dampcity-hand-dyed-merino-laceweight-midnightpacific-close

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!

dampcity-hand-dyed-merino-laceweight-midnightpacific

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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I love stitch dictionaries. Since receiving ‘A Treasury of Knitting Patterns’ by Barbara Walker from the library, I have been obsessed with the multitude of possibilities that it contains. I flip through it every night before bed, finding new stitches that I love, and fantasizing about the garments they will inspire.

Since I have probably 400 yds+ leftover merino laceweight left over from my butter clam scarf, I decided that a perfect canvas for experimentation would be a pair of fingerless gloves; simple enough tubes stretching from hand to elbow. So armed with Barbara Walker, I measured, designed, and knit a couple of swatches.

design-gloves-measurements

As I have a limited amount of yarn, and I will be hand dying it, I will knit both at the same time, from the hand up to the elbow. I am not sure exactly how the hand will be covered; will there be tiny individual fingerlets? The gloves must definitely have a distinct thumb tube. The main idea is to have a lace pattern on the top of the arm, extending over the top of the hand, and stockinette stitch on the palm, and the underside of the arm. That way increases can be handled within the simple stockinette underside, or with a row of yo’s along the border of the lace. At and above the elbow, I want to switch the pattern to an all-around ribbing of some kind – maybe a lacy rib, or perhaps a chunkier, more solid one, but something with significant stretch to hold the glove up.

swatch-merino-lace-chevron

The final (and sometimes most difficult) question is color. I plan to dye the yarn prior to knitting … but I’m kind of tired of making dye tests, so I think I’ll just wing it, and well, we’ll see what happens!

dye-redmerino-pot.jpgI did some dyeing today, sticking to the warm end of the color spectrum, focused on red and orange. I use Jacquard Acid Dyes, which come in powder form, and which I mix up into strong solutions, ready for mixing (specifically, I mix 1 tsp of powder into 8 oz of water, to make a solution of each of my dye colors). When I am ready to dye, I usually start with small, test amounts of both dye and fiber, trying out several color mixes until I am satisfied with my results, and then I scale up the process to dye a larger batch of yarn.

Here is my dyepot on the stove, in the process of dyeing some recycled merino yarn (a light fingering weight) from a light brown color, into a deep red.

merino-handdye-darkred

My main goal, however, was to test several dye mixtures on two lace-weight yarns: silk and mohair. I plan to make a top of some kind out by knitting together these 2 yarns, and I wanted to dye them 2 similar colors that would meld well. So I stuck with shades of orange, red, dark red, and ended up with a purple too.

mohair-silk-dye-swatch

This first swatch shows what my original knitted test swatch looked like (I knit it first, they dyed it afterwards). The top section is the mohair knit by itself, the middle section is the silk lace knit by itself, and the bottom section is the two yarns knit together.

mohair-silk-dye-test-hanks mohair-silk-dyetest-swatch-small.jpg

Here are the 4 dye test colors, in little hanks, and then knit up into a test swatch, mixing different colors of silk and mohair to achieve pretty cool effects – from subtle to quite variegated. It was interesting how the silk and mohair each took the dye up quite differently, so the same dyebath could yield quite distinct results, depending on fiber. I think the results are magnificent – the silk sparkles through beneath the saturated and fluffy mohair, in spectacularly vibrant colors.

So next I have to choose which colors to go with, and dye larger quantities, then design the top (long sleeves, short? cowl, or v-neck?), and knit it up. Also, if I have left-overs from the eventual top, I will finish the above swatch into a matching scarf! Now the most difficult part: decisions!