Posts Tagged ‘dye’

A few months ago, I read a Yarn Harlot blog post about knitting directly from some unspun, undyed silk hankies – mawatas – and thought, “that looks interesting” and “I must get hold of some of those in my next yarn/fiber order”. Then, a few weeks ago, they came up again, in a Ravelry conversation, and I remembered that I was going to, and set about placing my order. Well, it turned out that she’d blogged about them again, only not in plain black and white, but in full color, and this time, the knitting world had – as one woman – apparently gone crazy. I find that interesting: truly, color speaks. Suppliers were suddenly running out of stock left, right, and center, and the company she bought hers from was even forced to pull their listing from the online store in the face of frenzied demand. (As an aside, sometimes I think I would love to have that level of popularity, either as a dyer, or a blogger, and then, I read through as many of the sycophantic comments on any of her posts as it takes to make me change my mind. Turns out, not as many as you’d think.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short (for once: am I quite well?), my first supplier was out of stock; my second supplier claimed to have stock “but we’re running low for some reason” (I knew the reason, if they didn’t), but turned out not to; then my first supplier got them back in and I was able to get my hands on some.

Oh, swoon – the delights of playing with pure silk. The tactile pleasure. The colors. The sheer sensuous feast.

There’s a good news/bad news aspect to this in that I’ve sold the first batch already. I’m not even sure I have any left to play with myself, which was all I ever expected to do. So, my ‘good problem to have’ for today is, do I order some more, while the dyeing’s good? Because, I sure loved dyeing them, and I would totally love to sell a few more, and hey, I’d still quite like to try knitting/spinning some, actually. And they take a pretty photograph, too.

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I like to think I have mine straight:

tea kettle, pasta pot, dye pot, dye pot

Perhaps it would be better if I didn’t mention that the food is in the small pot in front, and the giant next to the kettle is the single most expensive pan in the kitchen (even shading out the awesome le Creuset monster I recently screwed up my courage to buying).

Oh, and then, there’s the coffee-making equipment on the other side of the kitchen. Because coffee is important too.

In fact, when we recently redid the kitchen, one of the major challenges was to rehouse the coffee pot family from the back of the stove. I’m pleased to say they seem to have adapted happily enough to the internal windowsill looking into the glass/utility room.

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This is a short message about wool.

I love wool. I really do, and that’s evident from the fact that I’ve been playing with quite a lot of it recently (more than usual). Some has been sold to the nice lady at the local knitting shop, some has been traded for, er, more-but-different wool with some people I know on Ravelry. Some – quite a lot – came in this week from a supplier, and some – just a little – has made it into a tiny Easter Uprising of Wool of my Etsy shop today.

There’s even a very little of a new cashmere blend sock yarn, which is squishy beyond my wildest dreams, and is currently inspiring dreamy colorways like ‘A Cloud in Trousers’

And yes, there is still a lot of wool lying around my house. And now that I’m enjoying the new, even more unwieldy and unreliable pleasure that is fiber, I’m about to put in another large order for that. Because you can do some really seriously cool things with fiber. And if you can then sell it to people who actually know how to spin, well, you may just have helped bring a thing of beauty into the world. And who can say better than that on a fine spring day?

Nice stuff, huh?

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I got some nice sock yarn in from the wholesaler recently, and ordered some more dye, and slowly but surely, I have been preparing for a shop update, in between stirring batches of sweater-yarn custom orders. The sweater yarn comes in one-kilo hanks that have to be wound into more manageable quantities, but although I complain, if it doesn’t get tangles (which only happened once), it’s not too painful a process, and I forgive this yarn almost anything, I like it so much.

So, first up, some sweaters-in-waiting:

I have to say, I’m pretty excited by them, especially as I get to knit by proxy this way. If someone goes to the trouble of buying or bartering for a sweater-quantity of yarn in the color of their choice, I think they are quite likely to knit with it. And I love to see my yarn knit up. That tempting skein of pretty sock yarn is just so easy to buy, and leave in the stash. Ask me how I know?

That said, I would naturally wish to encourage the purchase of as many random skeins of sock yarn as my loyal Midnight Sheep fans feel inclined to indulge in. Please don’t let me stand in your way. The actual purchasing opportunity starts on Thursday – 5 November, at 5 p.m. EST, which is when I will officially be restocking my Etsy, but the preview photos are up on flickr now.

This update will be all sock yarn, using that new base I mentioned earlier. It looks like a nice quality, classic sock yarn – 75% merino, and 25% nylon, and it is superwash. The yardage is good, too: 460 yards/100g.

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I’m so excited to have found this.

Mary loves designing hats, and she’s recently got into the fun of knitting socks (although she did have to be dragged in the sockward direction kicking and screaming pretty lustily). Me, I just like reinventing the wheel, and doing things like unventing the afterthought heel – done mid-sock with a perilous crochet provisional cast-on (which never, ever unzips for me, in either direction, and I’m clueless as to why). All in all, this new pattern in the Fall ’09 Knitty looks like it might appeal to both of us.

I’m so tickled by the think-outside-the-box quality of the hat-heel sock. I might have to dye some really special short-repeat stripes for a striped heel-and-toe yarn. After I’ve dyed my custom order of a sweater’s-worth of chartreuse. Which is only waiting on me hand-winding the kilo of satisfyingly sheep-scented merino, and finding a very, very big pot.

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I hav to buy a new reskeiner. Again.

It’s that damned dinner-making that’s to blame. I’m trying to multitask: I’m in the kitchen making curry, and inocently reskeining some yarn I dyed the other day, when I realize I need to cook one half of the reskeiner… possibly both, depending on which recipe I choose.


Coconut milk and organic merino in the color ‘Stella Maris’ – a perfect laps lazuli blue, the color of the Virgin’s cloak in medieval art. Chicken curry recipe to follow.

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This is my personal mantra: I rather want people to remember me as ‘One Who Used to Say Such Things’.*

I’m suffering under a perfect example at the moment. Since I enjoy dyeing yarn, and can’t knit all that fast (frankly, no-one can), I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell it, and keep the process ongoing, in the same way as for the glass. Well, the glass is significantly hampered by the demographics of Etsy: most of the customer base is in the US, and glass is a) heavy to post, raising my costs relative to American producers, and b) initially imported from the US, raising my production costs relative to competitors’ as well. Yarn, not so much. The postage costs are relatively less of an issue, and I’m on more level ground.

Also, yarn photographs a lot better than glass. The upshot is that I am selling stuff faster than I can make it. I’m thrilled. My first item sold within hours of my listing it, and now I’m running at a total of five listings and four sales. What a delight. And I do think it’s nice – go look for yourself (but you’ll have to look in the ‘sold’ section if you want to see anything, ha, ha!)

Geez – the hardest part was choosing a name. That took longer than either dyeing the yarn or making a sale. Though to be honest, I do think I’ve been lucky.


*Apologies to Thomas Hardy

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I had a whole other post planned, but Life intervened and it didn’t happen. Or not enough of it happened, so it’s languishing in Draft-land. Sorry post: at least you are not alone. Some of my best posts are there.

I have spent most of the last couple of days trying to recover from the builders. Everything is covered in a layer of dust so thick it looks like Pompeii, only less grand. Kelvin at least appears to be still breathing, which is a minor miracle, and he deigned to produce a plate last night, and I managed to swathe it in three times its weight in bubble wrap and escort it to the post office in time to make the last post. The way the last few days have been, I’m counting that a major triumph. Major. It reminds me that I need to expand my cherry blossom range: it’s the closest I come to popular. Also I have a cone of the world’s most obscene pink sparkly acrylic sitting (where else?) on the printer, waiting to be knitted into swatches for round two of the glass knitting experiment.

The builders have cleaned the floor. I have cleaned the floor. Several times. It still looks as though it has not been cleaned since 1993. Go figure. Well, at least  for the forseeable future, whenever the house gets a dose of dusting or hoovering, it will be a job worth doing. Not a maybe, not a 50-50, not what my dear mother always wearily called “a lick and a promise” (though that may in fact be all it actually gets). And there is virtue in that: I like to clean when I can see where I’ve been, although I realize that notion may strike a shudder into more house-proud hearts.

Two things to note: we are indeed into the long half-life period I mentioned earlier in the week. We paid the builder; he was supposed to come back today; we had a phone-call yesterday evening and… you’ll have guessed the rest. We wait, but with neither conviction, nor hope, (like a prisoner of corrupt regimes).

Second thing: I still hate the french doors and wish I’d spent the money on something else instead. Stash. Or a diving holiday in Bonaire. Or the dining table that would go perfectly with the Welsh dresser we bought recently. Or, indeed, nothing, which would have been the most sensible choice. But not those french doors. What was I thinking?

On the other hand, a while back I bought 46g of laceweight cashmere on eBay (OK, so it was cheap, with something else I was already buying, and included in the same postage). When it arrived I thought it was loathsome, partly because it was a foul shade of lilac, and partly because it was distractingly put up in a cake, like string, and it looked very tough and chewy and not at all like my mental image of cashmere. I was considering my options for getting rid of it (no Mary, knitting that into something for someone else was not an option: too fiddly, and too ugly at the same time) when a magical thought occurred to me: dye.

I have always been a fan of dye, amongst other transformatory tools. In general I am not one to give up on things easily, or throw things away readily, and have been known to make the long-sleeved short, and confound the plain with chunks of appliqué, and the like, but it must be said that dye is often the easiest, cheapest and most gratifyingly complete transformation that can be effected on a garment. Or, of course, on an unsuspecting skein of wool.

Previously, I’ve used Dylon (and I even colored my wedding dress with it, at home, in a bucket, and wore it to the Oscars, no less, but that is quite another story), but I fancied the kool-aid/food coloring techniques I’ve seen on Ravelry. I like the food-safe aspect: no looking for special utensils or worrying about dangerous chemical spills within reach of small children. Ravelry being what it is, a kind American offered to send me some supplies (thank you Jenn!), and I was – shamefully – unable to resist even a day after my selection of Wilton icing dye arrived. As I was cooking curry, so I was furtively winding that lilac horror back into a skein, giving it a mad-scientist-attack and throwing it in the steamer basket. Wow, wow, wow. It’s not perfect (there are a couple of purple speckles that should not be there), but I love it to bits. The funny thing is that it’s now also apparently much softer than before. I’m sure that is not the case, but the effect of the more cuddlable skein format compared to the rather boxy cake (kind of the formal business-suit of yarnwear, don’t you think?).

Just look at this, and weep. 400 yards. Any suggestions?

hand dyed cashmere 1hand dyed cashmere - with imperfections

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home dyed skein oneI’m shivering through today, shivered through last night, and through yesterday, laid low with another of my recurrent bouts of tonsilitis. I so hate this. I can probably write off most of the next week to misery. I had no energy today so I did little more than make the builder tea, look at a little y-a-r-n p-o-r-n and order some undyed merino to play with when my wonderful package turns up from America. A very kind Raveler offered to send on some precious American food dye, with lots of colors I can’t get here! Yummy colors, no less. I’m getting ready to put my postman through some severe stalking next week.

This, for those who are interested, is the etiology of the new madness. The Beloved plays cricket in the season. He claims “it’s only a short season”, but as it takes an almost day-long chunk out of our weekend from April to September (weather permitting), and one or two evenings a week once things really get going in May, I’m not so sure. However, it keeps him happy – coat in good conditon and his eyes shiny – so I am pleased for him, especially since he is unfailingly supportive of my own amusements, but I do wish it consumed less of our family time. Anyway, off he went on Saturday, and the builders – while not actually around over the weekend – had created an unholy mess in the back part of the house, so I couldn’t even reach Kelvin (he’s sulking: they’ve put a pink and purple dustsheet on him, and are treating him as a coffee table. I don’t know how I’ll make it up to him). There are a few Kelvin ideas percolating, but they’ll have to wait. The little ones were asleep, Child One was lurking with a book, there was nobody to stop distract me…

So, having finally got around to picking up some food coloring in Waitrose, with Child One’s birthday next week in mind, I decided it would be much more fun to let it loose on some interesting eBay yarn I had no idea what to do with. This was 150g of two-ply merino/silk in a natural color of unknown wiehgt/yardage. I thought – correctly – that the wool and silk would take up the dye slightly differently, and anyway, apart from the stash of angora which I want to stay cream, I didn’t have anything else to play with.

I happened to have some citric acid around (from bath bomb making for Child One’s birthday party two years ago), which was handy, as I didn’t have “white vinegar” (don’t really know my different vinegars apart, other than wine versus spirit). So I soaked the yarn for “a while” (aka, not very long really, but it’s all an experiment anyway, so who’s to say it’s not enough?) then laid it out on cling film and poured food coloring, turmeric solution (OK, OK, turmeric in suspension: don’t be pedantic), tea solution and coffee all over it. Wrapped the cling film firmly and steamed the package for “a while” (see above for more specific timing). I’m impatient. I put the finished yarn in a bag and spun it as fast as my washing machine would let me and hung it over the door to finish drying. Then I carried it around in my arms for a while (about twenty-four hours, actually). Child One suggested I could wear it, as is, without knitting, as a scarf, and by George, I think she’s right. In fact, if I hadn’t felt compelled to wind it into a ball to get a better sense of the colors, I would be doing exactly that right now. After all, I am wearing my heaviest cardigan (aran wight, 75%wool, 25% mohair – and warm) and the black wrap/scarf which was almost the first thing I made and all the other clothes I put on this morning when my temperature was more conventional. I’m toying with either a) putting on my fingerless gloves or b) crawling into the oven alongside the chicken I’ve just put in there.

Anyway, this is the result. I think it might be a little lurid, but maybe it will be acceptable. I suppose it depends how it knits. It ca always be redyed to damp the colors down if required. For the record, I also think it’s sport weight and around 240 m. We shall see. A shawl is my best guess, but more specific suggestions – or entirely different ones – are most welcome.

first dyed skein1first dyed skein2fisrt dyed ball

ball winder of notePlus, two good things happened in this winding process: Child One offered her arms, perfectly spontaneously (I think she was fascinated by the whole mad scientist event), and I discovered a ball-winding tool with great potential – Child Two’s plastic toy comb. She was adamant that it wasn’t mine, but hers, and I shouldn’t use it, but I overruled her, invoking the sharing principle. She remains unimpressed, so I’ve hidden it on my desk (this is way too easy to do, and can be passed off as accidental if I’m challenged).

Now I’m going to get myself as close as possible to a source of heat, and take a medicinal scotch, for my throat’s poor sake. Next up: the great hot glass event…

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