Posts Tagged ‘dyeing’

The Fastest Pair Of Socks…EVER!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Welcome to 2013!!


Owen, my brother and sister in law’s cat, ringing in the new year in style!

Some projects seem to just fly off the needles, as if the yarn has been sitting and waiting to be turned into something useful.  This pair of socks that I’ve just finished is one such project.  I started the first sock 2 days ago while waiting for my freshly dyed fleece to dry.  Craving the variagation and uniqueness of handspun yarn, I knitted up some of my stash handspun with Kroy yarn.  I was feeling rather smart when I divided up the handspun into two equal portions before I started.  It worked out really well!  I really like how the stripes break up the handspun’s long and unpredictable colour changes.  The blue also join the pair nicely together by virtue of the contrast socksFor me, socks, and particularly striped socks hold a particular memory for when and where they were knit.  I will be able to recall with each change of colour what was going on at the time, who I was with, and those memories stay lovingly locked away in those stitches.

These particular socks have wrapped up the last moments of 2012, and the first of 2013.  They knit together moments spent with friends and family; moments spent listening, and helping, celebrating and being together.  These moments of connection will be cherished as I wear these cheery socks through the cold winter days.

new sock

Here’s my recipe (as much for my own reference as for anyone else)

These are toe up socks, Toe: I started with a figure of 8 cast on 20 stitches in blue, increase on alternating rows to 60 sts.

Foot: 7 rows handspun, 4 rows blue.  I did not do any heel gusset increases.

My feet are pretty big, so I worked 6 stripes of handspun before the heel.

Heel Placement: knit 2 rows of blue (of the 4 rows expected), knit 30 sts in waste yarn for an afterthought heel, knit remaining 2 rows of blue.

Leg: I continued the striped pattern until my handspun ran out, the socks are a bit shorter than I’d like, but that’s ok.  I worked 2.5 inches of K2P2 ribbing and cast off loosely.

Afterthought Heel: Carefully take out the waste yarn, keeping the 60 sts on 3 needles.  Knit a toe (decrease 4 sts every 2 rounds to a total of 20 sts, graft with kitchener st)


Midnight Adventures

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

So….I was looking at some interesting blogs to get inspiration for some spinning and knitting to do now that the Christmas gifts are all done.  Of course, inspiration hits close to midnight, and next thing I know I’m experimenting!  This is my first try dyeing with Wilton food dyes.  I got lots of helpful advice from this site.fleeceIt turns out that blue is a bit of a tricky colour, so I added some yellow to make green, which seems to be pretty potent!  The big trick is to add acid to the water (I used vinegar).  I don’t know how much I used, but I think it’s enough, since the colour stuck to the fleece! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also read that the temperature of the dye pot is important.  I used my candy thermometer to make sure that the temp got up to 180 F.  This yarn was once dyed (rather unsuccessfully) using black beans.  I’ve re-dyed it with a LOT of food colouring, making it a combination of reds and oranges. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI rinsed everything and now it is drying in my bathtub.  I’m looking forward to making some interesting things out of this!

FO: Mittens for Evan

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

One month ago today….

I was on vacation, meeting alpaca.

and dyeing roving on the fire.

Today I’d like to present to you the result of all that spinning

I have completed a pair of mittens for Evan (my traveling buddy) to commemorate our adventure, and remind him of his introduction into the crazy world of fiber arts.  (He spun the white fleece on a drop spindle at our campsite)

The mittens have 2010 on the cuff (palm side) and on the back of the wrist they have alpacas!

All of the black stranded colourwork is done with alpaca that I bought on our trip.  This means that the inside of the cuff is extremely soft and fluffy.

I like how all of the colours stripe and blend together.  The mittens don’t match perfectly, but I think that adds to the charm.  They are one of a kind, and will be making their way to Providence this fall for his birthday!

All That Roving…

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Evan and I spun up about 30 grams of two ply white yarn while we traveled across various Massachusetts campgrounds.  When I came home, I enjoyed some quality time with my spinning wheel as it was too hot to do much else!

spinning by candlelight

This roving (from Island Alpaca on Martha’s Vineyard) spun up very nicely.  The singles are smooth and drafting was so easy.  The green roving spun up to be rather vibrant…

…and the multicoloured roving had a blend from pink to blue to brown.  I’m always intrigued to see what dyed roving will look like on the wheel.  Here’s the before picture:

Here’s the after picture:

I split the entire roving down the middle after it was dyed, and spun each half in sequence to make sure that the colours would be relatively consistent across the entire bobbin.  I want to make mittens with this yarn, and sometimes when you spin without the final project in mind, you can end up with a very fraternal pair!

To tone down the green, I decided to ply these two bobbins together to make a brown/green tough colour.

The result was this skein of variegated green two ply yarn.  It’s a light DK weight, ready to be knit into mittens for Evan.Hopefully the fun memories of our alpaca farm visit, and cooking up this tough colour over the campfire will keep his hands warm all winter long.

Campfire Dyeing

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

After our visit to Island Alpaca, Evan and I returned to our campsite, got groceries (which included vinegar and food colouring) and cooked dinner while we dyed most of the white wool roving that we bought.  We kept some of it white for a spinning lesson, and dyed two different batches (using up all of our cooking pots).

We got all our materials ready, and then wet the wool with water, then added some vinegar.  The vinegar is acidic, and wool needs to be in an acidic condition to accept the colour of the dye.  You could use kool-aid instead, since it is already acidic, but Evan decided that he wanted to make tough colours, so pink, purple, orange and baby blue wouldn’t cut it.

We transferred the wool to our cooking pot (it’s ok to do this since we are just using vinegar and food dye). We added lots of food colouring to be sure we would get a deep colour.

yellow + blue = green

Our other dye pot was more of a mix of all the colours.

We had to be sure that the water didn’t boil.  We didn’t want any turbulence in the pot which might encourage felting.  This is harder to control when you are dyeing on the campfire–pretty easy to control on the stove, or in the microwave.

As the mixture cooks, all the colour gets soaked into the wool and the water will eventually appear clear.  I wasn’t sure how this pot would end up.  Right now it looked kinda like a brown mess.

multitasking is a great thing.  We cooked our meal while we cooked our wool.  Tinfoil package dinners or hotdogs on a stick are good menu ideas when all your cooking pots are occupied.

The mixture of colours ended up looking quite interesting.  We put it on the fence post to dry overnight.

After our scrumptious dinner, I got out my drop spindle to spin up some of the fiber that we had left dry and white.

Evan learned to spin by candle light.   He did a really good job!  We took turns, and got quite a lot done that evening.

Stay tuned to see what all that lovely roving has turned into….

Happy Victoria Day!

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The wonderful thing about long weekends is how long they are, and how wonderful they are when the weather is warm, and there’s a relaxing place to be.  My family gathered at our cottage to swim and enjoy nature, good food and great company.  I had a chance to wander along the lane to see what’s growing.

Even dandelions look more spectacular on a long weekend in the sunshine.

My socks are steadily growing, and I took time between flower picking and going for a very chilly swim to knit lots more.

These socks are my new favourites.  I like how they match.  I like how the stripes are not all the same size.  I like how the wool was dyed with natural things.  I like how nobody else in the world will ever have socks that are just like this.  I like how I finished them and had only one meter of wool left over.  I like how they fit me perfectly, how they stay up thanks to the calf shaping (I increased 2 stitches at the back of the sock every 6 rows until the ribbing).  I like how this picture makes me look like the wicked witch of the west–I feel like there should be a house dropped on me!

I like how as soon as I sat down on the lawn to photograph the finished version, I found several four-leaf clovers.

Is there a rule about wearing wool socks after Victoria day?  If there is, I think I might have to break it.

Journey of a Travelling Sock

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Today was a long and wonderful day.  It started off bright and early with a bus ride to Montreal (very productive for knitting!), an adventure through the Biodome where we explored several different artificial biomes.

There were monkeys and macaws and otters and lots of fish and frogs and starfish…

…and penguins…

…and puffins…

…and so much more that were hiding–I never did see the 3 sloths that were apparently up in the vegetation.

In the gift shop I found lots of cute things, including these knitted beauties!  Can you imagine that there are people in Kenya knitting life size penguins?

It seems a bit strange to me, but I was impressed by the “made from scratch” aspect–hand spun, hand dyed, hand knit…right up my alley!

After the biodome and a quick lunch downtown we headed to the Cirque Du Soleil tent at the old port.  I had walked past this site once before, never thinking that I’d have the chance to see a show.  I’m so glad that I took the opportunity to go today!

I am not able to sum up in words what I saw–and photography wasn’t allowed.  There were  feats of strength and balance, daring acts on a trapeze, incredible synchronized performances of unicyclists who kicked metal bowls onto their heads and the heads of other unicyclists–you have to see it to believe it.  There was a hoop dancer, and a rollerskating duo, and a couple of clowns who made several appearances and were very funny!  There were people in monkey suits that you’d swear were ACTUALLY monkeys, and guys doing trampoline stunts on a flexible balance beam.

The costumes, were elaborate and beautiful.  The music was rhythmic and blended so well with the action–at one point scientists in lab coats were playing percussion on giant test tubes, and playing small test tubes like panpipes.

I strongly recommend going to see a show if you ever have the opportunity.

Of course, I took the opportunity to finish my my sock during intermission.  I will always remember that this was my Cirque Du Soleil sock.

People laughed a lot when I was taking these pictures–most of my family and friends know that I knit a lot, and take pictures and post them up here, but to strangers in Montreal I must have been quite a sight.  Some stopped to talk to me, but others giggled and walked right on by.

Trying on my finished sock!  Very excited that it fits and it stays up thanks to calf shaping (increasing 2 stitches every 6 or 7 rows up the back of the leg).  I must get started on the second sock because I want to be able to wear them before it gets too warm for wool.

Two Great Escapes

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I’m happy to announce that the pigeons have made their grand escape from the flower pot!  While making dinner, I heard cooing, peeping and flapping noises from outside.  I saw the parent encouraging Bernie to flap.  It was funny to watch.  Bernie sat there flapping away without lifting himself off of the bench.  It must take several workouts to develop strong wing muscles.

Bernie and Bernice are on the loose

I quietly snuck out onto the balcony to watch their progress–the parents seem quite scared of me and took off immediately, but the little ones hopped onto my shelves and into my dishpans of dirt (that will eventually grow things that are greener than pigeons!)

It’s Tuesday today, and that means cheap movie tickets…so I planned a great escape of my own!  I packed up my knitting and headed to watch “A Shine Of Rainbows” at the Screening Room.  It is an Irish movie which is charming and a bit sad, as most Irish movies are.

before the movie

Last night I had already turned the heel on the socks so during the movie it was smooth sailing…

after the movie

I’m wondering if there is a better heel construction for self striping wool.  I really like the solid construction of the heel flap and reinforced heel, but it doesn’t keep the matching stripe pattern so well.  Short row heels would probably maintain the pattern better.

What’s your favourite heel construction?

Symmetrical Stripes

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

A cold and blustery day had me inside under the covers knitting to warm up from time to time.

I am enjoying these stripes so much!!!

I like that they are symmetrical.  This comes from dyeing the very large skein from the warping board in segments from end to end like the skein is a long rectangle.

The resulting stripes are as follows:

Blue, green, white, orange, brown, white, gold, white, brown, orange, white, green, blue

To make a non symmetrical, but repeated pattern you need to take the large skein, and take meter-long segments around the circle and dye them in order in the round.

The resulting stripes would be as follows:

Blue, green, white, orange, brown, white, gold, blue, green, white, orange, brown, white, gold.

It’s always a curious thing how these stripes will work out at the heel…can’t wait to see!

Sock In Progress

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Have you noticed that when it gets cold, you start to knit more?  Maybe it is just a problem for me, but as soon as the forecast mentioned a chance of snow, and the sky clouded over and the cold rain began to fall and the wind began to howl, I couldn’t wait for my freshly dyed wool to be completely dry.  It is mostly dry, and that seemed to be good enough for now.

wool dyed with turmeric, onion skins (partially overdyed with beans), black bean dye, and bean dye dipped in ammonia

I wound it up into a ball….

….and promptly cast on for a new pair of wool socks.

the colours look a little different in real life.

The colours are pretty exciting, and I think I might just turn on a movie and knit late into the night.  I’m sure by the time I have them knit, it will be sandals and shorts weather once more.