In the pink.

jenjoycedesign© over-dye

Sipping iced coffee & knitting next to an open window enjoying a very warm breeze wafting through, and listening to a cacophony of birds’ song.  I suppose it is a perfect spring day and I’m feeling utterly in the pink!   What is going on here is over-dying to change a cool ice pink in fingering-weight yarn to a slightly warmer tone…

jenjoycedesign© over-dye

Four skeins overdyed & drying on the line among the oak trees,  on a very warm  June afternoon.  Personally, pink is not my favorite color to wear,  although when you see forthcoming design mentioned in previously posted ‘Fishy’, you will get the Pink Thing.  Yes, and then you will see.  Note that the yarn that I un-plied in Fishy post was far too fine to design with, after all , but it will be very nice to sample the forthcoming design in a finer form.  

♣ ♣ ♣

I hope you are all enjoying your June, and for my nieces school is out for the summer, and we finally have a date to have a photo shoot  of them modeling the Camino Inca designs … so watch this space!

Unspun

jenjoycedesign©unspun

I have been colossally distracted in a major yarn tangent in recent days. 

jenjoycedesign© unspun

I’ve been going through my ‘stash’ (that is yarn which is in one’s possession, otherwise free to use at whim), and over-dying & having a bit of fun.

But this particular little project was super fiddly and a major study in “un-spinning”, using my spinning wheel, ball-winder, swift, and dye pot.   On my spinning wheel, I literally unwound the 3 plies of a bulky-weight very soft 100% alpaca yarn I had,  while at the same time winding them into 3 separate balls. I splice-joined the 3 single balls into one skein,  and then attempted to relax the energized ‘singles’ with some simmer-dying. And relax they did!

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Even the spliced joins were completely invisible when I wound and re-wound on to the swift. Ever-so-slightly felted made a terrific halo (fuzz) when the final product was skeined.

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178 yards and 66 grams, of extremely soft alpaca single ply yarn, now ready for a delicious soft lace cowl.   I would think this would classify as sport-weight. I am frankly amazed at this result, and my eye is wandering through my stash now, with ideas to deconstruct. jenjoycedesign©013

Well, it was a huge amount of work, but its done & dusted and I’m very proud of such an alluring result.  That’s me on a beautiful day, I should be knitting socks, but sometimes distraction is good for creativity!

New Growth

jenjoycedesign© primavera

As I sit here at my table next to the window, peering out into the misty forest there is nearly a shock of new growth of madrone foliage.

jenjoycedesign© new growth

I have been inspired by the new growth in the woods lately, and decided to get out some dye, and run some experiments.  Unfortunately there are no before photos of this project, it was a skein of very heathery greyish blue, and the result of a very small amount of golden yellow powder dye in a slightly acidic dye bath, kept below simmer until the dye exhausted, is this …

jenjoycedesign© over-dyed

I am not a very good photographer, in that I really don’t know how to use a camera to grasp surface color variation, but I tried to put the yarn in different spaces to show the heathered flecks of bluer green and some of near neon yellow-green… and well, it all looks rather monotone from the eye of the camera. Can you see the heathered flecks?

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But, this whole dye project really has tickled a spot, and I realized that I have been dying many kinds of fiber for literally decades. I am having a bit of an epiphany today, a new growth in my thinking that I might want to dye single skeins, and make up some kits of printed patterns of my cowls to include some of my dyed yarns, I mean heck ~~everybody is doing it~~  kits, personal yarn lines, as well as the printed or downloadable pattern. The sky is no limit when one’s profession is in the realm of ‘Indie Knitwear Designer’. Thinking having these simple little kits available a haberdashery shop here on Yarnings.

I have the tools, the time, and a load of experience, so I’m enjoying a bit of dreaming just now !

jenjoycedesign© over-dyed 2

 

Over-Dyed

jenjoycedesign©over dyed
My latest yarn play. I dyed a ton of yarn  ( details in previous post ) with a mind to knit them into an autumney-equinoxey sort of thing, but now I think not.  I’m calling this colorway ‘curry blend’, or maybe ‘marigolds’ .  Anyway,  I think it fitting for my recent post-pattern-writing crash,  to continue to chill out with a clean slate for a while.  Just knit socks, socks, and more socks, and not have anything big brewing beyond re-writing Penny Candy Socks pattern for the remainder of Spring.    Oh, just look at these cheerful balls of yarn perched , happily waiting for whatever comes.  I am very pleased with the dye this time !

Woodsy

Over-dye madness.  Insanely intriguing varigations.

Here I have heaped the over-dyed green yarns for my Nine Year Old Niece’s sweater on top of the finished and waiting sweater for my Twelve Year Old Niece.

 The ‘bug-guts’ yellowy green has over-dyed

ever-so-nicely into a color

which reminds me of golden green tips of bright moss !

All the colors of the foliage in the forest are running through these four yarns in a very earthy woodsy colorway.

 I have roughly 200 grams each of four different greens, each with many varigations in their various journeys from dye bath to dye bath.


I’m not exactly sure what I am going to do with all of the crazy varigation.  Yesterday was all about dominating the yarn, now that I’ve had my way with the colors, not exactly sure.  I think I’ll let them dominate me for a while. At least until I get the sweater cast-on.  I actually love the challenge of listening to my instincts , and the yarn.  Sometimes this whole business of dying, knitting, and improvising is just  downright delicious  & fabulously exciting !

What I Want It To Be

(The original sale yarn ready for dying.)

Here I go again . Ripped out what I had started on my second niece’s sweater, I just couldn’t handle the ‘bug guts green’ color any more. (see over there, in the sidebar, under the text entitled “On My Needles”)   The yellowy bug-gutsy green which was so neon that it scared me,  from overdying ‘bright yellow’ over ‘sky blue’ in a very saturated dye bath. What was I thinking? One Autumn Sweater named “Berry Smoothie” for it’s likeness, the other I couldn’t not call  “Bug Guts” .  Also, the deep grey overdyed with spruce is a little too sophisticated for the colorway “Nine Year Old Kid” that I had in mind.

Changing course is good.  It just has just got to be work sometimes.  And that work not always accepting It being what It Wants To Be, nay, sometimes, this year, this lesson learned, the work will be in making it right,  of it being what I want it to be. A mountain of work to save a few dollars from some sale yarn. Risk factor high. I may have to go buy new yarn , in the end, but, I’m giving it my best shot.  Oh, and in the process of taking dye out of some yarn the first time around,  the bleach bath absolutely ruined the yarn, and it seized up… like melted chocolate getting cold water poured into it. After rinsing all that mess out,  the yarn was hopelessly tangled, and I threw it in the waste basket.  However, after a short talk with myself I realized that Waste Not Makes Want Not, and I took it out of the waste basket, dried it out on the line, and then promptly hid it somewhere not to be seen,  in order to avoid embarrassment of my bad impulses.

So here I am now,  untangling that whole mess of yarn.  I will soon be winding into new skeins on the niddy noddy and dipping into a fresh bath of dye, on a Saturday morning, while watching the fog rise from the valley and drinking really good coffee.

My Favorite Mistake

Now this is my favorite mistake .

I ask myself , how many times can I do the ol’  “accidentally grab the wrong needle end and knit backwards into the row the other direction” mistake ??? Obviously more times than I can count.  Yet each time it happens,  I’m a little dumbstruck that I just did it again. Then I laugh, and think to grab the camera and let you laugh too.  I’m glad *somebody* is getting entertained.

This sweater I’m naming “Berry Smoothie” for my eldest niece who asked for ‘light purple, and maybe also pink’.   The overdyed purply pink and pinkish purple,  I achieved on the yarns was by a very light dip in the dyebath.  No saturation what-so-ever.  The story reads this way:

For Purple : Woman dips grey heathered wool into dye, then yells  ” Oh blast !… this is waaaaaay too dark… quick, out with it ….. fast …. and rinse it out  !!!! ”

For Plum :  “Hmm… I wonder if this little bit of Jacquard Pink left in the container is enough for these five 50g skeins?”  Woman dips light blue yarn in dye bath… exhausts the dye-bath to clear in less than one minute.  Oops, not enough. Hence uneven dyeing and ~luckily~ interesting variegation.

Well, at least I did look at the colors on the dye packets, and I did pre-saturate the yarn in a diluted vinegar rinse before the dye bath dip.  Result was delightedly ‘unsaturated’ variegation of color. I normally prefer the ultra saturated dying, because protein fibers do that so well, and so well attain a depth of richness which exudes such sensuality (I think) and is unmatched by non-protein fibers.  A skein of wool (or silk) yarn only needs to look at a packet of dye to change color. Who said I am an Intentional Dyer?  Not me, the intention is never there.  At best I am a Hopeful Dyer.  I think I’ll write a book ” How to spin, dye, and knit completely by accident “.  Best-seller ?  Not.

But really,  I do love the color variegation !

A quick thanks to friends for  the comments of previous post, for setting me straight. I do think I’m going to do work on taking more thorough paper notes, and swatching, in the way of scrapbooking for a project, and maybe virtually too in some capacity ~ incorporating the old-fashioned and modern.  And, I think I will really work hard at learning to write the text for what I just knit (call it a pattern if you will)…. but…. I’m not going to lay down any rules !

Just doesn’t seem that important. I’m over myself today. Thanks friends !

Autumn Approaches

  Autumn Sweaters Time.

Beautiful cascades of yarn I’ve over-dyed  plum and purple, to Eldest Niece’s specifications.  Jacquard acid dyes : pink dyed over light blue yarn, and then lavendar over heathered grey.   The over-dye and the original colors will make a lovely subtle  varigation in the stockinette fabric that I just can’t wait to see, and since there are two nieces, there will be Autumn Sweaters  (x 2) .  Take a look at the  other colorway  overdyed from the same yarns which I bought a boat load of in a closeout sale.   Superwash 100% Merino wool.  Drinks in the dye, and exhausts the dyebath so nicely ! But committing to overdyed colors , I have found,  is strenuous at times, because there’s no “I’ll just exchange these 5 skeins for another color” sort of thinking. Nooo… I have to make it work, in a sort of determined marriage to the yarn.  So far I’ve casted on after switching needle sizes and swatching four times !

*    *    *

Meanwhile,  Classic Socks pair number two continues to grow.

(Yes… more purple.)

Sneak Preview

Unlikely colorway?

Yes, but of course ! I want to think that somehow these colors are destined to match up, perhaps something more like disagreeable neighbors, but I have faith that it will finish harmoniously.   A stretch of my imagination, maybe, but to be an Intentional Dyer is beyond my ability, and ‘I’m okay with that’.   I often settle with leaving colorways up to the Sisters of Fate, and to just let the sweaters be what they want to be.

I managed to find some one-hundred-percent superwash merino wool yarn in DK (double knitting) weight, on close-out discount, and bought a lot of it.  Light blue and a heathered medium grey.  Over-dyed dramatically,  to create one-of-a-kind colorways in my nieces’  favorite colors, for what will in a couple of months’ time ~ my nieces Autumn Sweaters.  There’s actually really nice and subtle varigation from the original colors and the over-dyed colors… exciting !

What you see draped over the chair is for one of the sweaters, the younger of my two nieces. The other will make an appearance later, in a second colorway, in a second sneak preview. So here I go, winding off a gazillion yards into balls…

Home-Made Candy


Making candy again. One small batch at a time. I call it ‘micro dying’. I use a little one-quart old blue enamel pot, and I start with some homespun alpaca and cook the sugar just right, mixing hues with abandon.

Navy, royal blue, and a t’wee bit of peacock over-dye natural medium grey alpaca until it becomes unmistakably vivid and bold.

Yummy blue alpaca candy !


Spruce and emerald over-dye grey into a mouth-watering green alpaca candy !

 A  real taste sensation when mixed together !

I suprised myself with the color intensity, unusual for me, and I’ll admit, its only the second time I’ve dyed alpaca, and I really love how the fiber responds.

Am I Kidding Myself?

This is just what I asked myself when I was finished spinning up this Suri Alpaca ,  as I ended up with only about three-quarters of a bobbin full when all plied.  What a gross miscalculation.  You see, I only used half of what I had stashed of roving, ready to be spun up in this post here , thinking that would be well enough for a nice fat skein. I was kidding myself !  All that dying , all that spinning,  all that fuss… for a wee 180 yd skein of very purple, and very fine weight of alpaca.

 So, here it is.  Cute . Spirited.  Very purple indeed.


I panicked. I thought, how can I give a very special knitter a very special gift of such a small single skein of 180 yards?  I thought , well, maybe quick get something to accompany it, um, like one of those “One Skein Wonder” books. Yeah! Well, so I just ordered one last night, and with expedited shipping, thinking I’d have the whole thing to bundle up and send off by the end of the week. Great ! My “What was I thinking?” situation solved nicely.

*   *   *

So now that I’m waiting for the book to arrive, my thoughts drift.  They become “ I really could spin up some of that odd left-over tussah silk roving I have stashed. ”  Except that Nora’s Mom asked for purple, and there’s no denying , this silk roving was dyed roses and maroon. I dyed it myself a few years ago. (It’s the very same silk which I spun, in fact, and is featured in the banner of this blog.)   Well, I happen to have a box load of dyes, and I ended up overdyeing an already dyed bunch of roving. Adding separately and blended, navy and crimson, I managed to get a nice deep purply wine… really needed a lot of rinsing though. Though not quite purple, more cabernet, I think it will accompany the alpaca well, and what could be better than a nice book and a skein of yarn?  Two skeins of yarn !  I dyed, dried, and then  set into spinning like wildfire.

Ready for a good washing and rinsing, here she is, just wound off of the bobbin.

And as I talked about in Yarn Candy , searching for just the right lighting to show the color.

Sometimes it’s the whole of the sum of several photos

which grasps the trueness of tones

 and hues.

*   *   *

~  Edited In  ~

All ready to go ;  234 yards of tussah silk , 180 yards of suri alpaca, and one book .

Off to New York !

Yarn Candy

I’ve been enjoying a little rest after a flurry of deadline projects came to a crescendo last week. Back at it again, reading my favorite blogs from spinners, knitters & designers (while spinning), and started to be overcome with that oh-so-familiar impulse to post something ! A little like journalling, but involving tactile sensations as well as color and light ~ an addictive combination. When this happens I grab the camera.

I love the afternoon light from a particular skylight , which brings a trueness and a warmth and a glow to colors, which frankly seem lost with the camera, and so so difficult to really grasp ~ but with a little help from photo settings, I think I managed pretty well on this one.  Just look at the purple I am spinning up, and this suri alpaca is just so soft !  I started yakking about a few days ago,  it in this post .

*    *    *
What lovely fine purple yummy yarn-candy indeed !

Purple, Straight-With-No-Chaser


Nearing the end of my scheduled project deadlines,  I decided to spin up the alpaca stash I’ve built up over the decades.  I have taken it upon myself to spin up a couple of skeins of yarn for Nora’s Mom, as I hear she is knitting now quite regularly, and I thought it an excellent opportunity to put to use some of the exotic and luxurious white huacaya suri alpaca I have.  Well I asked what color alpaca yarn would she like, and she requested purple.

I asked, not being familiar with a one-tone sort of roving dye experience,  ” might you like a reddish purple varigated, sort of plummy …. or maybe a blueish indigo-ey ???”

But Nora’s Mom’s answer was “… just purple “.

Well, Nora’s Mom, here is a nice straight-with-no-chaser PURPLE.

I am not accustomed to having ever before  dyed, spun, or knit anything ‘just purple’, especially in such complete unvarigatedness as this alpaca roving I just dyed.  Oh and in case you didn’t notice, I’ll point out that it is a bit felted.  I was impatient while dying, as I was trying to cook dinner at the same time ( I don’t recommend that), and managed to agitate the roving too much (instead of stirring the soup, perhaps I stirred the steaming dye bath ??)… so I’m paying for that by having to mess with the roving a bit before spinning it. (I think the technical term is ” pre-drafting “.)

Upcoming, a little skein or two of  ~  r e g a l   but sexy ~ and very purple handspun !

My Thrift Obsession

I’m resisting impulse this morning to run into own, or the city, and ‘happy hoard’.  Seems when I’ve had my coffee and the day is somewhat open, I often get a little bee in my bonnet coercing me toward the pleasures of discovering those unique finds at my favorite thrift shops.  I do this quite often, I am ashamed to admit, however,  even in my own path of shame, I am very proud that I have a closet full of rare finds (mostly), many of which I then alter or over-dye to a custom and signature style which is my own. These are all of very high quality origin, bought for a few dollars.

Now, I’ve already stockpiled these projects-in-queu, and my smallish little loft closet is quite full already, and I find myself *still* dreaming of the Next Big Find, ready to grab my car keys !  Today perhaps a lesson indeed in the Be Here Now-ness of things, and to instead go to my dye pot, and pick out a mix of color for the beautiful thick matte silk EvanPicone A-line skirt I found while thrift shopping yesterday, which is a dusty charcoal, and  would take an overdye in the most intriguing way.  I love those colors-beneath-the-colors, and this would indeed be that affect.

My best kept secret ~

Handspun for Fair Isle

Spun from gorgeous long staple and soft New Zealand Top roving which I often purchase by the half-pound, at Dharma Trading Co. in San Rafael.  I dyed the roving with Jaquard powder acid dye, various reds and maroons, and this spun up to the finest yarn I’ve spun to date.

Smitten with Fair Isle knitting I really tried to emmulate the Shetland yarn while spinning this, and though I thought I spun fine enough, when plied together, the yarn is still not fine enough. Though it is pretty fine anyway, that is a dime in the photo ! Perfect amount of spin, good evenness throughout,  and made a lovely loft !