Yarn dying experiment…

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ok, I have long since wanted to make gradient dye jobs, but I am too lazy to do as I have seen so many time and dye it in portions. So I thought about it.. What would happen if you wound the yarn into a cake and then dyed it? I can tell you.

First I admit I used a LOT of food coloring here, I like jewel tones, and I have learned that I need to use a lot of dye for that. I use Wiltons  cake decorating gels, the ones you get at Jo-anns or Michaels, in the cake section. I used an entire jar for this experiment.

First I wound off my yarn (100% wool, Jagerspun Heather, fingering weight, to be specific.) This yarn is destined to be leg warmers for the cool mornings here. Mainly around the house wear, so it didn’t really matter how badly the dye job came out. I did wind my yarn doubled, so that they will match mostly. Later I will rewind it into individual cakes.

I took the wound cake of yarn, and soaked it in a water and vinegar solution (I never bother to measure I just pour some in. I admit this was a pretty strong vinegar solution.) I set the cake into a pitcher and added the water and vinegar to it, when the cake floated I took a mason jar and half filled it with water and set it on top of the cake, after about half an hour I removed the jar and the cake stayed submerged. 

Next, I prepared my dye bath. Same quart jar I had used earlier, I dumped the food coloring into and more vinegar, this time about half a cup, and a couple cups of water, I used my whisk to stir well, dissolving the food coloring, I poured this into the bottom of my small (4qt) Crockpot I set the yarn cake into and rinsed the jar out with the water/vinegar mixture from the pitcher until it covered the yarn cake. I set the Crockpot on Keep warm, put the lid on and walked away fro several hours.

When I came back I removed the yarn cake carefully with a slotted spoon and set it into a bowl to cool, once it was cool to the touch, I mean room temperature. I put the cake into a colander and ran room temperature water over the cake, occasionally flipping it over to rinse the other end, until the water ran clear.  I shut off the water and set the colander over the now empty bowl and let it sit there for about an hour, dripping as much of the water off as it would give. Next I very carefully wrapped the cake up in a towel and added pressure to squeeze out as much of the water as possible while disturbing the construction of the cake as little as possible.   I carefully reshaped it (from the smashed oblong it had become back into a cake) and set it in front of my fan (yes I am still using fans here.)

This is what the exterior of the cake looked like this morning, just as it came out of the dye bath, but dry.


It was a little more purple looking that the photo shows almost a grape color.  And then I rewound it, starting at the outside and working in, so that what is now  on the inside of the cake is one the outside (this was done mostly to dry it, but also cause I wanted to see it.)

This is the rewound cake.


there are spots of the darker color all through it, but the closer you get to what was the core the more of the bright Caribbean blue that there is, I totally love it so far.. right now it is sitting in front of the fan again, but once it is dry I will separate the two strands and we will see how it knits up.

Oh.. and I have to share this one, just because I love the shot.


you can see all the little hairs and the definition between the plies and the two strands that were held together in the winding.  Ahh.. the fiber, you can almost feel the yarn love.

Dear Michael’s and Joann’s stores

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I regularly browse through your yarn sections, and continually end up disappointed. I do appreciate the new trend towards natural fibers, I love that paton’s classic wool comes in fifty billion colors and between the two stores, you have them all. And Wool-ease is great for a lot of things, the warmth of wool, the washablity of acrylic… Beautiful!

But can we please, Please, PLEASE get some decent sock yarns? The quality of the yarns you carry now (with the exception of the Bernat Sock, who wants plastic socks?) is not a problem.. the color selection however leaves much to be desired. I have no desire to knit socks that are mottled with hot pink and baby shit yellow, and honestly, no one I know wants to wear them either. What colors would I like to see? Hmm… Solids. Tonal variations, like kettle dye. Stripes, in none clashing colors, are ok too. White.. Black..

I really want to be able to knit socks for members of my family who are not into the whole world has gone psychedelic thing. My 80 year old grandfather has no desire to wear hand knit socks that look like a hot pink and purple cat puked on them . My husband, who is only 35, has strict limitations… No ‘Foofy’ colors… this means he will wear black, blue and white. solid only, no stripes, no variegated.

Please realize that in some places (like my backwater, wannabe city)  you two mega mart stores are the only walk-in yarn source some of us have.  We are your customers, listen to us.

Remnant Socks.

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I am working on my 25th pair of socks so far this year. This pair is a little bit different from what I have done the rest of the year, as they are made using remnants of sock yarns. I will walk you through how I have done them, and then, if I remember, I will post pictures once they are done.

  1. Gather up all sock yarn remnants and sort. I don’t want to mix fingering with worsted (yes, I have made worsted weight socks this year.) And I don’t want to mix fibers, mixing a merino/nylon blend yarn with an alpaca blend yarn will lead to wonky results after you wash them. Not to mention that the alpaca felts and the merino/nylon does not.
  2. OK, now I had 13 balls of merino/nylon blend yarn. Most balls are around 30 yds, and I have  a decision to make… Do I want them to be totally miss matched, meaning I grab a ball and knit till it is gone, then grab another, for both pair… or do I split each ball in half and use in the same order to make an actual matched pair.
  3. I decided to split the balls.. but with such small balls of yarn, and no yardage meter, how do you split them evenly (or at least close?) I used my ball winder, first I wound the ball into a cake, then I took the yarn from the outside and the center of the cake and wound them again, together, when I reached the end, and a loop of yarn where the middle was, I cut it and began rolling it into 2 balls. I did this with all 13  yarns.
  4. Next I took two bowls. I put all the balls into one bowl and cast on my first sock, the matching ball to the yarn I was using went into the second bowl. When I ran out of yarn, I would go to the first bowl and choose another yarn, taking out both balls of that yarn, one was added to my sock in progress, and the other is added to the second bowl (second bowl just makes it easier to do the second sock later on, since you don’t have to dig and hunt for the matches.)
  5. Once the first sock was done, you just use the yarns from the second bowl, in the same order (or different if you choose) as the first sock.


I think I may have enough yarn remnants here for a second pair of socks… I will see, I am just over half done with the second sock, and should finish this weekend.

it’s done!

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my little wrap that is… I finished the knitting last night, went button shopping today, and wove in ends and blocked it this morning. Here it is..


it’s not really big, it wears like a cape, and is not quite elbow length. or can be rapped tighter and worn like a scarf. I totally love it. It was a great quick knit! 

I will have to take a closer picture, but the button is a dragonfly, that the wings almost exactly match the yarn of the upper portion.

small knitting obsession….

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I am a big fan of Knitty. For those of you who don’t know.. Knitty is a free, online knitting magazine. It comes out  quarterly, but not on any set date that I have been able to discern.  And then, some time between the time an edition is published and the next edition, there are bonus patterns that just seem to *appear*.

Anyway… the Fall edition of Knitty came out last Friday. I browsed through it, several times, and I really liked several of the patterns in it. I usually really like one or two patterns per edition, but this one was great, I really liked at least 6 of the patterns. All of the shawls, and several of the sweaters. One of the shawls was Colonnade. I LOVED it… The more that I looked at it, the more I had to make it. But I had to make changes.

#1. I live in southern Arizona. It does not get cold enough here to warrant aran weight wool. 

#2. I don’t want to BUY yarn for this, if I can help it. Wool is hard to find here, all we have is Jo-ann’s and Michaels, and that limits availability.

#3. I don’t have 10’s needles.. I don’t like working with them, but if I had them, I would use them, even with worsted.

Because of the smaller yarn and needles, I didn’t get gauge, being unable to use larger needles to get gauge, I had to adjust the stitch count, doable, but more work mentally.

I hunted through my stash and found several skeins of Patons Classic Wool Merino one in Peacock, and two in Too Teal, perfect! I cast it on and got started on Saturday night, and by the time I went to bed on Sunday, I was 3/4 done. I haven’t had time to pick it up today, but once the kids get in bed, I will work on it more. I can’t wait to get this finished.

Christmas in July…

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Since I would like to make a lot of my gifts, if at all possible, it has occurred to me to start early, as knitting, and other crafts, can be time consuming, as I am sure you know.

First I decided to look at what I have on hand, my Christmas list, and what each person might like.

  • sock yarn, about enough for 5-6 pairs, if the pairs are short, ankle socks like I wear.
  • fun fur type yarn, 5-6 balls of it, none the same.
  • random skeins of acrylic yarn, in random colors, mostly pastels, and left overs from baby blankets
  • wool, some really nice, some not so nice, some undyed, some hand dyed. Various amounts of each.
  • Some cotton yarns, mostly in earth tones, all kitchen cotton.

People on the list, who might appreciate hand made items.

  • mom, she really likes the socks I have been making, might  like a pair or two
  • kids, my 3, and my niece, would love scarves made from the fun fur, if nothing else will make great dress up toys.
  • hubster, says he will wear socks I make him, but not in “foofy” colors
  • dad, he will wear anything I make him, any color, he likes bright colors too.
  • brother, he is hard, he is 11, but they live where it gets cold, maybe he would like a hat and scarf?
  • step-mom, she would appreciate a lot of things, but she is allergic to all animal fibers, so anything I make has to be non-animal, maybe hat/scarf or a set of facecloths..
  • Mother in law
  • father in law
  • step mother in law
  • grandfather, he gets cold in the winter, maybe a hat, in green, his favorite color.

I have more on my list, but I don’t think some of them would appreciate a hand made gift, and some, we have other things in mind for already.

Second, What I have done so far…

No, no pictures, at least not now. For two reasons. #1, though I don’t think any of my family reads this, lets not take chances, huh? and #2,  And really, the one most influencing the no pictures decision… Hubster has my camera in Germany.

Looking through my stash I found 3 skeins of an alpaca / acrylic blend in a bulky weight, having no clue what else to do with it, I cast on my size 15 needles, and in 2 days I had a hat, and 6 1/2 foot long scarf.  No clue who it will be for, it will go in the Christmas Bag, and that will be decided later.

On the same needles (after the hat and scarf were done, and off of them) I made several (I think I have 4 so far) fun fur scarves. Very simple, garder stitch scarves, from a single skein each. I made 3 in just a couple hours, very fast, but that stuff is a pain in the ass to work with. The kids will love them. Dropped them in the  Christmas Bag too.

Knowing my father (really, I have know him all of my 31 years…) I opted for a washable wool product, and I decided I wanted to make him hunting socks, so they need to be thicker… best washable worsted weight wool I can get around here? Wool-ease, yeah, it isn’t the best thing available for socks, but it should last better than the $30 pair of wool socks he bought last year, and wore a hole in the first day. I picked up 3 skeins, cast on a week ago, and I am about 3/4 done with the pair, and let me tell you, a mens size 12? These things look like you could fit aircraft carriers in them. When they are done? You guessed it, into the Christmas Bag.

I also had on hand 2 skeins of Knit Picks Risata, in biscuit (off white), which is enough to make real socks, that you know, go up the leg a little bit, not just the hide in your shoe style I wear.  So I will make these for Hubster. Off-white counts as non-foofy, right? Anyway, they are about 1/4 done, when they are done, they too will go in the Christmas Bag.

Hopefully I can finish these two projects, and maybe another fun fur scarf or two before hubby gets home, and have moved on to more.. We all have dreams.

Knitting thoughts


I am almost out of sock yarn. *sob* I only have enough yarn in the house for 2 more pair, and one of those is yarn that is a royal PITA to work with.  So last night, in an effort to find something else to work on knitting, I started another shawl, similar to my not so Basic Black Shawl, from Folk Shawls. Here is my first version.

it was done in Knitpicks Palette, in black and garnet heather.  This is a fingering weight, and it has been really handy, I use it all the time. But I got into my head that I want to do another one. This time, lace weight, and green and red. I ordered the yarn to do this several months ago. This time I went with Knitpicks Shadow, in Juniper and Sunset Heather. It took me a couple false starts to get the needle size right for the yarn (I ended up with a 5) and off I went. so far, I am making good progress, andI am almost to the second lace panel, in the second color. The rounds are fast at this stage, but as it gets bigger, the longer they take. The first shawl took me right at a month to finish, any guesses on how long this one will take?

And  Yes, I will share pictures when it is done.

March Treadmill time 3Hrs 33 mins 10.31 Miles

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