Dyeing yarn, aka the secret fiber project

I wanted to bring some presents to Wisconsin to share with my fellow Ravellers when we met in September, but most everything I could think of was a budget buster when multiplied by the expected number of attendees.

Eventually I decided that the best thing to do was to buy undyed yarn and dye it myself.

I scoped out their Ravelry profiles and projects and stashes for inspiration as to colors.

I sourced the yarn (many thanks to Debbie at the Purple Fleece for being willing to sell me undyed yarn!)

I loaded up on a few new colors of dye from the Purple Fleece.

I went online to look for different ways to dye, and then I got started.

It was a little nerve wracking because I wanted this yarn to be perfect (which I knew it would not be) and be something these ladies would enjoy using (which I could only guess at), but I also knew it could be lots of fun.

So one nice Sunday in July, I got started with two skeins.  No point going overboard, right?

First I soaked the yarn in water with white vinegar added, for at least an hour, maybe longer. (Afterward, Debbie told me I just needed to use some dish soap with these dyes, so I did that ever more.)

Then I kettle-dyed each skein a reasonably light base color, using the crock pot.

I let it simmer away until the water was clear ( I left it over night, but it might not have needed that long).

Then I cooled it, wrung it out and spread it out on plastic.  I then sprinkled dry dye powder sort of everywhere I wanted color specks to be, spritzed it with water in a spray bottle, wrapped it up in plastic wrap and microwaved it in a casserole dish used only for dyes (never food again.)  I did this for ten minutes of heat – 2 minutes heat, 2 minutes resting, 5 times.  Then I rinsed it and so much color came out!  This worried me at first, I bundled it back up and heated it for four more minutes, then washed it some more.  Then I realized that of course lots of color will wash out, I sprinkled dye onto small areas!  So I rinsed it with some more vinegar, and kept rinsing until the water ran very clear.  Then I soaked it in a tiny bit of Euclan. I like to finish my yarns off with the lavender scented Euclan in the hopes it will stave off moths, etc. I have noticed that Euclan will cause bleeding the first time it is used, and sure enough, it did again. I would rather have that happen now than after it is knit up.

Eventually we had all clear water, and I hung it out to dry.

Soon I had two skeins dripping in the back yard, and I was eager for more.  But work intervened, so it had to get put away for a few days.

Meanwhile I kept reading about different techniques. Next up I did some simple painting, or, actually, squirting.

Again, I kettle dyed two more skeins with a pale color, and then I mixed up some dark dyes.  I used a turkey baster to put pools of the dye on one skein. I left lots of the light color, and let the color bleed a bit.

For the other skein, I tried mixing small jars of the dark dye with some water, and then putting some of the yarn in the little jars, kind of spacing around the skein.  That worked pretty well, but there were a few light areas, so I used the turkey baster again to add more dye.

Each of these skeins had five two-minute sessions in the microwave, each separated by a two minute rest period.

But I really wanted something that would read as red.

I knew that when I dyed my red sock yarn, I was able to get a really vibrant red in the crock pot.  But that seemed like it would be a boring gift to give someone.  I wondered about sprinkling other colors on the red to change the tone and depth of red.  So that is what I tried next.

I dyed it as dark a red as I could get it, and then rinsed it until the water ran clear.  Then I got to sprinkling dye powder. I used some navy blue and some black.  Now, Debbie warned me that the black is very powerful, so I wasn’t sure what would happen.  But I really like how it toned down the bright red to a pretty, shaded skein.

 

Next up – blues.  You knew they would show up eventually, right?  I love how the aqua speckles turned out, but I wanted one with some different colors in it.  So I did another aqua base, but this time, I sprinkled some yellow and pink, as well as the turquoise powder on it.

And then I did some that were just plain blues, because in my world, you can never have too much blue.  🙂

Since things were going so well (too well!) I got creative. I made such big messes while trying to layer colors to get green and orange that I finally over-dyed those two skeins – one to a bright mostly solid green, the other to a dark blue. Into every life some solids will come, right?

I tried one more time, with no better results, to make an orange with over dying.  Since it didn’t work, I just kept on cooking it in Bermuda Sand, and actually, I wish I knew how I did this one, because I really like how it came out!  It has tiny flecks of pink and blue, and loads of shading and life.

Giving up on fanciness, I dyed the last two skeins in purple that I mixed up BEFORE I added the yarn.  I did use the turkey baster to add some pops of the blue and red while it was in the pot, but for the most part, these were just plain kettle dyed.

And that’s it – a month’s worth of messing up the kitchen and having fun with colors.  I hope the ladies like them and make some fun things with them!

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And if you are an indie dyer, you have earned my utmost admiration and respect – this is NOT easy!  Colors don’t always do what I think they will do, and while that is OK sometimes, other times, not so much!  Kudos to you all for making the gorgeous yarns and rovings that you do!

 

 

 

 

 

Vacation!

I can’t tell you how we have waited for this week.  A’s job has its busy season in June, July, and August.  That means no vacation, and only the occasional long weekend.  But usually by September, it slows down.  She also has to book her vacations well in advance so that the office can work around that vacation schedule when setting up all her trainings and software installs.  She is the only trainer/installer, so the calendar is important to the whole company.

As a result, we decide in January when our vacations for the year will be.  And this one always seems to take the longest to get here.  It is tough to go all summer working while everyone else has vacation time.  But then, September finally arrives and we get to relax and enjoy chilling for a whole week.

So what are we doing this week?

Well, since it is Monday, we have already had two days of it – how it flies!

Saturday I spent some time with spinning and knitting in the morning.

This is “Life’s a Beach” from the Purple Fleece, on Falkland.  OMG look how thin I can spin this stuff.  I love it.  I can’t begin to think how much yarn I will get from this.

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My 4 shawls are moving along, and I wanted to get lifelines in, so I did that. And in the process, discovered that I had made an error on the Biophilia.  I looked at it long and hard and decided that while maybe no one else would notice, I would, and so I would need to rip back. Nine rows. About 2500 stitches.  Sigh.  I put it aside.

I also experimented with photos, taking them with camera and phone.

 

Obviously, they get turned about, even though I think I tried to be consistent with orientation.  But the colors and light are also quite different as well. The ones on the left are the phone, the right, the camera.  The sun was up, but still behind trees, so it wasn’t really the best light for this experiment.  I might try it again in brighter light.

I had to pick up everything from the pop up shop at noon time, so after a delicious French toast breakfast made by A, I went into town.  Holiday weekend.  Have to turn left onto Route 1 to get to town.  Ugh.  I waited at least ten minutes before I could make that turn. But I did make it eventually and picked up the things which didn’t sell.  I did not sell a whole lot of anything, but luckily some of what I sold was shawls, so I made enough money to make it worthwhile.  Jewelry sold slowly, but it always has.  I am thinking that it is just not worth making for sale. Even though the pieces are incredible, soft and lustrous…silk and glass beads, how can I go wrong?…most of the patterns I use are from Laura Nelkin and she asked me when I inquired to please not sell them online.  So, I won’t.  But I also won’t knit anymore that aren’t ones I want to keep. And I might off-load some to nieces and cousins this winter if there is no pop-up shop again. Which is still up for debate.  The fabulous Sonja is thinking of a year-round shop in a nearby town, I will have to think long and hard about that, since my things don’t sell fast, they sell slow and steady. But they do well in the winter.  Not sure I want to stock (and pay a fee) all year long.  I’ll think about it.

From the pop-up shop, I went on to Whorls and Purls group at the Purple Fleece, where I spent more than 2 hours frogging the Biophilia mis-knit rows.  Sigh.  I did get to knit a row on the Oaklet, so it wasn’t a total loss.  They have a little froggy who travels with group members – I took him home this week, and he will likely show up in a phot or two over the next few weeks.  (No group this upcoming week, so I get froggy for a spell)

When I got home, I got right to knitting on those 9 rows, of course.  So Saturday was my kind of day!

Sunday, we were mapping out our plan to get 4 tons of pellets (200 40 pound bags) into the cellare and stacked.  With no direction from MDs on what I can and can;t do, A felt I should not lift them, and I felt like what is the point of wearing the monitor if I dont; do my normal things? How will I know what I can and can;t do in teh future?  We were figuring out how to do it so it wasn’t too awful a  chore, but didn’t last all week.  I posted a photo of the pellets on facebook and lo and behold – !  A’s nephew-in-law J spotted it and the next thing we knew he was here with his daughter (niece E the elder) and niece S, and those girls MOVED THE WHOLE 4 TONS INTO THE HOUSE IN ABOUT 2 HOURS. That 2 hours included water breaks after each ton and a lunch break.  They brought them to me, I put them on the ramp to slide down to where J caught them and A moved and stacked them.  J, A, and I could hardly move following this endeavor, but the girls seemed like it was no big deal.

I did pay for this, and learned a lesson – I had an uncomfortable night.  I’ll pace myself better next time.  But what good is the monitor if all I do is sit around for a month?  🙂

So now it is Monday, and we decided to havve a down day, not knowing how we would feel today (we both feel better than expected) and knowing that the tourists are all moving about today.

I’ll spin and knit, and go out back to where I spotted a japanese knotweed that needs to meet it’s demise.  And I will do that last bit with my bathing suit on so I can hop in the pool to cool off.  We are not getting Hermine, but the weather is getting warmer and more tropical as she disturbs the weather pattern.

I’ll also clear off the folding table in the craft room, because we need to lend our 4 tables and 24 folding chairs to work for a series of picnics that will happen at the end of this week and all of next week.  I let the boss know he could pick them up any time.  which means they need to get cleared off and make their way downstairs.

Tomorrow we don’t have any real plans, but that is a day we will likely go out to the dump, grocery store, PO etc, since we didn’t do it this weekend.  And maybe we will think of a little adventure to go on, too.  No telling!

Wednesday is a day for appointments.  I have one for the eye doctor in the morning, and the stove/chimney cleaners are coming around the same time, so A will stay home and deal with them. Not sure what we will do in the afternoon, but it wont; be any close work, as my eyes won;t be able to focus very well.  I wonder if I can spin without looking yet?

Thursday we are going off to visit Crimson Crow and watch a movie with her – looking forward to seeing her again, and we haven’t been to her house in a long time.  She lives in the most amazingly well designed house – not quite a tiny house on wheels but not that much bigger – definitely a very small house! She would deyny this, but I love how organized it is, and how much space she has made forl the tiny touches that make it hers.

No plans right now for the end of the week, but A is wanting to build a simple shelf for niece B, so maybe we will run it up to Bangor, and once we do that, there is no telling what else happens.

 

I’ll leave you with some shots of the mail this week – August’s offering from the Purple Fleece, and the skein of Quince and CO. that I ordered to stave off losing at yarn chicken.  So much fiber in the world, I might need it all.  🙂

Again the phot experiment – the colors are all too dark, I think.

 

These are from the camera:

And these are from the phone:

 

 

I never get done as much as I plan to

But I DID get the cool weather seeds planted – two kinds of peas, lettuce, mesclun, carrots, radishes, and some experimental pumpkins (might be too early for them, only time will tell.) Got them all in their tidy raised bed and watered them so that it could rain today.  It is amazing to me just how dry the ground was – all that lovely snow melt is long gone.

I did cook up the first stalks of asparagus and they were delicious!  I can see that we will be eating a lot of that over the next few weeks, the plants are throwing up stalks every day!

I also finished the endless scarf!  I finally decided that when I block it, it will grow in length and enough is enough.  🙂  I have some of the beads and yarn left, so will likely make a small bracelet to match it.

To celebrate and avoid working on the blue linen monster I strung beads for a blue, yellow and green collar style necklace – a modification of Laura Nelkin’s Butin Collar.  Sounds hideous, no?  I think it will look prettier than it sounds when it is knit up – nice and summery.  I had three tubes of beads in those colors, in three different sizes, so I am adding many (like 130) size 11 beads to her pattern so I can put one between each cast on stitch.  I hope it will make a nice, sparkly outer edge. If it works, I may be sorry I didn’t add more so I could the same on the bind off edge, but I think that would be a bit much. And as I always do now with the pattern I added enough beads to do one more row.  I do this for the simple reason that I am LAZY.  If I do the pattern as written, both the starting and ending tail are on the same end of the necklace, and I have to anchor a thread on the other end with which to sew the clasp.  BUT if I add one more row, then I have a yarn tail at each end of the thing, and I can use them to sew on the clasp, which in turn means less end weaving. It took a bit of experimentation to string on the right number of beads in the right size, but I think I have it now. 🙂

The kids had a mouse last night. No clue where it came from, but I know where it wound up!  They both were acting like something odd was going on when we went to bed, but they sometimes go gaga over a fly, and we hadn’t seen anything running around, so I ignored it.  Until 4:30 when the light was snapped on and A was moving books off the bookcase in our room.  “Whaaa?” “I think they have a mouse” Sure enough, they did, and she caught it in a margarine tub.  It is outside now, the cats are sleeping it off.  I guess they played with the poor thing ALL NIGHT.  I hate that they are so mean to a creature, I wish they would just go ahead and kill the thing.  But at least they have remembered that they should be hunting. Now if they would just get the giant creature that runs through the soffits and into the bathroom ceiling.

Today we are doing fun things like going to the dump and grocery store – but we also are going out to breakfast, and then I hope, to the hardware store.  I need some dirt, tomato plants, and they had a nice little trellis that might be just the thing for some sweet peas, and they carry fabric dyes which I want to check too.  See if I can make a nice fuchsia that doesn’t smell like root vegetables.  🙂 But I bet when I get there and start reading labels I change my mind and come home and see what I can do with Kool Aid and food coloring.

Since A is going golfing (it is supposed to stop raining shortly) I might just stink up the house with dyes and wet wool.  then I will go outside and work in the yard so I don’t have to smell it either.  🙂

Back in the saddle

Well, I am back at work, putting in crazy hours to make up for the time off. Isn’t that always the way?

Monday, A and I drove to CT to deliver C back to her mom – it was a decent enough drive, although I sure do hate giving her back. We (at least I, and I think, she) had a really nice week, in spite of all the interruptions to our time together. On the way home, we stopped at Rockler in South Portland, and A got a few router bits she has been wanting to try. I think she will be back at work in the basement, after taking the summer off. This can only be good news if you are a book that has been in a box for more than 7 years…

Tuesday I leaped back into the fire – all day meeting in Machias, listening to DR Donna Beegle speak on generational poverty, its characteristics, how to combat it, how to communicate with people who are living it. She is an unbelievably good speaker, very eloquent at relaying her own life experiences in a way that is useful, not self serving. If you EVER get a chance to attend one of her sessions, grab at it. But going to Machias after spending all day Monday in a car was rough on me. Being in a meeting was great for the hat bag though – I made two and a half hats! Working with worsted weight sure is a nice change after the lace weight purple thing. 🙂

That reminds me – C and I dyed some yarn before she left. I didn’t get the blue and white socks done in time for us to dye the leftovers, but I found a skein of wool that we died using tropical punch. It came out quite pretty, I think. I’ll make something warm and cheerful with it, and post it.

I did finish he socks on the way home from CT, so I dyed the remaining yarn Monday. Kind of like one of the old ads – I was able to dye yarn while at a meeting two hours away! Love the crock pot method.

Anyhow… I thought I would use purple and green, and that it would cover the white, and blend with the blue. So first, I filled the crock with enough purple to go about halfway up the cake. My plan was then to flip it, fill it half way with green, and see what happened. Well, what happened was that the yarn, when wet, collapsed, so I had more purple than I thought. I went ahead and flipped it and did the green anyway, but where I thought I would have a break between purple and green, I didn’t, so I have a bit of brown on the yarn, unintended. 🙂 And the blue is pretty much gone, except a few places. BUT I like the green, and will do green and blue and yellow again someday, just leave out the purple! Not sure what I will make with it, as it now matches nothing I own, so the fingerless mitts I had in mind aren’t worth the effort. Maybe a scarf for the bag of give-aways….

So now I have cast on a new thing, which I can’t talk about because if it comes out well, it will be the prize for the 100 followers giveaway. I’ll know soon how it is coming along. It is a pleasure making it, I have to say, the pattern flies along, but looks complicated. 🙂 Don’t worry, I will post photos after I ship it out.

So – as one of A’s co-workers likes to say, “today is my Friday” meaning the last day of my work week. Glad to have gotten through it, it has been a long week. Friday list will come along soon, don’t get too excited. 🙂