Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back to My Regular Schedule

Class is over until the end of November, so things are getting back into the usual routine here.  Back to work on the quilts in progress, and on my Fiberactions challenge piece for November.  It's well under way and so far so good.  I did post a teeny peek of it there, so I'll post the same here.

Stay tuned for the reveal on Nov. 15th.

On the knitting front, just a couple more decreasing rounds and the hat will be done! And I ordered a scale so I could wind even balls :)

The weather has finally cooled off again, only got to 86 today and the evening temp is supposed to get into the 60's!  Hopefully, it'll continue for a while.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Winding Yarn

I've been pretty busy this week with the October session of my class series, so not much happening on the quilting or knitting front.

But this afternoon I got the chance to try out my new yarn swift and ball winder that I bought from KnitPicks and wind some of the wool I've dyed.

It's so easy and fast and I loved watching the hank transform into that cute little center pull ball.

The hanks I dyed are all 100 gm.  Since the yarns I wound today will be used for socks, I needed to wind them into 2 balls each.

Well, since this is my first time :), I had no idea when to stop winding and start the second ball. The first set is no where near is much bigger than the other.

Then on to the second hank, I just love this yarn!

Better, but still didn't get two balls the same size

The last set was the closet in size..actually they are almost even!

Not too bad, only took me 3 tries to get it!

I wonder if I'll remember  the next time I need to wind??  Probably not!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I'm So Excited!

My newest piece of art arrived today!  The minute I saw this I knew I had to have it. The artist is Terri Stegmiller and the piece is" Blue Kitty".

I just love everything about it from the color to the expressive face.  So here is "Blue Kitty" in his new home

It makes me smile every time I walk through the room... thanks Terri!

And on the kitting front, the hat is coming along nicely! I have about 5 inches done now, so soon I'll be starting the decreases.  I'm using the easy peasy rolled brim pattern from Knit Picks.

And yes my yarn ball looks more like an egg..I hand wound it. But it is a center pull and the yarn pulls very smoothly.  I did order a yarn swift and ball winder though, so I'll be saving the rest of my yarn to wind when that arrives next week.

And I am loving these Harmony wood circular needles, also from Knit Picks.

I find them to be very smooth; allowing the stitches to come off easily yet not drop.  And the pointed tips are great too.

So guess it's back to work getting ready for my next circle lord class that starts Monday at MQR.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Quick 'Tute' on Hand Dyeing Wool Yarn

As I was looking through the yarns I had dyed to find one for my next knitting project, I found another whole package that had not been dyed yet.  So I decided to dye two of those hanks  today  and make a quickie tutorial.  This is the way "I" dye  wool and silk yarns is not the only way and maybe not even the best way, but it works for me.  As with any chemicals, use common sense and care.

I get my yarns that are ready to dye in bulk... ten 100gm hanks to a package

My first step is to loosely tie the hank I'm working with in several places so it doesn't get tangled during the dyeing and washing process.

Next I soak it in warm water for at least a 1/2 hour. Then I add white distilled household vinegar to the water(that's the acid) and let the yarn soak another 1/2 hour. You can see my dye sink has been well used over the past 6 years we've lived here!

During this time I get my plastic bags laid out and ready, I'll wrap the hank in this for steaming later;  and gather the dyes I'm going to use.  For wool and silk yarns I use acid dyes...these  happen to be from Pro Chemical.  Some people use food dyes or Kool aid.  I prefer the professional acid dyes from pro chemical or Dharma. I'm using sun yellow, magenta, and brilliant blue today.

When the soak time is up, I gently squeeze the excess water/vinegar solution out of the yarn and place the hank on my plastic bag.  You need the yarn to be good and wet, but not dripping.

I mix the dyes with hot water. I use about 1/2 cup water for each color and then add just a small pinch of the dye and mix it with a spoon.  These dyes are very intense and it doesn't take much dye powder to get deep, saturated colors.  Be sure to wear a dust mask and goggles when dealing with the dye powder...once it is in solution, you can take them off.  I just spoon the dyes onto the yarn and used my hands (gloved) to get all the dye spread around.

I flip the hank over and make sure the dye has penetrated all through.

Next I wrap it up in the plastic trash bag

And then put it in a microwave safe container..I use this Pyrex pie plate

Into the microwave it goes. The point is to steam set the dyes.  It sets them and also intensifies the colors.

I cook for 1 minute on high; then rest for 1  minute.  I repeat this cycle at least 3 times, then check to make sure the dyes have exhausted.  You'll know that by looking at the water formed from the steaming. If it is clear, you're done. If not, run the cook/rest cycle once more.  Carefully remove from the's VERY HOT!  I put it in a dishpan in the sink and let it cool.

Notice how there is no excess dye, the wool soaked it all in and the water is all clear.  Once it is cool I rinse it , usually adding a little shampoo to get rid of the vinegar smell and rinse well.  I then hang it until it is completely dry.  Then it's ready to knit!   This is a much quicker process than with the fiber reactive dyes.  Once the initial wetting and soak is done, the actual dyeing process takes less than 10 minutes.

Here is the other hank I did today.

I'm thinking I'll use the blue/green for a hat and the rainbow hank for my first pair of socks!

And I did finally finish wrapping up the pearl cotton...I switched to making center pull balls.

And I think I need a yarn swift and ball winder...the threads were only  77 yard hanks. My yarns though, are over 400 yards per hank!  I don't think I want to keep winding them by hand. Any favorite brands ? Any I should stay away from?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hand Dyed Pearl Cotton & Knitting, part 2

Well the pearl cotton is done!  Here it is all rinsed out and drying on the rack out in the sun.

Dried and ready to divide

I am dividing it into manageable this case 10 yard pieces.

I had a little leftover dye, so rather than waste it I threw in a few pieces of silk

Not as intense as they are when done with acid dyes, but still pretty vibrant.

And on the knitting front, my first piece (the scarf) is nearly done.  I can see vast improvement from the beginning to now.  My new Harmony circular needles and book came from KnitPicks today, but sadly 1 pair of needles was broken.  No worries though, I had ordered 3 pairs; and after a quick phone call the replacements for the broken ones are on the way!  Great customer service!

And I actually found a couple knitting books in kindle version...this is one  I bought

The iPad is great for books like this because you get the color pictures too, not just the text. And with the latest upgrade to the kindle app, you get pages that open side by side just like the book, so that is great when the directions span both pages.

So as soon as I get this scarf done, I can try out my new needles and a hat with my own hand dyed yarn!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dyeing Pearl Cotton

When I mentioned dyeing pearl cotton before in this post, I had several questions asking how.  Since it is cotton, I use the same process I use for the direct dyeing technique in cotton fabrics.

The first step is to unroll all the skeins(balls) and make hanks, tied in a couple places so they don't get tangled. I use Presencia's  Finca pearl cotton, in white.  It is mercerized and takes the dye beautifully. Today I'm dyeing some size 8 and some size 5.

Next I soak the tied hanks in soda ash for at least 30 minutes. Mash them down so you know they are totally saturated with the soda solution. If you don't, the dyes won't take.  I use the same concentration I use for fabric...1/2cup soda ash to 1 gallon of warm water.

I use this time to get my dyes ready.  I use the same fiber reactive dyes I use on cotton( and sometimes silk) fabric. Same ratio of dye too.  I spread things out on one of my plastic covered foam insulation boards. After wringing the excess soda solution out,  I place each hank of thread on a piece of plastic wrap and just spoon on the dyes on.

You can apply the dyes in any pattern you like

Then I just wrap them up and let them batch overnight.  This is what 770 yards of size 8 and 440 yards of size 5 looks like batching.

There they will rest until tomorrow afternoon when it's time to wash them out.  Once they are washed out, I hang them to dry.  After that, they're ready to be used!  I'll be back to show you the finished product when they're done.

Now to  dye the wool and silk yarns I use acid dyes and that process is totally different, so we'll save that for another time :)


A while back I shared an "in progress" photo of "Carnivale" here.  Today as I was organizing some files, I realized I never posted the completed work.  Well here you go, from the piece as I originally received it from Irena

to after I added some detail and background quilting

to the finished product after I painted it

And that's it for today...

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Really Don't Need Another Project!

But yesterday I decided I was going to teach myself how to knit.  I have been resisting this bug for quite some time now in the hopes that my sister Mary (who has been knitting for some time now) would knit me some socks.  For the last year I have been hand dyeing quite a bit of wool and silk  yarn in anticipation of an offer of some wonderful hand knit socks.

Well, the socks have not materialized dispite all my hints, and  I now have quite the supply of beautiful hand dyed yarn in lots of bright, clear colors.  So, I guess it's time to learn how to make my own socks and start using  some of this luscious yarn!  I was ready for a hand project anyway.

So I spent all day yesterday reading tutorials and then ordered a bunch of books and needles.  I have decided I want to learn on the circular needles, so in the afternoon I went to JoAnn's to get a set of  small circular needles and some "disposable"  fingering weight yarn to practice with while I wait for my good needles.

I'm starting with a simple scarf.  It was pretty easy to cast on, and  actually the  knit stitch is also pretty easy.  What is hard is not knitting too tight!  I started and ripped out at least 20 times before I finally could keep things loose enough to be able to work the stitches without struggling to get each one off.

I also decided to quit taking it out when I added a stitch (or dropped one) and just knit. I figure this first piece is a throw away.  But I will finish it, wash it and see then.  By the time I get it done, I ought to have the process down.

Of course, I am making it harder because I'm starting with the small needles..size 2...because that is the size I need to use all my hand dyed yarn  that is all fine, thin yarn.

But, I'm making progress and actually enjoying it.  My good needles will be here Monday, and I think by then I'll be ready to start on my good yarn.  Here's  how I'm  doing so far...lots of mistakes, but I'm learning.

I can't wait to get started on my bright colored yarns, these muted colors really aren't me!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And in Between the Fish...

I have been working on quilting this  since the summer.  It belongs to a friend and I had promised to quilt this last one for her.  She was very gracious and put no pressure on me , just asked if I could have it finished before the end of the year. She does the most beautiful hand appliqué, and it has  always been a joy working on her quilts.

So I have been working on it a little at a time.  Well, I'm getting down to the final stages now...the background fill.  I had promised her a peek months ago but promptly forgot to post a picture.  I did take a couple photos early on in the quilting process, but have not taken any since then.

Well Sherry, here you go.  This is what it looked like several months ago.

So how's that for a tease!  Won't be long now before you have it back.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sadie, Day 3

The background dyes have batched and been rinsed out along with all the wax. After a wash and press, it's now ready for the next step....painting the details.

I pinned it up on the design next to Henrietta. It really illustrates how much richer the dyes look, even when diluted down for a wash effect.  There is just nothing like hand dyed fabric in my opinion!

So the next step is to start the painting with the thickened dyes to bring Sadie some color. That will take me a few days, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sadie, Day 2

With the wax totally dry, today was the day to paint the background.  First, to mix fresh dye concentrates.  Don't you just love my red dye studio blender? I do!

These are the colors I use. From these I can mix any color and variation I need or want.

My normal dilution for the concentrates  is 1tbsp dye powder(except turquoise and blacks...they get 2 tbsp)  and3-4 tbsp urea to 1 cup of water.  But when I am planning to thicken the dyes with print paste for detail painting, I increase the strength of my concentrates.  So today I mixed 2tbsp dye powder and 4tbsp urea to 1 cup water. Except for the turquoise I used 3 tbsp dye powder; and the blacks I used  4tbsp dye powder....urea and water amounts are the same.

This concentration will give me good,deep saturated colors when mixed with the print paste.

Now for this piece, instead of pre-treating the fabric with the soda ash, I will be adding it to the print paste/dye mixture.  I mixed my print paste yesterday... I use the print base mix from Dharma.  Then I made up my "chemical water" (urea plus water) that I will use to thin the print paste when needed.

So then I was ready to paint the background.  I use insulation foam boards covered in plastic to lay the piece on.  I used dye concentrate mixed with equal parts soda ash solution and added water. The colors I used were cobalt blue,cerulean blue, sky blue, turquoise, grape, and kelly green.

You can see on the right side where I did not have a solid closed shape with the wax...oops!  But I learned long ago, to incorporate the "oops" into the design.  In this case, it's the stem that  breeched, so adding a little yellow when I paint it will convert it to green...problem solved!  There is also the odd drip here and there, but again since dyes are transparent, the colors can easily be altered in the next step.  The background painting was a serti technique.

The whole thing is now covered in plastic to keep it warm and wet for the next 24 hours to fully batch the colors. After that, I'll wash out the excess dye and the wax, dry it and then be ready to start the detail painting.

And today  I got the pearl cotton I had ordered.

This weekend, these will be dyed in variegated colors in a variety of colorways!