29 June 2012

Dyeing Your Own - Egg Dyes

I received a lot of positive feedback on my last post about dyeing yarn.  I'm certainly not an expert on the subject by any means, but I truly enjoy experimenting (I am a scientist after all) even if those experiments turn out a little funny like this one did.  I also hope that many of you will try your own dyeing adventures!

First experiment: Egg dyes:

Right after Easter you can usually find those boxes of egg dye tablets (there are many different brands) for about $0.25 a piece.  I've found them to be a really easy and nontoxic way to dye yarn, in fact that was the only type of dye I would use while at college.  While the color choices might appear to be slightly more limited (usually only about 6-8 different colors per box), you can use the amount of vinegar added to change how vibrant the colors turn out.

First I soaked my yarn (Cascade 220) in a 1:4 vinegar to water solution for at least an hour in order to allow the dye to correctly set in the fibers.  Then I gently squeezed out as much of the water out of the fiber as I could and placed the yarn in a microwaveable dish.

I always experiment with how I prepare the dye, but this time I added 2 cups of boiling water to about 3/4 a cup of white vinegar (the volume of vinegar is where I usually experiment), and then added two tablets of the same color to the mixture.  After the tablets completely dissolved, I was ready to go!

I poured the dye mixture over half of the skein and then microwaved it on high for 2 minutes, allowed it to rest for at least 5 minutes, microwaved for 2 minutes, and then allowed to cool before squeezing most of the water out.

I repeated the dye step with another color (which I totally chose at random just for the fun of it) until I had a pretty variegated skein (can't you tell I just love dyeing those the best?).

I think that out of all of the different dyeing methods, egg dyes are some of the easiest and least messy, and I highly recommend them to people wanting to give them a try.

Still interested?  Check out my other posts on dyeing:

27 June 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #10

Today appears to be the tenth time I have participated in Work In Progress Wednesday, the time sure does pass by!  I love this particular meme because it allows for me to hide my procrastination behind my small bursts of progress.  In my defense, it is rather warm in Kansas right now which has made collapsing listlessly a more delightful prospect than working with materials that excel at trapping heat.


Here is the second of the five hats for Evelyn's (Project: Stash) Charity KAL.  Not surprisingly, this hat is just as much fun to knit on the second time as it was the first time.

I've also been working on a super secret project that I cannot give you any details on other than the fact that I'm using this amazing brick colored yarn and that it is very addictive to knit!


My larger spindle has been tied up in my cashmere rescue project right now (and save that yarn I will!).  So far the whole sweater has been unraveled (thanks to super mom!) and I've got one 50g skein completed.  As you can see from the photo below I've got quite a lot further to go, but it is completely worth it in every way.

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in for WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

25 June 2012

The lovely Miranda Hat

I had been having to knit away on this project in absolute secrecy because it was a test knit for the super amazing Evelyn of Project: Stash.  Let me tell you, it was difficult having to keep this project a secret because I enjoyed every second of it.  Also, I learned that knitting an awesome project gets even better when knitting to help a friend.

Here it is, the Miranda Hat:

This was a super quick knit for me, partially because I enjoyed it so much and partially due to the simple construction.  The pattern is very easy to follow (I would recommend it to beginners ready to leap into the world of decreases, circulars, and dpns) and the stitch pattern can be memorized quickly.

I used left over Cascade 220 Superwash from the colorwork sweater of doom.  I really love this yarn, it comes in so many great colors, is superwash, and knits up so nicely!  So, I was able to have the satisfaction of using up scraps as well!

Evelyn was kind enough to make the Miranda Hat a free pattern, but in addition, she has also organized a charity KAL to go along with it!  I will be proudly participating (you can find me and others on the corresponding Ravelry group).  To reward those knitting for an excellent cause (providing people with warm hats), there will also be prizes!

I would like to commit to knitting at least four additional hats for this cause (see my progress in the side bar) and I hope that you will join us in what will be a fantastic KAL!

Also a note to Blogger users, I recently discovered why my photos have been uploading all grainy looking lately.  Apparently, a lot of the time (although not all the time) Blogger will really, really compress images uploaded. One way around this is to upload them on Picasa Web Albums then access them through the upload menu in the post editor.

22 June 2012

Dyeing Your Own - Wilton's Dyes

Here is the start of a little summer series recording some of my yarn dyeing experiments (and possibly fiber too).  I don't have any concrete plans for how I want to structure this yet (please do let me know if you want to see anything in particular).  I just want to explore the dyeing process again because I haven't had the chance since last year.

I have been really inspired by Lisa of Wickedly Artsy, who has some really amazing dyeing ideas, so many that she would probably need a huge book to record them all.  Lisa and I will probably be collaborating on some of these for ultimate dyeing awesomeness.  As well as by Stacey of FreshStitches who recently did a great set of posts on dyeing with Kool-Aid.

First experiment: Wilton's food dyes:

I was lucky enough to already have some Wilton's food dyes in eight different colors (a remnant of my sister's cupcake phase), as well as some white Cascade 220.  I have worked with the Wilton's dyes once before but couldn't remember much about the process.

I set up my dyeing station while the yarn soaked in a 1:4 white vinegar to water solution.  I felt comfortable using kitchen equipment because I was using a food dye (this is my preference, but some people do not like to do any kind of dyeing in the kitchen). 

Naturally I decided to go with the whole rainbow.  I added a small amount of dye (pea-sized maybe?) to hot water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar.

Then I admittedly went a little color crazy...

I microwaved (or "nuked" as my dear father says) this lovely swirl of colors for two minutes at full power, allowed it to cool for five minutes, microwaved for two more minutes, and then allowed it to sit until cool.  After cooling, I gently rinsed the yarn and hung it up to dry. 

And guess what I ended up with?

Isn't it pretty? 

Now, I haven't extensively tested the colorfastness of this dye job, but in my experience, if the dye doesn't come out when rinsing, it is pretty well set.

If I were to do this again I would probably add little bit more dye to the mix for more richness and add slightly less vinegar so that this yarn will be easier on the eyes.

20 June 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #9

This week has been another one of those weeks where projects have just been dragging by without much obvious progress, but before I know it I'll have another huge project finished.

I've got a few test knits going right now, so I sadly cannot show those (but they are all seriously awesome).

My Gaia is still just coming along slowly, I've just started the lace section which is much more entertaining than endless rows of stockinette stitch.  But the cotton/silk/nylon combination does make for a great summer project.

This Targhee fiber is really starting to annoy me (it is almost brittle?), but yesterday I finally finished the spinning portion of the project.  Next comes the plying, which I think will go by very quickly.

Here is the progress on the cashmere sweater upcycling (this totally counts as a project).  My mother has become addicted to unraveling, I've been plying it because the strands are old enough that they snap without reinforcement.  This is going to be amazing to knit with, I can tell!

Also, I visited another thrift store in Newton, Kansas over the weekend and managed to pick up another cashmere sweater as well as a cotton one for a total of $6 (both are white for excellent dyeing opportunities).

That's all for now!  I hope to have something new to show you for next week.

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in for WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

18 June 2012

Upcycling Adventures Part 2

Earlier this year I attempted to upcycle a thrift store sweater with disastrous results after which I was not really interested in attempting to try it again.  Then my mother found this beauty for $4 at Goodwill last week:

This gently worn men's sweater is 100% 2-ply cashmere, a treasure to be sure.  So, I decided to put aside my past experience with upcycling and give it another try.  My mother was intrigued and decided to help me with the unraveling process, before long she was completely hooked and we were able to wind about a third of the sweater that morning.

The resulting fiber is fingering weight and a little frail, so I'll likely end up plying it for strength.  Honestly, I'm just enjoying the process of working with pure cashmere for the very first time!

I'm not sure how much yarn I'll get out of this, but I think that it will result in a lot of luxury fiber for very little cost.

Who knew a sweater could result in so much quality mother/daughter time?

The next obvious question is: what should this yarn be in its next stage of life?

15 June 2012

Colorwork Sweater

After a couple of weeks of hard work and a couple of months spent simply glaring at it and wondering why I wouldn't just finish itself, the colorwork sweater is complete!

Now I can finally cross off another one of my Fiber Goals for 2012:

Complete a colorwork sweater

Needless to say, I'm very excited to announce this development and honestly, I can hardly believe that I have finally finished this project considering how long it took to complete.

There are some things on it that are a little bit wonky (part of the collar just didn't work out great), but overall, I love it and cannot wait until it is not 90 degrees outside every day to wear it.  I'm thinking that it will make a great sweater to cuddle into during classes and especially exams because it is super warm.

The pattern was Velvet Morning from Knitty, bis winter 2011.  As I have written in past posts, this pattern was not very well written and I had some huge problems with it.  There were some techniques that I think could have been used to make this a more finished project, as well as more fun to knit.  For example, using steeking to allow for knitting in the round rather than flat.  At the time I didn't feel comfortable enough to modify something as huge as the body of the sweater (although some people have); however, I did knit the sleeves in the round and was so glad that I did. 

The yarn was Cascade 220 Superwash, the only Cascade yarn that in my experience is worth buying.  The dark blue was the Blue Velvet colorway (856) and the other colors started out white, but were hand dyed by me using Jacquard Acid Dyes.  This project definitely gained a whole other dimension when I decided to dye yarn specifically for it and it is something that I would really love to do again someday.

Finishing this project has been a huge challenge for me, but now that I have finally finished it, I can say that it did pay off.  Now I need to start working full steam on two test knits and the three remaining sweaters.  But now, with this momentum, I really feel that I can finish them all.

13 June 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #8

I've been a little quiet here lately, mostly because I haven't felt very inspired as of late.  Although I'm not sure how that could be considering I have daily inspiration from the many amazing bloggers I follow.

Also, I have been so surprised and so incredibly humbled by how many people nominated me for a Sunshine Award. Thank you all so, so much, it means a lot to me!

So, here I go trying to get back into the habit of blogging every other day, and what better way to start than to take part in WIP Wednesday.  Some of you might notice I'm still working away on the same projects, in my defense, they are huge!

First I have the colorwork sweater back from its time-out.  One of the sleeves has been completely reworked and now I'm slaving away on the oh so frustrating collar.  See that scarf-like ribbed section?  It has to be knitted all the way around the edges of the sweater and then seamed on, what a nightmare!

Next I have my Gaia, which is starting to look rather nice despite the fact the yarn has been frogged half a dozen times (and this time will be the charm).

Lastly, my latest spinning project is coming along slowly but surely, someday I will finish it.

Also, this is my 100th post, which is definitely cause for celebration!

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in with WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

05 June 2012

Hiding the stash (and making it pretty)

I've been organizing everything in my room at my parent's house in the desperate hope that it will make me more prepared for the big move in August.  Today I focused on stash storage, because it is obviously vastly important that the stash be organized, protected from moths, and be attractively displayed.

This morning, this is how the stash looked:

The plastic bags.  The heaping.  The horror!  Shame on me, I'm not sure if I am qualified to have a stash after this.

In addition to saving large quantities of yarn, I have also been quietly amassing shoe boxes.  I've always felt badly about throwing them away because they are such a great shape and made of a fairly sturdy material.  So, they usually end up hibernating under my bed for a couple of years.

In a burst of inspiration, I pulled out these shoe boxes and some old fabric bound for Goodwill.  Then I decided to cover the boxes in fabric and use them to help organize my stash!

 I assembled all of the necessary crafty materials (not pictured here: awesome moving 3D dinosaur ruler):

A couple of hours of diligent work (and $0) later and look what I came up with:

 I happily arranged my handspun in this box, and the rest of the stash in the rest of the boxes.

Are you ready for the before and after comparison?  Here we go!

Overall I'm very happy with this project.  I have a little bit of a situation going on up there still, but that just means I need to cast on some exciting new projects very soon.  At the very least, I've removed the need for Stop and Shop bags for the time being.

Also, to those of you who have commented on how small my stash is, remember that I have two stored in different states.

Any ideas on how to attractively and neatly organize the stash?  I'd love to hear them!

01 June 2012

Tadpole Socks

I have finally finished a new project!  All of that travel time earlier this week certainly added up to a lot of knitting and ultimately, a beautiful new pair of socks!

The pattern is Tadpole by Jenna Swanson.  It was such a fun and quick pattern to knit.  I don't usually knit top-down socks because they frustrate me, but these pretty much flew by once I got to working on them.  The stitch pattern chart is only 10 rounds long and look so pretty (although not exactly like tadpoles).

The yarn is so beautiful and vibrant.  In fact, it is so vibrant that half the time I have tried to photograph it, it overwhelms my camera's sensors.  The red is particularly explosive as you can see above.  The yarn is Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Degrade, a fingering weight 75% wool and 25% nylon.

My only huge complaints with the yarn is that it is a little too thin (not quite fingering) and single ply, making the resulting fabric a little thin.  It is also a little too scratchy for my tastes, at least for my feet.  Lastly, it was not designed to produce matching socks (not that I mind).

Aren't we so lucky to have access to such an amazing range of colors of yarn to choose from?

Speaking of color, the newest episode of Radiolab is about the science of color and it is one of their best episodes yet.  Did you know that butterflies see more colors than we do?  In fact, they see colors we cannot even imagine.  I won't ruin the surprise of which organism can see the most.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!