Posts Tagged ‘food color’

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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