Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How much is too much?

Another eventful week has passed, and while there was plenty of knitting and other fiber-related goodness that occurred, I don’t have many finished objects to report. Last Thursday was my birthday, and I was fortunate enough to spend it with all those who are close to me and everyone gave me lovely and generous gifts. One of my personal favorites is this great project bag from Bad Amy Knits (here's her store and her blog).

I finally narrowed it down to this one after squealing (silently) at my desk for about 45 minutes. So much cuteness.

It fits a sock perfectly, and I’m just thrilled with it. It came with a cute little sachet and stitch marker, and I highly recommend her shop for project bags and cute little accessories.

I also got lovely yarns and fibers from various artists, all of which will be featured on here in the coming months as my super duper top secret project starts to unfurl. I’ll be able to spill my guts soon enough, but in the meantime I’m still working on honing my skills. (This book will also be of help, thanks Big Brother!) Saturday, I spent some time dyeing with acid dyes for the first time. I started out soaking the yarn in the 21-quart enamel pot I bought at Target in a vinegar and water solution (read below for why that’s not always a great idea).

I love the smell of wet wool and vinegar in the morning.

I let it soak overnight, according to some article I read online somewhere … don’t remember which one, but I remember reading that it was recommended to let your yarn soak overnight, especially if it’s superwash. In theory, this helps the fibers open up and take the dye easier. So the next morning, I dump out the vinegar water soak and refill with enough water to almost cover the already-soaked yarn. I mix together my dye (sorry, no photo … my hands were covered with dye) and shake it up in a jar with some additional water and vinegar solution (about three parts water to one part vinegar). Then I dumped the dye into the pot and poked it around with a shish kabob skewer. Set the heat to medium-high and poked it over the next 30 minutes with the skewer.
Hot wet wool, vinegar and dye smells GREAT when mixed with the smell of scrambled eggs and grits. Just ask Dear.

After the dye was exhausted (meaning the water was clear), I turned off the heat and let it sit for a couple hours to begin cooling. Since the wool is superwash, I didn’t have to worry about it felting, so I drained the water before it was fully cool. That’s when I discovered that my dye hadn’t taken to all the yarn – an effect that I had not intended, but looked pretty cool nonetheless … kind of tie-dyed, but with only two colors. Here it's soaking in the sink.

Turns out (this is where I explain why the vinegar to water ration was apparently not a great idea) that I used way WAY too much vinegar. Soaking the yarn is always a good thing so that you’re not using so much dye to moisten the yarn … it helps it relax and takes up the dye faster and more evenly if it’s soaked and as clean as possible (this part can be done with wool wash or shampoo). I should have simply soaked it in water for a couple hours (overnight not necessary), then added my dye solution (also without vinegar) and mixed it up into the yarn until I was satisfied with the dye coverage. THEN add … get this … a couple of “glugs” (technical term) of vinegar, and stir gently. That’s it. I used 4 cups of vinegar where 4 tablespoons would have been more than enough. The kitchen and my hands stunk like vinegar for the rest of the day. The dye reaction that I got is because it was so saturated with the acid in the vinegar that the dye just grabbed on wherever it touched first. Here's the worsted hanging up to dry:

And the fingering:
In short, I still like the colors I got … I’m going with Cherries and Cream for the name. But I’m going to experiment a bit and try overdyeing to see if I can’t get a more even effect.

That same night was my birthday party … we had a fantastic dinner with some great friends in downtown Houston and then went upstairs to a bowling alley and had some more good times. Here’s one of my favorite photos of the evening (there are more, but I haven’t gotten the disc yet).

Aren’t we cute? I think it's hilarious how my face is mushed into his .....

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