Monday, June 19, 2017

Yarn Dyeing Experiment: Lupine

I've been plotting and planning to create my own line of naturally dyed yarn, and I'm now in the experimental phase.  I'm not going to go into too many details yet until I have a better feel of things, but I'm sure I'll share more here as I learn more.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
Today's post is about my first attempt at dyeing yarn with lupines.  They grow thick and beautiful here in the late spring/early summer.  I spent a lovely evening gathering a bunch of it the other night with a friend, and have gathered more since to freeze for future dyeing days.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I only collected the flower stalks, and used only the flowers for the dye bath.  If you had to guess what colour that would produce, you'd probably guess blue or purple.  You'd be wrong.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment Lupine Dyeing Experiment
While the dye bath was a lovely burgundy/pink shade, the yarn initially came out looking a sad shade of greyish-green after steeping overnight.  I was disappointed, but figured I'd overdye it with something else.  I toss the first dip yarn into a bath with pH neutral wool wash and an extra skein into the dye bath to exhaust the dye.  I left for work and left it be.  When I got home, the exhaust bath yarn was a paler sad shade of greyish-green when I pulled it out and into a rinse bath.  So imagine my surprise when I reached into the wool wash bath and pulled out a skein of lime green yarn!

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
First dip yarn on left, exhaust bath yarn in middle, undyed yarn on right.
I'm not entirely sure what caused the change, but I suspect the soap adjusted the pH and affected the colour of the yarn.  The chemistry is fascinating!  I'm so happy with the results - even the exhaust bath yarn.

For a bit of background here, I used Briggs and Little Sport yarn, divided into 25 g skeins for experimentation.  I premordent the yarn with alum, with cream of tarter as an assist.  I forgot to rinse the yarn before moving it from the premordent pot to the dye bath, and I thought that was why the dye seemed so disappointing.  I suspect that my water isn't a pure as I'd like.  I'll probably have to get bottled water to get more control of my results.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I already have a couple baskets worth of yarn in the freezer for future dyeing!
I want to play a bit more with lupine, see what happens when I modify it with iron and copper solutions.  I can see this one making it into my final line of yarns.

Have you tried natural dyeing yet?  I'm fascinated with the chemistry behind it, and have been consuming all of the books I can on the matter.  Know of any good ones to recommend?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

fo: Gramps Sweater

Back in February, my wonderful, life-saving employee had a baby - an adorably disgruntled-looking little boy that has stolen my heart.  Seriously guys, I've happily avoided holding any babies since my Mom plopped one in my arms when I was 19.  I like making faces at them, and that's about it.  But this little guy?  I steal him as often as I can.  I've volunteered to baby-sit him, ffs.  He's a little pouty grump and I adore him.

So of course I had to knit something perfect for him.  What's more perfect for a grumpy-old-man baby than a grampa sweater, complete with elbow patches?  Nothing, I say!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Pattern: Gramps, by Tin Can Knits (one of my favourite knit designers)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Size: 1-2 years (since they have 12 bajillion sweaters that'll fit him up to 9 months)
Mods: Shortened the pockets a bit, and that's it.  What do I know about baby fits?

This is a clever pattern.  Knits up really quickly, but pay attention to the instructions for binding off the neckline.  To pull the shawl collar in and prevent a floppy collar, you need to do a decrease bind-off around the neck.  I didn't do this at first, and then ignored the sweater for way longer than I want to admit before I ripped it back and fixed it.

It took 30 minutes.  Why do I do this to myself?

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
ISN'T THIS THE MOST ADORABLE SWEATER?!  I can't get over those elbow patches.

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The buttons though, they definitely bring it to another level.  These are buttons made by a woman in Scotland that I carry in shop.  They're not super popular, but I think people just don't know what to do with them.  Might have to make another sample with them featured!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The matching hat was thrown together last minute from left over yarn based on Tin Can Knits Barley Hat, though I just knit the body of it in stockinette.  I love the floppy loose pompom!

Seriously, I'll be knitting this pattern again.  It turned out soooo good, and is a breeze to knit!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Do you have a go-to baby pattern you make up for friends and family when they have wee sprogs?  Haha have you ever had a baby charm you despite your nature?  I can't wait to see little sprogy in this sweater...once he grows up a bit.  :)