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A lovely skein of merino lace-weight [slated to become lacy gloves] has undertaken a long journey, and arrived, slightly felted, MILES past the brilliant jewel-tone teal that was to be its destination.

Where did this dye-job take a wrong turn? Sadly, the culprit was too much yellow, which, with the blue, made an unpleasant green. And though I desperately dumped more and more blue dye into the pot, the yarn simply just wouldn’t budge past green into teal or turquoise. In the end, I resorted to adding red, and I’m moderately happy with the result: a kind of deep marine blue, which I am calling midnight pacific. In fact, upon reflection, and the exercise of winding this skein into a ball, I’m actually quite ecstatic with the result! We’ll see how it looks knit up!

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Of course my satisfaction with midnight pacific doesn’t dull my fervor to mix a lovely turquoise or teal – it just shifted that color on to the next project… And next time I guess I will have to do more extensive testing!!

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kaleidoscope-cardigan-WIP
Pattern: Kaleidoscope by Sarah Sutherland, published in MagKnits [free]
Yarn: Knitpicks Bare Merino Wool-Silk Blend Fingering Weight (70% merino wool / 30% silk 440 yds / 100 gram hank ) which I hand-dyed using blue food coloring. 200 grams (880 yds) will be enough for this sweater, which makes it cheap ~ about $13!
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I’m maybe half-way through this cardigan, and I am loving the color of the yarn, as well as the slip stitch pattern that I decided to substitute in for the stockinette. When I dyed this yarn, I was somewhat disappointed by the result, as I was going for a deeper, pair of blues, but the result, knitted up is vibrant (which I like), and has subtle color shifts which I am very happy with in the knitted result. I’m not a fan of the patchy, variegated way that space-dyed yarns often knit up, but the color and tonal differences in this dye job, combined with the interesting stitch pattern, seem to be subtle enough to be very pleasing, and give the piece depth, without making it stripy.

I knit it from the top down, instead of bottom up, as the pattern was written, because I wanted to be able to try on the most crucial part (the neckline) immediately, so I knew that my sizing calculations were working out, as I’m knitting at a slightly different gauge and in a different stitch pattern than the pattern was written for. So the process has involved a fair share of math!!

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The Slip Stitch pattern is knit as follows on a 4-row repeat (but it’s really just 2 different rows, one of them just being straight purl, so it is VERY easy)

  • R1 (RS): *K1, Slip 1 stitch purlwise with yarn in front*
  • R2: Purl
  • R3: *Slip 1 stitch purlwise with yarn in front, K1*
  • R4: Purl

I found this pattern in Step by Step Knitting Stitch Patterns, by Kristina Bryszewski [1988, K.M.B. Publishing, Vancouver, BC]

unravelling, reconditioning, and over-dyeing yarn from already knit items

As a relatively new knitter, I have been shocked by the extremely high prices of yarn. Of course, at the same time, I love high quality natural fibres, especially soft wool, as it is so forgiving and easy to knit.

These conditions have led me (and many, many others) to recycle yarn from sweaters – beastly old ones I never wear, and treasures found at thrift stores. This is a time-consuming process, I will not lie, and can be frustrating upon starting out. But now that I have found my preferred system for deconstructing and processing the yarn, I find it very pleasurable and profitable, as it restrains me (somewhat) from a rampage of new yarn purchasing.

I will not attempt to improve upon the already-great tutorial for sweater deconstruction provided here. I will only mention that when I have all the sweater parts separated, I unravel the sweater one piece at a time into a large paper bag, so that it is like a big bag of yarn spaghetti (tying the ends to one of the handles, so that they do not get lost in the mire). Then, when I am ready to wind my skeins on my home-made PVC niddy-noddy, I simply start with the uppermost yarn end, and pull the yarn up and out of the bag and wind it around the niddy-noddy. [what is a niddy noddy, and why do I need one? This will be the subject of a future post]

Although some recyclers choose to wind yarn balls directly from the unraveled sweater, I find that it is much better to knit with yarn that has been washed and drip dried, a process which relaxes most of the kinks out of the yarn. Also, as I often over-dye recycled yarns, it is convenient for me to have them in skein form.

If, as I do, you love to experiment with dyeing, using recycled yarn as a base lets you relax and experiment, as mistakes are less painful on the pocketbook!

Soon I will post some of my creations ~