I've been dyeing to tell you . . .

. . . literally

I used some of my Christmas money to buy some undyed yarn and some real dye (read: not Kool-aid) to try dyeing some yarn myself. It arrived whilst we were house and cat sitting for mom, so all the pictures are from her kitchen. It has nothing to do with the size or equipment difference between the two - for those of you who might feel inspired to try this sometime - I just needed to be there for the cat who'd recently had surgery. So fear not, it's easy and fun, and if you're not me, not messy at all. I'm a little messy.

So here's how it went. My first attempt was "handpainted" merino doubleknit weight. I bought my yarn from Knitpicks, and the dye as well, for that matter.
So, I gathered my tools:

Some acid dyes, plastic wrap, empty pint jars, and a stainless steel pot with a steamer basket. I filled the pot with water and started heating it on the stove. Then I plunked the yarn into a sink full of water.

Once I had worked all of the air out of the yarn, I squeezed enough water out of it to keep it from dripping, and layed it out on some plastic wrap on the counter.

Then I mixed up my dyes: blue, teal, and brown. A tsp of blue and teal, in hot water and 3 tbsp. vinegar. 1/2 tsp of brown, in hot water and vinegar, for a lighter color.

And squirted them onto the yarn in sections, using a small squirt bottle, one color at a time. I left space between the brown and the teal because I didn't think the color they'd produce together would be one I wanted - the dyes spread during the setting process.

It was in the midst of this process that I began to think that gloves might be smart - acid dyes like these dye protein fibers, skin has protein, ergo they also dye skin. I decided I didn't really want smurf fingers, so I went and found some gloves, right after this happened:

Then I wrapped the yarn up in the plastic wrap and laid it in the steamer basket over boiling water to set the dye. I lined the basket with a couple paper towels, to spare the plastic wrap some of the heat, I'm not sure I needed to, but it didn't hurt anything.

Once it cooled a bit, I rinsed it until the water ran clear, and hung it up to dry in the shower. See how the colors spread and deepened?

Once it was dry, I wound it into a ball . . .

. . . so I could knit these - a pair of Knucks, and now I can type at work and not have cold hands.

Now that was a 100 g skein, only 52 g of which I used to make the mitts, so I'm trying to figure out what to do with the rest, not sure yet.

Now, there is another way to dye yarn. Which I tried another day. It involves a glass bowl, dye, water, vinegar and a microwave - or if I was doing this at the apartment (sans microwave) a pot on the stove, water, vinegar and dye. But the glass bowl made pretty pictures.

I put the dye powder in the water and vinegar. And thought perhaps that I should stir it, as I didn't want a more tie-dyed look for this yarn.

Then I added the wet yarn, and popped the bowl in the microwave, nuking it until the dye was "exhausted," in other words, the water bath was clear, or mostly clear. Then I had to let it rest a long time, because this was also merino, and not superwash. On top of that, it was fingering weight, which is thinner, and more likely to tangle and felt while it was wet. I dyed two skeins, one sort of a peach/salmon color, the second a green/teal mix. These are for lace projects for later. They are dry and sitting on top of the freezer, I haven't gotten a chance to wind them yet.

I dyed a third skein as well - this one superwash - a deep burgundy, for a pair of socks that I've been waiting to make. Aren't they pretty?

So that's what I was dyeing to tell you . . . there will be more - I have 4 more skeins of the merino double knit that I want to handpaint (probably socks, maybe a scarf) and two more skeins of the fingering weight to "pot dye" when I decide on colors.


Socks Rock!

As they were started after the Christmas knitting was finished, I'm going to start counting 2007's knitting completions with my green Monkey socks.

Yarn: Wool of the Andes, Forest Heather (Knitpicks)
Needles: #2's that may have belonged to my great grandmother
Modifications: only 4 pattern repeats up the leg, instead of 6, because I like shorter socks

And they keep the feets warm and toasty. I am through the first sock in two other patterns, they shouldn't take much longer.

In other news . . . I recently recieved an e-mail from a company that sells sock yarn. It began as follows:

Please read this for IMPORTANT credit card information.
The sign-up for the Rockin' Sock Club 2007 has been a resounding success. So much so that our bank thinks we are running some type of elaborate yarn scam and is refusing to accept our members' money! So, you know what they are doing? You are not going to believe this. They are sending all of that money back! Unbelievable and astounding!

You read that right - the bank though the incoming credit card payments must be fishy, and refunded all the payments, because there was no way this was actually about yarn. Now, I know most folks who come here and peruse my ramblings don't understand how addictive sock knitting can be. I'm not sure I quite understand myself, but having signed myself up for said Sock Club, I now have to resend my payment once their website is back up and running again, which is just a bit frustrating. Everything should be ok after that, thankfully.

I think this may become the year of the sock, for me. So there will likely be more sock pictures as I go. There should also be some lacey stuff, and who knows what else. I crave a little variety, but there's nothing, for me, like a small, portable, fairly quick to finish, decently challenging, and interesting project that becomes a useful object when I'm finished. And I love warm feet!


The Virginia Gray's Year End in Review

T'were the weeks before Christmas and all through th'apartment,
Two creatures kept stirring, to see time was well spent . . .

There was the Christmas knitting, of which I had not spoke,
Scarves and hand warmers for some beloved folk.

Striped scarf and fetching for the basketball star,
stylish yet practical, at least I hope that they are.

For the artist's chills, two pair-o-mitts and a scarf,
for when she's away from her home and her hearth.

For the mother who bore me, green mits for her hands,
though here in ol' Ginny there's less snow and more sands.

And when those were finished another project began,
with fabric and sewing machine, and needle in hand.

For the boy's mother, a window you see,
in the form of a lap quilt for her library.

For the sake of my sanity, I indulged just a bit,
a new pair of wool socks, that most likely would fit.

Christmas in Virginia was full with warmth and good cheer,
then we were bound for Indiana, to welcome the New Year.

There were basketball games, and much hollerin and hootin',
and while the refs weren't too "insightful," the girls had some good shootin'.

And with the sibs altogether for the first in a long while,
we spectated some wrestling that brought a big smile.

And now we are home, weary from long travels,
looking forward to this next year with all of it's revels.

No doubt these rhymes would make a certain uncle quite proud,
I hear the dryer's buzzer and it is quite loud.

All of this rhymin' leaves my head achin',
perhaps I should leave verse to him, and just stick to bakin'.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!