Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I Could Just Dye!

This book...

...has a recipe for dyeing yarn with a faux ikat technique to make it look like clouds when knitted up.

Now, the way Ms. LaBelle does it, she gets two skeins of yarn: one she dyes solid blue, the other she reskeins into a giant loop and wraps plastic wrap around bits of it at random intervals, tying either side of each piece of plastic wrap with lengths of acrylic yarn to seal off the ends. When you dye that skein, you get white bits where the plastic wrap was.

In her world, you then knit two rows with the solid skein and three rows with the ikatted skein. Theoretically, this gives you that cloud pattern.

In her world, you also use kool-aid.

In her world, you also knit mittens.

Welcome to Marin's world.

I figured§ with the very cool peg board dyeing rack Father made me, I could forego the separate skeins and just set it up so I would, in effect, knit two blue rounds and three whited rounds.

I also figured I'd knit socks... for Father, to show him the good use his gift was going to.

I also wanted to make sure the toes and heel were solid,# so I dyed some tiny little blue skeins separately so I could be sure to get that effect.

I also used Jacquard Acid Dyes. No pussy kool-aid shit for this dangermouse.

I wound the nude skeins of yarn†† into balls so I could work with them easier, with less entanglement.‡‡

So, anyway... I knitted a little more than a toe to gauge a couple of things:
  1. How much total yarn does a toe take? (so I can dye some solid-coloured toe and heel yarn)
  2. How much yarn in one round? (so I can determine how to get three rounds then two rounds to mimic the pattern put forth in the book)
  3. Also? Gauge. I gauged my gauge.
[SUMMARY: A couple should be two, and I should be able to count to two. Life is full of disappointment.]

Having determined a round was approximately 32", I proceeded to wind three 32" diameter bits, followed by two 32" diameter bits. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Only now that I type that, I think I should have wound 16" diameter bits. Now I'm questioning my methods in a big, bad way.

Did I measure a round or a row?

Should I *ever* be allowed to do my own math?


So, anyway... I wound them up...

...then I put the plastic wrap resist on the appropriate portion...

Cat for Scale helped.§§

I tossed the yarn in to soak...¶¶

...and mixed some dye. The directions say a teaspoon of powder dyes four ounces of fibre a nice, deep colour. I assumed I had 50 or 100 grams of fibre. I had no idea how that translated,## so I decided a teaspoon of dye powder was the way to go.

I thought I purchased a sky blue dye, but it turns out I just had blue. Like crayon blue. So I used about 3/4 tsp of blue and 1/4 tsp of yellow.

Then I dipped a napkin in to get an idea of how it would look on the yarn.

"Keep in mind," said the book, "your yarn will be darker..."

So I decided to use only about half the dye, since I was going for sky-at-10:00-am rather than sky-at-10:00-pm.

Can I just tell you how magic it is when the dye exhausts? I've read and heard dozens of casually tossed "when the dye exhausts..." or "my dye didn't exhaust this time..." and it all seemed so blasé, so take-it-for-granted.

It's not. It's pure magic.

You have this big ol' pot of blue kool-aid lookin' stuff and your yarn is getting just a little blue††† when you toss in a glug of vinegar. Within minutes, the water is clearing to a pale, swimming pool blue. Then *poof!* No colour. You have blueblueblue yarn swimming in crystal clear water.

Magic, I tell you.

Then I found there were some white areas in the yarn, so I decided to add a bit of dye and a bit of vinegar, which worked really well, only I dumped the dye over on the kitchen counter. Turns out Barkeeper's Friend scrubs the dye right off.

So, anyway... I let the yarn sit overnight and rinsed it in the morning.

Then I hung it up in the unused mystery bathroom to dry.

See the ikat resist?

Because I wound it in twos and three around two pegs, it was still a pain in the ass to wind up, though not full yarn barf.

Here are my blue balls§§§:

And here is the beginnings of the Sky Sox. I actually thought of a really clever name for them as I was drifting off to sleep last night, only I can't... WAIT! Mare's Tail¶¶¶ Socks! That's what I thought of.

So, anyway... here are the beginnings of the Mare's Tail socks. The little pagoda toes are because I did a round before beginning my increases accidentally. If you put them on your feet, they smooth out fine and look like normal socks.###

Close up so you can see the tiny, wispy bits of cloud.

Next time:

Next time, I will only do one big wind, not the twos and threes.

Next time, I will go for more white.

Next time, I will do very few white bits shorter than two inches, because I'm developing an inordinate number of single-stitch clouds as the socks progress.

Next time, I will be wind the ikat plastic looser, because it doesn't have to be airtight and you### can accidentally cut your yarn while trying to remove skin-tight Saran Wrap†††† with scissors.

[SUMMARY: How educational, AntiM.]

So, yes, I believe there will be a next time.


Tomorrow night is Bobmas Eve, the celebration of the anniversary of Ravelry. We will be drinking celebrating from 6:00ish to 9:00ish (pm) at Patrick Carroll's, 3963 Tennyson Street, across from the inimitable Posh, a Yarn Boutique. It is rumoured Sylvia might be moving Thursday night Stitch Therapy across to the bar in observance of the holiday.

Join us!

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Theoretically.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Or food colouring, maybe.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): No good ever comes of me figuring.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): I'm so torn in the naming: Sky Sox or Tiny Fluffy Clouds? Both have the benefit of being obscure references. Maybe Sky Sox for Dad's and make myself or Brother a pair under the "Little Fluffy Clouds" banner.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): I love that look -- like the stockings hung by the chimney with care in every holiday colouring book I had when I was a kid.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): You think I'm going to say something saucy about "nude," don't you? Nope. Just here to tell you it's a superwash merino silk bamboo blend that's really lovely and soft and 100% machine washable AND dryable. How often does that happen? About as often as you find a man who's the perfect mixture of gentleman and pervert, that's how often.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Less entanglement. Heh. You'd think that'd be my watchword, both in yarn and in life. That's pretty deep for a footnote.

§§FOOTNOTE (wind the yarn over and over and over...): This picture is a stunningly accurate representation of what happened. I turned my back for a moment as he was delicately pawing the yarn on the floor. When I turned back, he was scarfing down yarn as fast as he could stuff it in his mouth. He has never eaten yarn in the entire time I've known him, but it was clear he knew he shouldn't be and was going for maximum broke before I would turn around and stop him.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (like pegs on a pegboard): Note the seemingly excessive number of yarns. I used red bits for the ikat thing, and used orange to keep the skeins orderly. Lots of orange. I've heard too many horror stories about cheerfully dyed yarn that came out yarn barf.

##FOOTNOTE (pounded like the pavement): Hell, I had a 100% margin of error on how much I was dyeing. It's a lead pipe cinch I wasn't paying that close of attention to my numbers.

†††FOOTNOTE (there's that hill I can never say right): Aw, it's OK, little yarn. Spring is here. The flowers will be up soon.

‡‡‡FOOTNOTE (surgery!): Which I'm not sure you have to do with superwash. My impression is that you don't want to shock or felt your yarn by changing temperatures drastically, and there wouldn't be a worry of that with the superwash. But I followed directions like a good girl anyway.

§§§FOOTNOTE (...and over and over and over): If you didn't snicker at that, please turn in your Brainless Twelvehood card at the door.

¶¶¶FOOTNOTE (three socks? Why?): Mare's tails are wispy little clouds that look like horse tails blowing in the breeze. My dad told me many years ago they signal good flying weather. As the girl who is storing "Darjeeling means land of the thunderbolt" as her death-bed statement, I retained that. One day last summer, we were taking a break from landscaping his yard and I looked up and said, "Mare's tails. Good day for flying." Dad looked at me in wonderment.

"You *do* listen when I talk."

"Sometimes!" I replied, cheerfully, and went back to looking at the clouds.

###FOOTNOTE (poundpoundpound): And by, "you," I mean, "I."

††††FOOTNOTE (how many crosses does one blog need?): There! I said it! Damn the tyranny of the brand name two-step! Saran Wrap! SARAN WRAP! Ahahahahahahahahah!

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