October 27, 2008

Dyeing to Tell

Here is the saga of my latest dyeing adventure. I painted rovings! Starting with superwash rovings is supposed to insure that I don't felt the roving before I get a chance to spin it. To the right I am prepping the fibers, spreading them out so there are no thick spots to inhibit even dye uptake. The rovings are all wet from a long soak in warm water with synthropol. I am using Jacquard acid dyes. The saffron (pictured) & sky blue rovings are mill ends from The Shed.

Starting with a colored fiber means I am over-dying and the original color will tint every color I paint onto the fiber. With that in mind, I chose Fire Red, a dark orange mix, a light orange mix and pure Sky blue for the saffron rovings. I was hoping that the red would be strong enough to completely overpower the yellow fiber, and it did. And the Sky Blue would tint into a bright green which it also did. The colors interacted with the saffron pretty close to what I expected. What I did not expect was how much the dyes would wick down the fiber. My stripes of color almost all turned out too close together and I lost much of my fabulous green to the red leaking over it and turning it purple. Not really what I wanted. You can see from the upclose picture of the roving that the stripes were relatively separate when I applied them. However, as they soaked in and then got steamed, they spread out quite a bit. To the left is the 4, 1oz strips of saffron just after painting. To the right is the close up of the stripes. Can you believe that most of those narrow, dark stripes that look green are actually pure blue and got covered up by the red stripes to either side? Cool.

After painting the rovings on both sides I rolled them up into saran wrap coils. They had been prepped on top of saran wrap, so this step was relatively easy. Then I steamed them in a big pot for at least 20 min. Let them cool overnight and then rinsed them out. I was really impressed with how little dye bled out. That steaming really sets the color! Next I laid them out to dry. After a day or so trying to keep the kids from knocking the trays with the fiber over onto the floor they were ready to braid up for storage.

I love the picture below of the colorful rovings drying.
I wish the sun had been shining on them, but that will have to wait for another day.

Finally, we have the finished products. A colorful mass of fiber that, I hope, will spin into bright, confetti yarns. I will try a different colorway on the sky blue next time. The red covered over more than I expected. I think it would have been better with just the dark blue, black & purple. The entire process took much longer than anticipated. I thought I was embarking on an hour or so playtime at 9pm and instead finished wearily at 12:30am, leaving the coils cooling in the steam pot. I definitely learned a ton. So, anytime you want to paint some rovings, come on over and let's have at it! Just plan for twice as long as you think it might take.

October 26, 2008

Christmas Project Revealed

Here is the front piece of the sweater I am knitting for my son. Now, I realize that the color combo is just a titch on the bright, obnoxious side. It is for a 6 yr old boy. And it is knit completely from my stash. I bought the bright blue wool/cotton blend yarn specifically for the boy a couple years ago at Cordova's finest, The Net Loft. Somehow I knew that obnoxious and blue would be perfect for him.

I am using 3 different yarns. The bright blue Schachenmayr Nomatta Habanera is a 70% wool, 30% cotton yarn. I found it in the ultra clearance bin at The Net Loft. I only have 4+ balls of the blue, hence the creative sidepanels. The brown Angora Soft by Knit One, Crochet Two is a WEBS ultra clearance as well. Only 4-5 balls of the brown in a 45% nylon, 40%viscose & 15% Angora. (I am not sure what I was thinking when I ordered the yarn. Nylon & Viscose??? It must have been the $2/ball and Angora that turned my head. Will I never learn?) I will use brown for the hood & pocket if there is enough. The orange is the good ol' standby Galway 100% wool. Strangly, they all come out to a very similar gauge, so far. I did do a gauge sample. Didn't want to many suprises as I am making up the color changes as yarn remains.

So far the sweater is going very fast. On the back I am knitting in his hockey number 77 in the bright orange. The sleeves will be striped depending on how much yarn I have left of each color. Knowing that I would barely have enough yarn for the entire sweater heavily influenced my decision to make stripes everywhere. Hopefully, no one will be able to tell when I run out of one color before the sweater done.

Now, it is back to the reality that Halloween is not until Friday and my children are already hyped up on candy from the school carnival. By the way, why did no one tell me school carnivals are a mother's worst nightmare? Oh yeah, I knew, but I was swayed out of my stoicism by those big, cute, blue eyes owned & used against me by my son. He just consumed a gummy rat. Arg.

October 17, 2008

I am SO prepared.

For Christmas, that is.

I credit this blog with a major contribution to the Christmas knitting craze that has hit me this week. I have never, in all my life, started on Christmas this early. But I have to have some knit thing to talk about. There are some other reasons as well.

I think there is a little guilt over last year's Christmas fiasco. I was going to make my son a quilt for Christmas...then it turned into a birthday gift...then he only got to see the fabric for his birthday in Feb...and I still have not worked on the poor boy's quilt. Okay, more than a little guilt.

What other factors promotes Christmas activity so early? I have discovered that Lil' P knits only when I sit down and knit. In her 'take no prisoners' approach to most things, she wants to knit a sweater. Lucky for us, I have "The Yarn Girls Guide to Knits for Older Kids". Which is full of really simple easy sweaters (among other things) for kids who might want to be cool. The knits are not really my normal knitting cup a tea, but perfect for Lil'P & I to knit together on. She will knit the rectangle for the hood & the pocket. I will knit the rest. I raided the stash and came up with a bright blue, hot orange and calming brown yarn combo that will be perfect for my boy. I have faith in my choice because we were at our LYS, The Tangled Skein, the other day and I asked what color of yarn I should pick to knit his dad a sweater and he picked out the brightest, most god-awful blue I could imagine. Funny--it was the same color of blue I am knitting for him. Perfect. (even more perfect is that all the yarn was purchased some time ago on CLEARANCE so this will be the cheapest sweater ever)

I am also starting on a Super Top Secret Sweater (STSS) for a secret someone. All I can say is "Durrow". He might read this blog...so I have to be vague.

So, I am off to knit on the Christmas presents...tee hee hee

October 15, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Holy Cow, I have been BUSY!! Knitting that is. I have been on a finishing streak! Just this month I have made 2 hats, 1 neck gaiter, 1 chunky head band, a sample hat for the shop & 1 sample mitten. I have finished my fabu red vest and my felted slippers. I have started a Christmas sweater for the boy. Sophia is going to help by knitting the hood & pocket. All this and we are only halfway through the month!

The set of white & blue hat & coordinating neck collar are a birthday present for my freezing SIL. Poor woman, used to the tropics and now facing a Canadian winter. Don't anyone tell her about this!! It is going in the mail, so my guess is it will get to her before the masses read this post. The yarn used is a beautiful mystery white bulky yarn. I love it and the halo it produced upon felting. The blue/turq is my very own hand spun. It is from an Ugly Batt. I spun it as a thick n thin bulky weight yarn with a metallic thread throughout. It also was MUCH softer after felting. The neck gaiter is a cute little accessory to complement the hat...same yarns.

The Green Chunky Newsboy Cap is a 2hr knit. Really! Start to finish, including the many 4yr old interruptions. It turned out bigger than I thought, but I really like it. The picture is before blocking. We will see what the magic art of blocking brings to this cap.

As you can tell, I have been trying to use up my hand spun stash. The Bodacious Red Headscarf is inspired by Calorimetry at Knitty.com. I only spin Very Chunky yarns so I changed just about everything except the general look of the finished product and got what you see here. I really like it and would love it if the wool weren't so very itchy & scratchy.
In center stage is my Awesome Red Vest! Tadaaaaa!! I love it. The pattern is Green Day by Mari Muinonen. (I love everything she designs. I dream of just working my way through all her designs.) The vest is snug, so it will still fit when I finish my weightloss journey and it is soooo soft. I made it from frogged Andean Silk yarn from Knitpicks. The first project was a total failure and so I frogged, reconditioned and recreated the yarn into this very lovely vest.

Whew, that was a mouthful of projects. I didn't even get to my slippers, but they are best saved for another day.

Spinning Update? I have not been spinning...at all. It is like I look at the wheel and sigh, too big of a job. No dyeing either.

Humorous quote of the day: Setting...we are at the hockey rink and the lady in front of us has her scarf on the bench. Sophia, "Look at her fiber, Mom!" Yes, I have a fiber diva on my hands.