Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dyeing results

My dyeing experience wasn’t such a disaster as I had originally thought. After letting the dye set two days longer I took my chances and rinsed the dye out, intending to overdye if I had to. A large amount of dye still came out of the skeins and fiber, but more seemed to be staying in. I hope this means that there will be no bleeding of the dye later on. It just seems such a depressing thought to see all that beautiful color go down the drain. What a waste! I wish there was a better way to recapture it.

Perhaps this is one of the down sides of handpainting skeins… has to use more dye than you need to get a decent color. With tub or immersion dyeing, at least you can wait until the color is exhausted(clear) and if not you drop in another skein to get a lighter shade until the color is gone.

Well here is what you’ve been waiting for……the final product and results!

Skeins #1 & #2
100% Cotton (Sugar and Cream)
Colors: Deep turquoise, fushia, lemon yellow and lavender. This will make a nice baby item. I just love the colors, they just pop out so brilliantly.

Skein #3 & #4
100% Cotton (Lily’s Sugar and Cream)
Colors: Pastel green and pink.
This washed out more than I wanted but still ended up nice. I loved the original painted on colors of salmon and green. Again, perfect for baby clothes.

Skein #4 & #5
Knit Picks Bare Superwash Worsted Wool Gauge 4.5=1”
Colors, Deep turquoise and Deep Violet.
This was my favorite success story. It came out beautifully. Very rich color and so soft. I love this yarn. I don’t know yet what I will make with it but it will need to be very special. Perhaps I’ll order some more and try to dye more skeins the same for a larger project.

Skeins #6 & 7
Handspun blend of Cotswold wool and Mohair
Color: Lilac
Color: Pastel green
Both of these I painted with deep solid colors but most of the dye rinsed out. I was trying for a rich Kelly green that would make some leaves on a baby fruit hat.The yarn is a little too scratchy for a neck scarf but might do well as a hat.

Skein #8
Handspun Romney Wool
Colors: Pink and light yellow
This was the skein that was very disappointing to me. After 6 hrs I rinsed it, and most of the dye came out. This was the yarn I tried to immerse in three jars of dye and then painted get a continuous color.

The Wool Roving didn’t take up too much of this dye either but here are the results after dyeing.

Merino roving:
Mohair roving and Churro roving:

What I learned from dyeing on Procion MX dyes.
1) Use this dye on Cotton and Superwash wool. Do not use on other wools or mohair (Kool-aide does a better job).
2) If using the cold batch dyeing method, allow several days for dye to set, but keep it moist.
3) If you use a soda ash soak on fiber first, all you have to do is apply the mixed dye, and leftovers can be used when stored in refrig for over 1 month. Be sure to label jars. Next time I’ll do this so I don’t have to throw out leftover dye.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Woodland Shawl

I am really enjoying knitting the Woodland Shawl in Liza Souza’s Alpaca Silk. Not only is it buttery soft and warm, the leaf pattern is relatively easy to memorize. For this aging person, with increasing memory loss, that’s saying something.

What is also amazing about this pattern is that it looks good on both sides. Some lace patterns are only beautiful on one side but this stitch is so amazingly genius that it shows a reverse of the pattern on the back side, making it a treasure to wear either way.
I am feeling that I picked the perfect color for fall. The color blend is mostly in olive with specks of yellow and orange and blue green that really make it seems like falling leaves as they just begin to change color in the fall. I have to admit that when I chose this yarn it was more because of the softness and the price (which seemed less than others), than the colors. I was hoping I could do something with it. It took me awhile to finally decide to purchase it at $44 a skein. Nevertheless,I took the plunge, planning to do something very special with this pricey yarn.

Knitting it up is going quickly on size 9 needles. I am hoping and praying, I will have enough yarn to make a decent size shawl. I hope my initial calculations are correct. Each pattern repeat is roughly less than 3” long, but it is very stretchy and will stretch to 4” by blocking if I need it too. So far, I’ve knitted 11 ½ inches.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dyeing day

I’ve been wanting to learn how to dye with Fiber reactive acid dyes. Many other spinners said that Procion MX dyes are the best. However, when I read all the chemical I needed to use these I almost fainted. After awhile of thinking on this, it didn’t seem any more complicated that dyeing with natural dyes and applying mordant.

I purchased a drying rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond. This handy-dandy thing can do double duty as a skeiner. My regular skeiner wasn’t big enough to open up the yarn to paint. I just laid the rack on it side and wound the yarn around, tied it off and voila! Almost ready to dye.

Next I soaked the yarn and fiber in Synthrapol, a detergent that allows the dye to saturate the yarn more thoroughly. I soaked it over night.

I got up early and started to assemble my work area and supplies. I have a old table in my patio that is perfect. I covered it with old plastic trash bags and saran wrap two areas for painting my first skeins. I didn’t forget to put my mask on as I mixed the powdered dyes with water. The dust may cause allergies in some people and one should not breathe the dust powder. All that was left to do was to add the soda ash fixative. The instructions says once this is added it starts a chemical reaction that helps fix the dye to the yarn. I had 6-8 hours to use it up before it lost its strength. I bought a dye kit with the three primary colors lemon yellow, fushia and turquoise.

The first skein seemed very rich and dark so I thought I would water down to get a lighter shade. This was great. It was fun painting the different mixtures of color on the yarn. I really liked how this dye looked on the Cotton Sugar and Cream yarn I bought. It will make some nice baby clothes.

Using the dyes on wool wasn’t as satisfying. It didn’t seem to deepen the color. I really had to saturate this and it still didn’t look like it took very well.

I rolled all these skeins in plastic wrap and set them aside to set. This is called the "Cold-Batch Method". It doesn't use heat.

One one skein of wool I tried to dye putting it in a jar of three different colors to enable it to saturate more evenly. I layed it on the plastic, painted in the gaps and rolled it up for setting.

The roving was more of a challenge. I decided to squeeze the water out. Put a little water in to keep it moist and with a squeeze bottle applied the dye on top half and half. I pushed it down gently to help it saturate the rest and them covered it with the lid.

On merino --On Churro wool --On Mohair (Rose)

After about 6 hrs of setting, I decided to try to see how one skein would rinse out…….and disaster has struck! Most of the dye rinsed out. I think that as I added water to the dye to lighten the shade, I should have added more soda ash fixative, which I didn’t.

Now what? How will I set the rest. Perhaps some heat will help. I’ll have to think and read on this. Stay tuned…….

Monday, March 24, 2008

An Early Start for a Fall Shawl

A lovely Easter with family. What fun was having a Easter egg hunt for my grandaughter. Here's some pictures of her in action.

My workmates loved the Easter baskets! They were very fun to make. I saw too late a little chick to knit, also. Well perhaps, next year.

I am on Spring Break! Yea! More time for knitting, spinning and what ever else I want to do.

I have started a new shawl. At the last TKGA Knit and Crochet show I stopped at the Liza Souza booth and fell in love with the lovely soft yarn. Though a little pricey, I was looking for a yarn for a “fall” Shawl and found some Baby Alpaca/Silk blend fingering wt in Olive tones. I purchased 7.2 oz/750 yards of 70% Alpaca/30% Silk. Since then, I have been looking for the perfect shawl “fall” pattern and finally found it from listening to “Lime and Violet”. Available free was the Woodland Shawl, a rectangle shawl that says that one ball of sock yarn will make a whole shawl. One ball of sock yarn is roughly 500 yds and I had 750 yards. For a larger sized woman I was hoping that would be enough.

Soo….I cast on in Size 6 Addi turbos. The yarn just slides off my needles. I tried to change to Size 6 bamboos but found it too tight, so went back to the Addi turbos. After one pattern repeat, I weighed my yarn and figure I would have enough yarn for
about 14 pattern repeats. It was a wonderful, easy-to-follow lace pattern, with a nice pattern definition of a spade-looking leaf. The only problem was that one pattern repeat was only two inches long, which would make the shawl only 28 inches, and would barely fall across my shoulders. This would not do. Below is the results on size 6.

I asked myself….what if I reduced the number width wise and used larger needles?. I ripped it all out and restarted. Using Size 9 Knit picks Harmony needles, I cast on. After one pattern repeat, the stitches were more open, airy, less defined pattern, but it was 3 inches per pattern repeat and it stretched 4”, which would make it wearable at 56 inches long. This would definitely cover my arms and wrap around my body. The airyness should not matter, because Alpaca is very warm. This is my results on Size 9.

The thing that I really want to do this week is hand dye yarn and fiber. I have been slowly accumulating the materials I need. I’ve never dyed with Procion MX acid dyes before and am hoping to give it a try. Most people I have talked to said this type of dye gives the best results. The only thing is the precautions one has to take is somewhat daughnting. Nevertheless, I’ve got my mask and goggles and gloves ready. I have been planning this for months and wanted to wait until I have a day or two without distractions. I’m not sure I understand all the chemicals involved to fix the dye, to allow dye to saturate better, to neutralize the dye. I’ll try to figure it out as I go.
I want to dye different fibers……cotton, wool, & mohair. Tonight I will try to get the fiber/yarn ready in skeins. I will try to “dye” tomorrow. Let’s hope it not literal.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Heavenly knitting

Last weekend it was daylight savings time. We turned our clocks forward and lost an hour. This was supposed to give us an extra hour of daylight. I don’t know about you, but this yearly transition is always difficult for me. I’m thinking “oh my gosh, I lost an hour!” “Horrors!”. “Is this some joke?” “Lord have mercy, I don’t have enough hours in a day to get all I want to done, and now I’ve lost an HOUR!”. Contemplating this is mentally and physically exhausting. Even my body seems to be exhausted. Of course, it doesn’t help, when I have a cold that has now turned into bronchitis. However, I’m feeling on the mend.

As I get older, I feel that life is getting shorter. It’s not fair that just when I have renewed my interest in NeedleCrafts, I feel I need to squeeze every chance I have into my hobby. There is just “not enough hours in a day” to do it all. Even when I try to do that, there still isn’t enough time. If one could imagine Heaven, and what it would be like, I can see myself knitting, happily enjoying all the time praising God in music and knitting. Perhaps there will be a big knitting and spinning circle among the angels happily knitting “Socks for Jesus”. Did he ever wear socks?!
In thinking about it, what would we need to knit? There would be no cold weather in Heaven, so no hats, shawls, gloves, etc. would be needed. We will already have enough adornments, so no purses, sweaters, etc., would not be needed. Perhaps we can knit up some angel wings? Maybe some lace things to outfit our “mansion”? Or perhaps some nice washcloths to shine up the streets of gold? Even better, wouldn’t it be cool to spin gold fiber into thread or yarn like in Rumplestilskin? We could add some diamond and ruby beads to embellish it. How cool is that?!!!

Over this weekend I have focusing on the Baby Sweater and the French Market Bag. I noticed that at the end of the sweater, Elizabeth’s directions say to decrease 10% of the stitches before garterstitching a 1” borderband. I am looking closer at the cuffs of the sleeves, which are gigantic. Was I supposed to decrease 10% for the cuffs, too? Perhaps. I guess I will be ripping and redoing the cuffs.

The French Market Bag is almost done. I am on the handles. Yes, it IS Ginormous (is that how you say it, gigantic and enourmous=ginourmous ;0). Of course, it is intended to be felted and will shrink. I might have to lengthen the handles, if this is the case. Wow! I cannot believe I will have two things off my needles! My mind is already contemplating what I will doing next. I am so bad!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reviving My Mojo!

Hi there! Here I am again….with another cold. This is the pits! I am sick of being sick. As I convalesce, trying to squeeze every once of immunity out of my body to fight these things, all I can do is knit. I am thinking, perhaps its time to retire and be a homemaker again.

I’ve been trying to add a few rows in each of my projects. The French Market Bag is starting to shape up. The baby sweater will be finished soon. The Bell Curve skirt is getting longer.

I don’t know if it’s my condition that is affecting my knitting mojo (motivation) but I am struggling with it. I am in need of some new inspiration. It’s nice to see Spring coming… in the weather, in the flowers, in the trees blooming, sooo…. I need to start something new.

I subscribe to the Knitting on the Net newsletter and discovered this cute pattern for knitting little Easter Basket favors. I thought this would be nice to give my workmates with an Easter Egg filled with candies. They are very easy to knit. I cranked out about 5 of them in an hour or so. This is a great stash or scrap yarn buster as it doesn’t take much yarn to do.

I decided to join another knitalong. Web’s “Ready, Set, Knit” podcast is starting a new project……the Bird in Hand Mitten. I love two color knitting. So I jumped in and bought the pattern.

Then I read it through and tried to do a gauge swatch. I had some second thoughts thinking this project might become the Bird in “Hell” project. To get the gauge I had to use Size 1 needles. There is a reason why I do not knit many socks. This is because of the tiny needles required. My eyesight is just not as good as it used to be. I hate getting older. I had the yarn already in my stash, Knit Picks Swish DK in Hollyberry and Bare so I decided to jump in.

The first rows went well, but they are really tiny stitches. Then I came to the Braid. Oh my gosh,…..very confusing directions but I still plugged ahead and finally managed to figure it out. I can’t believe that this was all for a simple horizontal braid of chain looking embellishment. This is definitely a challenge. Here are some of my efforts…….

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Comfort of Knitting

I realized it has been over a week since my last entry. I just haven’t had a spare moment or the motivation. Stress at work resulting in 10 hr days from so many major projects and boss’s interrupting with new tasks, besides dealing with a large amount of children’s serious respiratory illnesses this flu season wasn’t enough for me. Apparently, someone thought I needed the additional stress of my husband tearing his meniscus (knee cartilage) and having to drive him around and help him with his limited mobility and pain. The one thing I looked forward to every night was knitting. This calmed me down and comforted me to allow me to get some sleep, to enable me to crawl out of bed to face another day of stress. I have no idea how I am still functioning. Thank God for knitting.

I have been knitting on the Bell Curve skirt, the Baby Sweater, and the Celtic Tote. The skirt is wonderful to knit. I’ve managed to knit about 15 inches of it so far. I keep dreaming of other colors I’d like to make a skirt out of. A dark green heather might be nice or a chocolate brown.

The Baby Sweater is almost done. I have about 3 more inches of body left to knit and then to sew it up.

I started the 2nd half of the celtic tote. About the 9th row of the cabled chart pattern, I realized that I forgot to do a decrease on row three, so I will have to rip it back and correct it.