A blog about my life, knitting, and other stuff.

April 30, 2015

Thursday Is for What the Hell Is This?

Guys, this is totally not just a gigantic rectangle knit randomly in garter, dropped stitches and stockinette. It's art.

I mean, look at this vignetting. Those edges are blurry. Blurry, do you hear? It is way artistic up in here.

April 27, 2015

I dyed up the last of my Corriedale roving last week. #rosekimknits

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April 26, 2015

My Itineris shawl is really growing now. #rosekimknits

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April 25, 2015

Sock blank socks are at a middle school track meet today. #rosekimknits

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April 23, 2015

Thursday Is for What the Hell Is This?

There is a yarn company (I won't name names but let's say it rhymes with "phlegm-getter") I have been writing about for over a decade. Their website could be renamed The Land That Time Forgot. This collection I fugged in August 2005 is so nearly identical to their "new" designs I am agog. Again, the designs in this post are their NEW ones.

They're still cranking out "capegrossas" and posing them identically.

Still putting out the same over-sized cardigans in "fashion yarns."

Did the design team eat a poison apple a dozen years ago and are now under a curse to create the same thing over and over?

April 16, 2015

Thursday Is for What the Hell Is This?

This poor little model looks as shell shocked as the rest of us by her ensemble.   
I don't have the heart to tell her it's not going to get better soon.

April 13, 2015

Fifth Annual Purlygirl Retreat

We had another great trip to Port Townsend this weekend. There is a comforting ritual to the weekend that we follow that starts with catching the ferry to Kingston and then visiting The Artful Ewe in Port Gamble. Every year I take the same photo of Grace, the shop dog, warming herself by the fire.


We eat, we tell stories, we knit, we stroll, we shop, we laugh.

This year I was not sure what projects to take with me. Simple projects are always best for such a boisterous time. I dithered too long so at the last minute I threw a few things in my bag.

I made Rough Diamond Mitts with every last inch of the 3-Ply Polwarth I spun last month. This was like the veggie stir fry of yarns. I just threw together all my leftover bits and somehow ended up with a really nice yarn.


I also worked a bit on my Luna2 that has been sitting untouched since last year. But before that I spun up this roving I dyed last month. I was trying to copy some Spincycle yarn I saw at Bazaar Girls. It was incredibly fast to make and I absolutely love how it turned out.


I also found a set of these narwhal stacking mugs that I saw last year and didn't buy. I hoped to see them again.

As always, Andi got some beautiful shots of the weekend.

April 11, 2015

Knitting retreat day two, both #handspun mitts done. #rosekimknits

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April 10, 2015

Knitting retreat, day one, one handspun mitt (minus thumb). #rosekimknits

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April 9, 2015

Thursday Is for What the Hell Is This?

Dude, it is seriously time to think about switching tailors.

April 6, 2015

Overdyeing, You Can Do It!

I wanted to do a little follow-up to my overdyeing results post from yesterday. Let me preface this by saying, 1) I'm not a dyeing expert and 2) I've learned most of my dyeing from Judith Mackenzie. If you've heard Judith talk about dyeing before this might sound a little familiar.

A few other points of reference. I find pure white undyed yarn or fiber really daunting. I think, "I can make this any color in existence. Now choose one." I get overwhelmed and just dye it blue/green. I also don't love all colors. In fact I'm quite limited, as you probably have already noticed, in which colors I work with. I tend to stick with blue/green, burgundy/berry...maybe some brown. I stay very far from anything yellow. Orange is out too. I once explained to a nice woman in a spinning class who was pressing some yellow merino into my hands despite my protests, "I grew up in a yellow room." 

"Oh," she said, placing the fiber back on the table, "I see."

So keeping my color issues in mind, here is my process for overdyeing.

Think of a color wheel.

Look at your yarn. See where it falls on the color wheel. Stick to colors that are neighbors (analogous) on the color wheel. Avoid the color on the opposite side of the wheel (complementary).* If you choose colors across the color wheel that is when you make mud. And remember you are not mixing paint. Nothing mixes when you overdye. You have your starting color and you are layering transparent color on top of it.

If you're worried you can build your color slowly, just keeping adding color until you like it. I would also suggest starting with yarn in a color you really dislike, something you will never use, because if you "mess it up" you haven't lost anything. 

I use Mother Mackenzie's Miracle Dyes. They are for dyeing protein fibers like wool, mohair and silk. They need to have acid added to set the color. I, like most casual dyers, use vinegar. I'm not scientific. I just put a few glugs in the pot. If you want variegated, uneven color you can add the acid before or alongside the dye. It causes the dye to "strike" or stick to the fiber so the fiber will grab it unevenly. I like this look. If you want really even color let the yarn sit in the dye for a while before adding your acid. You can also loop yarn on a dowel, support it on the edge of the pot and cycle the yarn slowly and evenly through the dyepot for the most even color. I don't have the patience for this. I throw everything in my dye pot or crockpot (bought at a thrift store and used only for dyeing) and go. 

You need to heat the yarn to set the color. I typically leave it on a low heat until the dyebath exhausts, when the dye has all attached to the fiber and no dye is visible in the water. If I'm able I turn off the heat and let it cool in the pot. This gives the dye additional time to set and also spares your hands from handling super hot, wet yarn. Rinsing the yarn when it's cooled also makes it harder to accidentally felt the yarn. 

Dyeing in the pot will produce a lot variegation. The yarn at the bottom of the pot, close to the heat, will get the darkest while the yarn floating up at the surface will generally be the lightest. You can move things in the pot but be gentle so as not to felt it into one big ball. 

When I dye in my crockpot I will leave it on overnight on low if I put the yarn in close to bedtime. Otherwise I shut it off after several hours and let it cool overnight.

So that's all there is to it. It's easy. You can always dye something again if you don't like it the first time. In fact, dyeing multiple times gives deep, interesting, complex color. There is nothing to be afraid of. You can do it!

Carol Sulcoski, who is a professional dyer, wrote a nice piece about overdyeing on her blog recently. You can read it here.

*Complementary colored yarns are great for colorwork projects. They really pop against each other.

April 5, 2015

Dye Day Results

Yesterday's dye day was very productive and I'm happy with most of the results. I brought yarns that I got at my November retreat. I chose them because they were yarns I love in colors I hate for ridiculous prices.
These side by side photos aren't the greatest. The "before" shots were taken indoors at night just to get a reference photo into my Ravelry stash. The first four were all thrown into the same dyepot with Jacquard Burgundy dye. I think I also added a little black? I'm a pretty loosey-goosey dyer. I just throw things into the pot until I like it. I also don't have much experience with these dyes.

First up, a skein of Rowan Polar in a color I haven't enjoyed since the mid-eighties.


Next is Tahki Baby in the most vile, vivid Pepto pink (not as hot as the before photo suggests).


These are Bouton D'Or Ksar. I love this yarn. It's 50/50 wool/camel. I loathe the original rusty red color.

This is a mystery merino/cashmere blend. The yarn ended up in the middle of the pot and did not take up much dye. I think this will get another dye job.

These last two skeins are Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky. I got the two skeins for $4! The mustard yellow is possibly my least favorite color in the world. I overdyed with Black, Emerald and a smidge of Chartreuse. I absolutely love it now.


Do you have old skeins in colors you now hate? Throw them in some dye. You've got nothing to lose.

April 3, 2015

I went ahead and overdyed my whole brown fleece. It's a sea of purple-y brown. #rosekimknits

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Yarn for Lisa and Trish

 A few weeks ago when I posted a photo of some roving I dyed my friend Lisa said she'd like me to spin it for her. My friend Trish asked if I had dyes to create neon colors.

Well, I didn't have the time or inclination to spin that roving up for Lisa but I did have a partial cone of Henry's Attic Kona Superwash that has been in my stash for a really, really long time. I had enough to skein up 315 yards for each of them.

First, for Lisa, I tried to replicate what I had done on the roving. I don't take any notes when I dye. I just slosh on dye until I like it. I ended up with a yarn that wasn't as bright as the roving but I think I like it more than the original. This was done in a crockpot. I just poured in layers of color until I thought it was done.

Murky Green for Lisa

For Trish, the neon lover, I decided to hand-paint a skein. I laid out plastic wrap and took my three primary dye colors, Polar Yellow, Cyan and Magenta, and mixed a jar of each with some vinegar and water. I needed enough water to get all the yarn thoroughly wet with color but enough vinegar for the dye to stick quickly instead of migrating and making muddy colors.

Crazy Neon for Trish

Once the skeins were dry I reskeined them to mix the colors up a bit more for a nice presentation. I was able to send them to their new homes last night. I'm excited to see what they make from them.

April 2, 2015

Thursday Is for What the Hell Is This?

Oh, whoops. That's embarrassing. The designer got his runway and home collections mixed up. Right now his showroom has a queen-sized bed wearing a linen sweater, a sofa in cigarette pants and a window with a body con dress. Silly mix-up!

Oh, that reminds me. I need to start another load of laundry.

April 1, 2015

A Fleece of a Different Color

At the Whidbey Weaver's Guild Spin-In this weekend Judith Mackenzie gave a talk about color. I got me thinking about some old fleece that had been sitting in my stash for a very long time (the sales slip in the bag says 2006). It's a small brown Corriedale fleece that I scoured when I first got and flick-carded, then set aside.


I'm always drawn to variegated fleece but when you spin them they're just light brown. I thought I'd experiment with adding some color. I put small bits of fleece in three jars, added a little Dawn dishsoap (just a drop), water, vinegar and a drizzle of dye. I choose Cherry, Violet and Cyan from my Mother Mackenzie dyes. I heated them in the microwave for a few minutes and let them sit until the water was clear.


I was immediately partial to the violet. It allowed more of the original color through and seemed to work well with it.

But you don't really know if a color is any good until you spin it. Since these were just little tufts of fiber, and I already have a project on my wheel, I pulled out a heavy old drop spindle that I never use and made a three mini skeins.


I still like the Violet the most. It shows off the variegation in the fiber really nicely, brightening the lighter bits.

This experiment revealed a new problem though. The fleece, which seemed well-scoured many years ago, now feels a bit sticky. I made an attempt last night to wash it again but there's still a residual stickiness. I should probably wash it all again, this time in much smaller batches, to get it really clean but what a drag. It might just go back in the fiber closet for another nine years...