Friday, July 30, 2010

Trying Wine-Dyeing

The other night I was having a glass of wine after work. The bottle had been opened a few days prior, was half-full, and the wine seemed just on the verge of being totally un-drinkable. So I settled down on the couch, put on The Simpsons, poured myself a glass... and almost immediately fell asleep.
So, here I was this afternoon with some sour old wine. boo. I decided maybe it would be fun to try using said wine to dye some yarn. I couldn't really find any information about it online but I felt like I'd heard about people doing this before so I just decided to go for it.

I pulled out some nice worsted weight un-dyed 100% wool yarn. I got this yarn at a good price so I didn't mind if I got a funky result.

I also had this big container of mordant in the craft room. Someone gave it to me a while back but I haven't tried it yet so I decided to use this as well. This mordant is alum, it's one of the least toxic mordants, this is lucky for me because I accidentally breathed some in when I opened the container. Seriously.
If you're wondering what mordant is, you can click here.

And the star of the show, the gross old wine! I was ready to begin.

I dissolved some alum in a bowl of hot water and added the yarn. I let this sit for about half an hour, then strained out the liquid.

I poured all the wine over the yarn and then added just enough hot water so that all the yarn was submerged. I let this sit for about an hour but it seemed like the color wasn't really taking. I transferred everything into a pot and cooked it on the stove until it was just about to boil. I was hoping the heat would help set the color. After letting the yarn cool a bit I rinsed it and hung it up to dry.
Anyway, the final result of this little project isn't very exciting:

The yarn on top is the wine-dyed skein. The one on bottom in un-dyed. They're different, but not very different. I don't mind the color, it's sort of a really pale dusty lavender, but I think I'll probably dye it again to get something darker.
After doing a bit more research I found out that I should have boiled the wool with the alum and also some cream of tartar. Then I should have let it dry before dying it. But I didn't have any cream of tartar and I also wanted more immediate gratification so, even knowing what I know now, I probably would have done the same thing anyway.
So in the end, I had a skein of yarn that was a slightly different color than it had been a couple hours earlier and a kitchen that smelled like wet sheep and hot wine... I probably won't wine-dye again. At least not for a while. But I also don't see myself not finishing a bottle of wine again any time soon so I suppose that's okay.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Knitting, knitting, knitting

Check it out! I'm almost done with my Estelle cardigan. It's been hard to work on during this crazy heat but I'm so close to being done that I just want to keep going and get it done. The second sleeve is nearly finished and then it just needs blocking and buttons... and then I just need to wait a couple months for the weather to get cold enough. I'll be ready!

And I also finished a hat with the yarn I spun a couple weeks ago (I wrote about it here). I knit most of it on the car ride up to Vermont last weekend. I just cast on 88 stitches on a size 8 (or maybe it was a 9?) circular and improvised the decreases as I went.

The colors turned out really pretty and the alpaca in the yarn gives it just a little bit of shine. This one might be a present for someone in the Fall...

Oh, and guess who got shipped off to a new home today?

This cute little guy. Hooray! I should be putting the money towards buying an air conditioner... but I have a feeling it will probably be for more yarn... and beer...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

VT Love

Remember when I wrote about how badly I wanted to get away to Vermont? Well, I did it! Logan and I went with Calder, Erin, and Olive Blue (a super special 3-year-old). It was amazing.

It was three days of nature, swimming, sunburns, and delicious food.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Coozie Love

Check it out!
My friends, Berit and Lauren, made coozies using the tutorial! Aren't they adorable? Hooray.
AND, if you're in the NYC area, I just might be teaching a little workshop during the Treehouse Brooklyn 4-year-anniversary party this Sunday! I'll keep you posted, but either way there is going to be a fun party and you can learn more about that here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Spinning

It is hot.
Really hot.
And I don't have air conditioning.
I wouldn't mind so much except for that most of the things I like to do require a cooler atmosphere; knitting and spinning is hard to do with sweaty hands and fingers, and cooking or baking is no fun because it makes the apartment even hotter... Hmm, what to do...
Well, I was home alone the other night and bored and just needed to make something. I got out some wool, hand carders, and the spinning wheel. Then I directed both of my fans directly at my body and got to work.

I pulled out some bright rainbow merino wool I bought and experimented with a while back. The yarn I was getting from this wool was pretty but just too bright for my taste and it's just been sitting in a basket. You can read more about it here.

Then I found some alpaca that I had forgotten about. I decided to try blending it with the merino to (hopefully) create more pastel-type colors.

My mom gave me some hand carders for christmas and they're really fun for this sort of thing. And when I use them I get to feel all old-timey. I laid strips of the white alpaca down first and then layered the rainbow merino on top and got to carding.

The result was these lovely pastel fluffy puffs. Cute!

They kind of reminded me of little sea creatures. Then it was time to spin them up! I love working on the spinning wheel...

Here's the thin single I spun up first. I used all the fiber on this single then wound it into a center-pull ball. I love this technique when spinning small amounts of fiber because nothing goes to waste. You do this by taking the yarn end from the center of the ball and spinning it together with the outside yarn end from that same ball (and don't forget to spin the wheel in the opposite direction of the single). Does that make sense? If you want to try this you can email me and I'll explain it better (the heat is frying my brain a little bit right now).

And here it is! A soft and squishy 2-ply merino/alpaca yarn. And it's in sweet pastel colors that I'll actually want to knit with! Hooray. I'm thinking I'll use it to make part of a hat but we'll see. I'm excited to see how it knits up.
I hope you enjoyed seeing how I made this fiber into yarn... Because I really liked doing it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Want Vermont

A few photos from a couple summers ago in Vermont... I want to be there now. So badly.
These photos were taken by my friend Aaron Wojack, you can see more of his stuff here.
Craftier content is coming either tonight or tomorrow. Promise. I made some pretty sweet yarn last night.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Soon soon

I'll have a new free knitting pattern here within the next couple of days. It's definitely not a "warm weather pattern" but I still think you'll like it. In the meantime, I'll be watching this beautiful video and trying not to think about how ridiculously hot my apartment is right now..

Monday, July 5, 2010

I love it here

Did you have a fun 4th of July? Mine was bonkers. We grilled in my backyard and danced on rooftops and saw a bazillion fireworks.
This is a view from my roof. See the red, white, and blue Empire State Building? I love that.
Be back soon!