Thursday, April 26, 2007

Craving some Mike pics?

Here are a few from the past week or so. This first one does have some yarn in it, but the posture is classic "Hey! Look at me pose!" Mind you, he was comfortably sprawled out until I came in and he saw the camera in my hand...

What do iguanas do for down pillows in the wild? Find a duck to lay on??

Here's Mike actually sleeping in his room. The fleece throw I got for $10 at Walgreen's. It makes it really easy to pet Mike without scraping all the skin off my hands. Mike seems to like it for his own reasons...

Here's a perspective shot. Mike likes to look outside the front door, but I don't always have time to stand there for hours holding him, so this chair has been put into service:

No, I didn't pose him - he had his nose stuck out from the covers at the foot of my bed. Stayed like this for hours until I pulled him out to put him to bed in his own room.

Nitey night!


More to dye for...

For my third dye project, I tried doing a sort of progressive vat dye. My goal was to have the hank dyed from pale to dark blue. Unfortunately, I soaked the yarn over night in a vinegar water bath, so it took the dye up more quickly than I wanted. So there was more darker blue than light, but by picking out strands and varying the length they were in the dye bath, I did end up with varying shades of blue. For the last 8" or so in the bath, I added some black dye to the blue, and so got some very deep blue. The yarn is worsted weight 100% wool (another in the Bare line from I dyed two skeins of it, so I think I'm going to make another Midwest Midnight scarf out of it. Here's the start of the dyeing:

As I lifted sections out of the vat, I draped it over the bowl to drain, coiling the far end in another container. Since I was using Jacquard acid dye, the vat, bowl and Pyrex baking dish are all ones from my To Dye box.

The finished product:

Here's a closer look at them:

Something is telling me to stick with 'my' colors - turquoise, teal, fuchsia, purple - so the next project was some more sock yarn to donate to the upcoming Sonoma County Knitting Guild's Sock Symposium raffle. I'll spare you all the in-process photos, and just go right to the final luscious yarn:

I made the stretches of color in this one shorter than the first yarn I dyed. There was quite a bit of blending of the pink and turquoise in a couple of places, adding a lovely dark purple-blue in a couple of places.

I'm itching to do another one. I thought I'd use 'my' colors, but do very short stretches of color. Because the inexpensive condiment squirt bottles I'm using tend to disgorge their contents when you tip it over and some liquid drips out between the top and bottle, I thought I'd buy some less cheap ones, or get some 60cc syringes and try them instead.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Second dye not so hot...

Emboldened by my first dye attempt, I waited patiently for the ochre dye to get here so I could dye some yarn for my niece, Soma. I'd decided on a sequence of five colors: two tones of sapphire blue, two of gold ochre, and white (undyed stretches of yarn). I applied them as follows: Blue dark, Blue light, Ochre dark, Ocher light, white, Ocher light, Ocher dark, Blue light, Blue dark, each applied for about 5 inches before stating the next color. This would have resulted on several colors appearing on each row, with a sort of mottled or zigzag pattern once knit up, rather than the spiral my first skein is making (where the colors were applied for stretches of 12-14").

In theory--on the kitchen counter--it looked good:

As you can see from the drying and hanked photo, not so good in execution, as the ochre capillaried across the white, and merged unevenly with the blue on its other side, leaving a yucky mess:

Ewwww. At least to me for whom oranges and golds are not in my preferred palate (my first skein most definitely is), and even though I love the deep sapphire blue, I didn't the greens.

Ah, well, live and learn - and dye again! This time, rather than scrap the 465 yards of sock yarn or send it off anyway, I ordered a gift certificate from Amazon for Soma (a book fiend like me, I know that it will be welcomed, even if not as personal as yarn dyed just for her), and overdyed the yarn. I pulled out the leftover blue solutions (one made with 1/2 teaspoon of the sapphire blue Jacquard powder, the other made with 1/4 teaspoon), poured it into the dye vat along with more water, vinegar and dye powder, and submerged the yarn.

I was so busy grumbling to myself about how the yarn turned out originally that I neglected to soak it once again in vinegar water before putting it into the vat. I don't know if that would have changed the uptake of the dye.

I brought the water up to under a boil, and let it steep until the water was clear. The result, once dried and wound into a cake, is sapphire blue and mostly two shades of green, depending on whether the blue soaked into the light or dark ocher. Here's the photo I took of the cake indoors under my fluorescent desk lamp:

Karen, who has been knitting for just a year now, and is still working on her first sock, decided to get in on the dyeing action, too. So, while my yarn was cooking in the microwave, she mixed up her dyes (Jacquard's Vermilion and Jet Black) and laid out her yarn.

A couple of days before, I unraveled a row of of sock in the Jaywalk pattern I'm hooked on (and that Karen is also making) and measured it, finding that it takes 41.5-42 inches to work one pattern row (*K1, M1, k8, double decrease (sl1, sl1, k1, pass slipped sts over), k8, K1, M1; rep from * to end three more times). Karen wanted one color a row, alternating black and vermilion, with a little white thrown in now and then to brighten it up a bit.

Rather than sequence dyeing like I did in both my skeins, she did hers this way:

I realized as she started applying the color that she could have vat dyed the yarn, using two vats at the same time, with the yarn in between them being the undyed 'white' yarn. Ah, well, next time.

We took care in wrapping it to keep the white yarn separate from the adjacent colors:

Even so, there was some capillary action, with the black and vermilion bleeding into the white.

(Sorry about the blur...) What is odd (and not easily seen in this photo) is that where the black bled into or otherwise came into contact with the intentionally undyed yarn, it didn't show up as black or gray. Instead, some of its component parts were present or absent, such as some milk chocolate brown smears that appeared in one area. Karen was so impatient to start applying the dyes to the yarn that she didn't do a great job of really getting the black powder mixed into solution, but still, the colors of some of the bleeds and contact areas were unexpected.

When I get around to actually knitting with my blue/green yarn, I'll post a picture here of what it looks like worked up. I rather like it in its current incarnation, but 'twill depend on what shades of green turn out to be most visible as it gets worked up into a sock.

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