Friday, March 27, 2009

Living and Dyeing

Well, I finally did it, and here is the result:


This is the roving I dyed using Kool-Aid® and black food coloring. I chose to use Kool-Aid®, because I could see whether I liked doing it before going out in search of a pot and other equipment that would have to be dedicated to dyeing. Using Kool-Aid® and food coloring enabled me to use my big stew/pasta pot for food again afterwards. Here's how I did it--
First I collected a number of sets of directions from the internet, including Knit Picks' own directions found at
I decided I didn't want to risk ruining my nice roving in the microwave (mine is pretty powerful), so I chose to use the stovetop method.
Here are the colors I used--
Blue (4 oz. roving): 4 pkg.Berry Blue Kool-Aid®, 20 drops of black food coloring
Taupe (4 oz. roving): 3 pkg. Lemonade Kool-Aid®, 1 pkg. Lemon-lime Kool-Aid®, 20 drops of black food coloring
Orange (3 oz. roving): 2 pkg. Orange Kool-Aid®, 1 pkg. Cherry Kool-Aid®, 4 drops of black food coloring.
The roving I started out with was white Corriedale.
I measured out 4 oz. in each of two hanks of roving, and 3 oz. in a third. I used a kitchen scale, so weight wasn't exact. I only used three ounces for the third hank because I had bought a bunch of Kool-Aid® before I knew how much I needed, and that was what I ended up with for this experiment. Then I read that 1 oz of yarn or roving can be dyed to a saturated color with 1 pkg of Kool-Aid®. I took the packages I had and divided them up according to the colors I thought I would like to get. I wanted a mature color selection, so I chose to add the black food coloring. I'm glad I did, because that was what caused the shading evident in my final product. (Sorry about the photo. I'll try to do a better one later.)
I did the roving one batch at a time in the order listed. I reused my exhaust liquid each time. (I think that's what it's called.) First, I let the roving soak in warm water with a little dishwashing liquid for 1/2 hr. Then I mixed the Kool-Aid®, food coloring, 1 T white vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt (our water is softened) in some water and started heating it. I squeezed the excess liquid from the roving and when the dye was about the same temperature as the roving, I dumped it in, adding a little hot water to make sure there was enough to more or less cover the roving. While gently heating the pot and its contents, I occasionally moved the roving around to make sure the dye could penetrate the fiber. When it just started to simmer (I'm at 7200 ft., so it wasn't at the boiling point), I turned the heat down a little. I checked periodically and turned the heat off when the dye water was clear. The blue took about 45 minutes. The taupe and orange only took about half an hour. Then I let the pot sit eight hours, until it was cool to the touch. The roving then got a bath in plain warm water, rolled in a towel and then was hung up on a plastic coat hanger. After it stopped dripping, I moved it to the sweater dryer. When one batch was done, I started the next.
I've read that this method of dyeing will work on protein fibers, such as wool or silk, but not plant fibers, such as cotton and linen. I wore a cotton apron while working, but I didn't splash much. I also protected my countertop with a black plastic bag, just in case. The same method should work for yarn. I'm looking forward to trying it. Looks like I'll live to dye again!
I've decided to add a "Here's What's on My Needles" section of my blog, so here goes--
Here's What's on My Needles--
I haven't been knitting much for a couple of days. My thumbs have been sore, perhaps from the drop-spindle spinning I've been doing. Waiting for me are my Mr. Foster (two arms done, one leg almost done), the Sipalu Bag (second side about 3/4 done), the EZ leggings (second leg almost done), the Stonington Shawl (about 3/4 through center diamond) and the Yei Figures bag (one figure almost done in duplicate st). My entrelac scarf is finished, and I'm enjoying wearing it!
I'm waiting to received the rest of the yarn for my Grazing Sheep bag, as well as my blocking mats and the Essential kettle-dyed sock yarn, two 50gm balls of each color, because it was on sale!
Happy knitting, spinning, etc.! --Peggy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photo of David Wearing His Cap!

I finally received a photo of David wearing his cap. You might remember the story of this cap...

David in Hat 3182009

The border of this cap is knitted around the circumference of the head. I used a smaller needle to get a tighter knit, and knit it to size. I picked up eight extra sts to make up for the 22” head size (pattern called for 20” head. David needed room for his PhD). I eliminated the edging around the bottom because I was out of yarn, and I liked the slightly sawtooth look to the garter st edge. David wanted a gray stripe, so I got some scraps from my leftover yarn stash.

David's Hat

The photo shows how much yarn I had left. The gray scraps got me through this project. I blocked it on a balloon (Thanks, Rob!), which I sat in a bowl, because the sides of the cap are so long. Three of my friends have tried this cap on and wanted it. Too bad. Make your own. It belongs to David! (And David belongs to Karen, my DD!) The original pattern came from One Skein Wonders, a great book, by the way!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Entre Nous--Entrelac!

Well, I have a new addiction. I may have to give up wine entirely, and not just for Lent! Thanks, KP, for the Entrelac KAL! (BTW, "Entre nous" means "between you and me." That's about the limit of my French! I studied German.)


I already have about 6" done. So much fun! First you make a row of half triangles. It looks really strange:


Then you go back across and pick up sts to fill in with rectangles between the triangles.


You continue making rectangles, making rows of them from right to left, and then from left to right, with a triangle to fill in on each edge. Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but it isn't that hard. I'm loving the KP kettle-dyed WotA in "Gold." I can't wait to finish it. I may still get to wear it this winter. Think of how it would dress up my outfit in this photo:


(I'm the one in front, left, with the two dogs. Those are Rocky and Sunny.) Some of these ladies are knitters, too!

I started my entrelac scarf earlier, but I was disappointed by holes where I was picking up sts. Then I tried picking up the whole stitch, not just one side of it (one of the choices you can make when picking up sts for the gusset of a sock). Now it's going a lot better. The only holes you see now are from the ssk, which I can go back and fix when I get done by stretching the smaller st below the ssk, which shrinks the big st above. I have been getting some advice from the Knit PIcks Entrelac KAL, especially from Susan, who has made a scarf and a vest, and is working on a multi-colored version now. The Knit Picks knitting community is great! --Peggy

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Saving Money on Fiber Prep Equipment

As some of you may know, I have been learning to spin. A few weeks ago, I enrolled in an eight-class fiber-preparation course along with a couple of my spinning buddies, Linda and Lynda. The teacher raises her own sheep and sells the wool in various stages of readiness for knitting or weaving. Lynda has had the class before, and has accumulated some expertise which is helpful to the two of us who are newbies to spinning. During the last class, we were given a bunch of fiber to take home and spin. Lynda had a couple of hand combs she uses for fiber preparation. She made them herself.
Here's a photo of the comb. She put nails in the cross piece, made the handle section, used a router to make a space for the cross piece with the nails, and then glued the cross piece in place.
Here's another view. She showed us how to use the combs (you need two) on the fiber we were given.
You place some of the fiber on the comb and push it down so the nails stick up. Then you use the other comb to comb through one way and then another, catching just a little bit of the fiber with each pass.
When it's ready, you use a crochet hook to pull some up through a hole about 1/4" in diameter made in an old sunglass lens. Put the crochet hook down, and gently pull the fiber through the hole, which you keep a few inches away from the lens, so not too much comes through at once. This results in pre-drafted fiber, ready to spin. Monday we go back to our teacher with all of our fiber spun on our drop spindles.
In other spinning news, here's my latest homespun made on my Kromski Sonata spinning wheel. There's about 8 oz. of yarn here. I love the color!
Happy spinning/knitting, everyone! --Peggy