Archive for April, 2006

don’t put your hands in the dye

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

see my nasty purple hands? that’s because i don’t follow my own advice. i always mean to put on gloves when i dye, but then the colors start to dissolve, and the yarn goes in, and before i know it, i am shoving my hands right into the dye bath. yup, and boiling liquid does burn—but i’ll never learn. poke, poke, poke.

so, yeah, today was another dye day! whoopeee! nothing like puttering around the kitchen of a sunday morning, i always say. hey, at least i’m cooking something . . .
since i worked right through earth day and never got to do my recycling thing last weekend, i decided to do it today. i had these yarns, see, that i bought in greece in 1993 or so—fine, fine italian merino laceweight—about 1400 yds per 100gms. nice to knit with, and really, really cheap.

the problem must be obvious. but in case it’s not, that one color in the center? that can really only be named something like “squash”, right? i mean if you’re being nice. and the baby yellow? it’s ok, but i got over that color a few years ago. i finally figured out that it looks awful on me. and even if it gets made into a gift for someone else, my knitting should look nice on me if i’m going to hold it for a lot of evenings in the presence of my true love, right? it should complement my skin and reflect a radiant glow onto my visage, yes? so as to raise the amorous atmosphere a notch?
hmm—knitting as an aphrodisiac—you think that has future potential?

so those fat skeins are the merino and those slim skeins are cashmere laceweight that i also thought needed an attitude adjustment. actually i love the gray, but again, that color is not so good on me, so i though i’d experiment with using a darker base yarn.

by the way, these posts i have done about dyeing have opened up a lot of discussion in comments and in classes about color, inspiration, dyeing, and yarn/color behavior. it’s incredibly exciting to me that i can get everyone perked-up and talking about a topic like that! i am hoping to spend a lot more time on it, as coloring yarn and fiber fascinates me, too. please feel free to send questions and comments, and i will try to speak to them. SO many people weighed in on the pink yarn debate BTW—it was fabulous! and do you know you are all split about 50/50 on whether you liked it better before or after? and ALL for good reasons too.

several people have asked how i know when the dye is done. well, it’s not a secret that only people with YEARS of experience can know (even though, as a teacher, i should probably be all mysterious about this stuff . . .). actually, the dye bath tells you! how cool is that?! here is an example: this is the bath in the pre-cooking stage

see how murky and dark the bath is? everywhere there is liquid, it is opaque. now, here is a bucket of yarn that’s been cooked. look at that!

the water is practiaclly clear. that’s what you are looking for. this means that the wool has taken up all the dye that was available in this bath.
or, if you ARE experienced and you can tell from the wet yarn that there is enough color in it, you can stop. but i’m not so good at that yet.

so, today i was trying for deeper colors with more subtle streaks and color changes. this is harder to acheive than a “rainbow” effect because so many of the dye colors look so much the same when you are working with them. in fact, many of them do not even look like their final colors very much. the more i work with them the more i get to know what each one will do. still, i can see that i have to do a lot of this to get good at it. and this is what i ended up with.

the three skeins on the right are the cashmere, which i was very happy with as a medium to dye on. it took a LOT of dye (more than the merino), and like alpaca, does not end up being brilliantly colored, but more soft and subtle (as an example of that, the third and fourth skeins from the left are dyed in the same bath, but there is quite a difference in the dye take-up). it also seems almost impossible to felt (which i remembered from trying to shrink it before—don’t ask). i mean those babies got a LOT of cooking and the strands are not fuzzy or sticking to each other at all.
the two skeins on the right? those are the ones that were originally squash-colored. how much happier are we with this blood red? the merino, however, did get almost felted. actually more like “fulled”. it’s wanting to stick together, at least in its wet state. hopefully it will release as it dries.
except for that fourth skein from the left! get this—that skein was one that i had wound into a ball about 10 years ago when i though i would use it, but never did. so today, i wound it back into a skein, and that one did not get fuzzy. i think the factory-wound skeins might already have been sticking together a little. i should have probably rewound all of them, but who knew?

and everyone will be SO happy to see this next picture—look at all this ostrich plumey-ness! you’ll never believe how long it is! remember i said i thought it was a little short and skimpy (it barely kissed 40 inches pre-blocking)?

well i got it blocked to 80 inches! honestly, you just can’t judge one project from the results of another. but one thing i think might be true (lace knitters, this one’s for you): superwash is super stretchy; it just grows and grows. now, this stole may relax back an inch or two, but it will still be real close to double its original size. now, it may also look as if it lost a lot of color, but that is just from the stretching; putting more empty space between the yarn strands dissipates the color concentration somewhat. i’ll post a picture tomorrow of it lounging lazily across a chair (this picture is not so pretty!).

ok, one last tidbit for today. i made a passing comment about my blue handspun sock yarn that might have given Persnickety Knitter the wrong impression (and, i know i am getting off-track here, but you have to go see her bracelets; they are fantastic!). sorry! i said it was knitting up so even that it was almost unlikeable.

what i meant was that, for me, one of the pleasures of working with handspun (especially solid colors), is the “evidence of the hand” in the unevenness of the yarn. the knitted texture is a little more lumpy-bumpy than commercial yarn. you can tell a person spun it by hand, rather than a machine having one the job.

(of course, once i started trying to explain it, i could not find, or photograph a stellar example of what i meant). this is not so important in the stripey yarns i make, since the interest there is in the color shading. by the way, please please PLEASE show us those sox when they are far enough along! we all want to see them, persnickety!

tomorrow i will write about color inspiration. i don’t always dye from color inspiration, but today i did, and i want to tell you all about where it’s coming from.

regrouping

Friday, April 28th, 2006

all kinds of questions about schaeffer anne; i love it!

Anne C. Says

Hey, my name is Anne, too (All Annes should get a couple of hanks)! Where is Little Knits?
That yarn is sooo lovely.
ps Completed my first-ever sock. Second is getting close to the toe! Can’t wait, it fits like a glove…..

and

PersnicketyKnitter Says:

Hey, I just got some of that Anne yarn too. I’m thinking of making socks since I only have 1 skein. Can’t wait to see what you make out of yours.

well, if your name is anne, then by rights you should have free reign to buy however much you want! and if your name isn’t anne, you need to get as much as will make you feel at one with your inner anne! try www.littleknits.com or google it. little knits is in seattle, but it doesn’t matter; debbie pretty much cleaned them out, i think.
they might have a few hanks left . . . and debbie is now officially engaged in a no-yarn-buying bet with steve (she needs a lot of support in this folks). steve is SO sure he’s gonna win, that he decided the prize could be a yarn shopping spree. clearly, steve has reality issues and totally underestimates debbie, on so many levels . . .

i actually never made socks with this yarn yet! though now that i have two hanks, i might. i’ve been using it for lacy things. the japanese feather stole is made in it, a nearly solid color of midnite blue with gray and green streaks. the more variegated versions might be nice in a wavy lace pattern. i’m waffling between making a triangle shawl with all of it, or a stole plus a pair of socks. hmmmm. it’s not as lofty/cozy as some of the other sock yarns, which is what makes me hesitant about the socks, but anxious to use it for lace.

all the colors of anne are just gorgeous—here’s a place where you can see
more. some day i’m going to get that red colorway (i think they call it clara barton) and the other one i LOVE is color 4AP.

well, anyway, tonite i am finally free from work to browse through stitch books, knit, and just veg. noble, aren’t i? i should be jumping on my bike an hour ago to get out in this great weather. but i’m beat; i mean really tired. and we’re having company tomorrow, so i want to cook a big pot of something, but maybe i should do that in the morning, eh?.

so i took stock of my projects, because now that the ostrich plumes is done, i’m a little at a loss. i know i always have my cable sweater to go back to (and i will; you’ll see . . .). i have a plethora of socks in various stages of progress

each one is moving along in its own way . . . and i have this lovely little dainty; this, i think, is the winner for the project i will focus on next. i haven’t worked on it all week, but now i’m ready:

this is based on a lace project we did in wednesday night class. we beta-tested a pattern i wrote. everyone’s scarf came out AWESOME! i fixed a couple of typos that we found, and took out one of the lace patterns (it was a little busier than i wanted). the pattern will have instructions for a scarf or stole. you will see the results as i go!

so, the other day i got an email from patternworks saying that they are having a needle mania sale. well, anything to do with mania—just point me toward it!
normally, i don’t use wood needles; i prefer metal because they are faster. but patternworks carries these ebony needles i do like; i have one size 7 pair that i bought there about 10 years ago and i use them a lot for knitting lace because the points are nice.
so i ordered another size 7 pair in the shorter 24-inch length, and two size 8 pairs—those are the sizes i use most for lace knitting.
they came two days ago, only now did i have time to open the box!

i have to say, i’m a tad wee bit disappointed; the size 7s are perfect, with slender long-tapering points. but look at those size 8s!! NOT for lace knitting! i know i can remedy this because i saw it on DancesWithWool. and debbie fixed her addi’s so maybe she can help. i’m just a little nervous about wrecking the beautiful ebony wood . . .

i also got some susan bates metal sock needles which we don’t carry at the shop (again, i love the metal ones!). i finally figured out something about knitting david’s double-wides: if i use these slightly longer needles, all the stitches will stay on! much as i love the shorter needle length, it doesn’t work for his socks. but these 7-inch ones are perfect—still comfortable in my (quite large) hands, but short enough to be efficient. took me long enough to cave in and go back to longer needles (meaning that, back in the cave days, when i learned to make socks, long metal needles were all we had . . .).

while i was at it, i indulged in my one gadget fetish. i am not much of a gadget person unless i have a LOT of use for something. like scissors, or yarn needles, or my beloved C-thru rulers, or . . . .heh heh heh . . . stitch markers. don’t even try to get me to explain or understand my attachment to these little circles of plastic. i can’t explain. just know that i have, quite possibly, more of them than any other knitter.
anywhere.
and . . . i hoard them. it might stem from the fact that as a girl, i had to use homemade ones (basically, yarn loops), and i grew to abhor those (they are always getting caught or falling out), yea, to yearn for the store-bought kind. anyway, i have all the different types; i mean, what could be cheaper and smaller to collect than old plastic circles? i have a wide selection of vintage ones in colors such as coral, turquoise, beige, and gray. kinda puts today’s mundane blue and red ones to shame, huh?

so, recently, i discovered a new kind i didn’t have. i’ve been meaning to go find them, but never did (we don’t have them at the shop). since i was ordering at patternworks, i treated myself

check it out—you can add them on afterward! there’s a little snap on each one to open and close it so it can be added or moved around. aren’t they cool? similar to the locking markers, but not as bulky (by the way, those locking ones now come in a giant size and new colors!!).

alright, i’ve been running on and on instead of goin off to relax; i’m witing to upload the pictures for this post, but i am uploading a work project and it’s taking 4EVER!

deadlining

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

it feels like years since i thought or talked about knitting or anything fiber-related—i have had my nose stuck to the computer screen all day trying to get this project out for work, and guess what?
there’s still a LOT more to do!! crikey . . .

so again (and i apologize profusely), this is gonna be short and sweet.

i finished the ostrich plumes stole last night—YES! it doesn’t look much different than yesterday’s picture, so i will wait til i stretch it this weekend and then post it. but for the record, it is everything it promised it would be.
and, in class yesterday, i finished the blue sock, so i have half of that pair done—woo-woo!

and—and i know some people will cheer for this—melissa, my-friend-from-work, is looking at some shopping cart tools and such in order to help me get a little shop up and running!! YAY! soon you will see all sorts of goodies on offer (we hope!)

and get this, melissa crochets, right—but she normally works with yarn. so, she started following the blog, and guess what?? last week she went out and bought red #20 crochet cotton TO MAKE LACE!! i SO did a snoopy dance over that!

wanna see some yarn porn? of course you do! first let me explain, in case anyone else went to little knits last week and saw they had new colors in schaefer anne. if you were there, and watched them disappear before your eyes, that would’ve been debbie buying ALL of it!

and you know what happened to some of it? are you ready for this? are you sure?

i feel SO special—a gift for me! again with the gift that has my name on it! this is SO gonna make another lace project, naybe the feather stole for the shop; there might even be enough for socks . . . heehee!

i took a couple of very short breaks to mosey around the yard—just ferreting out the daily surprises of spring—and i took the yarn with me, why not? first we checked out the climbing hydrangeas.

they are growing slower than molasses, but in good health. oh! sorry, you can’t see them here because the yarn is taking th spotlight. ooops; looks like most of the garden pix turned out the same way.

here’s one where we lounged for a few minutes on the garden bench that david made

just . . . lying in a fetching pose, putting on airs.

i wish i could say that a design for this yarn came instantly to mind, but seriously, i haven’t been able to think about knitting today, til now. groooaaann

and just as seriously, i have to get back to it. i’ll be back tomorrow!

a short list

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

a real quickie update this morning on the bad yarn campaign! i got online and am collating a list of yarn companies. please, please, email any and all suggestions for companies that need to be on the list. the N company is first in line, so don’t send that one!

think of ones that are not too mainstream; those are the hardest for me to track down. and if you would be so kind as to look up the phone and email info, i will think of a really fun way to spotlight all helpers on the blog!

now, here is my small list of names for the crusade; you can add to it, or just let me know which one you like best

Knot Knitting This!
Knot Buying Any More
DO KNOT BUY/DO NOT KNIT
Bad Yarn is KNOT Cool!

the main work of it is getting the word out and building the whole thing up over the next month. the power of this campaign lies in the volume of knitters emailing on the same day.

my plan is, over the next few days, to make some flyers and information sheets available in PDF form, that each person can bring to their local yarn stores and knitting groups. these will explain how to participate, and contain suggestions for spreading the word. anyone who wants to send me a flyer they think will work, feel free to put it in Word, indesign, photoshop or quark and email to me.

once those are available, i will ask the podcasters and bloggers to send their audiences this way to pick up the buildup information, and for them to mention the campaign for the next few weeks.

the mailing list will be released 3 days before may 29th, the official day of the campaign; the email list will be released the night before may 29th.
we want the yarn manufacturers to receive a focused barrage of courteous, but assertive communication so that they get the point. the point being, of course, that our knitting dollars come with a demand for quality from now on.

ok, and because it’s a little harsh to just talk about crusading, here’s some knit porn

it’s almost done! and of course, i wish i had more yarn . . . it will be a wee bit skimpy, but enough for a shorter person, or to throw on while sitting at a desk. i love it! i’m ready to make another one!
but i think instead, i’ll make another feather stole for a store sample. and, i do have this new lace scarf i’m making . . . gotta get that pattern together too!

hopefully i will write a real post later tonite after classes—right now, i gotta get to work!