Dyepot Stories: Nature Made

Over the Labor Day weekend, I had a chance to play with some madder and some rosemary.  I never cease to be amazed at the color plant dye can produce and how that color can change when the dye pot environment changes alkalinity or acidity.  Just amazing!  I posted a picture of the results drying on IG but having rinsed and skeined them except for one renegade skein just gives me the happies.  And of course I have to share that with you.

From left to right:

  • rosemary colored skein,
  • madder with baking soda added to give me a beautiful orange,
  • I got the pink from the leftovers from that alkaline madder solution,
  • fire engine red from adding lemon juice to the solution which made it more acidic,
  • and the bright peach colored renegade still tangled skein (oye vey) is dyed from the leftovers from the acidic madder solution.  I’m really going to have to get this untangled this week.

Since I’ve decided that this year I wouldn’t be that knitter without her own hand knit accessories, after dealing with the renegade, I’m going to start with this baby:

I want to make this hat below and I think both the yarn and the pattern will be perfect together.

Designer: Lisa Gutierrez of the Goodknits blog

Pattern: Honey

I’m looking forward to working with some more natural dyes especially now that I know what to do.  Not to worry … a tutorial will be on the blog soon, so you too can have some dyeing fun if you want to play.    😀

On Being Honest …

I think all knitters go through what I’m going through right now though some get there way faster than me but hey … better late than never right?  LOL!   The thing is, it’s not that I didn’t know before what I’m about to share but I’m going to share anyway.   I’ve decided this year I was going to really take my knitting and craft learning seriously.  I want to craft better and that takes practice, research and honesty.   The first two things are self explanatory, you can’t get better at anything if you don’t practice and in order to keep up with trends, techniques and instruction, research (plus willingness to learn) plays a huge part.  But honesty … what’s that got to do with anything?  Let me explain …

I started a hat for a friend.  Her birthday is next Friday (2.27) and I promised her this hat since last winter.  I wanted to finish it by this weekend, make some bath scrub and put together a birthday basket of those in addition to some blueberry muffins I also promised her.  Knowing that I don’t have much time (why I wait until the last minute is another post),  I started the hat two nights ago.  I was on tap to finish everything but of course, like every good knitter, I decided to check my work.  It looked nice but on further investigation, almost all the cable crosses had gigantic holes close to them.  See Exhibit 1:

Know Your Fiber I

I know holes are normal with cable crossings but not this size — my pinky could fit through these!!!  But if I was honest before I started, I would have admitted that the yarn I picked was a mistake.  It had absolutely no stretch, no breathe-ability.  There was no bounce to the yarn so of course, there was no blooming or stretchability to help hide these holes.  It had to happen that way because the yarn is acrylic!  If I were honest, I would have admitted before I started that there was no way I could get what I wanted out of this “fiber” — quotation marks in order cause we all know acrylic is soft plastic.   And that’s what I mean about honesty.  If I was honest that my “fiber” choice wasn’t the best fit, I would not have now been looking for something that’s more appropriate.  A project that should have been done already has to be restarted.

Which brings me to my next revelation.  If you’ve read this blog long enough you’ll know that  I’ve always kept a place in my stash for acrylic yarn.  But as of last night, I’ve packed up most of it.  Between the allergic reaction in December and this current fiasco, I’m giving my acrylic a timeout or maybe even a big toss.   I still believe it works for some things, but increasingly, as my crafting improves, I find that I don’t want to work with it so much anymore.   There I said it.  I’m not a yarn snob, I don’t have to have every fancy schmancy yarn that’s out there on the market but I find that as my craft improves, I want to work with more natural fibers.  If I do work with acrylic, from now on, it’s going to be with blends — acrylic and wool or acrylic and some other natural fiber.  I have some blends in my stash and I’ve kept those from the chopping block.

I wasn’t sure what I’m going to do with all the acrylic I’ve amassed over the years, but tomorrow, there’s going to be a big toss out. I think the only non-blends I’ll keep are my Caron Soft, my Lionbrand Thick n Quick and my Knit Picks Brava.  Sounds like a lot, but it’s not.  It’s enough to keep me stocked after I give the rest away.   I’ll look on Ravelry for some charity that’s willing to take the giveaway lot but I’m done.  While super-wash wool has been getting a bad rep around yarn blog-sphere lately, that will be my go to choice for items (personal or gifts) where either the recipient might not want to hand-wash or it’s just not feasible.  As warm it might be, I will NEVER make a blanket in 100% wool or any fiber I have to hand wash.  Never.

In the meantime, I took a break from my acrylic saga and dyed these two beauties.   The fiber is 100% merino for both — the orange one done with acid dye and the light brown with natural dye extract from the Cutch tree.

Know Your Fiber III

I’d love to know what you all think about using super-wash.  While you talk to me in the comments, I’ll be trying to find a substitute yarn for my friend’s hat.  😀