is settling, and the tips of my circs are cooling, I am nibbling on my super cold KitKat, lounging out on my recliner, and smiling A BIG SMILE.


There were many doubting Thomases [including me at one point], but somehow I managed to knit like greased lightning and finished Sonia’s Socks of Aggression Kindness in time for her birthday. Actually her birthday isn’t until 16th August, but since I have to post her gift to Australia, I always have to allow two weeks for delivery.

I really enjoyed the socks of kindness pattern; it was easy to memorize despite the 12 row repeat. What wasn’t enjoyable was the very sharp 2.25mm KnitPicks Options circular knitting needles. The yarn I used was Fleece Artist Merino Sock 2/6 - an absolutely beautiful yarn. But, together with the very pointy needles, it split awfully when I was doing some of the SSKs and K2togs. If I’d been knitting on dpns or one circ things mightn’t have been so bad. But, I was knitting two socks at a time on circs, and believe me, one does not want to tink backwards on two circs!

In hindsight, I wouldn’t use such a strongly variegated yarn again for the socks of kindness. The lovely pattern was almost completely lost in the bright variegated shades of purple. Since the yarn is so amazing on its own, I’m going to choose a much simpler pattern [or none at all!] when I knit socks again from Fleece Artist Merino.

I also found that the Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 does not have as much stretch in it as other sock yarns. Even though I had the same number of stitches [I’m a 60st sock gal], the sock knit up a little bigger than usual. This could of course be attributed to the lacy pattern….

I began these socks on 1st July and sewed the toes together on 1st August. Not bad considering I have also been knitting furiously on Vicky M Tempest and my French Market Bag. All in all, a job well done [yup, I’m gonna pat myself on the back. Hip, hip, hooray. Jolly good show old chap! Carry on and all that rot!].