Color by Numbers

There’s been a lot of dyeing going on chez UDS these days.  I’ve decided to split up the news into a post about acid dyes and a post about natural dyes.  First up, acid dyes!

I recently bought a small amount of Greener Shades dyes to try out.  I bought 10g of each of the 9 colors they sell, plus I bought the pdf download of their color book, which shows examples of dye percentage combinations at various DOS concentrations.  I bought these dyes because they are supposed to be easier on the environment, claiming to have no or fewer heavy metals than other acid dyes on the market.  If you search Revelry or online you’ll find some detractors who think the dyes are less “green” than claimed, but if using them allows me to dump water into the sewer system with a clear conscience then I’m all for it.

Of course using only 9 colors requires you to work a lot harder to get interesting colors than just buying them already mixed and tested for you.  I’ve used Dharma Trading dyes with great success and they have even more colors than ever, so it’s a big jump backwards to DIY color mixing.  I was skeptical.  But not any more.  Look at what I did!

I’ll take you through a few photos of dyeing in progress and then the final results.

The weather was fine, so I was able to put one pot outside.

This pot turned into these:

Merino/poly super wash sock yarn.

Dorset Horn fiber.  I dyed them as braids because I was curious how much dye would reach into the bound up parts of the fiber.  I was actually kind of surprised to see so much white.  I have no idea why I decided to dye BOTH braids like this.  Now I have 200g of fiber with big white spots, which is not my favorite.  Maybe after spinning it will look good/interesting?  Not sure what I will do with these.  Maybe over dye.

The above is some BFL dyed with red and black dye.  I expected the dye to mix more, but I like this affect.  I’ve already spun it up into a 3-ply worsted weight yarn sample.

I was really excited about dyeing some of the special blend of fiber I recently ordered.  It is 20% white BFL, 20% oatmeal BFL, 20% merino, 20% silk and 20% mohair.  It’s almost too soft to spin.  Several spinning friends have given it a try and most of them found it easiest to spin woolen.  What I found is that after dyeing the crimp returned to the wool and it was much easier to spin.  Here are before and after photos.


Last but not at all least, the series of gradients dyed on 3 different kinds of fiber.  First I dyed 100% merino, and after that success I decided to replicate the colors on 50/50 BFL/silk and Super Soft Shetland (from J&S).  I mixed up 5 bottles of dye and hand painted the fiber and steamed to set it.

Merino above.

BFL/silk blend.

Two 100g braids of Super Soft Shetland. I can’t WAIT to spin these! They feel fantastic!

And the whole family together.  I’m really happy with the dyes.  So happy that I’ve ordered more from Greener Shades!

Tomorrow I’ll have photos of the natural dyes. So much color from one pot!

Skein 5 – Pink Party!

Remember this ball of merino/nylon I bought back in September?  It’s from Fondant Fibre in the UK.

I started spinning it in September and then it got set aside while I worked on some other spinning and knitting projects.  I picked it up again 2 weeks ago and finished it off.

Here are the 2 bobbins of singles.

I had started spinning this back before I was making lace weight singles.  Coming back to it after 2 months meant that I had learned better technique in that time and wished that I had actually started this thinner.  It was not easy to match the same thickness of the single after so long and forgetting what I was doing in the first place.  This is something I need to remember for future projects, at least while I’m learning and EVERY spinning project is something completely new and different.  Finish what you start in pretty quick order or you will forget what you were doing and how the spinning felt in your hands!

Anyway, I pretty quickly finished the second half of the 120g ball.  The fiber is super soft and was prepared very well.  It really flowed through my hands like water. I wanted to keep it fairly thin so that I could maximize the yardage so I 2-plied it.  It came out like this:

Now, notice that there is no white in this skein while there was white in the fiber? Well, when I dropped the skein into hot soapy water to soak, so much dark pink dye came out that the water turned that color immediately.  I left it alone to soak until the water cooled off and then hung it to dry.  The dye colored the white fiber a light pink.  I don’t mind.  It’s still really nice and there’s less of a barber pole effect now.  But this is something I’ll keep in mind next time and I’ll also let the seller know what happened.

The resulting yarn is about a sport weight – 300 meters to 100g.  I have 116 grams (from a 120g ball of fiber).  I think I’ll make a really simple scarf out of it.  It’s so very soft and bouncy and will feel really nice next to the skin.  I have to hold myself back from casting on right NOW!  But first I have to finish some other knitting….

Dag van de Wol

You might think that every day is a “Day of Wool” chez Underdutchskies, but today was the official “Dag van de Wol” in Oijen, Brabant.  DB even came along for the ride.

I had never been to this event before so I didn’t know what to expect.  I was hoping for lots of spinning wheels to try out, sheep shearing, lots of different kinds of wool from many sheep breeds.  But I was also realistically thinking that it could be much less than this.  It turned out to be less, but still worth a day out.

Here’s what it looked like.

There was a display of lots of spun fibers from lots of different animals, from sheep breeds to yak and even brown bears, to different dog breeds.

And a few animals who were very shy.

But there was no sheep shearing and the only booth selling spinning wheels was LowLandsLegacy, and they only brought Kromski wheels with them.  I did get to try out a Kromski Minstrel wheel which was lovely to spin on.  So smooth and silent and I took to it immediately.  It was like we were old friends. I guess this wheel has jumped to the top of my wish list!

I did of course buy some fiber to spin.  Here’s what I bought, but not all of it is for me.  I bought 2 of the little buckets of sheep breed samples for W. who has loaned me her spinning wheel.  The rest is mine.

The sample buckets, A and B, are filled with 20g bundles of different sheep breed wool to try out and see what you like.  I already had B at home so bought A for myself. Here’s what you get.  These are from LowLandsLegacy.

The big blob of wool, all 500g of it, is Merino, but look how lovely it is! Not just plain white Merino, but this lovely mixed grey and white super soft fluff.  Maybe if I get really good at this I can spin enough for a sweater.  We’ll see.  But it’s a lot to practice on anyway.

And then I did get 200g of super white Merino.  Both the above grey and this white I bought from Meervilt who happen to be located in Haarlem! Oooo dangerous.

Actually, the first thing I bought, was this gorgeous combed top of Merino and silk blend, from Q-art.  The second I saw the lighter ball, I had to have it.  She only had 1 of this color, so I bought a second one in a kind of darker sister color.  I’m sure they will look great together if I want to end up using them together.  I haven’t spun with silk yet, and I think it’s going to be more challenging than the merino and blue faced leicester I’ve spun so far.  It’s going to be fun to try out!

Lastly, I bought this 50g group of rollags, in the first photo at the top of the post.  I can’t remember the name of the shop I got them from. These are to practice long draw drafting.  The videos I’ve seen of people doing this, well, they make it look so easy.  I don’t think it’s easy.  But I want to try.

Oh and I also bought a jar of hand cream and anti-moth spray.  And that was it.  I really wanted to buy some Texelse wool to spin, but no one had any.  Not a one.  That was a surprise.

We got there early and as we were leaving at noon, there were a lot of people still arriving, so I guess we missed the crowds.  Also fine!  We drove to Oss and had lunch there and then came home.

And now I need to show you what else I recently bought to spin and just got in the mail from Fondant Fibre in England.  All of these items were on sale in her web shop and after paying shipping from England (which is very reasonable compared to postage prices in NL), it was all a bargain.

I got this cute dark pink and white merino/nylon blend, which I’ve already started spinning.  I am hoping to make some nice 3ply (my first 3ply) from it.

I also bought this batt of Shetland wool, white yak, and silk blend. Wow!

She also had some sock yarn on sale and how could I pass up a skein of sock yarn in a nice color way for £7?

AND she threw in a little sample of some special fiber to try out. This is blend of Norwegian wool and bamboo she calls Norboo.  Hmmm. Interesting.  I really recommend her web shop for some lovely fibers to spin up. Great service too.

And now it’s time to stop writing and start spinning! I can’t wait to get my hands into all this fluffy stuff!  More photos to come as I make my way through it.

Doing the Mazurka

I bought a spinning wheel! It’s an old style Kromski Mazurka, the original version with the bobbins you can’t buy anymore.  It did come with an original bobbin and 2 homemade ones that will also work.  I bought it from a woman who, I found out, has at least 6 other wheels. I picked it up from her house in Den Haag, so not so far away.  She also gave me a quick lesson on how the wheel works, which was very helpful to a novice like me.

I decided to take it apart and put a darkish finish on it and clean and oil it up.  Here are the photos of the process.  It was actually really easy to take apart and put back together.  I took a lot of before photos to help me remember how it should go back together.

Before:

And after:

What a difference cleaning and oiling made! It spins so much easier now! In fact, I sat down and played with the tension and tried to make yarn and after just 30 minutes, I WAS MAKING YARN!

If you read the bobbin from right to left, in the beginning I was making fat blobby yarn, then in the middle it got a little better but the tension was all wrong and I was having to unwind it and take out twist very often.  It wasn’t feeding into the bobbin nearly fast enough.  I tightened up the drive belt and tried again and voila! on the far left of the photo it’s actually pretty consistent and useful YARN! Super cool.

The other day I went to the Gamma and bought a cheap floor mat to set under the wheel because the wooden legs on the wooden floor just scooted all over the place.  She now has her “spot” in the living room.

Now I can spend my time practicing and trying to be even more consistent in how thick or thin, and the amount of twist added.  Yesterday a friend on Ravelry sent me a message wondering if I had seen this class, coming up in September – Bootcamp for Beginning Spinners.  It’s a full day of intensive spinning lessons.  I signed up within 15 minutes! It sounds perfect for me.

So I’m off on a new fiber adventure.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing lots more about it.

Oh and the previous owner had named her Copelia.  It sounds like a fine name to me and unless another name pops into my head in the next weeks that I like better, or suits better, it will stay Copelia.  Copelia dancing a Mazurka in my living room.  Nice.

Buying and Selling

It seems that lots of knitters are also wannabe shop keepers.  We hoard our yarn that we’ve bought here and there, without an idea of what to make with it but we bought it because it was just too beautiful to leave behind.  And when we have more than is reasonable for space/budget/partner understanding, we sell it on to other like-minded knitters.  We buy and sell and trade yarn with almost as much enjoyment as knitting with it.

I have so much yarn now that I’m in danger of reaching SABLE (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy).  Yes, this is a subject discussed on Ravelry.  I love all of it.  Some more than others.  I decided the other day that if I can in any way justify buying a spinning wheel I have to sell some of my stash.  I have to get this monster under control.  If you are interested, and are on Ravelry, you can find my destash page here.

It doesn’t help the stash balance when I go to interesting places and end up buying yarn.  I always say that yarn bought while on vacation doesn’t count.  But I still have to find somewhere to put it!  I never did show you what I bought in Finland.  It wasn’t much since I was trying to be good.

I bought this yarn from Tuulia, who’s company name is Knitlob’s Lair.  The blue/green is sport weight wool.  The multi skein is sock yarn with 75% wool, 25% poly.

Then, when we went to Vassa to look around, I bought 2 skeins at a yarn shop.  It has dog hair in it.  Actually, 30% dog hair.  I bought it for the uniqueness of it and I think it will make a fine pair of color work mittens.  It’s actually pretty darned soft.

And that’s all the yarn I bought to bring home and knit with later.  I did buy 2 big skeins of Finnish wool that I used in the Swing Knitting class.  Here’s a photo of my project in progress.  I’ve set it down now while I finish some other things first.  I really like the gradient dye.  It’s going to be a large rectangular piece which I will sew into a bag and will wash and felt it.

And that’s all I bought in Finland!  Good, right?

So, I’m busy trying to sell stash yarn (and I did immediately sell off 5 skeins), and up pops an ad in the Dutch Spinners group on Ravelry.  OMG.  You know, I’ve been stalking spinning groups and spinning sites for 6 months now and nothing ever made me want to put down my money before.  But this was just perfect. In every way.  Here she is.

I will pick her (all spinners call their wheels either him or her, mostly her) Tuesday night and this is the photo from the owner.  It’s a Kromski Mazurka.  Now, I’ve fallen in love with the look of the Kromski Minstral and this Mazurka is kind of the grandma to that newer wheel.  What a perfect wheel to learn with and at a steal of a price.  The owner is also going to show me a few things about it when I go to her house Tuesday.  I can’t wait!

Which leads to my last recent purchase…some fiber to practice with of course.  I bought this at Penelope Craft Thursday.  100% merino.

And now I’m done buying.  For now.  Until I need more fiber.  And sell more stash.

Dye Day

I need the perfect storm in order to dye yarn: money for un-dyed yarn, time to spend dyeing yarn, and good weather to be able to rinse and hang dyed yarn outside.  This past Saturday was one of those perfect days.

I had on hand 4 skeins of BFL lace weight yarn (400g total), non-superwash.  And the last time I was in the U.S. I bought a bag of 10 100g skeins of BFL/Silk (55%/45%), DK weight (super wash).  And I have still 9 jars of various colors of Dharma Trading acid dyes.  AND clear blue skies and warm temps.  Perfect!

First of all, I have to tell you that this DK weight BFL/silk IS TO DIE FOR (to DYE for? haha :-P).  It has a nice even twist to it and shines like silk ought to.  It feels like butta in my hands.  I was a little bit afraid of dyeing it – what if I ruined it? It would be a pretty big investment to f-up.  Oh, by the way, I bought it from wool2dye4.

First into the pot though was the lace weight.  I was going for dark fuchsia blending to light fuchsia/pink.  I thought I’d be clever and mix dyes based on CMYK color percentages in Photoshop.  I had magenta and cyan (fuchsia and true turquoise) dyes on hand.  I decided to do 2% DOS, which was, in hindsight, probably too much.  I mixed 85% fuchsia and 15% turquoise in a jar with very hot water.

I let it sit a few minutes, then stirred again and added more water.  It seemed to be mixing really well.  I filled my big dye pot with hot water and citric acid and stirred that til dissolved.  Then in went the dye solution.  I only ever dye a certain weight of yarn so always mix dye for just that batch of yarn.  I only dye yarn 2-3 times a year so there’s no point mixing up dye solution and storing it.  I mix what I need on the day and that’s it.

When I put the yarn into the pot I held the 4 skeins together at the top and slowly lowered them into the pot, a couple of inches, then wait a couple of minutes, repeat.  The last bit of yarn that went into the pot got the least amount of dye.  Now, this is non-superwash yarn but man did it soak up the dye!

While it cooked, the turquoise started to foam up! That was a surprise. Was it separating? Was it soaking in at all? Or crocking?

After 40 minutes I took the pot outside and gently poured out the skeins into a sieve to cool off.  Then I hung them up on my nifty yarn draining bar.

At this point I was disappointed.  They were a lot darker than I wanted.  But also still wet. I let them cool off and drain a bit, then took them down and rinsed them out.  I lost none of the magenta in the rinse water but indeed, turquoise washed out a little bit!

On to the blue.  I decided to dye just 7 of the 10 skeins – enough for a sweater but not committing myself completely to a new dye method and yarn base.  I used Sapphire blue dye at 2% DOS.  I already had really nice results with this dye at this DOS so decided to do this again.  And besides, from experience I knew that silk takes more dye than wool to get the same saturated color.  I also mixed up a separate pot of black – a very weak solution, just 2 grams of black dye powder.  This time I put the damp skeins in the pot all at once and gave them a little stir.  I didn’t want completely even color, but not the huge variation like the purple either.  Since this yarn contained silk I cooked it at a lower temp, about 80 degrees C, for 30 minutes.  Then I took the pot outside where the hot black dye pot was waiting.  I dunked the skeins into the black (wearing heavy rubber gloves), dunking in and out a few times.  I had no idea how black the yarn would become or how it would take up the dye.  It was great! All the dye was soaked up after 4 dunks.  Back into the now exhausted blue dye pot to cook for another 20 minutes.

When I hung the blue skeins up I realized two things – 1. I should not have depended on the skein ties that came with the yarn.  I have 7 tangled messy skeins to deal with now. I should have tied my own separating ties.  and 2. I have about 50 different shades of blue in these skeins! Amazing!  See the top photo for a close up of a section of the skeins laying on a table, all dry.

Here is my morning’s work hanging to dry.  Oh, and when I rinsed the blue no color at all rinsed out.  Perfect uptake of color.

And here are the finished skeins, all dry.  First the purple/pink.

The 3 on the right are pretty even in the amount and brightness of the pink section.  The outlier on the left has very little pink.  Oh well.  I only need 3 to make a nice sweater and the 4th can be a shawl. 🙂  You can see that they did lighten up after they dried.  I’m pretty happy with the results, although I was aiming for less variation in the color and not such a deep purple at the other end of the skein.

Here is the blue while still damp.  You can see what a tangled mess I have on my hands.

And now dried and laying out on a table.  The color is as true to real life as possible and looks pretty correct.

Look how many different blues there are! I’m really amazed at the lighter areas.  Why didn’t that get more blue dye? It will be hard to tell how well they match each other until I either skein them up nicely or wind them into cakes.  I find that comparing cakes of yarn is the best way to see matching or not matching colors.  Better even than comparing skeins.

I’m so happy with the blue that I’m itching to knit something with it right away.  Probably a cardigan.  But first I have to finish my green lace pullover (more about that in a few days).

My NEXT dyeing experiment is already in the planning.  I’m going to try yet another completely different technique – something I’ve never done before.  DB had the brilliant idea of testing it on a swatch first.  Smarty pants.  I would have just jumped in with a whole skein or a sweater’s worth of yarn!  But he’s the sensible one and so I will try first with a swatch.  But first I need some spray bottles….

 

 

 

Stash Enhancement

I’m discovering that it’s really difficult to keep up the blog while being away from home.  Even if I have time, I don’t have the tools I need to deal with photos and a blog post without photos is just not worth doing.  So I have some catching up to do before I have to hit the road again.

As you know, I was in California for 2 weeks in April.  My last post showed you the fabric I scored while in LA.  Now to show you the yarn I scored, all purchased online and shipped to my Mom before I even got there. It was all waiting for me when I got to her house.  It felt like Christmas in April!  Here we go…

First up, I ordered a sweater quantity (SQ) of Imperial Stock Ranch Erin yarn.  This is the same base that Madelinetosh used to dye and sell as Erin yarn, but they since stopped selling.  It’s non-super wash so much more like “real” wool yarn. Warm and sheep-y.  It’s worsted weight and will make a super cardigan.  I also bought a black separating zipper to sew into it.  I don’t know yet exactly what pattern I will use.  I do plan to knit it this summer while we have lots of daylight.  I can’t imagine knitting black yarn in the dark winters here.

Next up is another SQ of yarn, this time DK weight, DK Twist from Madelinetosh.com.  The color is called Ojai Sky.  I know exactly what I’m going to make with it.  Another Neon sweater!

Also from the Madelinetosh web site I bought some 80/10/10 Fingering in color Cardinal.  This 80% merino wool, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  This will make a nice lightweight sweater.  It’s almost like the color way Tart, but this is more orange-red whereas Tart is more blue-red.

I also bought yarn from 2 people who were destashing.  I bought 3 skeins, already caked, of Tosh Merino Light in color Begonia Leaf.  Again, another lightweight SQ worth of yarn.

and 1 skein of Tosh Sock in color Citrus.  You can never have too much Citrus.

Finally, from wool2dye4, I bought 10 skeins of DK weight yarn to dye this summer.  It’s 55% BFL (blue faced leicester (sheep breed)) wool and 45% silk.  I didn’t want to open the plastic yet, so you can’t see very well how wonderful this yarn looks. It has a nice twist to it and the silk really shimmers.  I can’t wait to dye it.  I think I’m going to go for a deep blue semi-solid color.

So, a bit more than 5 SQs of yarn.  Not bad, right?  Could have been worse.  I managed to fit this, and my fabric, and 8 sewing patterns, and 2 pompom makers, and 6 knitting magazine, along with some other shopping, into my suitcase.  And I was just a few ounces/grams under the weight limit.

I’m now looking forward to another long flight and some quality knitting time.  If you have pattern recommendations for any of the above stash, suggestions are welcome!

Breidag 2014

This year the Breidag (Knitting Day) was held in Amersfoort, at the Rijtuigenloods just a short 5 minute walk from the train station.  This is an old factory that has been turned into a kind of museum and event center.  As you can see from the photo, there are old railroad cars inside the building which are used for specific things like toilet area or meeting areas.

This photo shows about a third of the marketplace area, so there was a lot to choose from if you wanted to shop for yarns and knitting and crochet related things.

I went on Saturday and in the middle of the day it was busy, but not so busy that you couldn’t move around.  I saw a lot of people I knew, which was really great.  Some people I don’t see very often so it was nice to catch up with them.

One friend, who I met last year in Estonia, has written a book! Good for her! It’s called Öland Breien and has lots of beautiful color work patterns inspired by Scandinavian designs and also stories and photos of the Öland area. Way to go Marja! The book can be bought from her yarn shop web site here.

I took a class in the morning, which was very disappointing, and will be a topic of another blog post to come so I won’t talk about it now.  Let’s focus on the positive…

I have so much yarn already, and frankly there wasn’t anything new here that I hadn’t seen before, so I only bought 2 skeins of yarn.  And I only bought it at the last minute just before walking out the door to come home.  I know exactly what I want to make with it and I don’t already have anything suitable in my stash, so it was a purchase that I could easily justify.

This is Fiberspates Scrumptious, lace weight yarn, 50% wool and 50% silk. The color is called Midnight and it is as you see, a dark gorgeous blue.  I specifically wanted this fiber combination of half wool half silk.  The first lace shawl I ever made was this fiber combo and it’s still my favorite.  I want to make this shawl:

photo & shawl by Susan Pandorf

The pattern is called Evenstar.  A friend of mine has made it and it’s even more beautiful, if you can imagine, in person.  Don’t ask me when I will start it – I already have to finish a big lace project that has been languishing on my needles!

I went to the Breidag with my friend Jacki, and we traveled back home with the addition of Petra.  It was a fun day out, but the disappointing (and expensive) morning class has left an overall disappointing feeling about the day.  I’m planning to go to a knitting event in July in Finland and I really hope that the classes I’ve signed up for will be worthwhile.  I’ll certainly let you know!

Trunk Show @ Penelope Craft

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Joji Locatelli. Joji is the knitting designer who’s pattern I used to make my Neon sweater. Her designs are clever, fun to make, fit perfectly and are beautiful as well! Joji was in the area visiting family and came to Penelope Craft to have a trunk show.

She had with her her latest designs and also those from Veera Välimäki.  The two of them joined forces to create a group of patterns, self published as “Interpretations“.  We got to see the samples and even try them on, which was really nice of her to let us do.  Joji was so friendly and I really enjoyed meeting her. I think she’d be a fun person to hang out with and talk knitting.

I couldn’t resist buying a couple of printed patterns that she had on hand.  I bought “Laneway” and “See You There”, one from each designer.

I also couldn’t resist some of Malia’s new Madelinetosh shipment. I know I KNOW! I don’t need it! But just look at it! How could I resist?

(Sorry for the lousy photos. It’s so dark and stormy today – no good light.)
The Jade and Firewood colors go so nicely together.  I think I will use them to make a shorter version of “Laneway”, with shorter sleeves too.

After hanging out for a while, four of us left and walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant and drank margaritas and ate nachos. What a great way to end the afternoon! I came home to dinner ready and Olympics on the tv. Of course, after drinking margaritas I didn’t dare try to cast on that lace shawl again. Instead I went to bed early.

This morning I was awake at 7am and decided to get up and turn on the tv to the Olympics, make some coffee and cast on the shawl.  This pattern starts at the bottom edge so you have the longest part to do first.  It gets smaller as you go along and work up.  So far so good now!  Here’s a photo.  Again, terrible light.  It really is a very bright orange, not so red as here.  It goes well with the orange everywhere on the tv while watching the ice skating! Hup Holland!

 

Untangling

Monday night I brought one of the pink tangled skeins to knitting night.  My friends got a hold of it.  How weird is it that we ALL find it fun and soothing to sit and untangle yarn and wind it into a ball?  They practically fought over it.

In the end they wouldn’t let me take it and go home until they had finished getting it into a ball.  I was there WAY later than usual.  Ball wound, everyone stood up to leave.  Job done!