Tuesday, 20 August 2013

a grey day....

that's what we're having today. though I have to admit that this year they are few and far between. the last two summers where really yucky, but this year is much improved. ok, I thought that 30 deg. C was a bit much, but that only lasted about 2 weeks - since then it has cooled down quite a bit, we've had some rain, but not many days have been totally wet and grey! the forecast isn't too bad either, but that can change quite quickly here! we've had forecasts of a lovely azores high - and all we got were grey, muggy and sticky days instead:)
enough of the weather - I've finally emptied the box of the pre-soaked dyestuff. high time - I discovered a bit of mould on a piece of silk top, which I had to discard. alum mordanted fibres can stay damp for quite some time before mould develops, but because I used acid dyes I only soaked in water/vinegar mix! so I did a dye marathon and this is the result:
 first I used up some of the gaywool dyes I had left over in jars - they don't last forever once dissolved! I just spread out some silk noil (photo below) and some kid mohair locks in my roasting tin (esp. for dyeing). because there was still some space I also added some soysilk top. I filled up with water and added the liquid dyes on top. everthing was covered and stayed in a hot oven for about 35 or 40 mins. the dye take-up is very nice on the mohair locks, more muted on the soy silk (no surprise, because it is apricot coloured anyway in its natural state)...
 the silk noil however didn't take it all that well - probably the disorganized mess was pressed together in some spaces from getting rid of access water before dyeing. on the other hand I am not too fussed about that because I have to card it all anyway before spinning it. it'll blend together, with some areas more pastel coloured than others, no problem. the only difficulty was drying it properly, because I couldn't hang the mess up! as messy as it looks right now - once it's carded it spins up into a nice yarn, uneven, a bit like terry - but with lots of structure and a nice, slightly grainy grip.
I also dyed this silk cap - in a very fiery red, which will be used as ply for the red/yellow merino top from my last entry. in fact both are spun up - and I am going to ply later tonight (probably I won't have enough of the red, so I'll ply some of the merino with itself). not a yarn for shrinking violets:) the dyeing was done in a microwave bag: I poured in some yellow at the bottom, added the damp silk cap and poured in some red. because the bag had to lie flat, the red overdyed the yellow nearly everywhere, but that's ok. adds a bit of zing:)
this is the second sock blank I knitted. I decided to use some of the food dyes - just slightly diluted - to paint a rainbow. well, ok, I didn't paint it so much, I poured it. that's why the stripes are so uneven:) but I think the socks will look nice, when knitted up! because this is only a bit more than half of a skein, I'll have to add another colour for ribs, heels and toes - I am going to raid my stash for that. when the yarn is wound into a ball, it looks far less "offensive"!
then I dyed all of my hankies - in shades of purple to aubergine to nearly black. I love spinning them up, but I also wanted to try to knit with the drafted hankies - as soon as my gardening hands are a bit less rough:) spinning silk isn't really fun, when all the fine fibres stick to your hands.....
and no, I didn't dye white - this is a skein of cashmere/himalaya fibres, which I spun using the long draw - so soft and cushy! I don't know what this will be, but I'll have to spin up another 3/4 of a pound anyway:)  
 this is what happens when you don't check your sock skeins! I saw that the skein was only tied in one place after I soaked it - and I thought: ok, I'll just have to be careful. if I hadn't been too lazy to retie - I'd have saved myself about 4 hours of clearing out this mess:( because of course the one and only tie did split! anyway, I have a nice parakeet coloured skein now, so the work was worth it after all.
more sock yarn: less bright colours on the left, the "brother" of the parakeet yarn above - and a small skein of sock wool with silk (which I like best, but of course I only have 50 g:(). 
another odd skein - it was wound into a very long and narrow skein! dyeing was no problem, I just have to be careful, when I wind it into a ball - to avoid something like the mess above:)
the green yarn on the right is a skein of handspun, I think merino, but I am not sure. I added some yellow and blue spots before I put the skein into the green dye bath - and I do like the uneven green, though I haven't got any plans for it - yet. the green is very luminous - I wish I had a bit more of that.
I also spun some of the dyed fibres from the last post - this is the "moody jungle" teeswater. the original is less grey, greener in colour, but I like it very much. the question is what to use it for - maybe I'll use it for weaving squares with my weavette? it's a chain-plied 3 ply anyway.  
as I said, the heatwave is long gone - and of course my "solar" dyeing couldn't stand outside forever (in fact I discovered small mouldy areas in one of the jars!), so I brought them all inside and helped it along by standing the jars in a pot full of water for an hour or so. mind you, no strong boiling, just so that the jars get a bit more heat. the colours are all very different. meadowsweet flowers are the main ingredient in the strong, bright yellow on the left. the more golden tone in the middle is down to dahlias and crocosmia flowers and the green on the right came from dark red and dark blue aquilegia blossoms. the "in between" yellow above has a slightly green tinge here and there from tansy, but the dyer's chamomile has given the main colour, I'd say. I have 200 g of each of the colours, but I think I might overdye some of the yellows, because I still have yellow tones of teeswater in my stash - and there's only so much of it I can use! greens however... are a different matter:)
so now my box of dyeing utensils can go into storage again for a while. the problem with all those fibres/yarns is that I want to try pretty much all of them at once. I finished the first sock with the "moody jungle" silk sockwool, but now I want to start one of the other yarns. starteritis - I can see a lot of 2nd socks coming up during winter:) I also started the Argenteuil stole yesterday. because I have much more yarn than given in the pattern, I added a few stitches. I think I have about 320 or thereabouts - quite a long row, but the lace pattern only runs over 4 rows and is easily memorized, so it'll be the perfect tv project. off to a mug of tea and some more knitting.... 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

results so far

I've been dyeing a bit more ... not much, just a skein here and there, to use up the pre-soaked stuff in bags that's still cluttering up the kitchen. the box doesn't seem to empty at all!
 I dyed some green (on the left) to go with the first batches of alpaca/silk blend I did at the demo. I think I can start winding them into balls soon, because my fingers itch, whenever I come close - I'll definitely start knitting that stole as soon as I get my pattern back:) I also put in two balls to use up leftovers, one is the shortest skein in the middle, the other the more purplish one to its right. the darker reddish purple skeins to the right are 4 bourette silk skeins, which took the colour beautifully, but still have an ugly smell. not sure how to get rid of that, maybe it'll go after washing it in the machine, when knitted up? and no, it's not the usual silk scent, it smells.... like a cellar:)
the skein on the right isn't dyed at all. it's thick and thin spun from ashford merino tops in purple/lilac and blues, plied with fine lace merino in very dark aubergine. and I had to hurry to get the skeins off the wall, because the neighbour's cattle became veeeery interested in the stuff on the wall - and came running over to investigate!
 those are two skeins of regia sock wool with silk that I dyed with the leftover dyes of the teeswater "moody jungle". nice colours, more blue and less khaki/green in real life. I'll start knitting those as soon as my current socks are finished. the single ball in the background has been overdyed twice. the original was a pale blue-grey dyed with alderbuckthorn berries. then I tied the skein off with pieces of flimsy plastic bags and overdyed with the leftover "moody jungle" green. but I didn't like the lack of contrast, rather boring. so I sprinkled some "crabapple" red crystals (gaywool dyes) over the skein here and there, when still damp and steamed it once again. with the addition of the red the green is far less pronounced and I also like that the red is quite irregular. I am looking forward to knitting these socks, because I have no idea how the colours will spread across the socks!
this "testing out" of how a certain layout of colours on handdyed sock yarns turns out is something that I started working on recently. every time I start a pair of socks I measure out how many cm of each colour are dyed  onto the yarn (even with commercial ones). for example with this purple/blue - yellow yarn, which I partially dyed with dahlia flowers and then partially overdyed with dark purple. about 30 cm are yellow, the rest of the 1.50 m skein is purple or yellow/overdyed purple. this has resulted in an interesting pattern: first (on 72 sts) the yellow spirals quite strongly. by the time I am down to 70 sts the spiralling has stopped - and is resumed when I decrease down to 68 sts. the rest of the leg has yellow spiralling around - but right in the middle some kind of irregular star or comet has formed! and the brownish areas (yellow overdyed) look a bit like the lighter halo around the star. I am going to keep notes for a time to eventually be able to plan a certain effect, when dyeing my yarn. if I had pre-planned this I'd have done a smaller ball just purple, so that I could have knitted the sock heel and gusset in single colour and resume the spiral pattern on the foot. unfortunately I hadn't planned the effect, so the heel has some yellow "flecks" now. the pattern isn't really one - I just purl every stitch that's yellow on the needle.
off to finish the first "starry night" sock - I have to hurry, because I can't wait to start on the stole and the "overdyed with red" socks!