Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Learning Curve

Learning Curve

I think that every time I try something new there is a learning curve. I have confessed in the past that I am big about reading directions but today was a different matter. I have been trying to dye roving and yarns these last few weeks. To help myself learn I have purchased two books. The first one is The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing by Linda La Belle and Teach Yourself Hand-Dyeing Visually by Barbara Parry. I have been extremely pleased with both books. What one doesn't have (which isn't much) the other has. They have been very helpful and talk about dyeing with different methods, equipment, mediums and anything else you can think of. Both books were money well spent.

I have been investing in equipment so I decided to invest in some different dyes besides using Kool Aid. I ordered some Jacquard dyes and have been playing with them every chance I get. My first experience with dyeing was using Kool Aid and I wanted to step it up. And step it up I did.

My first try was roving. I tried two different methods. The first was using my crock pot. This method was totally random. I presoaked my roving in vinegar and water for 30 minutes. I t was wrung it out about half way and then put it in the crock pot. The instructions said to put about an inch of water in the crock pot and a wee bit of vinegar. The vinegar helps the roving to be more accepting of the dyes. I did use Kool Aid for this roving. I used two packets of orange, two packets of red and one of the grape. To make a long story short, I sprinkled the packets as per the directions and when the water was clear (after sitting for 2 hours) I got this result.

This is what the roving looks like in the crock pot. As you can see there are loads of colors everywhere. This can not be duplicated so I hope there is enough to make something good out of it someday! I was very pleased with the way it turned out. I rinsed it, washed it in Wool Wash and laid it out to dry for two days. The one upside to having horribly hot weather was that the roving dried much faster than I thought it would.

Here is the roving spread out on the drying rack getting dried. There are lots of color variations. I hope they will translate into some great looking yarn later down the road.

I was feeling so good about what I was doing that I tried another method. I used an old crab pot for the dyeing part. Anything that any dye has touched is now strictly for dyeing purposes. It's recommended in both books that you get separate equipment. So I have been using some old things to get myself started. I am going to need some measuring cups but am sure that the dollar store will be good for that.

So here is effort number two with the total immersion method. I did use some of the Jacquard dyes for this roving. I can't tell you which ones I used but boy did I love the results.

See the lovely red/maroon color. That was the second attempt at dyeing. I am so excited about how this turned out. I do love that color. Both rovings were dried and then rolled into balls and have been added to my roving stash.

So feeling very smug about how well I thought the two above attempts went I went full guns this time. I actually dyed sock yarn to see how that would go. I can see there is a problem for me. The skeins need to be tied up more so that they aren't a tangled mess when they dry. You will see what I mean here shortly!
These are two of my latest adventures into dyeing. They were both done in the crock pot. As you can see the blue one fared much better in the tangle department. I have no idea what I did to cause the purple one to look so horrible but I am going to buy some cotton shoe laces like one of the books recommend. The purple one will be a total nightmare trying to find the end and put on the swift for winding.

Here are some closer looks at the two above.

So the learning curve continues. I am so excited about all of this. If you have never dyed anything, try it. It's like a package that is waiting to be opened.
Spinning Binge
I have been inspired by loads of spinners around me lately. The last few months I have been trying my best to decrease my desire to buy yarn and increase my desire to spin. I have way more roving than what I need so I have been spinning to try and decrease my roving stash. So I dusted off my wheel and got to spinnin'.

This roving actually doesn't belong to me but I did spin it up. I loved the roving colors. They are my kind of colors. I was under the mistaken impression that what I saw on the outside would be what I would see in the finished yarn. Wait until you see this...
Okay, I can get it small but look at that color. Where is all that fabulous color I saw in the braid? Gone, gone, gone.
This is the finished product. What a difference. I was just as surprised as the person who owned the braid. Actually she gave me two braids and I spun each on onto separate spools. Then I plied the two singles together and that is what the outcome was. I was disappointed but liked it at the same time. I loved the green but this sure was not what I was expecting. The yarn weighed 110 grams. I didn't measure yardage because the scale was new and had to be tested.
The finished product went back to it's owner. I didn't need more roving in my never decreasing stash. On to the next project.

This finished yarn is ages old. It's so old that I am thinking that I have had it at least 5 years or more. I bought it at a craft show and was such a new spinner, I didn't even ask what kind of fiber it was and I threw away the tag. I think it used to be a pound but I couldn't tell you so many years later.
It's a two ply that is almost lace weight. I have enough I could probably do a shawl. I again, did not measure the yardage but only the weight.
I got a total of 177 grams. I have to admit I used this roving to blend in with other colored yarns in the past so the 177 grams was the left over amount in ball form. I want to dye this yarn but just haven't gotten around to it yet. That will be another post in the future.
Here is one spool of two that came from the roving below. This time the roving and the singles look the way I thought they would. The roving came from Juniper Moon Farms when I went up there to attend their spring shearing day. There is 8 ounces of roving but for the life of me, I can't tell you what kind of sheep it came from.

Here is the finished yarn. I love the color variations. This is small enough to make socks and I have...113 grams. I have never knit socks from my own hand spun, but I think this winter I will.
Now off to find the perfect pattern for my yarn. It will have to be a cuff down sock and it could be a lace pattern...the search is on!

Monday, June 14, 2010


I have many obsessions but this current one has been so much fun and is moving right along. I have read blog after blog about knitters/crocheters that hate doing the same pattern more than once or who have so many UFOs they will never finish them because they were boring. What is boring to one could be the most quieting project ever. This is one of those projects for me.

I have written about this newly found project a few times ago and I am still in love with how this project is unfolding one square at a time. I have been having so much fun with this. Who knew? I was knitting socks and then BAM, along comes the mitered square blankie. It's a free pattern on Ravelry. If you belong and you have scraps of yarn you are wanting to chuck, this could very well be the project for you!

My project started with the most humble of little squares and has grown quite nicely. Here is my first set of squares. The yarn in this picture is yarn that I got from swapping with some other local blankie makers. The one on your left looking at the screen is mine. Remember this post? Well that's the yarn knit up in a 2"X2" square. The top one with blue is from another swapper that dyes her own yarn. The last one is from yet another swapper and it's name is so cute. Yarntini. The colorway is called Mint Choclatini. Love the name!
I have some beauty shots of how much the blankie has grown. I have found it to be super easy. I have enjoyed how simple it is and I am comfortable with doing the same thing over and over. It's sort of like telling your kids to pick up their room, over and over and then one day...they have a clean room and you are surprised! So here is my "Everything but the kitchen sink" blankie as of today. It's hotter than ever outside so took the beauty shots outside in the backyard.

Here are pictures showing the different yarns that I have either been given or I have already made socks from. I don't have solid colors as of yet or really large squares but they might be down the road.

I even have a nice baggie of various balls that are going to get smaller and smaller as time goes by. I will do updates when I have something to show. I am about to swap with 11 other women so there will be new yarns to add to this.

Got the swap yarn this evening. I am very excited about all the different interpretations about rainbow colors. This is exciting to me. So onward we go into rainbow mitered square land. Whee!

Friday, June 11, 2010

So This Is What All the Fuss Is About!

So This Is What The Fuss Is About!

I had no idea what all the fuss was about until yesterday. I have been reading and reading about it but didn't have a clue until this morning! I got to see an experiment come out just the way I had hoped it would. Isn't it great when a plan comes together especially when you are crossing your fingers and holding your breath the whole time it's unfolding?

I have been wanting to try my hand at dying fiber/yarn myself for a long time. So I read about half a dozen blogs and decided to take the plunge. Gathering up the supplies was super easy because until I got my confidence up I wasn't going to invest a ton of money in something that I wasn't sure was going to work. Now that I know it does, I will invest a little more money and see how it goes.

The first investment was a crock pot. I read how others who were dyeing things were using used or new crock pots dedicated to just dying. It was advised in every blog I read not to use the same crock pot for dying as you do for your food especially if you are using chemical dyes. I used simple food coloring so it wouldn't be problem but I had a feeling I was going to move up the dyeing ladder so I bought a nice red crock pot from Target for about $20. I could have gone to a yard sale and bought a used one but this was easier and I got a color that would fit in well in my kitchen.

First I started with fiber that I had spun back in 2006. It's been sitting in the stash for way too long and it's time I start using the stuff I spin. Since I have a pillow pattern via another blog, I decided that this fiber would be dedicated to the pillow. My room is yellow and I want a pillow to put on the bed.

This is only a small skein of what I had to dye but it gives you an idea. This was one of my first efforts as a newish spinner. It's Border Leicester that I was either given or bought. I see from the tag that I spun it on 1/27/06. See did I tell you it's been a while. One skein had 176 yards. The second skein didn't have yardage on it, but 4.3 ounces. I have no idea why I didn't keep track of the yardage. Anyway, I dyed both of those two skeins.

Here is a shot of the two skeins in the new crock pot. I think I filled it with too much water but when I drained out all the water the water was clear like I read it was supposed to be.

Here is one of the skeins after it was gently wrung out and it about to be put into a bag and then to through a small spin cycle in the washing machine. I am surprised at how bright it is. Looks just like sunshine!

Here is one of the skeins spread out for drying. Here is the second one...
Sorry about the background but the drying rack is in my sun room where I think it will dry much faster than inside in the house. I will have to go out and turn it over to make sure that it dries all the way through but I can't wait! So now I see what all the fuss if about and I know I will do more in the future. How can I not?? I will show the pillow in progress as soon as the yarn dries and I get started.

Friday, June 04, 2010

UFO Progress Report

UFO Progress Report

I have decided to try and stay on top of my UFO and be accountable for getting it done in a timely manner. How long that timely manner is...still remains to be seen. So I am headed down the road. This week I joined a swap that will add some more variety to my blanket. I joined a swap with some local women that I knit with on a regular basis. I am very excited to see what kin
ds of things they come up with that I can mix with my stuff that I already have.

The theme for this swap is Rainbow colors. This is my contribution. I purchased it from here. I purchased some Trekking XXL 311. I tried to find yarn that had most if not all the colors of the rainbow. After I purchased the yarn I came home and used one of my newest toys...a new scale. A yarn buddy let me buy it from her and it works great weighing my stuff. Of course it does grams and ounces. It's been getting a work out!
Since there are 20 people who are allowed to participate each person gets a 5 gram skein or ball. So the whole skein has to be weighed. It takes a while but look what the end results are... NOT enough balls! I only got 18 balls with the 19th ball being super small. See the little green one at the front of the picture? That was the left over yarn. I am not happy that I didn't get 20 balls out of it. I doubt that 20 people will sign up for the local swap so it might be okay but it still doesn't make me happy. So by June 22nd we (everyone) in the group should have different balls/skeins to add to the blankie.

Mine is not going as quickly as I thought it would because I had to take one out that didn't look right. Sure enough I ask our local blankie expert, Ashley and she said it wasn't in the right place and 2 seconds later it was frogged. I will re-knit it some time soon and hopefully thing will be back to normal and on a roll again.

Oh, and by the way. The yarn diet is offically over! I purchased four skeins of yarn today at the LYS because it was their birthday and I got 20% off.