Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Indigo woes

One of my most involved recent projects has been a gift knit with 2 skeins of Dazzling 4 ply yarn from The Natural Dye Studio.

Throughout the whole knit I have been frustrated by excess dye rubbing off onto my fingers; I don't mind getting covered in dye but was concerned with the prospect of giving a flawed gift.

 I tried a few experiments with sample sized pieces of the yarn, based on my previous dye-speriments, & on advise from the Natural Dye Studio.

 L-R;
1 Simmering in vinegar solution for 40 minutes; blue yarn was turned grey, & excess dye still marking hands
2 Soaking overnight in vinegar solution (a glug of vinegar in small basin of water); yarn was slightly faded & still marking hands
3 Washing with dish-washing liquid; in this case Ecover; yarn was very faded but did not mark hands anymore
4 Untreated, for control purposes.

After trying these experiments I was livid; with only a week before the gift-giving occasion I had to make this work. I was gutted that the only method of stopping the yarn from marking the wearer would significantly effect the colour. I was not going to end up with the same colour yarn I had purchased. But I had to give a wearable knitted item, so I washed the finished object as directed;
Soak in hand-hot water (if you cannot keep your hand in the water, it's too hot)
Remove & liberally apply detergent (ecover in this case)
Rinse until water runs clear. 

I ended up rinsing out the suds in the bottom of our shower tray - I may have applied the detergent a little too liberally. I was frankly shocked by just how much dye came off in the initial wash - the water was dark navy blue.

 Thankfully the finished knit did not fade quite as much as the first test. I think I managed to rinse out all the excess dye, but will give a disclaimer tag with this gift; give it back to me to fix if it runs more!
Based on discussions on Ravelry, it seems that this is a common problem with natural dye substances, 
in particular the indigo used for blues (and in greens & purples too). The explanation given for this is;
Indigo coats the outside of the fibres rather than soaks in. We double wash all our yarns, however as they are dyed in big hanks sometimes the yarn in the middle of the hank doesn’t get as much washing as the outside.

I am disappointed that the yarn is not the same colour as when purchased, but am relieved that I have a gift-able finished object to show for it all! I will certainly be cautious in future before buying any naturally dyed fibres or yarns, but I suppose now that I know what to expect I won't find it so stressful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Winding yarn by hand

A couple of yarnie friends have recently mentioned that they are not entirely comfortable hand-winding yarn into centre pull balls (or 'cakes'). I use the inner tube from a roll of cling-film; it's longer & sturdier than a toilet roll insert, so I find it easier to handle, especially for 400 metre skeins of sock yarn. I've covered mine in clear contact plastic because I cannot stand the feel of yarn rubbing against cardboard. I also use a swift to hold the skein; this is much less of a work-out than unwinding the skein over your knees or a chair, & takes less time. It takes me about 30 minutes to wind a 400 metre skein of sock yarn, while watching TV & not particularly hurrying.
I feed the end of the yarn down through the centre of the tube, & use a little bit of sticky tape to fix the end into place about halfway up the outside of the tube.
Then, I start winding the yarn around the tube from left to right (as seen from the front of the tube).
After a few strands are wrapped around the tube, it's easier to wind the yarn diagonally, from bottom left to top right).
Keep wrapping the yarn in this way, laying the strands closely together & turning the tube slightly as you move around the forming 'cake' shape. I tend to turn the tube very slowly with my left hand towards the left, while winding on the yarn with my right hand, towards the right.
As the yarn mass grows bigger, do not continue to wind the yarn right up against the tube; use your fingertips as a spacing guide between the tube & the yarn as you wind it on.
Keep winding the whole skein of yarn.
Remove the tube from the centre, taking care to remove the sticky tape too.
It's easy to find the centre end of the yarn because it was taped into place & fed through the centre of the cardboard tube. No more yarn-barf tangles!
A lovely yarn cake. More fibre and less calories than the chocolate variety.
I believe this is quite similar to the winding method used with traditional nostepinnes, though have not got one of my own to try out. Maybe some day...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finished knits; the baby boom!

The babies have started to arrive, so I've been rushing to finish some baby knits.

First FO; Owlet by Kate Davies
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran; this was the 6 month size.
Second FO; a log cabin blanket. There are several blanket patterns available online, so I knit a variation of the theme, starting with 10 stitches & increasing by 10 stitches for every section. I knit this using 3 shades of Sirdar Snuggly DK & finished with a crochet edging.
Of course, my family pointed out that my choice of safe gender-neutral colours are also the Kerry County colours. And this new baby is in Cork. So I had to knit something red.

Hello Baby Hat by Susan B Anderson
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino aran.
I decided against making the wee fruit topper as per the pattern.
This will go in the post later in the week. I am assured that new mam & baby boy are doing well, & the new auntie (my bestest friend in the whole world) is looking forward to conversations about art & politics in a few years.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

FO; Lacy Baktus scarf in handspun yarn


Yarn; 'Louisa' merino tencel fibre, dyed by LHogan and spun by me (2 ply)
Needles; 4 mm

I enjoyed knitting this pattern; it was just simple enough to carry around for social knitting, but the lacy pattern, combined with the subtle shifting colours of the handspun yarn make a nice, interesting and just-pretty-enough finished scarf. The only difficulty was figuring out the middle of my yarn so I could make the most of it! Mostly because I didn't weigh & mark the yarn into halves before knitting.

PS.. yes this is the yarn that appears in my blog header.