Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Stage 2 complete! The dyeing went rather smoothly, all things considered.

Let's see... you saw the cashmere soaking, and the dyebath ready and waiting.

The cashmere weighed 58 g, and I wanted 4% dye = 232 mL dye solution. So far I've been dealing with 10 and 13 gram mini skeins, so this seemed like an awful lot of dye solution. But, well, can't argue with the math.

Or can you?

The red mix that I liked had 1 mL brown to 39 mL red, so 2.5% brown = 232 mL x .025 = 5.8 mL. No problem.

That leaves 232 mL - 5.8 mL = 276.2 mL red.

Um. Hello? Anyone notice that I, uh, didn't check my work? No wonder it seemed like an awful lot of dye solution, it was! Hehe. No wonder it took a while to exhaust all the dye. And it didn't entirely exhaust, either. It all makes sense now.

Anyhoo, flashback to last night. I'm thinking it's a lot but you can't argue with math.

I'm using a casserole dish, the deepest biggest non-melting item I have (that I'm willing to sacrifice). I want the yarn to be able to move about and not be constricted (yarn rights).

8 pm: The dyebath is ready to go, the electric roaster has a couple of inches of water and is preheated to 200 degrees. Deep breath, and in she goes!

KO Cashmere - immersion!

The dye immediately begins to soak into the yarn, but the yarn is a faint pink color. Into the roaster and upped the temp to 350.

8:30 pm: About half an hour later, I figure everything is nice and toasty. The yarn is still quite pink. Time to add half the vinegar (30 mL):

KO Cashmere - pre-vinegar

8:42 pm: Stirred and checked in on things. The yarn is starting to look red! The dyebath is still quite dark.

KO Cashmere - 10 mins later

8:56 pm: Time for the second half of the vinegar.

9:09 pm: Oooo, look:

KO Cashmere - 15 mins after that

I'm tempted to stop, but I figure, well, can't argue with math.

9:26 pm: Stirred. Dyebath almost exhausted. Hmm, this is taking a while...

9:38 pm: Stirred. Almost done!

KO Cashmere - 40 more mins

9:52 pm: Ding! Most of the dye has exhausted, but enough's enough. I let it sit for an hour and even more exhausts. The dyebath is a very faint pink. A very gentle wash and two rinses, with slight bleeding in each one. Which surprises me. I didn't have any bleeding before...

Squeezed, squished in a towel, snapped, hung to dry. And many fascinated adoring gazes before going to sleep.

8:15 am: A few minutes to admire and snap photos before work:

KO Cashmere - final results

The photo doesn't quite capture it, but the color is quite deep and oh so purrrty.

I was exceptionally gentle throughout to prevent felting and my efforts were rewarded. Happy dance!

6:30 pm: Write up blog post and realize you can't argue with math... but you can laugh at the person holding the calculator.

Hehe, yeah, busted. Who knew he read my blog? I thought he was a skimmer.

Gram's not doing so well. This week has been a rough one. It's getting tough, so tough.

A nice dose of color is just what we need:

Dyed Finn

That's the Finn I had dyed, last seen in piles of strips. This is about 4 oz, or equal in weight to the largest batch I have spun to date. 4 oz left, and I foresee it will go quickly. I love watching the colors. I'm a sucker for colors.

Arrrgh - almost done

Is it just me, or does three rows of skulls and crossbones begin to look menacing??

Arrrgh - almost done

Arrrgh could easily have been my Knitting Olympics project. It has been challenging and has pushed me in many ways. More on that another time.

Speaking of Knitting Olympics...

I wasn't altogether happy with the smaller skein of cashmere, it just didn't look good. The skein was very twisty, despite the relatively loose plying.

Then it hit me. Maybe it was under-plied. A skein will twist if under- or over-plied. To test, I took a small section, added more twist, and then let relax to see if it would twist upon itself. It didn't. A-ha!

I re-plied and am much happier. Here is the before shot again:

KO Cashmere - plied

And after:

KO Cashmere, re-plied

And tonight, a little math:

KO Cashmere - soaking

+

Dyebath

= ???

I plied the cashmere last night. Challenging.

It wasn't Andean plying as I had thought. I wound the singles onto a water bottle, transfered onto my wrist (making a large cashmere wristlet, decadent), and used the inside and outside ends for plying. The hardest part was getting the inner strand free, I don't usually have such a large wristlet. Does this method have a name?

I took it slow and easy, stopped often (in the beginning) to figure out what worked best. I didn't want to overply and make the resulting yarn too tough or wiry; that would negate the softness of the cashmere. I didn't want it too loose or it would look funny knit up. I wanted it juuuuust right.

KO Cashmere - plied
the morning the sun wouldn't come to me

KO Cashmere - plied
so I chased the sunlight

KO Cashmere - plied

I'm pretty happy with this hank. It's pretty darned close to balanced, too! The singles were surprisingly even, I really thought there would be more noticeable variations. Yay!

. . .

Sigh. There is a problem, though:

KO Cashmere - plied
mini mini hank

When I was winding the singles in preparation for plying, the thread broke. So I plied to the 2 pieces separately. Big mistake. The main hank is the later spinning and is fairly even. The mini mini hank is from the beginning, and man, holy thin thread. How the hell did I manage that?? Problem is, I didn't manage it for very long. Or, I didn't like it for very long.

There is a very noticeable weight difference between the 2 hanks. The mini mini seems more fingering to lace weight, while the larger seems more baby weight. In other words, they don't match. They don't match! Arrrgh.

Oops, wrong project.

There's a second problem. There aren't that many yards. I dunno, this one was foreseeable, I just didn't ... see it. The main hank is about 90 yards, and the mini mini about 45 yards. Not sure what to do.

I'm considering dyeing each a slightly different shade. Maybe the thinner one a slightly darker or brighter shade. And then finding a pattern, maybe feather and fan-ish, where I can alternate rows of the thicker with the thinner. What do you think? Any other ideas out there?

Speaking of ideas, thank you so much for your feedback on the color situation! I know I didn't give you much to work with there. I'm happy to say, the color situation is in good shape.

Here I am chasing sunlight again:

KO Search for Red

KO Search for Red
(I don't remember which is which in the above photo, hehe)

(I was a little late to work trying to get these photos this morning. Shhh. Don't tell Scott.)

Work is brightly lit. I brought in my skeins and discovered, to my surprise, that #1 is almost an exact match for the target red. Imagine that.

We're getting ready to move onto the spin-dye-knit-a-scarf stage. Stage 2, if you're keeping track. :)

Being short on time, and red being one of my favoritest colors, I decided to try for the rich red from my red color study. The base is a brown/grey yarn, mine is white. I solicited advice and suggestions and tried out 6 combos (6 jars, 6 combos; I can't make Scott eat salsa any faster).

I liked the darkest intensity, which was a 4% dye solution, so I kept that. This time I worked with 10g mini skeins (12 wraps, I'm catching on), so 40 mL of dye solution did the job (you can see the math in my previous post).

The mixes are:

  1. 1 mL brown, 39 mL cherry red
  2. 2 mL brown, 38 mL cherry red
  3. 1 mL black, 39 mL cherry red
  4. 2 mL black, 38 mL cherry red
  5. 5 mL silvery grey, 35 mL cherry red (because less grey did not seem to make a difference)
  6. 5 mL black, 35 mL cherry red

KO Search for Red

Woah, isn't #6 way black? Strong stuff.

And in the bath:

KO Search for Red

1, 2, 3 and 5 seem like possibilities. Hard to tell until they're dry.

And here's where it gets tough to get any feedback. Not much sun this morning. Not so great photos. But again, I ask you to stretch your imagination and work with me. The colors are somewhere between the wet and dry photos. :)

KO Search for Red

I included the "target" and "red" skeins for reference; red is cherry red on white, and target is cherry red on brown/grey.

What do you think? Be honest, it's okay, I won't bite. Here's another photo:

KO Search for Red

I'm thinking maybe #2, maybe #1. We can rule 5 and 6 out. 6 is too dark, 5 is too bright. And the other black mixes, 3 and 4, seem too muted, too dreary. Well, that's what black does, I guess. Tone things down. #2 is not quite there, though. Other suggestions I received were to add some olive, or a bit of green. Don't have either, but could mix green. But. That's more experimenting. And. Well. Don't wanna. Don't wanna!

Hahaha. So I might go with #2. Unless I look at it again in the sunlight and think, blech. You know?

Pixie said, "ITS A SKULLY HAT! Er pirates thingy, I AM KNITTING THAT!"

You're good.

It's We Call Them Pirates from Hello Yarn.

Did I mention how much trouble I have knitting for Scott? This hat is no exception. Within a few rows I exclaimed, "I hate this yarn!" It's Cascade Pima Tencel, and I don't know if it's the yarn or the yarn/needles combo, but it slows me down big time and makes my hands tired. Scott was pretty bummed to hear that. Don't worry, Scott, I'll keep on knitting! That's love. ;)

Last night I dyed some more, this time blues:

jars of dye

Before and after:

beginning end

Blue on white/natural:

Blue on white Blue on white

And this is where I say, "Sky Blue is a primary my ass." This is about as dark as it will get. It is sky blue. It's pretty. But a primary, I don't think so.

And finally, blue on brown/grey:

Blue on brown/grey Blue on brown/grey

The lighter values are pretty much lost on the brown/grey, but you can still see hints of it.

Towards the end of the night, I had a bit of a realization. After spinning the cashmere, I will still have to knit it. Hmmm. That will probably take me a few days. Hmmm. I need to get moving on this spin-dye-knit-a-scarf thing!

spin-dye-knit-a-scarf:

KO Cashmere

It takes a lot more concentration to spin this cashmere. It's fine, it's slippery, and spun so fine, it needs a good amount of twist. Tough to hold onto it without it getting away from me! This is all I could manage before my mind was pooped. Pooped, I say! Because it's only 2 oz I'm spinning it as fine as is comfortable for me, to maximize yardage. Since I have very little experience, uh, I mean, no experience spinning singles on the wheel, the plan is a 2-ply. When it's not overtwisted, the 2-ply is oh so soft. The fiber feels quite soft while I'm spinning, too.

My mind was pooped but I was still in the mood to work on something. Guess what this will become?

Guess what this is!

Last week my IK Hurt Book Sale books arrived and I'm quite happy with my selection: 

Spinning Designer Yarns is full of instructions on how to make all kinds of novelty yarns, from boucles to beaded and textured yarns.

In Sheep's Clothing has information on a variety of sheep, including photos of the wool, description of the sheep and fibers and primary uses. A good reference.

Hands on Spinning is full of instruction and photos on spindle and wheel spinning, and includes carding, plying and a few projects as well. Looks like a good starting point for a beginner.

Hands on Dyeing is the one I used to take this:

Yarn soaking
mini skeins of yarn in natural and brown/grey,
washed and soaking, each approximately 13g 

and turn it into this:

Red on brown/grey Red on white
mini skeins dyed with cherry red Jacquard dyes in different concentrations of dye

The left and right photos are the same concentrations, just different base yarn. Interesting, eh? The brown/grey gave a very cranberry/claret color which I dig. How can I reproduce that on natural or white yarn??

Here they are dry and in sunlight; the lighter colors are to the right:

Red on brown/grey Red on white

and laid flat; maybe you can see the color gradations better here:

Red on brown/grey Red on white

The colors are better than the photos, the richness of the deeper colors doesn't come through.

It may be obvious to you, but I learned that it doesn't matter how much liquid you put in, it's the amount of dye that determines how deep a shade you will get. For this experiment I emptied 6 salsa jars (will keep Scott busy for the week) and filled with 300cc water. I then added dye in the following percentages: .25%, .5%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%.

How does that work?

The dye solutions I mixed up before were 1% solutions: 20g dye to 2000mL water.

For a 13g skein, .25% dye = 13g x .0025 = .0325g dye. Kinda hard to measure, eh? But working with our dye solution, .0325g dye = 3.25mL dye solution. That is measurable.

Why 13g skeins?

Well, it was 15 wraps on my swift. I was shooting for 10g. Oh well.

I filled my electric roaster with hot water, added the jars of water + measured dye solution + yarn, and heated, stirring occasionally. The .25% and .5% jars started to exhaust even before I added acid.

Once it was heated up I pulled the skeins out (with chopsticks; that's how everyone dyes, right?) and poured in 10mL of vinegar. Or was it 15? Anyway, stirred that a lot in the first few minutes to make sure it distributed evenly. I continued cooking for the rest of the hour, stirring occastionally, and watched the progress.

In the end, the 3% and 4% jars did not completely exhaust, there was still a hint of pink in the water; but the rest did. They say you should leave the yarn overnight so the dyes get fully absorbed and all that, but I pulled out the yarn once it was a bit cooled and transferred to similar temp water and reused the jars for the next batch.

Things I learned:

  • lighter shades are tougher to get uniform, probably because the dye exhausts so quickly. Less vinegar and more (gentle) stirring would probably help.
  • dyeing is fun, though high school chemistry was not so much fun
  • I feel pretty confident I can reproduce the results for more yarn by weighing and measuring yarn and dyes
  • I still have a lot to learn!

The next couple of weeks will probably be more color studies, first continuing single colors on the same two yarn shades, and then moving to mixing 2 colors. I plan to make me a color wheel so I know what the dyes will do alone and together, and so I can figure out how to get different intensities. There will likely be a session involving adding black, too.

I keep saying this and some of you may not believe me, but I'm color illiterate. I don't know no color theory and work on gut reaction. When I'm trying to use more than one color yarn, I usually hold it up against any and every yarn I have and go by my gut reaction -- ick, or hmm, or coooool. Occasionally, I think about all this dyeing business and think, what the hell are you thinking? You, dyeing??? Hahahahahaha, good one. But mostly I'm excited about experimenting and playing. Once I've done some thought out experimenting, I plan to go back to being more whimsical and adventurous about the process.

Thanks for your kind words about my Obaachan, they are much appreciated.

Thanks also for your comments on the Stained Glass yarn; once it's dry I'll try out a swatch and figure out what it wants to be.

To answer a few questions:

Pumpkinmama asked, what was your technique for re-plying? Unply and do again, or send through as two ply just putting more twist in?
I think it was more accurate to call it "ply it some more" vs "re-ply". Basically I ran it through again and gave it more twist. Worked like a charm.

Leisel asked, I like the yarn you're using for your spiral scarf... what is it?
The yarn is from Danette Taylor, it's a superwash merino in Bramble Rose, but feels like a different yarn than her usual, maybe Louet Gems. This was a particularly deep red shade of Bramble Rose, too. Love it.

Linda asked, Oooh, are those Elfa?
You betcha, Elfa shelves from The Container Store, purchased during their annual 30% sale. I'm already planning next year's purchase!

Dyeing Finn

Last week I put the new Jacquard Acid Dyes to the test. The cheap tools came in handy: drop cloth to protect the floor, turkey baster to transfer dye solution to the squeeze bottles:

Very little spillage, though you get what you pay for; $1.69 turkey basters leak somewhat so timing was essential.

Did I mention I bought an electric roaster that same day? Hmm, no? Kohl's was having a sale, it was almost half off... yeah, I've been spending way too much lately. The fun will stop soon...

I soaked two 4 oz portions of Finn roving with a few drops of dish detergent for about an hour, then layered haphazardly into the roaster. Following a combo of instructions from Hello Yarn and Fibernation, I squirted stripes of red, yellow and sky blue (primary my ass), and then added some black over top to darken the lot. I was skeptical, but I figured I'd try the instructions out first and bitch and moan later. ;)

Finn in the roaster

I then added water and vinegar (probably too much), being careful to pour along the walls (roaster, not kitchen) and not on the fiber. Then I added some more water and vinegar because it seemed the water should cover the fiber. It almost did...

3 hours at 180 degrees and a movie to distract me. No peeking! Kinda smelly.

Turned it off and let it cool overnight. In the morning:

Finn in the roaster: cooked

The whitish spots are water droplets on fiber. All morning at work all I could think about was seeing how the fiber turned out! Too bad I didn't get up early enough to rinse and hang.

Here's how it turned out:

Finn, rinsed and dried

So yeah, not at all what I expected. Kinda cool and interesting, though.

Lessons learned:

  • The black did not blend. Or it sort of did. I think I didn't have enough water for the black to migrate around. The darkest areas were along the walls (roaster, not kitchen).
  • The blue is too light. Primary, my ass. It throws off the other blended values and is kinda weird, just doesn't belong in this batch. Although, who knows what it will look like spun up? It could end up my favorite part.
  • I needed more dye. The top layer came out pretty good, but the bottom layer did not get as much color. No wonder the dye exhausted (well, coulda been all that vinegar, too).
  • Love the cherry red.

Madness. I've been checking 6 times a day for the last few days (incredible restraint!), and there has been no change! My wheel is somewhere between here and Seattle:

Wheel progress

I imagine it wending it's way here, over hill, over dale, through bush, through briar (Shakespeare, just the last bit; probably remembered it wrong). I'd love to be more specific about the landscape in these visions: corn fields? meadows? mountains? It's due to arrive Monday. I've managed to refrain from believing it might be here sooner. Good thing, I would have been sorely disappointed. 2 more days I can wait. It could be late, though... but I won't think about that today.

I've had plenty to distract me. The Jacquard Acid Dyes I ordered from Dharma Trading arrived! I ordered the primaries and black, though just what are considered primaries is a subject worthy of debate.

Squatting in the kitchen, with mask, fan and latex gloves on, newspapers laid out, hair tied, scale at the ready, heated distilled water (we're on well water here and it's a bit reddish; I'm guessing the prepared dyes will go bad sitting with whatever is in our water), and a few other items, I measured out 1% solutions of each:

Mixed Jacquard Dyes

It was a bit stressful, what with not really knowing what I was doing, worrying about the dyes floating about, not wanting to knock a jug over and inadvertently dyeing the kitchen... I'm clumsy, after all. But all worked out well. Until I tried to fill the smaller containers:

Red dye

Half again of the above ended up on the newspaper. A mess! The lip of the larger container is not conducive to pouring; we're actively pursuing solutions chez 2LN.

Some supplies I picked up last night might help:

Dyeing Supplies

Well, maybe just the funnel... Except for the turkey basters, all at the Dollar Store! Drop cloth, plastic storage containers, a measuring cup, latex gloves and a large funnel set, and the plastic bowl. A buck per! And the turkey basters were only $1.76 at Shaw's. The black gloves cost much more than a buck, they were bought a year ago.

In all the only discoloration of floor or body occurred:

Dyeing - blue thumb

due to the blue Sharpie I used for marking the containers.

Knitting too

Creamsicle T is still in pieces:

Creamsicle T - in pieces

I haven't been in a blocking mood while fighting the cold/flu. And actually, I'm thinking of seaming and then wet blocking, since I want to give it a quick wash before wearing. I usually block then seam; at last check (when I started the project) I was getting gauge so it's just to get the rolly polliness ousted. If the seaming is too much of a pain, especially at the shoulders, then I'll have to block.

Since I couldn't pour out any more dyestuff, I worked on Gram's Socks. At last check in (11/21), I was a few inches past the heel (ie, almost done), but had to rip back because it didn't fit (last sock photo). It fit fine up to the mid-foot; from there, her foot gets wider, which is something I couldn't have foreseen.

I am horrible at dealing with complete setbacks like that. So the sock languished and I focused on holiday knits.

Well, I've had just over 2 months to brood and mope and brainstorm. Last night I finally ripped back to the last set of toe increases, added one more set of increases, knit 5 rows plain, and then increased 1 stitch every 4 for 4x1 ribbing. I figure ribbing will be most forgiving, and adding the extra stitches will hardly affect the finished silhouette, while adding plenty of room to stretch. I imagine that even with her currently swollen feet, she would be able to fit into these!

Gram's Socks - restarted foot

The added bonus is the knitting is more interesting; every other needle I have something to do! Plain socks at this gauge is not for me.

dumbest dog you'll ever see

I best post before the beer goes too far to my head.

Dyeing yarn with food coloring

As I mentioned yesterday, my niece and I had fun dyeing yarn with food coloring. We mixed about 15-20 drops per 50 mL, 3 colors each. Mine were red, yellow and blue with a bit of green; hers were purple, green with a bit of blue, and green made mixing blue and yellow. We skeined 4 sample sizes to get the hang of it, with the intention of dyeing a much larger skein for a small scarf; alas, the best laid plans...

Fool that I was, I didn't take pictures of us dyeing, just a few here and there of the yarns. We each did 2 mini skeins, and the first was a joint effort:

Food coloring dyed wool

Solid sections of red first, drops of yellow between, and blue over the yellow. I added too much yellow so it's mostly greens and yellow greens; but the variations are cool.

Food coloring dyed wool

This is one of her creations. She used lots of her greens and added in reds and just kept adding more drops of this and that, this and that. Square that I am, I tried to warn her that the colors would bleed, that she was using too much dye, without actually saying, "stop, you're using too much dye". Don't want to spoil the fun, after all. In the end, I was right, the colors did bleed; but my sister and I both really liked the effect, while my niece was "eh" about it. I love how adventurous kids are.

Here's her second mini skein, solid bands of red, green and yellow:

Food coloring dyed wool

And the mini skeins ready to be nuked:

Food coloring dyed wool

Their nuke was much more powerful than ours, ended up doing 1:45 on, 2 min off, 1:45 on, 2 min off, 1:45 on, then cool and rinse. Results:

Food coloring dyed wool
First skein, reds with yellow dots and blue over top

Food coloring dyed wool
Her skein, lots of reds and greens that blended into very earthy hues

Food coloring dyed wool
My second attempt, sections of red, blue and yellow, allowing room for bleeding and overlaying red over the blue (so methodical)

Food coloring dyed wool
Her second attempt, solid reds, greens and yellows

I knit up the first mini skein, since it was her favorite, into a little belt:

Belt tie

Belt tie Belt tie

and took it with me to her birthday lunch. Just traveling knits and purls.

Off to get more beer! Yay, weekend! (spoken like a true working stiff)

I just got home from a long day, bombarded by Microsoft and vendor marketing messages, surrounded by a throng of programmers, hoping in vain for free prizes, trying not to ingest too much sugar or caffeine while battling the drowse-inducing dim lighting and technical presentations. Yes, I attended Microsoft's Launch of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, and, excuse my English, it was a long ass day. I went for my free copies (yay!) and info on what's new for web developers (that happened at 3:30 pm; keynote began at 9). My computer needs a rebuilding and new software is a good excuse for getting to it. Lots of knitting and spinning will accompany hours of "Click next to continue".

I bring this up because my brain is mush; I hope this post makes sense.

The dye fest

When I say "dye fest", realize it's all relative. I dyed 4 oz of fiber. Not much for some (most?), but 4 batches and a full night for me. I used those $2 packs of 4 bottle food coloring, plastic wrap and the trusty nuker. I couldn't find easy google guidance on mixing or amounts, so I tried some of the recipes on the back of the box, winged some, and basically used a ratio of 2 tsp of hot water with ~5 drops of dye.

Fiber: first 2 are 1 oz each of Finn; last 2 are 1 oz each of merino. Soaked for an hour or two in water with a glug of vinegar. Squeezed out the excess water before dyeing, but they were still pretty wet.

My first batch: red, "orange" and yellow (forgot to photograph before rolling). I used 2 tsp of each color, which was not nearly enough (it's easier to see in the later photos).

Dyeing fiber - wrapped Dyeing fiber - rolled

Batch 2: Greens and blues, 3 colors. Doubled my amounts, 4 tsp of each, but didn't use all of it.

Dyeing fiber - colored

Wrap and roll, baby.

Dyeing fiber - ready to nuke

While it was nuking (on for 2 mins, off for 2, repeat x 4), started batch 3. "Purple" and the leftovers of the previous batch:

Dyeing fiber - colored

And batch 4: whatever was left over. Nuked batch 3 and 4 for 3 sets of on/off instead of 4; the water looked pretty clear.

Dyeing fiber - colored

Here they are cooling. See the arrow? There was a small tear in the plastic and some of the red got in and made purple. :)

Dyeing fiber - post nuking Dyeing fiber - post nuking

Once (mostly) cool (I'm impatient!) I rinsed in similar temp water; the water was quite clear. Used a towel to remove excess water. Hung on a hangar to dry.

Dyeing fiber - rinsed

Next morning:

Dyeing fiber - dried

There are more patches of white on the reds and greens than expected. Also, though it may not show in the photos so well, the colors are more muted when they're cooked and dry. While they're wet and cooking, they look much more vibrant. Next time I'll use much more solution, though I think the ratio of water to dye is fine. Also, the purple wasn't very purple, more magenta, I think; and the "orange" could be less red. Obviously, need to tinker with mix ratios.

Still, I really like the reds and greens. I stripped and pre-drafted the reds this morning and it looks so purty. And the range of colors is much greater than with Kool Aid (can only get a few colors here). It was fun to mix and play. And knowing it was food-safe made it less stressful. I'm gonna get some acid dyes soon, though. I want more control over colors and saturation. I'm hooked!

PS I lurv my new spindle!

Started a new scarf yesterday (what? why ya lookin' at me like that?):

Fluffy Black Thing

It's a thank you gift that I need to finish soon.

Guys are tough to knit for, especially when it's supposed to be a surprise and you don't know them that well. Of course, asking Scott for help doesn't make it any better, his "acceptable color" palette is limited so most yarn suggestions were nixed immediately. Black is safe. Isn't it? Not fun to knit with, especially with 3 strands of microscopic boucle. It's not like I need to see the pattern as I work. But it's safe, right? Right?

In more colorful news, I Kool Aid dyed another ounce of merino:

Dyeing Fiber

Yup, that's more of the "dot" effect I was going for the first time before I got carried away watching the fiber absorb the dye. Great red, eh? Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry; looks blood red mixed up so I had a good feeling about the red it would produce. Wanted to add another color in but don't like any of the colors I have. Allison used Crystal Lite to dye her son's hat yarn, so I'll have to branch out. Who knows, I may end up getting (gasp) non-drink mix dyes before long.

The results (from my first dyeing experience) are in! Here is the dried dyed top (or is it dyed dried top?):

Dyeing Fiber - finished

I had been sooo patient letting it dry that I couldn't wait to spin it up (click to see the larger version, looks better):

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

Here it is on my water bottle, ready for plying (ignore the in-need-of-manicure nail):

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

And my first ever by-my-hand dyed 2-ply yarn:

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

I'm so thrilled! It came out better than I expected. The red was actually very pink, and there was much blending of blue and pink, which created a vague purple. There is more blue than pink overall, though I used more pink Kool Aid. I liked the areas with bits of white peeking out so I will play with that effect more in the future. Not what I expected, but pretty cool. It's only 1 oz, so not enough for anything, really. But a good experiment.

I blended info from The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook (love this book now that I spin), and the Knitty article on Kool Aid dyeing.

Other notes: My twist when spinning was pretty uneven. I wasn't paying much attention to twist, just spun as fast and evenly (thickness) as I could to see how it would look.

Also, the merino is quite soft; my first time spinning with merino. I see more merino in my future.

Oh yeah, yesterday marked month 1 of my spinning adventures.

In knitting news...

In my attempts to whittle my overextended WIP list, I picked up this hat:

Manos Pompom Hat

Can you believe it, it only needed a tassel and a couple of ends woven in. I didn't want the pouffy pompom, but I didn't know how to get what I wanted. I couldn't even think of the word "tassel" yesterday when I was searching the Internet for photos.

The hat is knit with Manos and I winged the pattern. I didn't even take notes; I think I made it in '04. It was my first winged hat, so it came out too big for me (forgot that it would stretch). Fits my sister, though, lucky her!

The Kool Aid dyed fiber looked so much better revived by a gentle Eucalan wash. Spurred on by the possibilities, I prepared some more Kool Aid which I bought today.

I was hoping for a nice red, green, purple and yellow. I started with the first three, since I already had a yellow prepared. I added the Kool Aid to some plastic containers. But... the crystals didn't look right, the red didn't look red, the purple didn't look purple, and the green was all sorts of colors... I thought, what do I know about Kool Aid? I added some water to each and was stunned. The green was actually green, pretty much the exact shade I wanted. But the red was blue, and the purple was red.

I checked the packages. Go ahead, you'll want to click for the larger version. Read the fine print.

Kool Aid tricks

The names should have given it away. Changin' Cherry? Grape Illusion? And did you see the Lemon Ice that I didn't prepare? "Snowflake white powder, Polar White Drink". Yeah. A dyers nightmare! Good for the Emperor, not good for me.

And I thought I was doing well not buying the one that said "Invisible" on it.

I've been wanting to try out Kool Aid dyeing for a while now. Finally gave it a go!

This is a soft merino roving/top, about 1 oz. See how soft and fluffy? (You can click on the photos to see more detail.)

Dyeing fiber - merino

I added enough water to fully cover and let soak for at least an hour while we prepared and ate dinner. It felt weird squishing it, not at all as I expected. Like there was a sheath around it.

Dyeing fiber - soaking

When I was ready to dye, I poured out the excess water and placed the fiber on a garbage bag.

I had pre-mixed a few Kool Aid packets in small jars, each with 2 tablespoons of water. The blue is Blue Moon Berry. The red is Solar Strawberry StarFruit and Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade (they looked pretty close so I used them more or less together). I used a small child's medicine dosing syringe and went at it. Probably used too much for what I was trying to do, I was actually hoping for a more dot-like effect, but got carried away.

Dyeing fiber - with dye

Yep, Kool Aid does dye.

Dyeing fiber - dyed fingers

I zapped in the microwave for 2 minutes x 3. Between each zapping I took a paper towel and dabbed to see if the dyes came off.

Dyeing fiber - cooked

It looks so... mangy. I imagine sheep do when they're soaked to the bone. Dogs do...

Now that it's done, I'm guessing the colors will bleed while I'm spinning and end up a murky brown. Maybe more blocks of color would work better. Or sticking with the dots, smaller and more separated. Well, we'll see. It'll be an adventure!

It's cooling; it's hard to be patient, I want to do something with it!

Seaweed Love blocking

Seaweed Love - blocking

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