One step forward, two steps back

The newly-dyed wool was nearly dry, and looking passably purple-ish,when I realised that I had forgotten to wash it when it came out of theoven. It reeked of vinegar, and was weirdly sticky in places, so Isteeled myself to take it down, wash it, and begin the slow dryingprocess all over again. At this rate I’ll never get to knit with it.

After that setback, 4″ into the leg of the first Jaywalker, I decidedI’d better try it on to make sure (my feet are slightly bigger thanR’s, but only slightly). Much tugging ensued. It would just about goon, but wasn’t at all keen at coming off again. I wondered for a whileif I’d have to frog it while wearing it; fortunately it wasn’tthat bad, but it was destined for frogging anyway. And since theoriginal cast on, while nicely loose, looked very sloppy, I thought I’dtry a different one. Five minutes with the Knitty archives later, I wastrying my first ever tubular cast-on. I’ve not got any further than thecast on, but I strongly suspect it’s far too tight, so I foresee morefrogging in my future. Sigh.

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Attention span of a flea

While I’m waiting for the dyed yarn to dry (it islooking more dyed as it dries, phew), I’ve cast on Jaywalker forfriend-R. I’ve heard they come up tight, so I’m using that as an excuseto use slightly larger needles (2.5mm) which just happen to be myfavourite sock needles – two short Addi circs. I haven’t got 2.25mmneedles anyway, although I think I might need to buy some…

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Must buy gloves next time

My hands are purple – the plastic bags that I used as makeshift gloves didn’t work as well this time as they did last :-(

But the wool is in the oven, baking into its dye as I type. I’m notsure how well it’s going to work – the grey is darker than I thought itwas. Still, it’s hard to properly judge colour when it’s wet, so itmight be OK once it’s dry.

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More dyeing!

The grey Irish wool to the left has justgone into our big casserole pot, covered with water and about 175ml ofwhite distilled vinegar. In about five hours, I’ll take it out and dyeit :-)

For the green dye on cream wool, I used one bottle of blue and one ofgreen food colouring. Because this grey is naturally much darker, andbecause I want the colours to be deeper, I’ve got two bottles each ofblue and red this time, but I’ll use the same total amount of water fordiluting the colouring (1 pint). I’m planning to mix some to makepurple (well, der), and leaving some as red and some as blue, but can’tquite decide on proportions. One possibility is to consider the skeinin compass points, dyeing east and west with purple, north with red andsouth with blue, and blending at colour meeting points, in which casethe proportions are easy:  one bottle of red and one of blue intohalf a pint of water for purple, and then the remaining bottles eachinto a quarter of a pint for smaller quantities of the unmixed colours.Or I could just go for the slapdash pour-at-random approach I used forthe green, in which case any old proportions of mix will work. Maybe Ijust want equal amounts of each (which would be two thirds of a bottleof red and the same amount of blue mixed to make purple in a third of apint of water, and the same amount of water to dilute each of theremaining unmixed colours). Oh, the possibilities!

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Dyeing and felting

I mentioned the other day that I had a dyeing-and-felting project onthe go, but I didn’t want to talk about it until I had given it to theintended recipient, not that I think she reads this blog, but just incase. I finished it this morning, and then gave it away this afternoon,so now I’m free to write about it :-)

This is what I started with – undyed cream woolthat I bought in Northern Ireland last year on holiday. I don’t reallylike cream as a colour (and certainly not for something to wear), so Iwas always semi-intending to dye it, and when my mum asked for a bagfor her birthday (although she didn’t ask with the intention of meknitting her one), it seemed like the yarn’s time had come.

I followed the instructions for food colouring dyeing on Knitty,using the cold pour method: soaked the yarn for about five hours in apan of water and vinegar, and then spread it out on the table on top ofgreaseproof paper. I diluted one bottle each of blue and green foodcolouring with half a pint of water each, and started pouring andsmushind the colours to get variegated sea-green colours. Then Iwrapped it up in the paper, put it in a baking tray, and into the ovenfor two hours at about 110C. When it came out the liquid left in thetray was all clear, so the dye had exhausted, and when I washed it(after letting it cool down!), no dye came out. It took about threedays to dry, so I was desparately impatient by the time I was finallyable to wind it into balls :-)

I was happy with how it looked in the skein,hanging up in the bathroom to dry, but I was even happier with how itlooked in the ball – all the colour-changes that looked sharp in theskein mellowed in the ball and it was absolutely gorgeous :-) Still is,in fact, because I’ve still got one ball to use!

I stupidly didn’t take photos or measurements ofthe pre-felted bag, so a description will have to suffice. I used aprovisional cast-on till I had about 20 cm, knit a few rows, thenpicked up stitches on the short edges and released the cast-on stitchesso I was knitting in the round, knit about 20 cm, and cast off justunder half the stitches, leaving four stitches on a stitch holder forthe i-cord strap, and knitting the rest to make the flap, with garterstitch borders, and decreasing stitches at either edge towards the endof the flap so it’s curved rather than rectangular. Then I knit thei-cord strap (which seemed to take forever; I love i-cord, but god it’sslow), leaving the end free to allow for the strap length to beadjustable.

Then it was into the washing machine in a tied-up pillowcase, with aload of jeans. One cycle on ‘fast wash’ at 60C to see how quickly itwas going to felt, then three cycles on ‘heavy soil’ at 60C. It stillwasn’t quite as felted as I’d hoped (not felted enough to cut and trustit wouldn’t unravel), but the feltedness didn’t change much between thelast two goes, so I don’t think it would have done much more.

Drying the finished item was much, much quicker – just a couple ofhours. I steam-ironed it into oblivion, and then poked a hole for theend of the strap, using increasing sizes of needle, and tied the strapinto the hole with a simple knot. I considered various sorts offastenings for the flap, but didn’t come up with any I liked enough, soI left it for Mum to pick her own fastening (we agreed on a woodentoggle, which we’ll buy next time we see each other and I’ll attachthen; in the meantime if she needs to fasten it, she’ll use a safetypin). She seemed pleased with it, and amazed at the contrast with thescraps of original cream that I used to tie the parcel.


So, I declare my first dyeing and feltingproject to be a success! I’m now forming plans to dye the undyed greywool I got at the same time in shades of red-purple-blue, only withtwice as much food colouring for darker colours. And I’m trying todecide what ti do with the rest of the green…

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