Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yes, You Can Too Knit Lace—Part 2

Here is a second lace.
One new skill is needed for this lace—a left leaning decrease—called a SSK—if you don't know how to do this, check with your favorite reference book or on line.

The pattern is a 4 stitch repeat, with 3 additional stitches an edge—So 24 stitches (a multiple of 4) Plus 3 more—a total of 27 stitches for this swatch/example. This vertical lace pulls in (as ribbing does).

I used a single yarn cast on (the double knotted one)--I think this lace looks better with a lighter, stretchier cast on—and that a long tail cast on is too thick and heavy. But that is my opinion. Use any cast on you want.

Foundation: P1 *K1, P3(repeat) end with, K1, P1.
Right Side: R1: K1, *P1, K2tog, YO, K1 end with P1, K1
R2: P1 *K1, P3(repeat) end with, K1, P1
Right side: R3: K1, *P1, K1, YO, SSK, end row with P1, K1
R4: P1 *K1, P3(repeat) end with, K1, P1

This second lace is a Faggoted Rib--Faggoting is the name for the zig zag lace element bits--a very vertical pattern. It's also a bit harder—since pattern uses 2 different decreases. But it is still a very simple lace.

It's is also very stable. It doesn't curl, and it doesn't bias. It's very stretch—I've used it on fingerless gloves and socks. I think it looks better(different) stretched out –If I were to use it on a scarf, I would plan on a hard (very stretched out) blocking. This lace pattern is also often used on baby clothing. Many years ago, my mother-in-law knit me a small layette—a hat, a kimono, and bootees using this lace pattern. The kimono was very similar to EZ's February baby sweater, but used this lace, and was longer. The hat and bootees were knit flat and seamed.

There are also many variations of the Faggoted Rib. Some with more purl stitches between each lace element, some with no plain rows (no rows 2 and 4--and R3 reworked with P2 tog's)  and some times, the lace pattern is worked in the purl stitches (with plain columns of knit stitches!)

I've used a variation of this pattern in my G Class Star Lace hat (on the sides of the hat)

So make a swatch, or two, and take on lace! There are lots of other lace patterns just as simple as these two lace patterns for you to learn.

Sure, there are harder laces, more complex pattern, with longer repeats, with un-balanced patterns (that is, the number of stitches in a row will change) or 2 sided patterns--(with YO and decreases on the WS as well as on the right side).

 But it's all just knitting. Begin with something simple and build your confidence. Soon you'll be knitting any lace pattern with ease.

Yes, You Can Too Knit Lace—Part 1

 It's much easier than you think to get started.
Lace work doesn't have to be hard or complex to be attractive.
Here are 2 patterns for simple laces—spread over 2 post.

Both swatches were knit in worsted weight, on a size 9/5.5 mm needle, but both of these lace works well in fine yarns, too. The first example is a lace based on garter stitch, the second example is a lace based on ribbing. Here is a side by side image—both swatches are knit over 27 stitches.

The garter stitch compacts horizontally, the ribbed lace compacts vertically—Just as garter and ribbing do,  with out lace. The garter lace swatch is actually about 10 rows longer than the ribbed lace.

Both laces are great for beginners, or for learning lace. The first lace only needs these skills:
K2tog (Knit 2 stitches together)
YO (Yarn over)

Here—is the first lace. In the swatch, I worked some rows of garter as a foundation, which is a good idea for this lace.
Cast on an Odd number of stitches. I cast on 27 for the swatch—any cast on is suitable; I used long tail. 
Right side: R1—Knit (every stitch)
R2--Purl(every stitch)
Right side: R3—Knit (every stitch)
R4—Knit (every stitch)
Right side: R5--K1, *YO, K2tog, (repeat from * across the row),
R6—Knit (every stitch)--Treat the yarn over as a stitch.

Repeat these 6 rows, as many times as desired, end with R1, R2 and R3.
After the first repeat, it won't be hard to keep track of which is right side, and which is the wrong side.

The classic name for this lace is BEADING—and it can be uses as a single row of beading—1 repeat—or several. It can be used as a border, or as an over all design.

There are many variation of Beading Lace. The number of rows of stocking knit between the BEADING can be increased, (see link/sample below) or eliminated--as in this scarf-(Rows 1, 2 and 3 are all knit)

Beading is often uses as lace on baby's and infants clothing. Narrow ribbons can be threaded through the eyelet opening—Classically, beading on a white baby sweater was threaded with pink or blue ribbon to indicate a boy or a girl.

The pattern is almost, but not quite garter (just 1 row of purl in every 6 row repeat.) It's close enough to garter that the fabric is stable (i.e., it won't curl) –but it does, (as garter does) compact (row wise)--but like garter it stretches out, too—especially on something large –like a long scarf, or when used in a blanket.

When more rows of stocking knit are added between the lace element (5 to 9 rows, instead of just 3) the fabric behaves more and more like stocking knit (and will have a tendency to curl). A side border of garter stitch (3 to 7 stitches on each side ) can be added for a neater edge, and more stability. I knit this over sized shawl  long ago (9? 10 years?) it's an example of an over all beading pattern—there are 7 rows of stocking knit between each set of beading. (It's also 3 camera's ago, and not a very clear or crisp an image!)

An excellent simple scarf could be made with this recipe:
6 rows of garter stitch,
6 to 10 repeats of the lace, (with or with out a 3 stitch garter border)+ rows 1, 2, 3 of pattern.
a center of garter, (optional!)
a matching number of rows of the lace pattern repeated,+ rows 1, 2, 3 of pattern
6 rows of garter,
and bind off.

You could use the “recipe” to design your own scarf: You decide the yarn, the color, the width,(number of stitches to cast on, and whether or not to add a garter stitch edging), the number of repeats of the lace pattern, whether or not to have the entire scarf as lace, or just to have a lace border at either end, and the over all length.
Thousand of unique designs could be made from this basic recipe.

The V shaped scarf linked to above is slightly fancier than the basic recipe, but still shows how pretty this pattern can be.
I have also knit a shawl with this basic lace pattern—my Double Delight. This version, like the swatch was knit with worsted weight yarn –but in the case of the shawl, the yarn was hand spun silk.

All of these examples serve to show, lace doesn't always have to be knit on tiny needles and with fine yarn to look beautiful. Nor does it have to be very hard to learn or to knit.  Worsted weight yarns, (the over sized shawl is made from Lion Brand Homespun—a chunky yarn!) are fine for many lace patterns.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


 We have toes! All knit up, and grafted too. Not all finished, but not the last hour yet either!

Some of the ends have been worked in, but there are still a half dozen ends (per sock) to go. They aren't visible on the left,  (because I've neatly tucked them under the foot), but they are there,(--see, on the right--) all the same. I'll finish weaving them in today, Then go to work on my secret socks.

I finally got around to photographing and documenting the progress on the secret socks. (What progress?—Just the cast on!)--This pair of secret socks, like the first pair, are designed for first or second time sock knitters—with lots of little details to make getting started easier.

I also have 2 swatches to knit up --and likely another post today, or maybe 2 tomorrow as a leap year bonus—The swatches are for Jessica—a newish knitter.

I am still reading The Red Queen—the first half of the book is sort of a prequel to Richard the III—one of my favorite pieces of Shakespeare, the second half starts with Act 1 —from a different perspective—and I suspect will end close to act 5. Already, in the book, the 2 princes have been killed. But there are still many pages to go!

Finally—I took in a comfy jumper--(and shortened it too) It's still loose and easy to wear—but it's now 6 inches narrower than it was! Gone from size 3X to plain old large. I know I am getting smaller; and how I carry the weight has shift, but the scale still keeps steady as a rock. No weight lost now, for what 3 weeks? Or is it an eternity? Well, at least I am able to keep off what I have lost. But that is not enough!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wonderful Weekend

It was cold, and it was windy, but it was wonderful all the same.

Saw friends, went shopping (social event more that buying thing) cooked (ate!), busy all the time.
Knitting? Oh yeah, knitting. Well I did get some 4 or 5 rounds knit. But who cares. I still have 3 days!

I didn't get the the leafy sweater vest blocked either. But, I will, I will.

This morning brought a wonderful sound—dull banging and bumping—The work stoppage is over, and once again progress is being made on the terraces. I still don't have glass panels, (and some levels don't have vertical dividers making the space into 2 terraces), but something is being done. Before the break, the schedule had them finishing up my line by the end of January. So some time in the next few weeks, I should once again have open space—more than a month late, but finally!

My next shopping trip will be to buy some plants, and some seeds, and get started with planters. I try to have one planter at the kitchen window, with chives and basil and other herbs (so handy!) The terrace planters are pretty stuff. Always geraniums, usually nasturtium, and what ever else catches my fancy (or is cheap, or germinates and survives!)

I have some hanging planters (they hang from the divider, and one (a small one) hangs on the railing (the inside side of the railing, so if they fall, they fall onto the terrace, and not below!)and I have some half round planters that hang on the wall, too. Plus a baker rack for more plants--3 resin chairs and 2 small end tables and that is the terrace—FULL.

Well, there is also a clock and thermometer, and a small set of wind chimes too. But again, these are wall mounted (and don't take up floor space). There are always some outside lights, too (but these too are hanging, and not table lamps) The lights are really mood/atmospheres lights rather than useful. The terrace has a step (a very high threshold) and it's just enough light to see the step. The bakers rack usually hold a candle or two as well (you'd think being 14 stories up would be enough, but no, bugs find their way, and citronella candles are still needed. ) During the day, I like to sit outside to read, or have a cup of coffee, but in the evening, I just enjoy the view.

Like last night—did you see the moon- flanked by Jupiter and Venus?--Forget the red carpet, the real show is in the sky!  Mercury had already set by the time I was looking--and I didn't even look for Mars.   Beside, I don't have nearly as good a view east as I do west.

Speaking of germinating, tonight will be Chinese (style) food—with fresh grown bean sprouts—Nothing really special, just shredded cabbage, (a lot) bean sprouts (a bunch), a thin sliced onion, a small carrot shredded, too, and 1/4th of a red pepper slivered (the carrot and pepper are there as color, more than as flavor) a bit of ginger, and minced garlic too.

First, a bit (2oz) of slivered pork will be stir fried, and put aside. Then all the vegetable go in the pan, (onions and seasoning first, then cabbage, carrots and pepper, last, the sprouts)and get stir fried, too. Finally I add a “gravy” of soy, broth, vinegar, and (spicy) black bean sauce, along with the pork, to the HOT pan—The liquids steam and further wilt the cabbage, and 3 minutes later, the gravy is reduced by half, and everything is cooked. The prep time is about 20 minutes (I shred my cabbage, but it does go faster if you buy shredded cabbage(cole slaw mix))--and the cooking time about 10.

I sometime serve with noodles-(thin/lo mein)and sometimes just eat it with out any starch. It's simple and flavorsome. The gravy varies, too. Some times, sweet hoisin sauce goes in, sometimes chili oil goes in, (for more heat) sometimes it's just a bit of soy sauce, broth and vinegar-with a little sugar or honey—for a simple sauce. I've subbed chicken for the pork, too, and ground pork for the slivered. I suppose if you like it, you could sub tofu for meat.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Progress

But not at quite the same rate. Till now, I was getting at least 2 stripes done (from yellow, past green to cherry, or the like)

Yesterday, reading cut into my knitting time, as I knew it would. The Red Queen –ie. Margaret Beaufort is the great grand-daughter of Katherine Swynford—John of Gaunt's third wife (and true love it is thought). Katherine's story (Katherine, by Anya Seton) is one of my favorite books. So many more historical details than Philippa Gregory's books (which I also like, and have read a good number of)--Margaret is mother to Henry the VII and the start of the Tudors/and the end to the war of the roses.

But I am liking these socks, and book or no book, I did work on them. Not quite 2 full stripes—but all of the gusset! (the left sock in the image has a cherry red stripe, but the striping is still offset a rounds, and the right sock doesn't have a stripe). It's a nice deep one deep gusset—I have somewhat high insteps. With the gusset done, the sole of the sock measures a full 3 inches. I find 9 inches is about the right length for a sock for me, so one third done. More than a third done, really—the last 2 inches are the toe (with the ever decreasing and quicker to knit rows!)--and before that, there will be 2 round stripes of the 3 contrasting solids. So from the 9 inches minus 3 (done) and minus another 2.5(toe), --the foot is half done!

A couple more days of getting two stripes knit—simple easy knitting with no thought of  "do I decrease this row?" (or did I decrease last row?) will go fast! 

I don't see them being finished till Monday or Tuesday, next--(or about day 8 of knitting, and day 28 of the month) –Which is cutting it close. But it's far better than January's socks that didn't get done till February was 2/3rd over!

On the agenda today, is blocking my leafy yoked vest. It's been complete-- except for the blocking-- for over 2 weeks—it's time. Besides, Nancy (of Sunday knitting at Panera's) is impatient to see it!

I haven't done anything but the cast on to the 3rd pair of secret socks. (Well a bit of documenting the process, but not the knitting.)

And my weight remains, (stubbornly!) the same. No back tracking, but no progress either!

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Was Forced

 to change yarns for the heel flap. This ruby red yarn kept insisting it was a good match for the cherry red stripe, and that I needed to add it to the sock. This image magnifies the difference in color—in natural light (its overcast and I used a flash to take the photo) the color difference is not so great--and this red is not quite colorfast.  It will fade a bit with each washing (as I know from experience).

So heel flap and turning--(and two new ends, per sock, to weave in)—are done in a third contrasting color. I think I am going to have to repeat the colors again just before I start the toe shaping—else I will work the toe in a 3 colored linen stitch... (nah, I remember doing a toe that way, and I didn't like how the decreases looked) So stripes –2 round of each color as the last few rounds of the sock-- it is.

(And that will add another half dozen ends to weave in! Aaugh! Why can't I just learn not to listen to yarn?!)

Still, it is nice progress, another 2 inches done (measuring on the instep side)--from a green stripe, to a cherry red one, and now just past a yellow one; The flap and turning, even the gussets started. The contrasting yarn solves a problem, too. I really dislike how the striping pattern of self striping yarns break at the heel flap and turning. There will still be a bit of disruption caused by the extra stitches per round as I decrease to form the gussets, but it won't be near so bad—and on the instep side, the color order (green, cherry red, yellow) will remain constant, and even the spacing won't be too distorted.

There are other solutions—different heels, for one—but since I have knit so many socks, I think I could knit a flap and turning in my sleep—for easy socks, (and these are supposed to be easy socks!) a flap/turned/gusseted heel is the easiest—Well, it is for me.

This flap has a small change... Instead of the standard, Slip 1 on each edge, I worked a 2 stitch garter band, with heel stitch for the bulk of the flap. When it came time to pick up stitches for the gussets, I picked up one stitch per ditch. Worked perfectly—this might become my new standard process for heel flaps. I found it easier and neater, and it works perfectly. Garter is snugger (row wise) and works perfectly with the heel stitch.--It looks nice too.  (see-->)

Not only did I get all this done—but I cast on for a third pair of secret socks... Toe up this time, since I am trying to alternate toe up and cuff down. These will be simple socks too, but a bit slower to knit, since I will be documenting all the little details along the way. I plan to try out Cat Borhdi's new sweet tomato heel on these socks. I want to see for myself how it works and how it fits.

(Some bad news—I found a copy of The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory so I will be a bit distracted by some reading!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Proper Progress

and then some. I started the socks—and didn't even finish the edging Monday.
Tuesday saw the edging done, and the cuff. The first color stripe was hidden in the ribbing, but a few rounds into the stocking knit, a green stripe.

By last bed time last night, there was a red stripe, a yellow one, and another green one. A full color way repeat! 6 inches of the leg knit, and a full repeat of the color way—that's progress! When I got too tired to knit, I sat and did some finishing—now the top edging is all sewn up and the ends are all woven in.
There is a marker now to mark the beginning of the round.

Since there won't be any more stripes of contrasting yarn, the next bit of finishing will be weaving in the last tail after the toe. I love to pre-finish when I can. A few more rounds today, and it will be time to start the heel flap!

Even with a delay or two, these socks should be done before the month is out. Especially since there is the one extra day this year!

And that's not all. An altered (taken in) skirt got hemmed (it was too long as well as too wide) and a shopping bag got a make over—a mini rolling cart now has a new bag—the old was had shredded—Its really a nice super light little cart. Cart like this are just a normal part of city life--where shopping often involves walking several blocks, going from store to store, and carrying everything home. Now with a new bag, it's back to work.  The new bag is black and the cart has blue plastic handles--but I don't mind that they don't match.

I dragged it along as I went shopping yesterday. . First stop, the local hardware store for a bit of screening.
Then at the nearby green grocers, a head of cabbage (Love cabbage!) and bag of mung beans.

The screening will be a top for a quart mason jar—allowing a quick and easy way to rinse the mung beans—which I am soaking and will sprout. Bean sprouts are a $1.99 a pound, and while I like my green grocer—I am bit leery of buying the bean sprouts (and the tofu). Both of which are sold in pails/buckets of water with tongs (and self service). Who knows how clean anything is? Home sprouts are so easy to make, (and so much cheaper!) and I can be sure that the water is clean, and all the utensils too. $1.99 worth of mung beans will sprout into 30 or 40 dollars of bean sprouts--at $1.99 a pound!

I restocked coffee, too, at another store, in another direction, a picked up a bit of pork—if I have bean sprouts and cabbage, I need a little pork, too. There is some home made chinese style food in my future.
(My kitchen is well equipped with hoisin sauce, and black bean sauce, ginger, dried tree ear mushrooms and other basic/exotic ingredients) 

So I got some exercise in, too. It was a lovely day—It was sad that it got cold again as the sun went down. Still, all in all its been a mild winter. Every where things are sprouting—not just in my bean sprout jar. Tulips and daffodils are sending up shoots, and the buds are swelling on the trees.

Unfortunately, it seems like spring will be sprung before I get my terrace back.

There has been a set back—and while it was supposed to be resolved in a few day, its now almost a month with no visible progress. I want to head to the nursery, and get some mini geraniums, to get a start on summer planting (one nursery I know always has a great buy on early geraniums. The idea is YOU bring them home small (and cheap) and take care and let them grow into full 4 inch plants at home. Come April, the same plants at the nursery are bigger too, (and 4x the cost!). My new, clean and shiny, freshly painted terrace deserves a few nice planters to decorate it. But now I am wondering when I will be able to get out onto my new terrace. It has a new railing, but the glass inserts haven't been put in yet, so its not yet safe—and of course, the scaffolding is still there, along with the black mesh construction cloth—both of which obstruct the view and the light.

(and I am tired of having all the terrace furniture in the house, too!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


A bit of green, a bit of yellow, and then a final bit of the main color. Which is mostly blue, shot through with bits of red, and green and yellow—The yarn is the now discontinued Swizzle, by Reynolds—75% merino, 25% nylon—A nice big 416 yard ball. (I have two more balls in my stash—one in a forest green and one in a light (vaguely bluish) grey. I remember where (and what I paid for) the green and grey skeins (almost nothing!)) but I can't remember when or where I bought the blue skein. At a garage sale, or a fund raising auction, or some where. (Or did I get it in a swap?)

Well it was in one of my sock kit bags to be knit up this year—though I hadn't originally planned the bit of edging.

Now that I have this bit of edge, and a bit of ribbed cuff (it's over an inch of ribbing, but short my normal 1.5 inches) it will be smooth sailing—or rather smooth knitting from here to the toe. I already have almost a half inch of the plain stocking knit that will predominate. The stripes of color are fairly widely spaced—but that is an an incentive—to continue knitting till I see the next color!

The edge stitch is a simple Latvian Twist—worked this time in a garter for 5 rows before the twist—and below the twist some stocking knit--5 rows of green, 3 of yellow and 0 of the main color. The stocking knit wants to roll forward, and it pushes the edging out , making it look fuller than it actually is—Plus the ribbing pulls in—and exaggerates the effect.

I've done this sort of tiers before—and the results where OK—this reiteration is more successful.

It leaves me with a bunch of ends to weave in, and 3 small seams to sew. But I think the effect is worth the effort. It's just enough—and simple enough to do—to jazz up these simple socks. It's not that I hate plain socks, but where the fun in knitting them? Besides I have a half dozen pairs of plain (OK so some of them are simple ribs, and not plain stocking knit) –Who need more plain socks?

Still it's nice to have a break from complex patterns, or cables, or lace and just endlessly knit, rows after row, with only the occasionally stripe of color to keep my interest.

I made no effort to try and match up the stripes—but it looks like the yarn is doing the work for me. The green stripes are not perfectly matched up--(2 rounds offset) but close enough!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The King is Dead. Long Live the King

The socks are finished. The next pair has been started!

Here they are—I wanted a photo with toes for Ravelry—They have taken long enough!

I didn't get a much done on my next pair as I hoped. My daughter needed a favor—it is so rare she asks for anything, I hopped to it. Besides, it was a good way to spend time with her. So an afternoons jaunt filled a few hours of the day.

It cut into knitting time, (and totally eliminated my plans to ball up a few more skeins of yarn)—but not so much that I wasn't able to finish the Black and White socks—and to make a small start on the next pair to be.

Here are the new socks.

No, I am not knitting solid green socks.
Nor am I knitting solid yellow ones.
Nor am I knitting more than 1 pair at time.
Yes, I am planning to knit them in the round and not flat.
And Yes, I am planning to use a self striping/patterning yarn.

I like these socks already—I am almost done with the fancy edging on the cuff –and after that, there won't be much fancy work at all! Just this little fillip to make them special and take them beyond totally generic socks.

You'll have to wait till tomorrow to see how the green and yellow work into the cuff—and to see what yarn I am working with—and it might take a day or two more to see the full effect.

Hopefully, I will churn these simple socks out before the end of the month.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Still Not Finished..

Or rather, finished (all the ends woven in) but still not done (knitting).

Finally-- the foot is long enough (longer for some reason than average by a half inch!) and I am about to start the toe. There will be one yarn end per toe to weave in—but it hardly counts. I plan in doing dead simple flat toes, with a grafted finish to the toe, and the last bit of yarn end will already be threaded (and neatly woven in) as the graft is complete.

Yesterday was great fun—It was just the 4 of us—Jessica, Nancy, Debbie and myself—but that didn't stop us from having a wonderful time. Slowly the knitting group is growing. Any day now, everyone will show up on a single sunday, and we will take over the conference table.

The plan for today is to finish up the toes... And immediately start on a simple pair of socks. Some nice bright color—and self patterning yarn—something cheerful. Black is a practical color--(well especially for a Ny'er.) But it's dreary to knit and hard on the eyes. I have some lovely home dyed yarns—but I want simple—and I have some plans for some lace socks (with—you guessed it—a leafy motif lace!) and some plans for stranded color work socks. But I want something I can knit with out thought, and fly through!

A bit of fancy work at the cuff--maybe something as simple as a contrasting stripe or two, and then generic socks--fast and furious.  I have already chosen the yarn (one of my sock club sock bags) but you'll have to wait till tomorrow to see which one.  

(and a few more skeins of yarn will be balled up, --and one divided.  Next month (next week!) I will be knitting up an other pair of secret socks--as well as March's sock--Or at least, I plan to!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hand Painted Yarn

Is something you can do at home--with out any special tool or material.

Here is how I do it—It's not the only way—but the way I like best..

Begin with white (or near white) yarn. Colors are truer on white yarn, but light natural whites are very good too. I frequently use:
Lion Brand Sock Ease (100g skeins)--white (color marshmallow)
Patons Kroy (2 50 g skeins)--near white (color muslin)
Red Hearts Heart & Sole (2 50g skeins) white (color white)
and occasionally have used other other yarns—Lace weight, or DK weight yarns for projects other than socks. I have also over-dyed pastel colors, and even deep colors. 

Other supplies:
Vinegar (plain white vinegar—I buy it by the gallon!)
Food coloring—the small bottles of food colors (sold in 4 color packs), the 2 oz bottles of food coloring (love that black is available!), or Wilton's Paste food coloring, and easter egg dye tabs.
Tooth picks.
Small glass jars
Disposable plastic trays (I use the kind that come packed with “family size” packages of ground beef (3lb packages) But I have also cut down plastic gallon bottles (milk and water bottles)  You'd need bigger containers for more skeins (I rarely do more than 100gs)
A recycled spray bottle (from windex or the like) and/or a squeeze bottle (bought in the 99 cents store)
(One is OK, Two are better—One for plain water (to control over all moisture, a second for a vinegar water mixture to set dye)
A microwave (or a crock pot—I actually have never used my crock pot.. but..)
And, of course, some disposable gloves (I always start out with gloves.. and at some point ditch them and always end up with my finger tips dyed, too!)

This post is about the process I use for  hand painted effects. But I have also create some wonderful color ways with food coloring and pot dyeing. Like these recent experiments--Nectarine color way,(left)  and Spring greens (with blues and yellows) right. Both are examples of Lion Brand Sock Ease sock yarn(each skein is 100g's) 

Some food coloring are very stable (that is they tend to be uniform in color, other food coloring (especially Wilton's Paste) are more likely (easier!) to break.

What do I mean by having the color break? A food coloring is often made up of several food colors mixed together. And each color has an optimal PH level for dye take up. RED (especial red #40,but all reds ) requires very little vinegar--(too much and the color will not be colorfast) other require more.

If you take a food color jar that has a mixture of 3 or 4 colors, and use it in  a single one shot dye bath—some colors are going to more readily adhere, others are not. The results will be uneven dye up take—some of the component colors will be more visible, and the coloring will be uneven. If you make a dye pot (a contain filled with liquid/dye stuff/acid(vinegar) and yarn you can break colors to get tone on tone/semi solid color ways. 
Breaking can be a bad thing if you are looking for an all over even color—but intentional breaking a color can create lovely hand painted effects.

Hand painted is not the same as pot dyeing.  It always has uneven color uptake, and you can even paint different colors on to yarn--and get a multi color result. 

To start—You can work wet or dry—I like to work wet.

So make the skeins of yarns into hanks. (I use my swift) Tye the hanks in several places.
Soak the hanks in warm water at for at least a half hour to get them full wet.
Then squeeze out excess water, and roll them in a dry towel and squeeze out all the excess water.

I want the skeins wet (very damp to the touch) but not dripping, soggy wet.

Spread the hanks out on a water proof surface—I go the lazy route—I use the glass turntable from my microwave!--but another choice is to  cover the work surface with newspaper, and plastic wrap, spread the yarn out on the plastic  (and wrap the yarn in the plastic to transport it from work surface to heat.).  

Take some Wilton's food coloring –in this example I used color Brown (component colors: yellow6, red40, yellow5, blue 1) and color Burgundy, (component colors: red3, yellow6, blue1) –and started with white yarn (you can pre-dye the white yarn any light/pastel color first.) There is over lap in the component colors—but since each color breaks differently, and sometimes, not completely-and some of each will be added a the last minute--(to minimize the color breaking) My guess before I started was: I should end up with some pretty colors. Some Reds, from pale to deep (burgundy) and some oranges and browns, and blues and yellows (and maybe even some green shades).
Using the toothpick to paint on the coloring paste. Be sure to get some on the top, in the middle and on the bottom of the yarn –and if using 2 hanks/skeins—try to get even distribution of the colors—for more closely matching skeins.

Fill the spray bottle with a mixture of 25% vinegar/75% water.--If your dye has a lot of reds (there are several different numbers of red food dye--check the ingredients)--start with a much milder mixture-- 10% vinegar is plenty—it's always easier to add vinegar to the spray bottle and re-mist the yarn. If you are working with dry wool, use even less vinegar to start.

(Some advocate using full strength vinegar on dry yarn! There are so many options—and so many different final effects as a result! Half the fun is experimenting—No-- you can't always be sure of the results—But I have never had a truly bad result.

Spray—lightly misting the coloring/dye paste. The yarn is wet, and will easily re-wet)

Go slowly—you can always spray on more vinegar and water—and you don't want too much water and to get the yarn to wet—the colors (and the water) will spread and puddle  and be muddy on the bottom! The wool shouldn't be so wet as to have puddles of water collect. Just keep it moist. I really find it easier to use a spray bottle than to squirt on small puddles of water with a squeeze bottle —but others disagree. You'll have to experiment, and see which way works best for you!

Spay the wool between the painted areas, too, to help the the colors spread--as the colors spread, they are much more likely to break. 
Wait. (This is the hard part!) It can take some colors up to 15 minutes to break and spread--here is how the yarn looked after sitting 15 minutes--Not to much breakage in the colors--but they have spread a good deal.

Repeat with a second color, (or more of the first) till you have as much color as desired—or add more vinegar to the water, and re-spray. Since different colors are expressed with different PH solutions, you can change (in a totally unknown way!) what colors in the mixture show up, just by adding more vinegar to the wetting solution.

It might be necessary to add some plain water if the yarn dries out too much—as it might on a warm, or breezy day.

Heat-to help set the dye—be careful—wool can scorch (and burn!) so go slowly—I use my microwave at 50% power, heating it for 5 minutes, letting it cool, (re-wetting with plain water, or more water/vinegar) and heating again. Here is where having wool that is evenly pre wet and on the turntable is a big help! It's easy to carry the wet yarn from the work space to the microwave--with out disturbing it too  much, or worrying about drips, either. 

Once in the microwave, and I can be sure, having started with full wet wool, all of the wool has some moisture-- and is less likely to scorch—(and almost certainly never going to catch fire/smolder!--Watch out—this can happen if you start with dry wool!)

Be careful with the heated wool--Even 50% power is enough to heat some of water enough to turn it to steam.  Steaming hot wool is too hot to touch! (hotter than 212°/100°) Let it cool with the microwave oven door open (or with the turntable out of the oven) for 30 minutes. Re-wet with plain water—if any of the water takes on any color the dye is not fully set—and you'll need to reheat—after the cooling off period. When the colors are set, and you are happy with the results, rinse well in cool water.

Eventually, you'll end up with something like this—an artful, hand painted, one of kind (well in this case 2 of kind)--skein of yarn!

And the colors? Not at all what I predicted! The end result is more like cherry cordials—with dark and milk chocolate brown, a bit creamy white fondant, and lovely cherry tones.

Perhaps I would have more color breakage with a stronger vinegar solution.--Yet, look close.. there are hints of blue.. and small bits of green, and some of the brown tends to orange, too. In the end, who cares? Not exactly what I expected—but it's a success—by any standard!

These are short skeins--only 37g's--so I'll need to add a solid color for a complete sock--maybe another shade of brown --or maybe even some white--for the cuffs, heels and toes.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Amazing--

How much progress one can make by just knitting for an hour or two. Here are the socks again—back on 2 circ's, not 4.  Second gusset completed, and with 2 inches of the foot knit. Another inch and half, and it will be time to start the toe shaping. There is still a lot of finishing to do—One sock still needs the back seam sewn, and both socks have a fair number of ends to be woven in. But that will be quick work on Sunday at a local knitting group.

I am already thinking about which sock to do next. Right now, I my thoughts go to a very simple generic pair of a self striping wool. With a bit of fanciness at the cast on edge, and nothing but self patterning to keep it interesting. My secrets sock --my goal was to do one regular (public) pair and one secret pair a month--(and obviously I am behind schedule!) will be a simple pair too!

Later today, I will be hand painting the remaining white wool--each skein is just under 40g--almost enough to make a pair of socks (for me).  While I work, I will be making a photo essay about my process. It's really not that hard to do hand painted skeins—if you do them one skein at a time, and don't need to produce a number of skeins with near identical results--as you would for a commercial (even a small scale commercial) enterprise. 

I am not interested in doing hand painting or custom dye work on any sort of scale and selling the results—I am just doing it for me. It's another way to be creative (and frugal!). I get the best of both worlds—basic yarn (Paton's Kroy) bought at less than full price, hand painted to make one of kind art yarn. I have had “failures” (that is not gotten the desired results, exactly) but none of my failures have been real fails. The results are always workable—and sometimes really quite lovely—even if not the colors or effects I was not exactly what I was going for. 

My other project for today (knitting will be put off till tonight) will be some sewing. All this week at odd times, I have been ripping (frogging?) seams on clothes. Some are silks (worthwhile to alter!) some are just cottons (but colors I really like), and now its time to take in the seams, add new elastic to the waist bands and make them into smaller clothing. Size 3X is becoming size 1X or in some cases, size L. Later this spring, I will head to my favorite thrift store, and see if I can find some new (to me) clothes, too.

And some of the way to big, and just not worth altering clothes will be donated at the same time.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some Progress

Monday, a doctors appointment and an outing.
Tuesday, laundry (touch up ironing and getting everything put away) and a long (2 mile) walk
Wednesday, putzing around not doing much of anything—got some yarn made into center pull balls, but that's about it.(Which yarn? The new fashion toe yarn, and the nectarine color way yarn)
Thursday, cleaned out an explosion in the microwave, polished up the tea kettle, and washed the kitchen waste can and did a whole bunch of other cleaning chores.

Does it seem like I want to do anything but work on my socks? Yeah. But last night, I took them up again--(good grief! It's the 17 of February and this are January socks!)

Now one sock (the back seam sewn one) has a completed gusset, and the other socks has almost a dozen rows of the gusset done. Today I should finish up the second sock gusset, get the two socks back together on 2 needles. And then, it's a race to the toe. The foot is a solid black—a bit dreary to knit, but the gussets are long, so a good part of the foot has been done, and once I finish the second socks gussets, it won't be long till they are (finally!) done.

I am itching to try out a new way to hand paint yarn—basically, using a Wilton Paste type food coloring and “breaking” the colors-- the two partial skeins of white left over from these socks are candidates for this—So I have second small incentive to finish up the gussets.

I actually plan to photograph and document my process/progress—by Monday at the latest, you should be able to see the results.

I still haven't blocked my leafy vest –and this winter is some what of a bust for warm woollies. Yesterday, it was near 50°--(circa 10°C) raining, but still very mild. Its supposed to get colder this weekend, but just to “normal”-40°/4.4°. Yes, cold weather persist till mid March, (when snow is not unknown, or even uncommon) but all in all, it's been a mild winter.

(I have plateaued and haven't lost any weight in days now. But, I haven't back slide, either—so its not all bad. I think I need to get more exercise. I keep saying that, but I haven't yet followed through!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So Yesterday

 Was yet another trip to the health clinic—a whole bunch of blood tests—Is my my blood to fatty (cholesterol/triglycerides) or too sweet? Does my liver keep it clean? Does my thyroid do it's job? And (not a blood test) but how about my kidneys? Vial after vial, collected and labeled. I won't know the results for a few weeks. While there, I also scheduled a mammogram--(already scheduled is a scoping of my nether end.) Every little part of me (including my psych) is being examined!  By and large, I am coming up OK with each test.  I haven't lost any weight this week--but also haven't backslide--not even half a pound.  I am sure I will see more progress any day now.  Not that progress so far has been anything to sneeze at!

Since last I posted, I got some knitting done—but likely its going to be frogged—I was testing a pattern I wrote—and in attempting to fix an error, made a new one. The result is:  1 the pattern doesn't work as written, and 2, I made the same mistake I made last time I was working on the design!--I am consistent in all the wrong places.

Sunday I fought with the black and white socks for a few rounds-- and realized, the only way I was going to get the knitting to work would be to knit the gussets one sock at time.

So here is sock one, with its back seam sewn up and looking sock like, the heel turned, and first few rounds of the instep gussets worked. The other sock has a turned heel, and stitches picked up, but no decreases yet--and  the back seam sewn up yet, either.

The instep gussets will whittle away, decrease by decrease, the white portion of the instep. When the gussets is done, there will still be a few white stitches remaining. But the end of the gusset will be the end of the intarsia in the round. The remaining portion of the sock foot will be solid black. And at that point, the socks will go back to being worked 2 on 2.

What is left of the white yarn (there will be a lot of it!) will be hand painted to some interesting color way—I might detail just how I do that. It won't be enough for a pair of socks—but paired with another solid color (for cuffs, heels and toes) there should be enough.

Yesterday afternoon, with Nancy, a new knitting friend, I went to the Smiley's store sale. She bought sale items, and mostly acrylic (she is knitting a baby blankets—and plans to knit a few more) and I indulged.
The internet sale (link above)  doesn't have the same (limited quantities) of super sale yarn, and it has a high minimum purchase- But as a LYS—Smiley's is the best.

You can see the shine on these lovely (but small—only 99 yards/90m)hands—single ply 50% silk, 50% merino—but you just have to guess at how soft and creamy they are! I might go back and buy a few more—300 yards are nice, but 400 or 500 would be even better for a lacy shawl, or a hooded cowl. At $3.99 they aren't cheap—but they are a real bargain!

And—would any LYS visit be complete with out buying some sock yarn? This is Filatura Lanarota Fashion Toes (aka Plymouth-Happy Feet) 90% merino, 10% nylon. I bought a ton of this sock yarn (20 skeins) of this 2 years ago—some got resold (at cost) to friends--(on sale it was $1.99 a a skein). I keep some for myself—13 skeins in all. 2 of each of 5 color ways, + an additional 3 for a lace scarf. Some of them have been knit up –2 skeins became one pair of secret socks, 3 skeins became my LeafyVines scarf.  Several other skeins have been balled up for knitting later this year.  When not on sale, this yarn (at Smiley's) is just $2.99--$6 worth is enough for a pair of socks. HOW could I pass it up?  Full price for this yarn would be $16 for enough for a pair of socks!.

I have a dark red colorway, and a lovely green color way, and 2 more skeins (for a pair of socks) in the same blue as the leafy vines scarf.--But I didn't have this lovely blue green color way.

I also bought a skein of Patons wool roving (for a hat) and 2 small skeins of some alpaca—in creamy white—I have some skeins for a previous sale—I don't know if they are going to be gloves or hat, or what—but I am even thinking a I could make a deluxe pair of bed socks—alpaca is so warm (and sometimes my toes are so cold!)--Last time they only had black and camel brown—and both will be improved by adding a bit of white trim.

Best of all, I had change! So I can go back later in the week and get another skein or 2 of the soft silk if I want--and still not spend all of my change!  For now, its staying creamy white. But silk and wool? I could end up with any color I want!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Found: Camera!

Naturally, it was the last place I looked--in a tote, on a hook, near the front door, exactly where the tote should be hung up! OK, so the tote was hidden by a jackets—Last weeks mild weather had me wearing a spring/fall jacket, not my winter one—and this week's cold snap, has a bunch of “layers” (various vest and light weight fleece jackets) out and handy.  After working on the computer, I neatened up the foyer and hung up/sorted through the stuff hanging on the hooks.  And there it was.

So here are the Black & White cookie socks, (Yes, they did get turned round !) with an open back seam that extends into the heel flap, but not into the sole (the turn, neither, too). You'll have to trust me on that—since while the flap is finished, there hasn't been a turning or any of the gusset (and sole) knit yet.

The intarsia (black & white motif) will continue through the gussets, (which will be instep gussets) and then will end. Intarsia in the round is just to much of a PITA to do for long, Besides, the sole of the sock will be black—I don't want even a looped intarsia seam on the sole of the foot.

The next time I get in a non knitting mood, the back seam will be sewn up, and the ends will be woven in--that way, when the knitting is done, most of the finishing will be too. 

And here is the leafy vest-- with its little cap sleeves—with  the fancy hooks and eyes sewn in place.

Yes, I went with the 5 leafy ones--I think the spacing –with 6 hooks and eyes--would have been better. But the leaf style is so much better than the other—and Style won out. It's not just the leaf that made the difference; it was the size—these little leaves are sized right for the narrow front band.

It still needs a good blocking--for shaping the leaves, and smoothing down the hem, and the front. 

PS—Re: Gayle's comment.  I have a fancy camera case, too. (I call it my over the top camera case)- I started with a ready made small felt bag, then replaced the lining,  and zipper (add two small pockets in the lining to hold a spare set of batteries) needle felted it, then over embroidered and beaded it...

Today, its going to be sorting and organizing laundry--for tomorrow.  While it seems like I just did laundry yesterday, its actually been 3 weeks, and the hamper is full (and then some)--One item in the hamper is my winter jacket.  I had laundry on my mind when I went to tidy up the foyer--a good thing,   it turned out! 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Leafy Sweater Vest—All Knit Up

Not done—because it still needs to be blocked, and it still needs hooks and eyes sewn on, but it now has small little cap sleeves.. (And I still have 2 full skeins of the grey left over—in a different dye lot—and 2 partial skeins in the original dye lot (and the 2 dye lots are very similar—even under my ott (type) light. SO, I could make separate sleeves (extra long wrist warmers) or a hat (I have a few grey hats, already...) or I could keep the grey and use it with other yarns/colors to do something else.(likely)

And also, finally done, is the last of adjustments/fixes to my computer. New speakers have been sitting around for almost a month(or is it more than a month?!) and now they are finally plugged in, and so is the  USB extension cord (from my monitor to the back of the computer) so now I have an easy to reach USB port—one at eye level vs. one that I have to crawl around on my hands and knees to use.  The ones on the front of the CPU are easier to access, but also below eye level. I don't often need an extra USB jack, but if I can have one where its handy--why not!

I have my meds, too. Tuesday's visit to the clinic was much more successful than Monday—shorter (in time), too. And I am 24 hours away from confirmation that I have lost yet another pound!--the scale at the clinic claims I have already lost it.. but... I am perfectly content with the medical record being out of sync with my record!

BUT I have misplaced my camera! That's partial why I got the computer stuff done—I was looking for the camera, and while I was doing that, I found a network cable I needed, and power supply and the extra long USB extension cord. So with everything at hand, I crawled under the desk to route all the wires (they aren't neatly bound up, but they are out of sight!)--the ones mentioned, and the new speaker wires, and a new mike, too.  So I got something done.

I last remember having the camera last week—I needed to take some photo's out side, and I put it into a tote bag along with some mail—The mail got mailed, and the tote bag? It's got to be someplace—But it's not any place I've looked so far!

The Black & White Cookie socks don't have a complete heel flap yet (4 more row) but now that the sweater vest is done, I'll work on the socks exclusively—for a few days—at least. (and then no doubt will start another project!)

Next week starts with yet another clinic appointment (scheduled blood work) and with a sale at Smiley's. Normally I try and resist going to a Smiley's sale—but I got a late Christmas present--(cash!) and I think a good percentage of it is going to turn into yarn.

So all is right with the world (or rather all will be right once I find my camera). I am knitting, and feeling good, and taking care of myself—I even got some sewing done.

Well, almost.. I got some cutting done—the actually sewing is still to come. Nothing fancy—just a throw pillow for a friend who is redecorating—and needs something special--though he doesn't know it.  

He might even get 2 throw pillows—if the mood strikes me. (He's just a friend—and wicked smart—but totally clueless about details like throw pillows!)

Monday, February 06, 2012

I Have Nothing Nice To Say.

My health continues to improve –in spurts—and sometimes, in spite of what purports to be health care services industries (where I am a clearly just a clog).

My anxiety level has been high (on a scale of 1 to 10, I have been starting the day with 11 and working up.) --The prolonged disaster of my current situations is now ceasing to be anxiety producing--it's has now become ire---One blog I read posted the idea that evil starts with thinking and treating people as things..  I am feeling thing-a-fied--and angry.

I have been doing some knitting--(no photos) and some reading, but most of my energy is directed at just maintaining self control. Tomorrow, I try again. (this will be my 5th try at what seems to be a rather simple task—getting a prescribe to needed medications, and having that prescription filled.(with out breaking the bank!) 

Then maybe I can go back to being a normal person—and I can can blog about normal things, like wool, and knitting; sweaters (not done yet) and socks (some work done, but not even at the half way point (heel done) yet), and other stuff.   

Friday, February 03, 2012

Dyeing Wool-- 101

(This post has NO images—but there are lots of links to images)

Yesterday's post generated some questions...
First, Yes, I did dye the yarn. I dye yarn all the time. I am not scientific about it.. I am artistic—I enjoy the process, and while the results are not always what I envisioned, I am rarely disappointed.

To start—some dying basics. To dye anything you need –dye (color) a fixative, and sometimes, a mordant.
Dye can be natural (boil up a pound or more of onion skins, or beets, or red cabbage, or walnut (black walnuts in there husks)or....
Or dyes can be chemical—Red dye 40 or other food safe chemicals are one choice, (these are sold commonly as food coloring) or professional dyes, many of which are toxic.

A few years ago, I found a supply-- at an odd lot store—a huge collection of regular food color kits (the little boxes of four bottles) and a few of the neon color ones—I bought them all! Some of the packages were damaged—I wouldn't use them for food—but they are perfect for dyeing.

I have also stocked up on egg dying kits after the Easter holiday, and I have once in a while used Kool Ade-- the little (sans sugar) envelopes—these come with citric or acidic acid built in. But they also impart a fruit smell-(that washes out eventually—but not fast enough for me!)
For the most part, I stick to food safe chemical dyes.

The fixative for dye varies—there are 2 major choices: for cottons and plant fibers, an alkaloid is needed—Most commonly—they are pretty strong ones--Lye is one common choice. Safer, but less effective, are salts like common salt, baking soda, or washing soda.

I don't do a lot of dyeing of plant material. Partly because of the chemicals, and partly because I don't use cotton as much for knitting.
Dyeing plant fiber is a whole different science than dyeing animal fibers. This tutorial is about dyeing animal fibers (mostly wool).

For animal fibers, an acid is need. And mild acids work fine. Most often I use vinegar (plain white vinegar) –about ¼ of cup of vinegar to a quart of water (sometimes less!) but you can also use acidic acid--(food grade acidic acid can be found with spices or condiments as “sour salt”)--These are perfectly safe to use in your kitchen, with out any special pots or utensils. After all they are all food safe!

Mordants are chemicals (various salts—but not common salt) that both change the color (making it deeper, or changing its properties) and they can increase the fixative power—making a dye more color fast--which is especial important for natural dyes.   I almost NEVER use mordants. Some are fairly safe, but many aren't. Some natural dyes need them, which is another reason I tend to use simple, ready made food coloring for my dye stuff.

I stick to simple vinegar and water, and food coloring. The kind of dying I do is more like coloring eggs than anything else! (You can use egg dyeing “tabs” for dying—but its harder to mix custom colors)

That said, Dyeing wool is easy. You can use food coloring (and vinegar for the acid). YOU can work with pots (enamaled) or glass that you use for food—since your dye and acid are food grade materials. But I don't—I always uses plastic bins (I use the ones from 3 lb packages of meat, or from 1 gal milk containers (cut off the top) as my cheap, and easy dye pots.

First -get the wool wet. (soak for at least 15 minutes in warm water.)
HOW?  Method A-soak wool in plain water; method B, soak  in water with a splash of vinegar)
Method A- will give a more even take up of color and create a near solid color.
Method B-will take up the color unevenly –making a semi solid—with very un-even color.
The results are similar to hand painted yarns, but with out the effort (and with out the precision!)

If you've used method A: remove the wool, add vinegar and food dye, stir well, return the wool to dye bath (this results in an almost solid, even color) Heat to set the color.
B: carefully pour in small amounts of dye (diluted with vinegar) into the dye pot—with the wool still in the pot. Do not stir! Just puddle the dye in.--You can stir lightly if you are using a single color, and want something close to all over color (see the green of the hyacinth socks). I sometimes use a drinking straw to pour the dye deep into the pot (and not just have it puddled on the surface.)

This method results in blotches of color. At places, the color is more intense, and in other places, less intense. If you uses more than 1 color, the colors can bleed--(that is blend together to create new colors). Move the dye pot slowly and carefully—the more you jiggle it, the more the puddles of dye will spread.

Heat and cool. (and repeat as needed)--I use my microwave. I cook for 5 minutes on high, let cool for 20 or 30 minutes, and then repeat, if needed—and sometimes 2 or 3 cycles are needed. Eventually all the dye will be absorbed by the wool, and the water will be clear!

I find this works better than stove pot cooking—and eliminates the temptation to stir (Stirring can cause the fibers to felt!)--It does require some patience--If you are working with children it can be difficult for them to wait 20 minutes (or an hour, or more!) to see the final results. (But I don't have children(at home) so its not an issue!)

You can start with method A (and make a base color) and then finish with method B and add other colors to the base. That's what I did with my most recent skein, the nectarine color way.

My nectarine yarn started with a base of apricot (neon colors green and pink)--and very little dye to create a light base color.
Then I added orange (plain red and yellow) and crimson (neon pink and a very small amount of red, and a single drop of blue) and red violet (neon pink and neon purple, and red and blue!) --I followed the 2 different “recipes” on the box for different purples, and then mixed them and added a bit more red.

A final note. My skeins need to be folded (or bunched) to fit in the dye pots. And HOW I fold them effects how the dye is positioned on the yarn.

A large skein can be folded in half, and half again(a book fold)--or in half and then in quarters--a sort of W shape—or the yarn can be folded into the pot in a shape like an letter I or like an H, or like an E, or just jumbled. Then when I pour in the dye “puddles” I can have one color at one end, another at the other end, and a third in the center. The more colors used at one time, and the way the yarns is folded in the dye pot controls how the dye is distributed, and makes a difference--And again, I don't have a scientific, precise methodology, but I just experiment.

As for colors—I sometimes (but rarely) use the colors straight from bottle. More often I mix custom colors. The color guide on the food coloring package helps--(there are on-line guides to using kool ade). I don't measure precisely (I am not doing a commercial production, I don't need to be able to get exactly the same color, over and over again. I limit my dyeing (for the most part) to one or two skeins at a time—100 gm of sock yarn, or the same quantity (or less!) for accents for color work, or a single skein of DK or worsted weight yarn, for a cowl or hat. I test the colors on a scrap of paper towel—they won't be exactly the same on the wool—but it's a way to get an idea of the shade before you pour. If you like the color, but it's too dark, use less dye for a lighter shade.

All the normal rules, for precise measuring, aren't needed for a one of kind skein.
The DISADVANTAGE to my method—you can't be sure of the out come.
The ADVANTAGE to my method—you can't be sure of the out come!

I have had wonderful successes--(and gotten just the colors I've wanted, in just the right ratios) and near successes, and failures. But my failures? Well, while they aren't what I envisioned or hoped for, but they are still almost always, wonderful—I haven't really ever had a real failure--something that I felt was unusable.

You can see the results some of my experiments on Ravelry—(links below) and on my blog. A few weeks ago, (and still not knit up) I dyed some yarn for a pair of “BlackEyed Susy” socks I want to knit. Mostly yellow, with some brown--the black eye--(which didn't come out as dark as I would have liked) and some crimson—and another skein in a dark green. (I used some black food coloring to deepen up the bright green that is the normal shade you get with food colors. I love the green, but the flower color (the mostly yellow skein-)- were not exactly the colors I hoped for—but not a real failure, by any measure—I think once knit up, in a stranded color work, they will be a perfect success, even with the too light shade of brown.

I also dyed some home spun a brightspring green, (a hat I think) and some Skinny Bugga a peacock blue—My daughters getting married this fall, and her color scheme is peacock—this is likely going to be a shawl for me. (For her? Well she claims she doesn't want a shawl—the wedding is in October, and will be, weather permitting, outside. I think a shawl is in order, but it's her wedding!)

The green of the Hyacinth socks were dyed method B –to create an very uneven semi solid.
The violet of the Twisted chain socks were also done method B (with 2 very similar shades of violet, not one—one was a bluer violet, one was a redder violet--(open the image to enlarge and see the shades clearly.) --a third shade of violet was created where the 2 colors bled together.

The Colorful Cowl? It's an example of a failure.. The colors are much more intense that I thought they would be, and the yellow came out so dark, it looks, for the most part, like orange!--But how could anyone call this color way a failure? Sure-- it's not what I hoped for—but I love it all the same.

Harlequin Spring—I made a big effort, and divided a partial skien into 3 parts, (without cutting, I just gathered up the strands) and dyed each part via method A—and it worked out perfectly!

In the middle image, on the extreme right, you can see that the first few stitches of the yellow section are actually green... (but if I didn't tell you, would you have noticed?) Even I am amazed at how well things worked out!--and I love the mardi gras/king colors for this spring hat.

My Sally Lunn hat also uses a semi solid (method B) dyed yarn—
 (2 packages of Kool Ade—I forget the colors/flavors—except one was grape (and I hated the smell of the yarn!)

Both of these hats are good examples of near solids--Click on the image to fully open (and enlarge) and you'll see the solids are not quite a solid as commercially dyed yarn—they have some variation—and a home dyed/hand painted look.

You don't have to start with plain white yarn either—Blue Leaf started out as a sock yarn I didn't like--(hot pink, red, blue, lime and white!) and over dyed a solid (method A) Blue—became a lovely subtle (vs garish) color way. And several partial skeins (in 2 shades of blue)--and noticeable different dye lots where over dyed for these socks-- a bunch of left overs and mis-matched yarns that became a pair of free (and beautiful!) socks.

As you see, this is something I have been doing on and off for years—Why don't you try it too?

Thursday, February 02, 2012


No knitting to report on—This winter is going to be a record breaker—for hardly being a winter at all.

Yesterday it was breezy, but so warm (60°/16°)it was more like late April than the beginning of February! I was out and about, doing nothing special—and not knitting. No knitting when I got home either. My socks, untouched, my sweater vest collection dust.

That will change today—I've decided on a plan for the sleeves—and I'll get it finished today.

Meanwhile—in reference to the title—Look at this!
Isn't it just as lovely? I have no idea of what I will wear with the socks I eventually make from this yarn, but OH, they will be lovely! My weird colors—work! A base of light apricot, the spot of deep reddish purple, rosy crimson, sunny yellow orange—I love how nature mashes together the most wonderful colors!

I am a firm believer in there is nothing new—we just re-create that which already exists—over and over again. For sure, this is not a creative color way, it is an imitative one—But that doesn't make it any less beautiful. I'll ball it up an then divide it, and re-ball it, latter today. I don't have any empty sock kit bag for it go in—January's socks are still not done—but I think this yarn will be for summer socks (not socks to wear in the summer, but socks to knit in the summer)--I'll enjoy sweet juicy nectarines, as I knit my nectarines color way socks.