About Rayna

Newfoundlander, returned home from Toronto a few years ago after 14 years in exile! Knitter of pretty string, spinner of fluff (mostly wheel), sometimes designer and newbie dyer. Occasional stringer of shiny rocks. Wife, and doggie mom.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other….

One of these things just doesn’t belong.

I have spent the last week or so doing experiments in hand dyeing yarn.  Right now, I am just kettle dyeing as I don’t have the set up in my studio for hand painting yet.  (Oh, it’s coming…the day is fast approaching…)

Colour theory is fascinating…sometimes you need a lot less of one colour than another, when you are blending to make a third.  Sometimes, when you don’t read the label and use the “wrong” red, surprising, beautiful things happen.

IMG_2841Sometimes, when you vary the process on Experiment #4, something turns out differently.

IMG_0469See that green in the top right corner?  NOT what I had in mind, and not at all in keeping with the first three skeins.  I got the colour all wrong AND I changed one little step in the process.  As a result (I think) and it came out nearly entirely solid, save for that weird little yellow splotch.  Definitely not a keeper.  Back into the dye bath with ye.

And it overdyed into this wonderful colourway:

FullSizeRender(2)It’s actually my favourite so far, I think.  (Although that red-purple is really gorgeous!)  The question now is, could I ever replicate it?  Unlikely but it might be fun to try.

Wonder what’s on this evening’s experiment docket?


I know…Orange!!

A Grand Delivery

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to allot some money to “play”.  We each had a specified amount to spend and I thought, “What would I like to buy from this newfound wealth?”  He bought a new iPad Air, but frankly, except for the fact that I’d like it to have a larger capacity, I could not justify a new iPad.

So I started thinking, what crafting supplies have I wanted but have yet to spend the money to purchase?  It hit me…supplies for two of my lesser practiced skills….designing and dyeing.

So I ordered some stitch dictionaries to round out my collection, and I picked up some acid dye powder. I also snagged 20 skeins of undyed merino nylon sport yarn (which if I am to be completely honest, I’ll admit were supposed to be sock yarn) and a few batches of undyed fibre.

Yesterday, the box showed up at the door.

IMG_0986So many exciting things to have fun with, once I got to the end of my workday!


So after dinner, hubby went off to his night shift and I decided my first attempt was going to be a pine-y green from the six colours that were in my “starter” kit.


I still have the liquid dyes but I really want to transition over to these so I figured I may as well get started.

So I added the colours and turned on the slow cooker.  Mental note to self…cooker works better when actually plugged in….*sigh*

When I was done with the stirring, I added the yarn and it occurred to me that I was going to be sad with the result.  After all, I had made a point to make sure the dye bath was totally homogeneous so now I was going to have solid green, right?  And I really didn’t want that.

Well, as it turns out, hand-dyeing is part colour mixing, part alchemy.  The yarn…turned out nothing like I thought it would.  Nope…not at all.


On the line outside this morning, it was clear there were paler parts, and, O happy day, some parts that definitely veered off towards the blue.  I could not have been happier with the non-solid result.


Since I have no idea whether I can reproduce this, I may earmark this for sport weight socks for me.  And with the number of skeins I have, this may push me to design a sport weight sock pattern…but I digress.

Now I have another skein soaking…can’t decide whether to try orange, or some version of pinky-purpley-fuschia.  This is entirely too much fun!!

FO: More Hermione’s Socks

I had not realized that it had been so long since I had been here.  I loathe winter.  With the fiery passions of a thousand suns…the ones that never seem to shine from January to March.  I get a serious case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I just want to curl up in a ball and do nothing until spring.

I think this year, I thought it would be different.  I had this romantic notion of being back in my home province, in my own house, with snow falling gently outside while I knit and spin and accomplished so much through the cold winter.  Yeah…no.  I did some knitting and some spinning, to be sure.  And my brain went on a short design binge (none of which have been actually knit or written up yet), but otherwise my creativity did hit somewhat of a wall.

Last month, my dear friend Val sent me a box filled with yarn goodies, mostly in bright/spring-y colours.  The box included a gorgeous skein of Socks That Rock in a colour called “Hope Springs Eternal”.

When I was going on a two week business trip last month and needed a project to take on about 20 hours of flying and lots of hotel room evenings, I used it to cast on another pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks.  This pattern, along with my own Petty Harbour pattern, are my go-to I-don’t-have-to-think sock patterns.

After kitchenering the first toe at the end of week one, with a 14 hour trip home still in the offing, I was worried.  There was suddenly a real possibility that I’d run out of yarn.

Kitchenering a sock at 37000 feet somewhere over Colorado, as one does…

Now since no one, I thought foolishly, knits a pair of socks in two weeks, I had failed to bring along any other yarn.  My friend, Shireen, to the rescue!  She lovingly brought me a skein of SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock…JUST in case.

What I did not count on was 1) how super busy conferences can be, especially when my company is hosting and 2) that I would get a cold that would pretty much lay me flat every minute that I wasn’t scheduled to be somewhere.

So when I did get home, I was not quite done the second sock…just a few repeats short of the toe.  And I felt so crappy that it took me a couple of more evenings to finish them off.

So now, I have lovely new spring socks.  And if you’ve ever encountered spring in Newfoundland, you know that they are likely to be worn at least a few times before they are put away for the season.

Out Of The Loop

Wow…I had no idea how long it had been since I posted anything.

Been a super busy few months…months that included a lot of extra work hours and some travel for work.  Add to that my off and on traditional mid-winter-blues-that-take-my-knitting-mojo and some sooper seekrit projects, and there you have it.  One quiet Rayna for a month or so.

That being said, I did manage to start some socks for my Mom.  Sadly, they were in almost black and while normally I’d actually enjoy them them, at this time of year, knitting them nearly killed my eyes and my mood.  So after several weeks of slogging through the first sock, I politely requested that she pick something else, for now, and told her I’d finish her black socks over the summer, when there was more light.  (I foresee knitting on my new back deck with beer or wine…but I digress…)

The first selection included a slew of red fingering weight yarns and she happily picked one of those.  So I set my self up to knit her some No Purl Monkeys in red until I offhandedly mentioned that I had knit one of my pairs of Felici Sport striped socks in less than a week.  (Sport weight yarn plus 3.25mm needles equals almost instant gratification.)  She decided right there and then that she’d like to see my stash of that yarn, please, which was just fine by me.

In the end, it came down to Chimney

or Monochrome

and she could not decide.   I had nearly decided on Monochrome when I realized that it still meant that I was knitting grey in winter.

Chimney, it was!

After a false start that made me realize (at the end of the first leg) I had started from the wrong place in the ball, they moved along quite quickly.

I got in lots of plane-knitting time on my way to Toronto and then finished them at a knit night at a friend’s the next day, 8 days after I started them.  I delivered them to Mom when I got back to St. John’s the following weekend.

She is quite enamoured with them, and they’ll tide her over until the half Petty Harbour Sock in indigodragonfly Merino Sock that I have managed finally becomes a pair!

New Toys!

So last week, I Instagram-ed this photograph of a delivery from Linda at Baynoddy:

Feb03SurpriseTwo different people guessed what was in one of the two boxes.  My mother in law had a bit of an advantage as she knew I was saving up money to buy something special.  It’s something I had wanted for several months, ever since Shireen had started me dyeing my own fibres.

I had been wanting to lay hands on a blending board ever since I realized that a drum carder was 1) expensive and 2) overkill for what I was trying to accomplish…unless First Light Handcrafts goes into the batt-making business. But I digress.

Feb03BoardI ordered it at the beginning of January and waited patiently (mostly) for it to arrive.  While I was waiting I did a few things including dye some fibre and make plans for some less than ideal fibre I had laying about.  For example, a few years ago I purchased some BFL in a destash and it was a nightmare to spin.  Night.  Mare.  It was clumpy, and would not draft.  To this day I am not sure if it was bad dyeing or bad storage so I won’t comment on the dyer.  I nearly tossed it out the window.  Then Mother Macrina over at Inglenook mentioned to me that that was how she got started….other Mothers in the convent brought her fibre that was mostly unusable and she put it through her drum carder.  So I held onto this gorgeous ultraviolet but unspinnable fibre and boy, am I glad I did!  (It’s the one on the right and looks far more blue here than violet, which is part of the reason I purchased it!)

Feb03fibreOn Sunday, I set up the board and located some fibre that I had dyed while I was still living in Toronto….some unidentified Minnesota wool and some undyed Tussah silk, both dyed using turquoise dye.  I also found some undyed bamboo.  Using the purple BFL as a base, I started…a layer of it, one of the bamboo, one of the water-y blue and one of the blue silk.  I then set to making my rolags.

My first pass looked perfect…until I realized that I was never going to get the rolag off the dowels in one piece.  The part of the instruction video that failed to stick in my head?  The part where she made three or four rolags from one board full of fibre…not just one.  Oops.  The fibre was so tight I was totally unable to even budge the rolag.  I had to tear it up to get it off.  Back to the drawing board.

Feb03RuinedTry number two went, I am happy to report, much better.

Feb03ProgressI deliberately made 4 per board and got 8 rolags done before I decided I had some other fibre-y tasks to get to.

Feb03All8I will be making a good many more of this colour set…I imagine until I run out of one of the components to make them.  I almost want to free up a bobbin and start spinning…I am so excited to see how they spin up!

ISO: Knitting Mojo

So it’s that time of the year again…this is pretty much a semi-annual event.  My knitting mojo has gone missing and while I am still doing some knitting, I am not taking a lot of joy in it at the moment.

So on the weekend, I broke out the Crock-Pot and the dyes, and I dyed up some Superwash Wook roving and some Tussah silk in purples and blues.

fibre, fiber, dyeing, acid dyes, silk, spinningI think I know just what I am going to do with them but a bit more on that later.

And last night, my Lendrum finally made a re-appearance in my life.  Since it had been three months, it took a little bit of finagling (amazing the little detail you forget when it’s been that long) but by the time the evening was done I had very little of the batt I was playing with left.

battI had started this batt as an attempt at “long-draw drafting for woolen spun” yarn, but it really did not work out.  My spinning-teacher-turned-friend, Leslie, surmised that it was the fibre prep, and that I should try that technique with another batt somewhere down the road.  I purchased Jacey Bogg’s Craftsy class on drafting, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will be trying it again.  I have several beautiful Inglenook Fibers batts…the handiwork of the ultra-talented Mother Macrina, but they are all so stunning, I can’t bear the thoughts of “ruining” them with bad drafting.

In addition to all of this, I have other fibre treats on order and I am hoping to have them by the weekend.  So, I may not be knitting, but I am not letting that keep my fibre-y creativity down.

That being said…if you find my knitting mojo, please do send it home.  I miss it.

Burn The Candles

If you have been reading for a while, you know that I never link to random blog posts, unless they have something to do with me personally.  I much prefer to write my own stuff, and talk about things personal to me…my life, knitting, spinning, cooking, and so on.

Today, I make an exception, because this post was personal to me.  We are all guilty of this to some extent, I am sure.  I have been known to keep the good wine, the good yarn, the good fibre for “special” times/occasions/patterns/projects, like somehow I don’t yet deserve them.  But this author makes such a great argument!


Burn The Candles

FO: Striped Socks

My first FO of 2015 is early…mostly because they are plain stockinette socks in self striping yarn.  I always find self striping yarn seems to knit itself; I guess that’s because it’s easy to talk yourself into “just one more stripe” and it never gets boring.

I cast these on the week before Christmas because I was feeling blue and not at all in the holiday spirit, and I wanted something cheerful.  This yarn is definitely that.  Extremely bright and colourful, it was just the cure for what ailed me.  As an aside, this is my first Turtlepurl yarn and I quite liked the base…not at all splitty, easy to work with and produced very nice socks.

My friend Christina had just completed a pair of striped socks using a pattern with an afterthought heel, and I was convinced to try it myself when my quasi-OCD self fell in love with the unbroken stripe pattern.  I have to admit now, though, that I remain unconvinced.

StripedSocks1I followed a tutorial that Christina recommended and I even did a search and found another that advertized heels with no holes.  Yet, where I picked up the stitches to fill in the gap, I got fairly substantial holes.  I had tonnes of yarn so I “sewed up” the open spaces, but still.  Either I made a mistake (which I am absolutely willing to admit that I might have!) or the tutorial was off.

StripedSocks2I will give it another try before tossing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.  but if I encounter the same difficulty on a second pair, I will likely go back to my standard sock pattern and not worry about the stripe pattern being just a touch off.


Socks (with gratuitious Kayleigh Dog in the background!)

Pattern: There really wasn’t one…cast on 56 stitches and knit three stripes worth of stripes.  Then stockinette until heel placement per tutorial.   Knit to toe…do toe to 14 stitches on each needle (my first three toes are all the same length so pointy toes don’t work for me at all) and Kitchener.  Go back and pick up stitches for heel.  Knit one full stripe, then decrease like a toe until 8 stitches on each needle and Kitchener.

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes in “Polly Wanna Cracker?”

Who Was It Made For?  Me

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  No pattern used

Did I Learn Anything New?  Yep!  Afterthought heel.

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  I will try this method one more time.

New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I made one resolution… To quit making New Year’s resolutions!

Every year I make these resolutions, I very rarely actually keep them, and then am riddled with guilt because I have not kept them. I have learned over time that life gets in the way sometimes, and that making resolutions because you think you should have them is not the same as making them because there are things you really want or even need to accomplish.

For the past two years, for example, I have resolved to knit only from stash for a while. You can guess how well that has gone!

Would I like to knit from stash more? Absolutely! I have a massive collection of stunning yarns, and it’s sad to see them languishing.

Would I like to read more? Definitely! Again I have a collection of great books that I have not read, but guilting myself into reading them is going to take the joy out of it for me.

Setting numbers of skeins and quantities of pages isn’t going to make my life any better. In 2015, I will try to be more creative, and live my life in a way that makes me happy, doing things that bring me joy. Full stop.

Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year? Why or why not?