Archive for the ‘Dyeing’ Category

Serious knitting has been put on temporary standby – I’ve been a little distracted with all the other fibery pursuits…

There has been spinning – 2 skeins of Merino, in varying weights.

There’s been carding and more spinning.  I was playing around with blending colors in the carder. This is fiber from a black alpaca – IttyBit, and a white alpaca – Franchesca.  The black fiber was very hair-like, and the white very downy so I hoped they would balance each other out.

The resulting yarn is very fuzzy, but quite soft.  I spun the single very gently, then added lots of twist during plying.  The final product is very strong and dense, and like most 100% alpaca yarns, rather heavy for it’s diameter.

Still not sure what I’ll do with this stuff. The black is not soft enough to wear on the skin, but it could make a sturdy outerwear fabric.

And finally there’s been dyeing. KnitPicks Bare fingering weight, handdyed in the Crockpot.  Love how this came out.

Knitting next time.

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This was the first fiber to come off the drum carder – I had this stuff dyed and ready for the moment the carder arrived at our house.

It’s some lovely soft alpaca fiber from Franchesca of Alpacas at Tucker Creek. 18.8 microns! Love!

It spun up into some very soft and fine 2 ply laceweight. That pic’s color is really off, it’s much pinker.

I only dyed 30 gms, which spun into 256 yds, not enough for a large lace project but perfect for a light airy scarf.  Tiennie just posted instructions for a very simple feather and fan scarf and it seemed like the perfect match for this yarn.  I took out one pattern repeat because I have so little yarn, but it should block to about 7 inches in width.

That’s a pretty accurate color.

I’m off to knit some more!

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Sorry about the absence, I’ve actually had lots and lots of things to blog about, but both my boys woke up very sick on Saturday and we are still recovering. We’ve been busy none the less!

Way way back in December we went out to a tree farm in the country to get our Christmas tree. The tree was purchased, and we were driving toward home when I briefly glimpsed — was that a herd of alpacas?? After a U-turn we went and investigated the farm. Indeed, there is an alpaca farm 20 minutes from my home.

Since I didn’t have a spinning wheel at that time I pushed this knowledge aside as “very tempting but not very practical.”

Then I got a wheel for Christmas, and I’ve been more tempted to arrange a visit, but life happened and I never did. Until my good friend Mrs. Fishtrap asked me if I knew of any farms where we might take the kids on a little field trip. An excuse to visit the alpacas!! and I emailed the owner (coincidentally, another Peggy) last week.

So this past Sunday brought us out (camera-less, sorry) to Alpacas at Tucker Creek, where I received my first introduction to these wonderful animals. The boys and I spent a wonderful 2 hours there, meeting some animals, burying our hands in their fleece, and just talking.

After visiting all the animals our talk turned to spinning and knitting. This farm belongs to a cooperative, which means they pool fleeces when sending them to a mill. Peggy was interested in having a local person spin only their own animals’ fleece to be sold in their shop. It’s a little more special to visit a farm and then buy yarn spun from a particular animal you just petted 5 minutes ago. I was game!
So, more serendipity and I walked out with 2 years of blanket fleeces from Franchescascroll down and click her name. Check those micron counts: 17.2 and 18.8. Yes my friends, those fleeces are sitting in my bedroom right now.

And alpacas secrete no lanolin, you can process this stuff without washing it!


The fact that I’ve yet to acquire handcards does not disturb me in the least.


I’ve been combing locks with an old plastic hair-comb. Lowtech works for me!

And spinning.

I chose a white fleece so I could dye some too.


This stuff will need to wait for actual carding equipment, but still! Anyone else for spinning a sunrise?

You can bet we’ll be visiting again soon!

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You know how when you have to do something, you just want to get it over with so you can stop thinking about it?  But you just don’t want to actually work on it?     Ok, maybe that’s just me.   This is what happened while I was not working on Fishtrap.

Both boys need socks. Their handdye socks are too small and 2 pirate socks got felted and one is missing. Don’t ask how these things happen.  So they asked for new socks, we dyed yarn I let them choose the colors. That’s Nikolai’s on the left, Gabriel’s on the right.

But I haven’t knit them because I was waiting for my new swift and ballwinder to arrive in the mail. It finally came yesterday. You can probably guess that I wound every hank in the stash. I thinking of caking the center pulls next. I now have so much more useful yarn.

And my niece brought me a skein of mystery fashion yarn (Lion Homespun?) and asked for a hat.  I dislike this stuff but she asked nicely and I have trouble refusing.  So here’s most of the “Dairy Queen” Hat from EZ’s The Opinionated Knitter.


I knit a sock.  BTW, I still haven’t finished that darn ball of Tofutsies, and this is the 7th sock!


But the best distraction of all?


That dear sweet angel Gabriel just turned 3.  Happy Birthday little man.

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Boxes of Joy

Look what’s come in the mail…


From Denmark, Merete sent me a wonderul old book of traditional Norwegian knitting patterns and 3 balls of uber-soft kid/silk yarn. Thank you!!!

Then from Kentucky came 2 boxes of spinning love. Mother OtherPeggy sent me a wonderful fiber sampler and a new spindle. It’s hard to say whether she’s sharing love or enabling my addiction… Either way, I’m extremely grateful.

Cotswold and a lovely spindle.


Wensleydale. So soft.


Alpaca and handmade lavendar soap. Again, so soft.


Small samples- Cotton, Gotland, Border Leicester, and Tussah Silk. These will be saved until I’m a more competent spinner.


And a huge bag of Romney. I couldn’t resist dying some yesterday.

Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

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Like I mentioned, the boys and I trekked down to Canby this Saturday for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  It was awesome.  But let’s get straight to the eye-candy.


Two skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock- millends bought on the cheap. The one on the left is lightweight, right is mediumweight.


4 oz. Abundant Yarns and Dyeworks sock yarn, colorway Rocky Mountains. All plant dyes. This was a bit of an accident 2 ways. I was browsing the booth when the boys noticed they were also selling cookies. Having missed lunch they were very hungry and I decided to appease them with cookies and justify it with more wool. Don’t ask me how that works.  The dyers said this colorway was also a bit of an accident- they’ve never made another one like it. All three ladies in the booth recognized and complimented me on Cobblestone, and that was very nice.

Lastly I got a beginning spinning kit- 2 drop spindles, 2 oz. wool top, and a book about spindle spinning. After several fruitless efforts with the roving I tried plying some singles I’d inherited and dyed-


Out of focus, but rather pretty don’t you think? Once I was a little more familiar with the spindle I went back to the roving and made this:


Very low yardage super-duper extra chunky yarn. That learning curve is rather steep, but it least it’s yarn!


Sockman says “Knit on!”

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I promised scads of socks and real life inconveniently got in the way for several days. Yesterday we welcomed the first of 11 guests coming for a family reunion over the next couple weeks. This could mean 2 things- extra babysitters = more knitting time or many family outings = no knitting time

Who cares?? I never get to see these people, I’m going to go enjoy myself!

Anyway…. socks. First Nikolai’s pirate sockies from HelloYarn‘s We Call Them Pirates chart.


And Gabriel’s pirate sockies to help curb the sibling rivalry (sorry about the fuzzy pic)

Both pairs were knitted using leftover sockie handdye for the cuffs, and Camelia Superwash by Garnstudio for the rest. Both were knitted on 42 sts to accomodate the chart. To get sizes appropriate for the kids Nikolai’s were knitted on sz. 3 / 3.25mm needles, Gabriel’s were knitted on sz. 2 / 3.00mm needles.

After those were out of the way I was able to get some work done on the first Ladies Lozenge Stocking- adapted from the Gentleman’s Lozenge Sock in Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks.


I had to do some major resizing which involved a calf shaping panel in the back. It doesn’t look the greatest, but it did what I needed- fit over my calf while not being too baggy around the ankle and foot.


So there you have it. Five new socks and a purple mate on the way. For now I’m going to relax and enjoy my extended family, so I’ll see you whenever I can!

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You’ll excuse the fuzzy picture.  Slicing knitwear makes me a bit woozy.

But it all came together beautifully and we now have this:

OK, perhaps I won’t show you.  Evidentally that last picture was the end of my free upload quota for WordPress.  I finally paid for a FlickrPro account tonight, and now WordPress is having a go.  Hmph.

Anyway, I uploaded lots of lovely pictures on Flickr, documenting the steeking process.  It went very smoothly.  I’d planned the steek with lots of extra sts which became the front facings.  I didn’t even need to use bias tape.  I did 2 lines of crochet on each side, one to turn the raw edges under, and one to turn the facing under.

As I was doing the line of facing-turning-crochet I started wondering if one could use applied I-cord to do the same thing?  It would take longer, but it would look nicer, and it ought to turn the edge just as well.  But first I need to learn how to apply I-cord!   One thing at a time…

Other updates- Gabriel’s sockies are finished.  Sweet sweet little boy that he is, Gabriel wore the first sockie with his  regular sock the whole day I was working on #2.  How endearing is that?

MS3- Not much progress.  Row 58.  ooof.

Harry Potter-  does anyone else think that R. A. B. is Sirius’s brother?

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*oc*ie ***

*** Thank you OtherPeggy for giving me appropriate words to use in cases like these.

Really, how hard can it be??? I set out to knit Nikolai a pair of nice little sockies with that nice stripey demo yarn. You saw the first one, nicely finished, ends woven it, proudly photographed an presented to it’s excited new owner…. But it didn’t fit.

Well, he could get it on, but the heel was too short and pulling the leg down. The foot would have been too short next week and the leg too tight next month. Way before he actually needs wool socks. Rrrriiiiiippppppppppppppp.

Attempt 2 had me adding stitches to the leg and making the heel flap longer. He was luckily awake when I wanted to check the length before starting the toe….. only to discover I’d made the heel flap way too long and the entire thing was baggy around the ankle. Rrrriiiiiiiiiiiiipppppppppppppppp.

Attempt 3 started at the shortened heel flap and it looked good. I knit on determinedly. Nikolai had gone to bed so I guessed on the foot length. Again I got it all finished, ends woven in, etc. Then I snuck into the boys’ room to try it on his sleepy little foot. Half an inch too long. Rrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiippppppppppp.

Grr. I just ripped back the toe and the half inch of foot and started Attempt 4. I can just hear the knitting gods up there cackling….. “hehehhe this one will be too short!!” Really, how can such a little *oc*ie have so many things go wrong?

later… final updateOk, I was wrong. The knitting gods gave me another long sock. But darned if I’m knitting it again. It will fit in his shoes and that’s good enough!    I left the finished sockie on Nikolai’s foot. I wonder if he’ll notice in the morning?   hehehe

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Things you’ll need:

1. Crock-Pot

2. Pint (half-liter) canning jars or something similar that can tolerate lots of heat.

3. Dyes and something to set them with.

4. Some kitchen utensils- turkey baster, wooden spoon, colander/sieve/strainer, large bowl. Safety Note- If you are not using food dyes, say acid or plant based dyes, you will need separate equipment. Once you’ve used your stuff with acid or plant dyes it is no longer food safe. Of course, if you use acid dyes regularly you probably already know this.

5. Wool. I would recommend doing this in about 50-100gm batches, anything more will be too crowded in the jars. And use wool!! (I tried some Lion Cotton yesterday and it didn’t take the dye at all. Suck.)

6. Rags, towels or washclothes you don’t mind getting dyed a bit.

Got it all? Excellent. The principle here is that we’re going to use the jars as individual dyebaths and the Crock-Pot as a double boiler. Place your jars in the Pot and fill everything (jars and Pot) about half-full. One jar for each color stripe. I’m doing 3.

When skeining the wool think about how many colors you’re using and how long you want the stripes to be and make your skein an appropriate length. Or just wind it however you like and be surprised by the results. Use plenty of ties!

When your wool is ready for the dyebath squeeze out the excess water and lay the skein out on a towel. *I wasn’t sure how long it would take for me to take good pictures so for the sake of my carpet, I did this with dry wool.*

Now we’re going to shape the skein. I’m going to be dyeing with three colors so I shaped my skein into a triangle. If you’re doing four, make a square… and so on. Next, bring all the sides to the center so you have 3 (or whatever) distinct sections. No one says the sections have to be equal, make whatever shape suits your fancy!

Then you’re going to pick up the skein, keeping the sections separate between your fingers. Like so….

Carry your wool over to the Crock-Pot and carefully feed each section into it’s own jar (personal dyebaths, remember?) I couldn’t take pictures of this as it’s a two handed operation. But knitters are smart, I’m sure you can figure it out. This is the end result.


Now turn on the Crock-Pot, put a lid on it and go knit until the water is hot.

OK, it’s hot. Next mix up your dyes. The food dyes I use (these) need to be dissolved in hot water so I like to use the turkey baster to suck out the hot water from each personal dyebath, use it to dissolve/mix the dye, and pour it back into the same jar. When adding the dye make sure you give each jar several gentle stirs so the dye gets to all the yarn.


Put the lid back on and let it do it’s thing while you knit some more. In an hour or so the wool will have absorbed all the dye and you’ll have clear water. I still find this amazing. At this point you can add more dye to saturate the colors or overdye with different colors, or be done.

Pull the wool out, wash it, rinse it, roll it up in a towel and let your kids help squish it dry…

woolout.jpgwashed.jpgpict2051.jpg stomp.jpghellper.jpg

That’s it! Now go make some sockies for your most dedicated fans. Happy Knitting!

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