Friday, June 28, 2013

Exhausted! (Almost)

The sun shone. The dye dyed. Solar dyeing works! But, as with any of the wild non-standard dye methods (see snow dyeing), Forrest Gump tends to get involved: you never know what you're going to get.  Here's what came out of the jars after a day in the sun:

 On the left, the wool DK dyed with the blues. On the right, the angora/wool fingering sprinkled with red and blue dyes. But take a moment to check out the liquid left in the jars. That's exhaustion, folks. As in all the blue dye was taken up in the yarn, leaving none behind in the water. Curiously, the blue in the red-and-blue jar did exhaust, but the red did not. Hmmmm. Was the difference in the dye? In the fiber? We'll never know. But what we do know is that setting a jar of yarn and color out in the summer sun makes the yarn turn amazing colors! Fantastic!

The skeins above were still wet from their experience. After a few hours drying in the shade, you can see for sure what colors you ended up with.  Let's go hang them up on some moose antlers and see what we've got:

For sure what I got was not quite what I intended. The blue is pretty much all blended in one hue, but has darker and lighter areas according to contact with the dye powder for a kettle dyed look that I quite like. The red-and-blue skein all blended to a fairly even shade of purple. Not my favorite shade, but I can live with it. Let's take a closer look:

See, there are little teeny pinky areas around the ties in the purple skein, and I'm glad they're not a major feature, because I'm not too crazy about that shade of pink. It does provide inspiration for another dye session--causing resist areas by tying the yarn in more places. And here's another curious thing: the red apparently seeped under the ties, while the blue did not. Ahhh, the mysteries of the dyepot!

All in all, this was great fun and I'll maybe try it again before the sun goes away for its winter vacation. It's a great bookend for the Alaska dye experience, dyeing with sun and snow. Now, what to knit with this lovely stuff???

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Good Day to Dye

Alaska's been crazy sunny and warm this June. June's the month of solstice, the longest daylight. To actually have sunshine with the daylight has turned my fancy to an attempt at solar yarn dyeing. Hey ho, let's go!

In the dawn's early light I laid out a black garbage bag on the deck--both to protect the surface and, according to at least one solar dyeing account I read, amplify the heat in the dyejars. Two yarn bases: a superwash wool DK weight and an angora/wool fingering blend. The KnitPicks Bare yarns are really easy to use. They come skeined up with loose ties, so they're almost ready to go. Almost. For acid dyes, you need to soak the yarn in some acid. A cup of white vinegar in a bucket of water, and in they go for a half hour soak:

Now for the dye! I used some of the Jaquard powders I had left from my winter snowdyeing fun.

The angora/wool was lightly sprinkled with vermillion and sapphire blue in the hope that the result would be blue-ish and red-ish and blended shades of purple. Darkest where the powder directly hit the yarn and lighter and purple-ier in between as the powder dissolved in the water.

The DK wool was treated to sprinkles of sapphire blue on one side of the skein and sky blue on the other, hoping for shifting shades of blue in the finished product. So into the jars they go!

As you can see, the yarn/jar/water ratio was about right. All the yarn submerged and fairly loose in the solution. Now Let the Sun Shine In!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Waste of a Perfectly Good Education

Eight years of arithmetic. Algebra. Geometry, advanced algebra, precalculus and calculus. Statistics. At least 14 years of my life spent studying mathematics and I apparently still can't friggin' COUNT!

Making two equal sleeves on a striped sweater is so easy. All you have to do is count the stripes on sleeve #1 and start the cap shaping at the same place on sleeve #2. Did I do that right? Nope. Do I have to frog the top of #2 and re-knit it? Yup. Am I pissed off at myself? Most certainly.

After a period of mature reflection, I have decided to postpone the fixing of the sleeve problem until after I have completed the sweater front, have sewed the two halves together and tried them on. Because, once I was able to quit cussing myself out, it occurred to me that this might be a timesaver in disguise. If I try on the body of the sweater and then pin a sleeve in place, I will be able to tell if even one of them is the right length. The sleeve caps in this pattern are very shallow, so if the whole thing needs a couple of inches off, there won't actually be that much frogging involved, and it would be very worthwhile for a sweater that fits well, right?

Meanwhile, Sixareen Cape is taking a rest. Not that I have abandoned it, far from it. But after a long, long winter I'm not feeling the chilly-shouldered need for it. At least for as long as the sun is out.

Fear not, however, that I have monomaniacally wed myself to a single project. No--summer weather has brought on fond thoughts of the cool shirt pattern I got: Trigere. And if I'm going to have a chance to wear it before the snow flies again, I'd better get knitting! And so, dear reader, I cast on. I cast on with the original yarn, Lara. It's a wonderful color, much more to my taste than the orange, but it's not really big fun to knit with. It's like having 10 cotton sewing threads loosely twisted together, and it's really easy to miss one of those stinkers as you knit. And if you miss one, you've got a stupid little loopy thread messing up the texture of your fabric, so the knitting has to go a lot slower and more carefully than you'd think for acres of stockinette.

It struck me that beads mixed in with the lace inserts would look cool (you know how I love me some beads), so I've been fooling around figuring out where to put them, and I think after several tries I got it. (Because the lace is knitted upside down, the bottom two repeats are the preferred option.)

Now I've got to sign off and get busy--I've got so much knitting to do!