Sunday, February 24, 2013

More Dyeing: Papageno Sock Yarn

After dyeing my first sock yarn, I had a conversation with my dear friend FibrePiratess about yarn dyeing. I was talking about how easy it is to mix colours like blue and green that go well together, as it won't matter if the colours bleed into each other, and how I wouldn't (at the moment) dare to mix complementary colours together as I was afraid of ending up with a disgusting and undefined mud colour. At this point I felt the immense urge to try a sock yarn of green and orange, and it took only a few days until I gave in.

I did kind of cheat, however. I added yellow as a barrier between the green and the orange, as I knew it would go well with both and prevent the dreaded mud colour ;-) Yet there was still the matter of preventing the orange parts from mingling with the green parts before the colours were set. I thought of this before I started, but modified the measures while I went along. But let me start from the beginning.

When dyeing with easter egg colours, I usually just mix each colour in a normal drinking glass. I put in the little tablets (or paper strips, as there are several different kinds of easter egg colours), add a bit of vinegar and hot water and stir, sometimes breaking the tablets with a spoon when I am impatient. I let the yarn soak in water mixed with vinegar and squeeze it before I apply the dyes.

In this case, I did the orange part first. I wrapped some plastic wrap around it to protect it from the green parts and added the yellow colour. This was how I had planned it. I was afraid it wouldn't be enough, though, and did the first thing that came to mind: I stuffed the orange part of the yarn into an empty drinking glass, then transferred the whole skein and the glass onto a baking tray, fanned out the yarn a little, and poured the green colour on the yet undyed parts. I tried to let it bleed into the yellow parts as I wanted to prevent bits from staying undyed, but I didn't manage perfectly. I then transferred the skein into a bowl (the baking tray wouldn't fit in the microwave, of course), putting the glass with the orange part on top (and adding a little water to it so the yarn wouldn't get too dry).

I heat-set the dyes for 3 x 5 minutes, always letting the yarn rest after 5 minutes (and for 5 minutes) before turning the microwave back on.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take better pictures. The orange part was quite shy, you only see the yellow and the intersection between orange and yellow here. The real orange is a lot brighter. I love it :-) I thought of parrots at first, until, suddenly, a character from my favourite opera (The Magic Flute) popped into my mind and I thought this was so Papageno!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Learning Something New - Sock Knitting!

I've been spinning and knitting for well over six years now, yet somehow I never dared to try socks. I love handknit socks, but they seemed kind of intimidating as a knitting project. Also, I don't really want to spin sock yarn for several reasons: it has to be extremely thin, it has to be quite even, it has to be plied... It seems to be a matter of diligence more than of creativity, and I am not the most patient person, I like my creative outbursts ;-) Spinning and plying the usual sock yarn of 420m/100g would take ages. First, I'd have to spin nearly a thousand metres of yarn, then I'd have to ply all this yarn, and then it would probably not last for long, as socks are for walking in...

You could argue that I don't necessarily have to spin my own sock yarn. I am proud, though, I have never bought yarn other than cotton yarn for dish cloths - more about that another time, maybe - in all my spinning time, but always used my own handspun for my knitting projects. However, as with the cotton yarn, I finally decided to break the tradition after all. If I know I won't spin it but I do want to do the project, why not? After looking at sock yarn online I decided to compromise: I'd at least dye it myself. This way, I can still be creative, and I don't have to use yarn I am not fully satisfied with. I didn't like many of the commercial yarns, and when I thought about buying hand dyed sock yarn I though "hey, wait - why should I when I can have fun with it myself?". Sooo - I went to Ebay and bought 1 kg of undyed sock yarn ;-)

Due to lack of time (yes, still in my graduation process, studying like mad) I decided to do a quick dyeing session with easter egg colours. They can be used with normal cooking dishes and heat-set in the microwave, so no need for any preparations or special pots. I am quite in love with teals and blue-greens at the moment, so this is what I went for.

Unfortunately, my camera had some issues with getting the colours right - the yarn is a lot more beautiful in person! It's lighter than I wanted it to be (lots of light, somewhat greenish blue), but I got used to it and now like it very much :-)

I had picked a pattern before I bought and dyed the yarn: Falling Tears (which is also available on Lucygerbils blog). In fact, the pattern (wich I found while browsing on Ravelry during a pause between studying sessions) was the trigger for the whole thing. I am picky, I admit it. I have found few sock patterns I really liked (before this one, that is), and seeing that such a project takes a while I didn't want to get stuck with just any pattern. Only drawback: the pattern is not really suitable for beginners as the things which actually make a sock a sock are not explained. So I ended up buying a sock knitting book (it's in German - Sockenworkshop to go) and starting the project anyway. I am sure I could have found everything I needed on the internet, but sometimes I like having a book instead of printed sheets that will get lost at some point or another.

The photo is a little behind the actual status, I just started the heel a few days ago. Then I fell ill (bad dental infection or whatever is the correct term) and was in too much pain to do anything than watching trashy TV shows. I am better now, as the antibiotic is finally working, but I decided on some studying today instead of trying to work out the mysteries of sock knitting. I am looking forward to continuing the sock, but I still feel a bit intimidated ;-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't Blink

I might have mentioned before that I am a huge fan of Doctor Who. One of my favourite episodes is "Blink" and I've been wanting to spin a weeping angels yarn for a while now. Some time between my exams I went looking for some angel wing charms on ebay and found really beautiful ones - enough for two yarns. So here they are, both inspired by the same episode and the same creatures.

The Weeping Angels

Wonderfully soft merino wool of natural grey is combined with white organza ribbons, frosted white glass beads with a silver core, and silver angel wings. I plied the yarn with silver thread, giving it a wavy texture. 124 m, 116 g.

The Angels Have the Phone Box

"They have taken the blue box haven’t they? The angels have the phone box." One of my favourite quotes, and not only mine, as one of the characters in the episode refers to this with the following: ""The angels have the phonebox," that's my favourite, I've got that on a T-shirt." (There are indeed T-Shirts you can buy, with this quote - I've been thinking about that ;-)).

The yarn has the same add-ins as the one above (I call them the angel ingredients now), but the texture is different, and I used merino wool and linen fibre in different shades of blue, as well as white bamboo flakes. 131 m, 107 g.

If you don't know Doctor Who and I got you interested, "Blink" is one of the episodes you can actually watch without having to know any of the characters or background story - though I'd say, start from the first episode of the new series which was relaunched in 2005 and watch all of it - it's one of the best shows at the moment in my opinion :-)


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