Me vs sock scraps yet again

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, hats, Knitting, Spinning on May 24th, 2018

I’m still on a mission to reduce the bag of sock yarn leftovers. They are tumbling out of the top of the bag so it’s either use some up or get a bigger bag. I’ve gone down the route of “bigger bag” once  already so that has not proved to be much of a long term solution. I would normally knit half a dozen pairs of striped socks but the only feet that need socks are my son’s and he says that he has enough now. After further discussion it seems that was because he had too many to fit in the drawer, I came up with storage solutions and now I have the green light to knit more.

This should have been a hat with earflaps but I was done with it before I reached that stage. It is all leftover sock yarn so even without earflaps it is a winner. This is a free pattern, Ch’ullu and I rather liked it but not enough to make another. My dislike is down to setting off with a circular needle that was just slightly too short so it was an effort to move the stitches along. It did stretch the floats out nicely so I stuck with it. When I changed to dpns after the decreases you could see the transition very clearly – lovely smooth colourwork vs puckering. A quick pass with a steam iron made it all look the same so I could have changed needles without making it obvious in the knitting. Learning through doing it wrong – I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.

For the record, 100g of yarn does not an Ulina make. This weighs 163g which explains why I ran out of the main colour just before reaching the sleeves. After that it all went downhill because I was knitting at night and I thought that the solid yarn was brown which would have picked out the brown in the first yarn. It was a shock the next morning to find that it was a deep burgundy which went with nothing at all. I should have ripped it out but I’d already done the messing about at the beginning of the sleeves and it was easier not to bother. It doesn’t have buttons yet, I made buttonholes on both sides so I can be indecisive right until the last minute. The body yarn in this is the one from my last post, the scary orange vanished with a bit of red dye.

This is my third project out of the sock scrap bag. Much as I would love to know how much it weighs that won’t be happening until it is finished because it is set out in the order that I want to put it on the loom and I’m not messing that up just to weigh it. It should end up at two metres long, if it is a thing of wonder and beauty then I’ll make three or four more and make it into a blanket. If it remains as unappealing as it looks now then I’ll cut it in half, sew it together side by side and make a lap blanket. Either way it gets me back into weaving and uses up sock scraps. I’m not going to say “how can it possibly go wrong?” because it’s years since I warped a loom and I’m rediscovering all those beginner errors that I thought I’d left behind me.

I’m still ahead on yarn usage because I haven’t bought any. I’ve knitted the hat without earflaps (71g) and the baby jacket (163g), two more Tychus (180g) and most of a pair of socks that will fall into next month. I also sold 560g of fibre so the total used since last time is 974g for a total to date of 5.94kg

 



Tackling the sock scraps bag

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning on April 12th, 2018

I finished spinning the yak silk blend and decided to leave it in its original (natural) colour. I’m still pondering the next decision which is what it is going to be. I suspect that it is wanting to be a simple cowl but it could also be a woven scarf and it obviously can’t be both so it gets to sit for a little longer while I make my mind up. The rest of the spinning recently has all been in colour, there was 70g of purple superwash and nylon which I also had in blue so I spun both of those intending to use them with the bag of sock yarn leftovers. I also had a length of red/brown/gold which was rather more red/brown/orange than I had intended it to be. The colour has not improved at all with keeping so I turned it into yarn and fixed the colour issue with dye. I like the yarn on the right more than the yarn on the left and as it is now has less contrast it will work better with the bag of sock yarn leftovers.

I have had two false starts, three if you count the mitten that is sitting waiting for the second hand. Again, the theme is using up sock yarn leftovers. I thought about making mini mittens for an advent calendar but this is as far as I got with the first one before deciding that it was more trouble than it was worth. You can just see the “1″ emerging in the pattern. It was too fiddly and needed a pattern so failed the requirements for travel knitting. I tried a bigger mitten, one that was actually hand sized and that worked better because it didn’t need a pattern but despite being round and round knitting it didn’t really grab me. The third false start was a baby jacket, a lovely slab of striped garter that could be stuck in my handbag and dragged out while I waited for the gigging musician to finish his thing. This would have worked except that I’ve knitted it many times before and so didn’t read the pattern. I was carrying it around for weeks before I picked the pattern up and saw that I’d missed some essential shaping not long after the start. I would like to say that this is how we learn except that this is a repeat offence and I didn’t learn from my previous lessons so I’m not hopeful that I won’t do this again.

I am hoping that this project makes it to the finish line and turns into a child sized earflap hat. The lighter purple is the yarn that I spun this month, the darker is a single 50g ball of Fabel sock yarn and I’m going to use those in stripes together with whatever I pull out of the scrap bag. I’m struggling a bit at the moment because the circular needle I’m using is only just small enough for the number of stitches I have. On the plus side this is pulling out the work so I have no worries about the floats being tight but it is an effort moving the stitches around the needle. I’ve started so I’ll carry on with this needle until I reach the first decrease round but if I knit another I either need to make a bigger size or find a shorter needle.

In March I bought neither yarn nor fibre. I knitted another five hats (450g) and a pair of socks (90g) so that makes 540g in the month and 4.97kg to date. The socks were another scrap bag creation, one of the yarns was self striping and I was amused beyond belief to find that the toes ended up matching without any thought on my part. The stripes in the body of the sock are yarn changes, they would never be an exact match because one of the yarns was a colour changing one and another was from a dyed sock blank. They are an obvious pair and that’s good enough for me. Today his feet left the house in a pair (and I use the term very loosely) that had one green foot and one red. I hope he has another pair the same.



Dyeing is faster than painting

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks on October 25th, 2016

The decorating remains an ongoing project. Last week I passed milestone one which was the hall side of the double doors into the living room. This week I’ve already ticked off milestone two which was the living room side of the double doors. I am kidding myself that I am now past the big stuff and into the home straight but this is a lie because the doors need a second coat. Once I’m past milestone three (meter cupboard, shelf and windowframe) I can stop whenever I like because no-one is going to poke about behind furniture looking at skirting boards. I had promised myself that I would finish at the end of the tin of paint and do the second coat after Christmas except that I got to the bottom of the tin before I got to the meter cupboard. This means another tin of paint and another week of painting.

The socks from last time are finished and on feet. Rather unexpectedly the feet they are on are mine, I counted the rows from one of David’s socks but they have ended up fitting me better than they fit him. Oh dear, how sad, never mind. The black border at the top is to force a match, they are Opal self patterning yarn that I dyed green because I didn’t like the base colours. When I started knitting them I didn’t know how much of a pattern repeat would still be apparent and I thought that it would be easier to make them match by adding a cuff detail rather than shedding tears trying to match the repeat in the yarn. Matching socks after washday is not one of my most favourite jobs and the days where I could pay 50p to have it completed by child labour are long gone. Anything that makes pairing socks easier is a good thing in my book especially when I have to do the job myself.

The white Portland from last time has progressed to being blue Portland. The camera is not entirely truthful here, the true colour being more denim than electric blue. It didn’t look to bloom much in the process, it still looks to be a double knit and so I could probably get away with knitting Highlander all over again. I’m pleased with it, there are a couple of darker spots resulting from me not doing a good enough job of dissolving the dye but I can live with that. I rushed for the dye pan on Saturday morning with zero preparation or planning because the sun came out and I realised that if I got a move on I had a chance of getting the dyed yarn dried outside. I would have got away with it too if it hadn’t been for the shower in the afternoon.

While I was pondering pattern choices for the Portland I fell down the rabbit hole of a sock yarn blanket. I’m not sure how it was that I started with patterns for cardigans in double knitting weight and ended up with a sock scrap eating monster. The scrap bag was getting out of hand (and out of bag) again and I have a space in my life for plain boring tv knitting which this is apart from a bit of paying attention at the corners. The only challenge was that I’m knitting at night and the light wasn’t really good enough to see where to pick up  along the edge of navy yarn so I had a bright idea and picked up all the stitches in daylight by running a cotton thread through them (the pink one). This is a good idea and I can recommend it but I would suggest not moving your knitting whilst standing on the end of the cotton thread which is what I did yesterday. It’s a lovely smooth yarn and the stitches slip from it very easily, whether you want them to or not.



Now we are ten

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, sweaters on October 12th, 2016

I should have made a cake or something but I didn’t really feel much like celebrating. Sorry blog, maybe next year I’ll make a big fuss about you being eleven. Yes, the blog is now ten; it’s ten years since the little boy broke his leg on his second day back at school. This space was created to gave me something else to think about other than hospital appointments and wheelchair loans and it gave me a perfect little bubble where I could ignore the reality of living with an eight year old with twelve weeks off school. It was not a good time for us but we lived through it and now it’s just a distant memory.

This is the time of year when I rediscover my love of knitting. It is beginning to be glove and hat weather and I would usually start off with an intensive search for this year’s perfect dog walking hat/gloves/scarf which would improve in some way on the specimens that were last year’s perfect solution to the British winter. That’s obviously not going to be happening this year. Sweaters for me are on hold after the great Wensleysweater ripfest which (as always) leaves socks but there are only so many socks that I can knit. This is another pair of socks which the recipient doesn’t need but he’s getting them anyway because they are occupying me while I think about what I can knit next. I even mended three pairs of socks by making new toes, it’s not my favourite thing to do but I was pretty desperate for both the socks and knitting. I did make six toes because otherwise they wouldn’t match and you know what I’m like for matchy matchy socks.

This is probably the Next Big Thing, or at least I hope it is. If it isn’t the next big thing then I don’t know what is. This is 1600 yards of three ply Portland dating back to 2011. I didn’t finish it at the time because I knew that I’d be dyeing it and I thought that it might as well be finished in the dye bath and only dried the once. It’s still early enough in the year for line drying to be an option if I keep an eye on the forecast and pick the right day, in another month it’s more likely to be all rain all of the time. The plan for this is to dye it some colour as yet to be determined and knit a cardigan for my mother. I haven’t chosen a pattern yet because I won’t be able to knit a tension square until after the yarn has been wet and dry. The yarn probably won’t bloom much but it would be really risky to try to second guess the tension based on the unfinished yarn. (Anyone who thinks this post will end with a photo of a tension square is going to be disappointed, I’ve enough experience to know where to take a shortcut and believe me, it’s not here)

While I’ve not been knitting I have been painting the porch and starting my Christmas shopping. No, it is not too early, the butcher has opened his Christmas order book and we have ordered the turkey so I am now officially into Christmas preparation. I have bought two presents so far and they are probably doomed. What usually happens is that I tuck the early ones away in some random location then put the later purchases in a sensible place when I’ve had more time to think about it. When it comes to getting out the wrapping paper I will have forgotten about the things that I bought early on or have no clue where I put them. I need a better system, possibly involving a zipped sports bag and a small padlock. Better planning would eliminate the need for me turning the house upside down in December, although that might not be such a bad thing as I might then find my spare pair of glasses.

I have now glossed everything there is to gloss in the porch which means the door frame is now really white on the outside and a more cream shade of white on the inside. I keep looking at it and trying to ignore it but I know what will happen next. I will paint the door frame which will lead to the skirting boards which will lead to the next door frame, the door itself, the other side of the door and then a run all the way around the edges of the living room to where it will meet the fresh paint in the dining room (the blog says that I painted in there in 2013, so it’s not all that fresh really). By then I’ll have had enough and I’m counting on it being dark enough in the hall at this time of year to be able to ignore the transition to the cream paintwork going up the stairs especially as the join will be at skirting board level.

 

 

 



Cut your losses

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on April 4th, 2016

Let’s just forget all about March and move right on with April. Although I’ve not been entirely idle I had a spell where I didn’t seem to do much of anything. I’m through that now and as I’ve cleaned, polished, scrubbed or dusted everything in the house it’s time to dust off the blog and look through the camera card.

I spun all of the greens and blues from the fibre oddments in my last post. I overdyed it all with navy and ended up with a pleasing pile of yarn. It all went wrong after that when I found the brown yarn that in my mind I had picked out as the perfect weft yarn. I remembered it as being considerably thicker than it actually was so that idea went west. I probably have something in the stash that would work but I didn’t feel like making the herculean effort to look for it so I packed the hypothetical warp away until I come up with a better idea.

While that was on hold I made some socks, there was another black and red striped pair but they were on feet and out of the door before I thought about getting the camera out. The middle pair is yarn from a much-hyped International Yarn Dyer, I was seriously underwhelmed by both the yarn base and the dyeing and I won’t be buying more even if it became cheaper than Opal. I was so unimpressed that I made sure the leftovers wouldn’t hang around in the stash by knitting them into another pair of socks with plain black stripes. The child had them on feet and out of the house before I had the chance to photograph them

I addressed the issues on the Wensleysweater. I’m not sure exactly what the issues were but it must have had some to be still on the needles eighteen months after I started it. I like the yarn and that’s good because I will at some point be using it again. It took a while to rip out all those lovely cables but it was the right thing to do and I feel better for it.

At some point since my last post I decided to tidy up all the knitting seeing as I wasn’t actually knitting. At the time it seemed like a good idea to stuff all three baby sweaters in a single bag together with the patterns, needles and spare yarn. Sorting it out weeks down the line was not fun because two of the patterns were originally in Norwegian and my translations were on odd bits of paper. The first challenge was attempting to decipher my scribble enough to work out which papers went together (note to self – page numbers are a wonderful invention) and which papers went with which project (second note – titles are good too). I kept putting it off as being too much to tackle until I ran out of things to knit and had to find something in the bag of many projects. To my surprise I found that all three sweaters were almost done; one needed two rows on the body, one needed three rows on one sleeve and one needed scissors. I cut out the X’s that I’d carefully sewed in, I’d only done half of one sleeve and I couldn’t face another sleeve and a half. I’ve put the button tin in a new place and when I hunt it down I’ll add the three buttons that this needs. This is a free pattern but it’s in Norwegian. I went my own way when it came to the neckline because it was easier to make it up than translate it. I wouldn’t knit it again because there were more ends than I cared for. I should have thought about that when I saw the stripes but I managed to overlook it until making up time.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned on the blog that back when it was cold and grim I adapted my soft and lovely handspun gloves for use with a smartphone. It took all of five minutes, a needle and a length of conductive thread. If I was knitting them now I’d hold the thread with the yarn and knit the two together, the thread is soft and supple and I don’t think that it would affect the fabric. As this was a retrofit I just did a bit of stitching on my index finger and thumb in what seemed to be the right places. It works perfectly and I’m really pleased with it. It just happens that the thread was a close match to the yarn, I got lucky there as it meant that I didn’t need to be particularly neat with the stitching.

There is more but I’m staying with this month’s motto of “finished is better than perfect”. Hopefully I’ll catch up with the rest next time.

 

 

 

 



Well hello 2015

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family, Knitting, lace, socks on January 11th, 2015

I’ll say that I’ve been away because of Christmas, there were other reasons but let’s blame the season as it’s easier to point the finger at the festive time suck rather than anything else. Everything I was making was finished, although one thing wasn’t done in time to meet a present exchange. It was finished and wrapped for Christmas Eve though so I’m counting it as done. It would be appropriate to do a big reveal at this point except that I don’t have photos of everything I made. The socks I made have been through the wash and are no longer a pair but seeing as they are plain black when in shoes the one remaining sock will match all of the others that are black above the heel. The other is in the house somewhere and sooner or later the two will be reunited.

Earlier this year I dyed a jacket and replaced the buttons, he’s worn this so many times now that I wouldn’t mind if he never wore it again. He’s worn it with a T shirt and trainers, he’s worn it with a shirt and tie. At some point it will no longer fit him because he’s fourteen and still growing. I found another charity shop grey wool jacket, dyed it green and bought it new buttons. This one is a little larger and will last a little longer. I prefer the purple one, it was much lighter to start with which meant that it was a brighter colour after dyeing. Finding a jacket that is the right size, wool and a light colour is not all that easy so I bought the grey even though I knew it wasn’t going to give me the bright green I would have liked.

I liked this cowl so much that I’ve cast on for another for me. This is Wild Iris by Silvia Harding. It’s a moebius cast on followed by evenings of round and round tv knitting and a beaded edging to finish with. The pattern includes mitts as well but I wasn’t convinced that I had enough of the yarn to make those so I didn’t try. I spun the yarn in 2011 from a Juliespins Rambouillet braid (details here), there would have been plenty but I’ve already made a beaded something from it back in May. Fortunately I had some of the beads left over as well, the beaded edging only goes half way around the cowl so it needs fewer beads than you might think. I will confess that this was finished so close to deadline that it had to have a swift steam blocking over the ironing board.

I have had a longstanding love/hate relationship with our coffee machine, there’s something that I don’t do right and whatever it is I’ve been doing it that way for the last eight years. My husband makes espresso and it’s fantastic, whereas mine tastes of failure and despondency. The two variables are the amount of coffee that goes in the holder and how much you tamp it down. I’ve stood and watched him make coffee time and time again and although I think I’m doing exactly the same thing it’s obvious by the results that I’m not. I’ve been looking at domestic beans-to-cup coffee machines every Christmas and each year they are a little smaller and a little cheaper. This was the year when a machine that would fit in the space we have was less than £200 in the January sales so I bought one. Beans go in the top, water goes in the side and then all you do is press a button. There is no skill involved in pressing a button so after eight years of muttering and occasional finger pinching I can now have coffee whenever I want. There has been a lot of button pressing going on, so much so that I’m now buying beans a kilo at a time.

I like to have a fresh start to January, I threw away the to do list but I failed to complete everything that I had on the needles. I’m still looking at two baby jackets that maybe need an hour’s work between them, it feels more like finishing than knitting so it’s just not happening at the moment. I hope to start up the combing-spinning-knitting cycle and get my new grey sweater finished before the end of the season for wearing it. I’m certain that the first thing to be finished this year will be the cowl because little pretty things get my attention every time.

 

 



Sample time

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks on August 2nd, 2014

This shows why I don’t knit light coloured socks. It might be different if I washed them all by hand but I bundle them all together and stick them on a wool wash, reds, greens, blues and blacks. I manage to separate the lights and darks in the main wash but all the wool goes in together. This pair was originally knitted with undyed yarn but over time they’ve become even more off white and are leaning now towards on-grey. This one has been living in bedsock corner, not so much because of the colour change but because the other half of the pair is in hiding. When I’m fishing around for a sock in the dark the colour is unimportant, as long as it warms my foot it’s fine. Even single grubby looking socks can have a function, this one came out of the bedroom for a star part in a dyeing experiment.

I kept the spots on the sole so that if the other sock magically appears I can still wear them as a pair. Providing that I keep my shoes on no-one will know that one sock has a dotty sole. I wanted to see whether I could dye spots after knitting without the dye running into blotches or penetrating across to the other side of the tube. I could have knitted a sample tube to practise on but it was quicker to use a sock that was already made. The dots stayed round and red, didn’t run, bleed or wash out so this was a success from the start. I know that if I’d gone straight to the real thing I would have had a pink splodgy mess, the time to sample is when there is a high price to pay for failure. My learning points in a nutshell are that if you stick a plastic bag down your sock you prevent bleed through and that if you thicken dye it doesn’t run.

These were released to feet on the Friday before the Tour finished on the Sunday. I dyed enough yarn for another pair because I was expecting a request from Woolforbrains junior as soon as he saw them. That’s not happened yet because the socks were worn and put in the washing basket while junior was away on his course. It’s possible that it might be a few more weeks before he sees them and I might even evade the new-sock detector altogether. If I can manage it I’d like to keep the other ball until next year’s Tour but I think my chances of that are slim. This is my standard 72 stitch sock with King of the mountain polka dots added after knitting.

 This is my current major time suck. The Wensleydale is all washed now and I’ve started to comb it. There was a learning curve with the washing and the combing, the first batch of each wasn’t all that good. Funnily enough once I’d cracked the washing the combing magically improved too. I’m planning to end up with a sweater or two from this and I had initially thought that the Wensleydale might be too harsh around the neck. That’s not all that big a problem, it just needs a neckline that isn’t too close fitting. I’m reconsidering that now seeing as the yarn is obviously not itchy at all. I know this because I stuck the spun sample down my bra to test for itch and surprised myself when it fell on the floor at bedtime.



Purple suit wrap up

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, sewing, socks, Weaving on April 22nd, 2014

The worst part of the whole business was pressing the jacket – it was such an educational experience that I started looking for local tailors in the Yellow Pages because I would have happily paid someone to do it for me. I watched a professional do it on Youtube and then set to with a tailor’s ham and a sleeve board. It would have been more straightforward if I had a wider ironing board, I got on much better once I’d put a chair behind it to stop the jacket making a break for freedom. Tacking it all together was a good thing to have done, it would have been even better had I run a line of stitching around the cuffs and hems of the jacket because I had to rediscover the edge of those. It would benefit from better pressing and I will show it the iron again once I’ve forgotten what a performance I made of it the first time. Badly pressed or not, it’s a lovely colour.

The buttons were also educational, my new word for this week is “ligne”. That’s how buttons are traditionally measured and the ones I took off the jacket were 24 ligne on the cuffs and 32 ligne on the body (also known as 15mm and 20mm). In keeping with the theme of cheap and cheerful I bought a mixed bag of ten of each size on Ebay for £4 including postage so the jacket has cost £15, a teaspoon of dye, two tablespoons of citric acid and lots of hot water. He’s pleased with it and more surprisingly (because my standards are much higher) so am I. It’s very evenly coloured and I made a much better job of dyeing it than I thought I would.

I released another pair of school socks into the wild last week. As usual they didn’t hang around long enough to be photographed, this morning I tracked them down to the laundry basket. Of course I would prefer to be showing a shot of a pair of clean socks but at least they are currently still a pair so I’ll work with what I have. The knock on from knitting the longer cuff and starting the colour before I’d finished the gusset decreases was that I ran out of the patterned yarn before I started the toe. Fortunately I still had some bright yarn that I hadn’t out away yet and that lasted to the toe with about a yard left over. That means that I’ve used up two small balls of yarn rather than one so it’s a win.

This is all that I have left from the fabric that started life in this post. At some point I’ll use up all the scraps in a patchwork something, at the moment I’m sticking them all in a bag. I’m not sticking them in this bag of course, that’s the one I’ve just made. With this I started with the fabric that I had leftover, I couldn’t work back from the bag that I thought I wanted because I didn’t have enough fabric to have any choice as to size. It might not have helped me much because I’m no good at visualising sizes, I can wave my hands around as much as I like but I still can’t what the finished thing will look like until I have it in my hands. It’s a perfectly proportioned spindle bag with room for at least four ounces of fibre but I’d rather be making sock project bags. Now that I have one in front of me I can see what I need to change to get the sock bag that I want. I can see that future bags want to be a bit deeper and wider but not as long with a narrower handle and no interfacing in the lining. I knew the lining didn’t want to be stiff but no, I had to follow the tutorial. Bag two will be a variation on a theme and hopefully next time I’ll get the zip in to my satisfaction.

 



Quick change

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family on April 16th, 2014

Patience is a virtue they say so I will refrain from gnashing my teeth and ranting about the delivery performance of a large internet bookseller. I am poised on the edge of a deep, deep rabbit hole and the one thing that is stopping me from flinging myself into the depths of a new obsession is that I’m waiting for my book on tailoring. I have the idea, the pattern, the fabric samples, a book on pattern fitting, a sheet for the muslin and a waiting husband. What I don’t have is the book on tailoring that I ordered on March 27th. “Delivery in 9-12 days” my eye.

I left the jacket pattern where it was seen by other passing males and things quickly escalated from “you could make one of those for me if you like” to specifying the number of buttons and the colour. I’m reluctant to make things for my son firstly because he’s still growing but mostly because he has absolutely no idea of how much work is involved. I’ve been calling in at the local charity shop in the hope of picking up a suitable sports jacket that I could alter to fit him and this week I struck lucky. I found a lightweight wool suit that I thought would be about the right size, when I got it home it fitted perfectly. The pockets still had the threads where they’d been sewn up when new, there was no wear at the hem where it would have rubbed on shoes and it had the look of something that had been worn twice. The downside was that on one of those occasions someone had sat in crumbs of chocolate and it was the wrong colour (his preference being for purple or lime green). I ignored the dry clean only label and washed the trousers on the wool wash to see if I could wash it without it shrinking because I was hoping to dye it in the machine. The trousers were a 30″ inside leg when they went in the washer and a 30″ leg when they came out so I was confident enough to wash the jacket too. I tacked through all the layers before I did that so that it would come out the same shape as it went in. The chocolate stains came out after a fashion, there were still some faint marks on the back but you’d need to be me to find them.

I had hoped to throw the lot in the washer with a dye designed for use in washing machines but all the machine dyes say that they must not be used with wool. Having already ignored “dry clean only” I would have ignored this too but I watched my machine wash on the wool cycle and I suspect that it wouldn’t have worked well. There’s very little water in the drum and it’s a short programme so I don’t think that there would be enough time for the dye to take or enough water for it to colour evenly. I don’t have a big enough pan for the suit to go on the hob so that was out, to get an even colour it would need to swim in lots of water. Patchy yarn is appealing when knitted but I can’t see a patchy jacket being as desirable. At this point I was stuck and then I remembered the solar dyeing I did for the first pair of stealth socks that I made. After seven years and countless wash cycles that yarn is still orange and yet it didn’t get much in the way of heat. Sitting in a jam jar in the greenhouse worked as well as simmering in a pan on a gas ring so maybe I could get away with using hot water rather than a heat source?

This is where I feel there should be a flashing sign like the ones on the television “Caution, these stunts are performed by professionals under controlled conditions. Do not attempt anything you see here at home” except that I’m not a professional and I was attempting it at home. Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? The suit cost all of £10 and if I learned something and got some nice felt out of the process it would have been cheap entertainment. I dye a lot of wool so unlike tailoring I’m not reaching for the stars from a zero skill base. I knew that the lining and stitching would probably stay grey as they were not going to be silk or wool but I could live with that.

I bought a sixty litre storage tub rather than a barrel because the spare bedroom looks like the wardrobes have exploded so I have an immediate use for another storage box. (Next week’s job – tidy wool room) There was a chance that it might leak so I stood it outside near the drain so that I could empty it easily when I was done. I took the buttons off so the fabric under them would dye evenly, soaked the suit in warm water and then gradually added water firstly from the hot tap and then from the kettle so that it came up to being bath water hot without a sudden temperature change. Many of the dyes you can buy for wool have the dye and the acid combined. That’s not what I wanted for this. As soon as you have heat, dye and acid the dye will start to bond with the fibre and what I wanted was for the suit to become evenly saturated with the dye stock before it started to strike. I added the dye when the tub was about half full and then after I thought the suit was thoroughly soaked in the dye stock and I’d turned it several times I started to add the citric acid solution. After that I just l left it to cool, moving the clothes about every ten minutes or so. The magenta didn’t exhaust (does it ever?) so then it was back in the washer on the wool wash.

The result is evenly coloured, it’s still suit shaped because of the tacking and the added bonus is that the zip on the fly and both of the linings took the dye as well. The stains on the back have vanished altogether and the inside leg measurement is still 30″ so there was no shrinkeage. I forgot to take the buttons off the trousers as my focus was solely on the jacket so I know now that it’s not worth trying to dye the buttons. I will be consulting over button selection, I need eight small ones and three big ones so there’s a chance that it will double the cost of the jacket. I don’t expect him to ever wear the trousers and I doubt he’ll wear the jacket more than twice but then I will have proved beyond doubt that he’s not a jacket wearer without the effort of making him a jacket or the expense of buying one.

I am beyond pleased with the results and would certainly attempt this again although I would not be saying this if I’d done the dyeing inside because the storage box did leak. I’ve looked on Ebay and light coloured wool jackets are cheap and plentiful so if he does wear it there’s a good chance that I might do this again some time in the future. I think I struck lucky with this in that it’s a very light weight wool, I think that a thicker fabric would be harder to dye evenly and it would certainly take more drying.

There will be modelled shots once it’s dry/I’ve pressed it/it’s got buttons.

 

 



More of the same

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on April 10th, 2014

I didn’t fill all my bobbins before I started to ply, I knew I wouldn’t because I can never wait to see the yarn but as it was the weather provided me with a convenient excuse to start plying. The forecast was for a warm sunny day with a bit of a breeze which promised to be ideal wool drying weather and it seemed a shame to not take full advantage of it. I had six bobbins of single at that point which gave me two big skeins and lots left over. I’m aiming to spin a bobbin a day so I’ll be plying again at the weekend. I thought I’d be looking at twelve bobbins full and that looks about right because two bags of wool filled six bobbins with a bit left over. I’m still not sure whether I’ll have enough yardage for a sweater, it will be close and I may have to consider stripes as a necessity design element.

The warm breezy weather made me get on with dyeing the yarn previously known as Rogue. There’s a strand of the original colour on the bottom left, you can see that it’s still grey but darker than it was. I was aiming for more of a brown/grey but the brown dye that I put in seems to have vanished without trace. It’s reasonably even in colour, three of the skeins are a little darker than the majority and two are a little lighter so providing that I alternate knitting from two balls at a time and keep the dark and light away from each other it should work out well enough. I know that it doesn’t look terribly exciting yarn but I’m thinking of knitting something with cables and I don’t want an interesting yarn that’s going to fight with a pattern. In this case plain, even and boring will do me just fine.

No, I am not recycling pictures, if you look closer you will see that this one has the buttons actually sewn on rather than being artfully posed on top of the knitting. I had hoped to be showing you a finished Sirdal, earlier today I thought that this was totally reasonable seeing as I thought I had only had two buttons to sew on. Then there were the two buttons on the cuffs, a cuff facing to sew up, a bit more sewing on the cuffs, some ends to weave in so even without adding blocking to the list it’s never going to be finished today. I’ve got all the buttonholes done despite me not liking the front bands at at all. They are double thickness ribbing like the collar and that may work perfectly well on a bigger garment but I think it’s just too bulky on a garment this size. Ribbing makes a thick fabric anyway and there are four layers there underneath the buttons. If I were to make this again I’d be tempted to make a band and facing combo rather like that on the top of the sleeve with the bands single thickness and backed with ribbon. It’s too late to be fussing with it now, I’m finished with it and thinking about what comes next.

I like to look back through the archives and see what I was doing in this month in previous years. Last spring was all about yeast and bread and my mission to ditch the floppy white sliced loaf much loved by the junior household member. I succeeded with that, over the year I’ve settled to a pattern of baking brown loaves, white breadcakes (baps, rolls or alternate regional word of choice) and sesame topped bagels. It’s plain, even and boring bread and like the plain,even and boring yarn it means that it’s easy to use. The croissants, brioche and chocolate products all fell by the wayside because it’s much easier to bake bread and add chocolate hazelnut and cocoa spread to it if I’m feeling indulgent. I have a drawer in the freezer that just holds frozen bread products, we don’t run out and they are as good as fresh if you microwave them for a few seconds. They come out the same every week because when I finished experimenting with weight of dough, percentage hydration and oven temperature I wrote down what I did so now all I have to do is follow the pattern. There’s a novelty, me following a pattern.