Friday, April 11, 2008

Dasi's bootees

When I signed up to get on Ravelry, a great beta website for knitters, wool dyers, crocheters and any other aspect of yarn you can think of, I had no idea it would be such a great resource. You can document projects you knit, see what others are knitting, look for yarns for patterns, patterns for yarns and more. Everyone on Ravelry, it seemed, had knit a pair of the cutest, tiniest Mary Jane bootees with buttoned crossing straps. After I knit my first pair of socks (and only, so far) I had enough hand-painted merino sock yarn left over to knit baby bootees! I sewed the first one up to see just how cute it was when the second bootee was in progress----

Until I sewed up the second one I had no idea how much they differed in size. Same needles, but different tension? I knitted a third bootee---and came up with a matching pair. Pphew!

These were for Dasi who arrived last week. Congratulations to my friends Deborah and Andrew!

If you need to knit a pair or three of Saartje's bootees, the pattern is available online.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dyeing day

I love hand-painted-, kettle-dyed-, hand spun-, multi-colored yarns, however it happens. Inspired by these yarns I wanted to dye my own palette of ribbons and yarns, so I've looked for a workshop in the Northeast. And...

I drove from Long Island to Massachusetts early Sunday morning to take a class in dyeing yarn with acid dyes at Webs in Northampton. Gail Callahan aka Kangaroo Dyer, Webs resident dyer, was our instructor. Gail shared her dyeing history with us and we made our introductions/confessions. She gave us a lesson in the use of the niddy noddy and we started skeining our base yarnlets.

Everyone seemed to master that process, yarnlets were then dunked into our buckets of water and vinegar solution and we ventured out into the retail sales area of Webs to clip samples of various fibers from cones to test along with our yarnlets.

As if that wasn’t enough, to be in the store unfettered by April sale shoppers, we moved into the warehouse to clip more yarns and gather stray skeins! My head was swimming with too many fiber options or lack of latte, I don’t know which.

Fibers gathered… we measured 3 “primary” Cushing dyes into our quart containers, made pastes with tepid water and added boiling water to create our 3 primary dyestocks.

From the dyestock bases we then measured “transitioning” combinations into 12 smaller containers.

The alchemy began when our yarnlets were submerged into the multitude of cups that obscured the tables. One by one, the yarnlets were removed from the cups, wrapped in plastic wrap and popped in the microwave. They emerged as shrink-wrapped spring rolls and rinsed in the sink to ohs! and ahs! We had 3 different base Shetland yarns to choose from for our test mini-skeins and the differing results were evident as we spread them out to compare.

Everyone had chosen full skeins and hanks of additional yarns to experiment with until the class was over. What a variety! I was so busy with my own that I didn’t get a chance to shoot anybody’s creations. Mine are hanging in the motel bathroom until tomorrow’s return home.

Gail wrangled the group through the different steps of the process throughout the day and removed the intimidation that some of us/me felt about the chemistry of the procedures and empowered a roomful of novices and inspired the more experienced dyers. I would recommend a trip to Webs, of course to see and buy yarns (Kangaroo dyer’s creations among ‘em) and most certainly to take a dyeing class from patient Gail.

Tomorrow, with the class out of the way, I will be more able to focus on shopping at Webs!