The Fibre-Dyeing Experiment:
About three weeks ago, I was halfway through spinning the merino/silk half of Mumâ€™s yarn, and I found myself craving colour. It is spring! I want to spin something pretty! The yarn Iâ€™m spinning for her is gorgeous, but itâ€™s white. I thought that as a treat after all my crazy work and hard budgeting, Iâ€™d subscribe to a three-month fibre club. Except theyâ€™re all so much more expensive now that the USPS shipping has gone up, and the one I wanted to do that I subscribed to in 2010 took off over the last two and a half years and now has two different clubs, a waiting list, and a jump-on-it-as-itâ€™s-released rush, like Phat Fiber has. (I am thrilled sheâ€™s doing so well, but I am kind of cranky, too, in a â€˜get off my spinning lawnâ€™ kind of way.) So as much as I love getting fibre surprises in the mail, I canâ€™t justify the cost knowing that I could do it myself for so much less.
So thatâ€™s what I decided to do. I bought a $20 roasting tin for dyeing, and Iâ€™m going to dye 4oz of fibre for myself every month. Or I may do a couple at a time in different colour combos, and put one aside to pull out randomly when I donâ€™t have time or inclination to dye some. I have lots of plain fibre tucked away to use. It will be a do-it-yourself fibre club!
My first dye experiment was a gradation from green through blue then red on some BFL. But it didnâ€™t blend as much between the colours as I wanted to create a blue-green and purple, because I set up for low-immersion dyeing then handpainted in the pan, so it didnâ€™t work the way it was supposed to for either method. I did a blue overdye of the whole braid the next day, though, and it turned out beautifully!
The Test Knit:
I signed up to do a test knit of an online acquaintance’s childâ€™s sweater pattern, in an Owlet size. It’s garter stitch and a simple construction, but elegant in its simplicity, the kind of thing I could manage, I thought. I got the pattern via e-mail mid-March, and started angsting about yarn. Choosing yarn is hard! Itâ€™s so much easier to make it yourself, because then you can get the exact grist and composition you need, and often the colour, too. Plus, itâ€™s a lot less expensive. (I realise the statement â€œitâ€™s easier to make your ownâ€ makes an awful lot of people snort incredulously. Just go with me, here.) I got the pattern, and I was so excited! Trepidatious, but excited! Iâ€™ve never test knit anything before! And then I got hit with that last massive edit to do on a hard deadline, and lost my time in which I relax and knit or do other stuff. Okay, no problem; maybe I could knit while Owlet was awake. (Ha ha haâ€” no. Never.) The designer okayed my past-deadline projected finish, though, bless her.
I had nothing in my stash (of course, because I donâ€™t knit, so I do not have a yarn stash of sensible stuff, only handspun of enough yardage for scarves), so I looked at my budget, said, â€œI can get a really low-quality wool blend or a good acrylic,â€ and found an acrylic that was not completely unrelated to the dusty plum colour I was envisioning. I brought it home and swatched it up. It was just a tiny bit over gauge. So I went ahead.
And I hated how it felt, and the knitted fabric was stiff, and I couldnâ€™t go up or down a needle size or it would be wildly off gauge or even stiffer. So I groused a lot and researched more yarn, and finally decided that Iâ€™d either get Cascade 220 or something else if it totalled under $30, and even that I shouldnâ€™t do because money was, as usual, super tight. (The acrylic will be used, donâ€™t worry. I have a project in mind, for which it will be perfect.) Iâ€™d been angsting about this project a lot, and I was already stressed because the product was going to be late, thanks to work.
Then a week ago I was shifting things around in the storage room, and I found a box marked â€œMum yarn fabricâ€ that hadnâ€™t been unpacked after the last move. And I remembered that five years ago, my mum had sent me home with a bunch of wool and mostly-wool yarns from frogged partly-knit Aran sweaters and such, plus some linen fabric that she was clearing out of her own stash. And I found the perfect undyed yarn, wound into balls with no label. It was the right weight, and it swatched to gauge. I did a burn test, and it seems to be mostly wool with some acrylic/nylon. And a sample skein took my purple dye beautifully.
So the test knit was in business again! I skeined up the handwound balls to dye it, discovered that there was over a pound of the yarn, measured out the 530 yards Iâ€™d need (and thereâ€™s enough to do more than another of these sweaters left). I dyed it a pretty dusty plum colour, which ended up a bit bluer than Iâ€™d intended but itâ€™s lovely, so Iâ€™m not messing with it by overdyeing it. I have about five inches of the back knit already.
The Blanket Square Fiasco:
I have a very careful chart of all the blanket squares Iâ€™ve signed up to knit for our knitting groupâ€™s baby blankets. And yet despite this, I somehow managed to mix the next yarn I’d need for an end-of-March set of squares with the yarn another mum and I are sharing for a blanket squares due in May. Iâ€™d planned to order the yarn for these two squares when Mum came to visit in February (the visit that was rescheduled to late March, so I could perhaps be forgiven in that respect), so I hadnâ€™t even ordered it yet when I realised it was due in two weeks! I ordered it immediately, and the yarn arrived in less than a week. I started knitting right away, but the pattern I was assigned for this square isnâ€™t my usual pattern I usually knit for our groupâ€™s blankets. It requires a lot more concentration than my regular one, so itâ€™s going slowly because I canâ€™t do it while Owlet is playing or while Sesame Street is on. The coordinator for this blanket okayed me being late on them, too, but I felt like Iâ€™d let everyone down somehow. What good is a detailed chart if I canâ€™t interpret the info on it properly?
What About Sparkyâ€™s Socks?
Well, the only thing worse than second sock syndromeâ€¦ is third sock syndrome. I finally cast on for his second properly-sized sock two weeks ago. Iâ€™m at the beginning of the heel.
So much knitting, most of it on a deadline. I donâ€™t know who I am any more.
Not exactly fibre-focused, but related because itâ€™s with my online knitting group:
I signed up for a toddler busy bag swap with my Ravelry group thatâ€™s due in mid-April. I think I am moderately insane, but now I have time to put my bead-stringing project together. (Twelve times. Ha ha ha. Still, it means I get eleven other busy bag projects in return, which is really awesome.) And weâ€™re doing a Reduce/Reuse/Recycle swap, due in mid-May, which I havenâ€™t even started on yet either, though I have an electronic scrapbook file of ideas…