I Knew I Was Having a Slow Year….

I really had no idea how little I had accomplished from a crafting standpoint until, on a whim, I looked at my FOs for the year.

Considering I have, for the past several years, completed in the neighbourhood of 25 knitted projects over the span of the year, I’d say calling this one slow is a massive understatement.

I have, to date in 2015, completed exactly five projects.  This is unheard of.  I should be at a minimum of 14 by now, if I were on track for a “usual” year.  And in fact, two of these five are not even officially in the FO list because they have not been blocked and photographed.

Now, in my defence, there are other things I have been doing from a creative point of view.

I am in the midst of a sooper seekrit project that I cannot talk about for another while yet.

I have taken up hand dyeing and have dyed up about 20 skeins (plus a single braid of fibre) this summer…plus I have more undyed yarn winging its way to me as we speak.

I have done some spinning (although no plying and as such have also added almost no spinning FOs to my list, either!).  This is a lovely indigodragonfly braid I started for Tour de Fleece (don’t even get me started on how badly I did in keeping up with TdF this year!  Downright embarrassing…)

I took a sewing class, although, if I am honest I haven’t done a whole lot of that either.

And I sure as heck haven’t been blogging!

I wonder where my year has gone….?  Looks like I am going to have to get a severe case of finish-itis if I am going to make any progress this year at all.

The other option, I suppose, is to stop forcing it and just craft when I feel like it.  That’s a valid lifestyle choice, right?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

Dyeing Alone

Saturday evening’s dyeing experiment made me brave.  So when Shireen left her dyeing supplies in my kitchen when she left, Sunday suddenly became filled with colourful possibilities.

When we did our dye date last fall, some of the fibre we tried to dye met with unfortunate endings.  One of the couple of batches I did at the time ended up quite felted, and the other stuff never was all that tempting to spin.

So Sunday morning, I grabbed a couple of the single batches of unknown-but-likely-wool fibre and gave them a go.

I soaked the fibre in vinegar and water for the prescribed time and then drained the soaking water into the crock.

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The first braid was supposed to be a pale watery blue-green and a chocolate brown – but after immersing the fibre in the blue dye bath, I wimped out with the brown, fearing it would not stick to the fibre properly and that I’d end up with a grungy mess.  This one is sort of pretty, but I’d have preferred that it was either lighter and more water-y or darker and more turquoise-y.

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Water’s Edge

 

I had an idea for a blood orange colourway, so I mixed up some orange dye using the colours I had on hand and then when the fibre was fully immersed, I dropped some more red on the top of the fibre.

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I left it in the crock and promptly forgot about it….returning later to find the dye bath exhausted, but the water actually boiling.  Shockingly, it does not seem to be felted at all and the resulting braid looks something like this.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange

I am not delighted with either of them, but it was a fun experiment and I am hoping I’ll get brave enough to try something more interesting next time the spirit moves me.

World’s Craftiest Weekend

It’s always fun and relaxing to spend the majority of the weekend crafting, but those full weekends come along far less often than I might like.  Getting to spend half that weekend with like-minded friends?  That happens even less often again.

Saturday saw all sorts of fun things, including spinning, knitting, weaving and dyeing.

Weaving…where shall I start?  First off, I blame Shireen, The Enabler.  She has been posting some of the most beautiful FO shots since acquiring her 20″ Ashford Knitters Loom about a month ago, and she has been regaling me with tales of how quickly these lovely items are going from skeins to wearable items.  I have a rather substantial number of single skeins of sock yarn and Kim at indigodragonfly has also been telling me for a long time that a great way to use some of these up is to get a loom, but I wasn’t sure weaving would be my thing.

Then, Shireen brought the loom over on Saturday and let me weave some of her leader, so as not to spoil her actual project.  I have to say that while I am sure that producing really nice clean looking edges and such takes some practice, the motions of weaving in and of itself really is pretty easy and the little bit I did led me to believe it could almost be as “zen” an activity as spinning.  (Disclaimer: I may be somewhat delusional!)

She has enabled me into looking seriously at acquiring a loom…so much so that I got a line on a second hand one by posting on Ravelry to see if someone had one to destash.  I will know more next weekend.

Shireen showed up at my place like she was moving in…there was the aforementioned loom, and wonderful Indian food, and decadent chocolate birthday cake for Leslie, but she also brought with her an entire set up for dyeing yarn.  I had a skein of yarn that I got in a swap that I was very unhappy with and I decided to overdye it to see if I could improve it.  I won’t mention the dyer name because it’s irrelevant and seems kinda uncool.  As it was, it took me a while to reconcile myself to doing it as it feels rather like defacing someone else’s art, but I digress.

The photo made it look pretty nice, if not insanely bright.  It was at least enticing enough to make me want to claim it in a Ravelry swap.

Original Skein

Original Skein

What was not clear in this photo was that the yellow-y lime sections had navy blue “smudged” over them, almost like the navy bled and stuck to the lime, rendering it sort of “dirty looking”.  I figured that perhaps overdyeing the skein with some blue might render the lime colour a darker green and I was right.  I kettle dyed the skein in a Crock Pot, using Jacquard acid dyes in a mixture of Sapphire and Turquoise (I didn’t bother to measure as I knew it wasn’t a recipe I’d ever need again).  I let it simmer away until the entire dye bath was exhausted, and hung it to dry.  Sunday morning, this was the result.

The "After" Shot

The “After” Shot

I still don’t love it, per se…but I sure like it a whole lot better.  Perhaps I’ll knit socks out of it, and then if I don’t love the colourway knit up, I’ll overdye the socks to make them even more green.  We shall see.

 

FO of a different sort

Remember this from yesterday?

~Handpainted Fingering Weight

Handpainted Fingering Weight

This was what it looked like after “cooking” and washing:

IMG_4407And here is the picture I got from Shireen last night:

The Finished Product!

The Finished Product!

While I may not exactly be giving indigodragonfly or Tanis Fiber Arts a run for their money anytime soon, I am fairly pleased with it over all.  Looking forward to actually having it in my hot little hands 🙂

Now, to find the right shawl/scarf pattern for it.

Back From The Dead

My blog…not me.  (Although it seems funny that I am bringing my blog back from the dead to talk about dyeing…)

I have been conspicuously absent from the blogosphere these days.  Summer always takes the good right out of me, and even robs me of my fibre arts karma.  My wheel has been covered for months and my knitting comes in fits and starts.  I spend far more time surfing Ravelry and dreaming of what I will make than I do actually making anything.  However, when a dear friend says, “We should get together and try our hand at dyeing some yarn”, that’s hard to resist.

So, yesterday my friend Shireen (from over at The Blue Brick) hosted me and our friend/my spinning teacher Leslie (from Leslie Ordal Fibre Arts) for a day of fingerpainting for adults, aka yarn and fibre dyeing.  Shireen picked up some undyed yarn and clothing dye; Leslie and I grabbed some bags of undyed fibre from stash and some food colouring and we converged on Shireen’s tidy little downtown condo and, well, pretty much totaled it.

We started out with Kool-Aid and the small sport weight skeins first, to try and get a feel for what we were doing. Not sure if I, as the designated dye blend diva of the day, managed to make them a bit diluted, or if this is the nature of Kool-Aid, but the colours did seem somewhat muted.

Shireen's Kool-Aid dyed Cascades 200 Sport weight

Shireen’s Kool-Aid dyed Cascades 200 Sport weight

We eventually moved into Rit and worsted weight yarn, leaving our precious skeins of fingering weight merino for last, when we felt we had a better handle on what we were doing.  I even painted some smaller quantities of fibre to get a grasp on how things might look before trying yarn.

Getting ready for a teal/royal blue/purple paint of my worsted.

Getting ready for a teal/royal blue/purple paint of my worsted.

When we did get to the fingering weight, I was still enamoured with the handpainting process; Shireen and Leslie opted for some immersion/kettle dyeing with a natural dye kit Shireen had picked up at a fibre fair a while back.

I had a specific idea in my head for a red/orange/yellow variegated yarn, so I set to work handpainting my skein with autumnal colours, while the ladies prepped pots for their immersion dyes.

~Handpainted Fingering Weight

Handpainted Fingering Weight

The immersion dyes both turned out absolutely beautifully (I may or may not have even threatened to steal Shireen’s navy blue skein), and both will be perfect for lace because while they are variegated, they are both beautifully tonal.

Shireen's navy blue and Leslie's forest green fingering weight skeins

Shireen’s navy blue fingering weight skein and Leslie’s forest green fibre

Luckily, there is enough navy dye left for me to do one of my own next time.  And we have decreed there will definitely be a next time, that will include expanding our materials list to include acid dyes.  I can’t wait!

All photos in this post taken by and courtesy of Shireen Nadir.