Lace Has Arrived!

The Douane has finally released my last box of Madelinetosh yarn from their clutches.  In the box was Tosh Lace, pictured above.  Aren’t they lovely?  I only bought these 8 colors, but after seeing how gorgeous they are I’m thinking I need to buy MORE.

Here are the specs:  content :: 100% superwash merino wool; length :: 950 yards / 868 meters.  That’s a LOT of lace yarn in each skein.  Check out the shop!

Trying my Hand at Hand-Dyeing

The above photo was taken yesterday afternoon, and shows my hand painting set up for my 1 skein of yarn.  I was going to put the best photo of the effect on the top here, but that would spoil the surprise, wouldn’t it?!  You’ll have to look through the whole blog post to get to the good stuff.

Above you can see my table up in the attic where there are normally clean clothes waiting to be put away.  Not yesterday!  Instead I covered it with newspaper, then made a rectangle of plastic wrap where the damp yarn will be laid out.  The pot in the center holds the yarn that soaked in water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  That soaked over night even though such a long soak wasn’t necessary.  I just ran out of time the day before to actually do the dyeing.  The jars of dye are:  red, yellow and green all-in-one acid dyes (which I bought from Tall Yarns at iKnit London last summer).  The jar of blue dye is actually 3 packets of Kool-Aid.  I didn’t have any other blue to use.

Above you can see how I laid out the yarn and painted it with dye.  I had not yet done the green at the top of the photo.  I could really tell the difference between the acid dyes and the Kool-Aid.  The acid dyes, especially the red, took very little of the liquid to achieve a completely saturated color.  The Kool-Aid on the other hand had to be dabbed with dye water over and over again to get the color in the yarn.  It was a lot more work than the acid dyes.

I tried my hand at bleeding the colors together to get an orange.  This worked pretty well.  It took very VERY little red on the brush to overpower the yellow.  I did some blending too between the yellow and blue, but the Kool-Aid dye didn’t play very nicely and didn’t blend very well.

After making sure everything was as saturated as possible, and there was no dye water running around to contaminate the other colors (meaning, that all the dye was taken up by the yarn and the water around was pretty clear), I wrapped the plastic wrap around the yarn.  I then put another layer of plastic wrap (in 4 pieces) around it, from the top and wrapping around the bottom.  This made a pretty neat package without anything leaking out.  I then coiled it up and it was ready for steaming.

The day before I had bought a plastic colander that I thought would fit into my biggest pot.  Unfortunately I don’t have a big canning pot (do you have any idea how hard it is to buy canning supplies in Europe?  Darn near impossible.).  This worked out just fine though.

The colander fit perfectly and the pot lid laid nicely on top.  I put about 2 inches of water in the bottom, brought it to a boil and steamed the coil for 20 minutes, then turned it over, and steamed for another 25 minutes.  I then put the coil outside in the back garden to cool off.

It looked kind of melty and weird and I really didn’t know what to expect when I unwrapped it.  I let it cool completely without disturbing it.  The plastic wrap actually came off without too much trouble and only melted a little to itself.  The yarn looked amazing!  Here’s a photo of it drying upstairs, after I had rinsed it for 5 minutes continuously.

Look at those brilliant colors!  Wow! 🙂

This morning it was completely dry and I twisted it up into this.

And then I couldn’t help myself.  I caked it.

I just love it.  I can’t wait to make socks from this.  I know, they will be very colorful, loud socks.  But they will be MINE, all mine.  I tell you, dyeing yarn is magic.  I can’t wait to do it again.

Oh, by the way, I learned everything I know, and used instructions found in two books:  Teach Yourself Visually Hand Dyeing by Barbara Parry, and Dye One Knit One from Tall Yarns.  This is also the place I bought the yarn and acid dyes.

This is just too much fun not to try for yourselves!  It’s not rocket science.  Go on, make a mess and have some fun!

p.s. I didn’t tell you about measuring and making the skein to dye.  The skein originally measured about 60 inches around.  I wanted to be sure to get stripes and not just dabbles of color.  I wound the skein into a cake, then set up my swift to measure about 92 inches in the center, then reskeined the yarn.  I divided that measurement into 4 for each of the 4 colors.  I have no idea now if that was big enough to make striped socks.  I’ll just have to see when I knit it up.  I have a feeling it will be just 1 round per color, which will be OK, but I would have rather had 2 rounds per color.  We’ll see!

Handu Yarns in the Shop

Looks what’s new in the shop!  HanDuos from Handu yarns are hand dyed in Finland and these beauties were commissioned for Yarns Apart.

These are pairs of skeins, fingering (sock) weight, each 50g, dyed to be complimentary and meant to be used together.  They are sold as pairs, so 100g in total.  They are perfect for 2 color brioche, Fair Isle, stripes, or anywhere you want complimentary colors together.  Each pair is enough for a pair of socks, gloves, mittens, scarves or lace shawls.  The yarn is 75% wool and 25% polyamide.  They are super soft, squishy, and lovely!  Come to the shop and check them out…..

Bundles of Brioche Baby Booties

I’ve been making lots of these brioche stitch baby booties.  I’ve made 5 in fact.  No, I don’t know any 1 legged babies, it’s just that one of the booties didn’t quite make the cut.  In the photo above, the one of the far right, with the yellow in it, is the extra.  The two on the left were given to a colleague this last week as she left for maternity leave.  I made a 5th bootie to match the darker one, third from the left.  Here is the last pair together:

I made them with Drops Delight, which I suppose is the poor-man’s Noro sock yarn.  It’s 25% nylon which makes them good for throwing in the wash and good for baby items.  It is only spun at the parts where differing colors come together.  In the parts where it’s only a single color, it’s a single yarn without any spin at all.  This makes it very soft, but very easy to split and not all the pleasant to work with.  I don’t think I’ll be using it again.  For these little socks though it looks good and serves the purpose well.

The pattern can be found HERE.  I have to warn you that the English version is not very well written and you have to know how to improvise and fix a pattern in order to make it come out right.  I thought about re-writing it and sending it to the designer, but frankly I just haven’t taken the time.  Maybe she wouldn’t appreciate my taking editing liberties.  And maybe she’d be really thankful.  Pfffffffffff.  I’m busy enough…….

The above pair of booties will go to my boss, who’s girlfriend is having a baby in June.  Now, as far as I know, I am free from baby knitting for a few months!

I’m also still busy on the shell top (from Vogue Knitting 1991).

This is made with O-Wool Balance (50% wool, 50% cotton).  It’s turning out really lovely.  The yarn is so nice to work with and it’s super light and bouncy.  It will be perfect for summer in Holland.

Speaking of summer in Holland…. I hope we see it!  We had really nice weather for a few weeks in April, but the first two weeks of May have been COLD!  I refuse to get my winter coat out again and you just never know what the temperature will be in the office at work, so I haven’t felt really comfortable these weeks.  Do I need to wear a raincoat or a t-shirt?  You have to just prepare yourself for anything.  That’s spring in Holland.  Let’s hope summer is a good one like last year.

I was talking to a Spanish colleague last week and we were laughing about how Dutch summers are not predictable.  We agreed that where we come from (Barcelona and California) the summers are always the same – hot and sunny.  You can count on it.  Here, on the other hand, you could have a mostly warm and sunny summer like last year, or you could have a mostly rainy and cool summer like the year before.  You just never know.  Since we have just finished completely renovating our garden and bought garden furniture and since we are not going on any summer vacation, we’d BETTER have a nice summer.  Otherwise I might be forced to run away to Barcelona or California for a couple of weeks!

Walk on the Wild Side

Today I went for a walk out to the polder past Spaarndam.  I went looking for wildlife.  I was pretty disappointed.

Last year I ran in this area regularly.  I saw so many ducks and geese and swans and other water birds!  It was wonderful.  I watched their young grow.  I watched them migrate.  Now that I’m a bit more mobile I decided to walk to the same area and see what was happening this year.

First of all, they’ve ruined a big area along the Spaarn where lots of ducks and geese called home last year.  I don’t know who decided this, but someone said that it was ok to first put houseboats in the waterfowl area, then, later, this ship.

Do you see any birds in the above photo?  No.  Not a one.  Last year this area was teaming with birds.  Now nothing.  It made me really sad.  Where had they gone?  I kept walking to try to find them.

At the fork in the river I turned left.  Last year, along this left fork of the Spaarn I saw not only the above mentioned birds, but also a pheasant!  Now?  Only the 2 ducks in the first photo.  What is strange is that I’ve never seen those kind of ducks before.  They were so pretty!  I don’t know if you can tell, but their bills were blue.  Do you know what kind of ducks they are?  They seemed lost.  They were alone.  New ducks in a new neighborhood that everyone else had moved out of.

I wondered what else had caused everyone to move out.  I continued walking along the main road of Spaarndam and came to a huge construction area.  They are busy with reconstruction of the locks and drawbridge.  I’m sure this wasn’t making the wildlife happy either.  When I got there the bridge was up, letting a boat go through.  These temporary bridges move VERY slowly so it was a long wait before we could cross over.  I waited with the traffic and the bikes.

I continued to walk, out into the polder.  Last year these fields were covered in geese.  Most of them were Egyptian geese and also some Canadian geese.  This year, now?  I counted about a dozen Egyptian geese.  There were also some of these pretty and fragile looking birds.

In the distance I could see a field of sheep and thought I might as well go get some lamb photos.

By this time I’d been walking for an hour.  During that hour I had jogged a few minutes just to test and loosen up the knee.  After an hour I was really ready to head home.  Walking the hour back home was long and I was a little annoyed with myself for walking so far.  DB called me while I was still 30 minutes from home wondering where the heck I was.  I almost asked him to come pick me up on his bike.  But no, I toughed it out and walked the rest of the way home.  I was beat when I got back.  Sitting here now, on the couch Sunday evening writing this, my legs really feel sore.  I’m so out of shape!  I realize that getting back to running is going to take a long longer than I had hoped.

But the bigger issue is – where has all the wildlife gone???

UPDATE:  I’ve searched around the net and I think that the lovely blue billed ducks are Greater Scaup.  Here’s a quote: “In Europe and Asia, the Greater Scaup breeds from Iceland through northern Russia and winters from the British Isles south and east through the inland seas and then along Asia’s Pacific Coast.”  You know what I think?  I think the volcano in Iceland has confused them and they ended up here.  No wonder they looked lost.

Shop Update!

Look what came in the mail yesterday!  This is the box of Tosh Sock.  I also got a box of Pigeonroof Studios sock and sport weight yarns.

Which is my favorite?  Wow, how could I ever pick?  It was so hard to put them ALL into shop inventory and not save any for myself.  Not a one.  All for sale.  All my new babies.

Ah well, there’s more where that came from!

Everything is put away nicely in bins with labels and lids, just waiting to go to their new homes.  I’m loving this new business.