The Fibre-Dyeing Experiment:
About three weeks ago, I was halfway through spinning the merino/silk half of Mum’s yarn, and I found myself craving colour. It is spring! I want to spin something pretty! The yarn I’m spinning for her is gorgeous, but it’s white. I thought that as a treat after all my crazy work and hard budgeting, I’d subscribe to a three-month fibre club. Except they’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-it’s-released rush, like Phat Fiber has. (I am thrilled she’s doing so well, but I am kind of cranky, too, in a ‘get off my spinning lawn’ kind of way.) So as much as I love getting fibre surprises in the mail, I can’t justify the cost knowing that I could do it myself for so much less.
So that’s what I decided to do. I bought a $20 roasting tin for dyeing, and I’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 don’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 didn’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 didn’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 child’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! It’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, it’s a lot less expensive. (I realise the statement “it’s easier to make your own” 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! I’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 ha— no. Never.) The designer okayed my past-deadline projected finish, though, bless her.
I had nothing in my stash (of course, because I don’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, “I can get a really low-quality wool blend or a good acrylic,” 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 couldn’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 I’d either get Cascade 220 or something else if it totalled under $30, and even that I shouldn’t do because money was, as usual, super tight. (The acrylic will be used, don’t worry. I have a project in mind, for which it will be perfect.) I’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 “Mum yarn fabric” that hadn’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 I’d need (and there’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 I’d intended but it’s lovely, so I’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 I’ve signed up to knit for our knitting group’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. I’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 hadn’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 isn’t my usual pattern I usually knit for our group’s blankets. It requires a lot more concentration than my regular one, so it’s going slowly because I can’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 I’d let everyone down somehow. What good is a detailed chart if I can’t interpret the info on it properly?
What About Sparky’s Socks?
Well, the only thing worse than second sock syndrome… is third sock syndrome. I finally cast on for his second properly-sized sock two weeks ago. I’m at the beginning of the heel.
So much knitting, most of it on a deadline. I don’t know who I am any more.
Not exactly fibre-focused, but related because it’s with my online knitting group:
I signed up for a toddler busy bag swap with my Ravelry group that’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 we’re doing a Reduce/Reuse/Recycle swap, due in mid-May, which I haven’t even started on yet either, though I have an electronic scrapbook file of ideas…