Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Accidents & Dyeing

Not all projects come out as planned.  Sometimes there are disasters and sometimes happy accidents.  Today I visited the whole spectrum.

Today I set out to dye yarn for my upcoming "My first Shawl" class.  I wanted something unique and special to work with while I knit along with the students.  Generally I request that students select a light colored yarn to work with as it makes it much easier to see the stitches, and thus, I aimed to comply with my own request.

I chose to play with vermilion, purple and periwinkle (all roughly next to each other on the color wheel) in pale shades.  My goal was to hand paint these colors onto the white base, then hot bath dye the whole load in  pale olive (opposite from the previous colors on the color wheel) to add a warming effect.

I tested all my colors.  I was pleased with what I was seeing.  I hand painted.  I knew immediately that these colors were not "my colors" - colors that would look good on my complexion - but knew that over-dyeing in the olive would warm the colors back into my personal palette, or would make a lovely combination that, although not perfect for me, might be perfect as a gift for someone else.

Into the pot went the hand painted skeins.  Into the pot went the olive dye.  On went the lid, and back I stood waiting for magic to happen.

It happened alright.

I would have taken pictures if I hadn't been in a panic.

Olive dye didn't make olive yarn.  Not at all.  Instead I had ORANGE yarn with vermilion, purple and periwinkle undertones.  NOT good.  NOT attractive on anyone. And most certainly NOT something I wanted to show off to my students.  A qualified FAIL.

Panic took over.  $20 worth of YUCK yarn.  There had to be a save.

I threw in the rest of my olive dye, threw on the lid and pretended this would solve the problem.

No.  When I checked again, it was just more orange.  I'm not in any way sure why.  My test is definitively olive, not orange.  Perhaps the dye was "breaking" into its base components and only the orange was being absorbed by the wool.

The panic got worse.

How do you fix orange?

My mind whorled.  Add red - I guessed I'd get kind of a cotton-candy vomit.  Add green - NO guess as the those results.  Add blue... well, I've been told blue and orange make brown.  Brown is good. Otherwise I could get anything from green to purple depending on how the dye reacted with the red/yellow of the current orange.  If not perhaps the blue would just override and I'd get blue.  Blue is good too.  Heck, at this point I'd take anything over the vermilion, purple, periwinkle and orange mess I had at that point.  Yuck.

"Comfortable Old Jeans"
I dumped in a healthy dose of dark sapphire blue.  I put on the lid.  I prayed to the magical dye gods.  I knew the yarn would come out far darker than I intended, but at that point it wasn't about fulfilling the original purpose, it was only about saving it from disaster.  I didn't want to have to dye it black to make it usable.

When I finally dared to peek into the dye pot again, I was pleasantly surprised. The blue had in fact prevailed over all and combined with all the previous layers to create a glorious range of tones... including, oddly enough... an olive.  I don't understand.  I don't even care that I don't understand.  I'm just relieved and grateful the dye gods heard my desperate prayers.  It occurs to me that I either need to take a class or need to spend a day doing nothing but color experiments on yarn NOT designated for a project.  Then I realized, no, I simply need to let go.  I need to approach dyeing with an openness, not a rigid plan.  Every single dye project I've done ended up delightful.  Very, very few of them came out exactly as planned.  All required trust in the magic of the dye.  Dyeing today? Loosen up and let it happen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Yarn Porn: - have you been there?  It is a wonderful wonderful place.  This is my most recent order.  I didn't "need" more yarn, but this sale was simply too good to pass up.  ALL this for $100.35!!! plus FREE Shipping.

Clockwise from top left: 24 skeins of Maple Syrup Wool of the Andes (sweater), 1 each of Shadow Tonal in Deep Waters, Springtime and Blue Yonder (shawls),  3 Natural Bare Superwash (hand dyeing and socks), and the Earth Sock Sampler including 2 Felici in Botany, 2 Stroll in Cocoa, 2 Gloss in Doe and 1 Stroll Tonal in Foliage (and more socks).

Sale is still in effect - Save up to 50% on last chance yarns - deep discounts on discontinued colors and overstocks.

And as always, no, I wasn't paid to endorse this.  I'm telling you about it because it ROCKS and you could LOVE IT TOO!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Have a Sense of Humor? Hope So!

More Online Learning

Craftsy is always adding more classes to their online learning experience and I've enrolled in yet another: Lace Shawl Design with Miriam Felton.

Miriam Felton goes into great detail explaining lace structure, swatching for design, math, charting, gauge and fiber, tools and so much more.  I've only gotten about 1/3 of the way through the course but have already learned so more much about lace pattern design.  I've been fascinated to learn more about the things I do in my designs automatically - now I know more about why they work.

I highly recommend this class.  If you have always wanted to design your own lace patterns or learn more about how shawl patterns work so you can make modifications to patterns - this is THE class. It's on introductory special right now for just $29.99 (regularly $39.99) and at that price, it is a HOT STEAL!

No, I wasn't asked to review this product, service, class or instructor - I just like to tell you about things I believe in.  Comment about this and other resources so we can all benefit!

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Tools - HiyaHiya Double Pointed Needles

Today I'm playing with new tools.  I just bought my first set of HiyaHiya 6" stainless steel double pointed needles in US2/2.75mm which were highly recommended.  

All of my past experiences with dpns have been inexpensive wood or aluminum needles I'd bought at chain craft stores, and they have all worked wonderfully, however the set I use for socks are showing their wear (color worn off tips, couple of rough spots from being dropped, one slightly bent... you know - loved) so I chose to take the opportunity to try a "high end"set.  

So far, I love them.  They are lighter weight and sharper tipped than my usual set.  I really love a good sharp point and wish there was some kind of standardized taper and sharpness sizing so that I could order needles online and know exactly what I was getting in advance. Until that day, my LYS will remain my primary supplier.

I like the feel of these needles - just enough tooth to the surface that my stitches stay on the needle without tempting me to tighten my tension to keep them there.  Another (silly) bonus - the size is labeled on the needle shaft.  I'm not sure how well that labeling holds up over time - I'll try to let you know a few pairs of socks from now - but I love that I don't have to check them in my needle sizer (which I can NEVER find when I need it) or try to remember the size based on their color.

Really, the only "negative" thing I'd say about them isn't even about them, it's about me.  I'm used to working with slightly longer needles (7" dpns) and am finding that the tips of the shorter needles rub the heel of my palm.  When I first begin working it's kind of a tickle, but after a while it becomes sensitive and uncomfortable.  I'm trying to adjust.  I'm wondering if others have had this issue and if this problem might be resolved by going with the even shorter "sock" dpns.  Any insights?  What needles do you love?
No, HiyaHiya did not request or pay for me to endorse their product - I just write about what I like.