Monday, April 7, 2008

What baby deserves such effort? Shannon's baby!

I mentioned in a post below that I'm taking on a new project. And boy has it been a pain. But it's also fun, if that makes any sense. It's just that I won't be dyeing yarn in this exact manner again.

OK, to start:
1. My friend is pregnant.
2. I have been learning to dye yarn.
3. I have been expanding my knitting skills.

I had bought this book:


and fell in love with the yarn on the cover. Inside, it shows you how to dye this exact yarn, plus solids in the same colors. Then it gives a pattern for this cute baby sweater and hat. Here is a picture of the inside of the book and the sweater and hat made out of this yarn:


Sooooooo. I tracked down the exact yarn, which is Henry's Attic Island Cotton IV, a very soft, boucle-like cotton. It's so wonderful. Then I bought the dyes -- Procion MX -- at Langell's art store in Albuquerque. I also needed a thickener called gum tragacanth, which turns out to be a bit hard to come by. It is used in icings, or something, so I found it way across town at The Specialty Shop, a baking store.

I got my yarn, which came in two 1/2 pound skeins. I had to reskein it. One skein was to be split into four equal skeins for the solid colors. The other had to be reskeined into a huge 5 yard long skein. This was not easy to do and required setting up kitchen chairs and walking 'round and 'round while wrapping it around the back. Of course, the yarn kept popping off one chairback or another the whole time.

Eventually, I had this:


the one on the left is the giganto skein, and to the right are the four mini skeins.

All of the preparation took me about a week -- with an errand here, an errand there. Winding skeins, etc. The day I was to dye, it was pretty nasty outside. I needed a 15 foot workspace, but it was too cold out there, and really windy. So I had to set up a bunch of tables in my entry way, which was rather cramped. I prepared my dye mixture and soaked my yarns. Then, after I added the baking soda and activated the dye, I had 2 hours to finish the whole project. I painted and painted, and my back was killing me from hunching over. My head started to hurt. I finally finished the big skein and now had to paint all the little ones in solid colors. I was running out of time, so I had to beg Mark to help me. He kindly did.

After that, the skeins were wrapped in saran wrap and placed in a black garbage bag for 2 days to cure. Then I rinsed them and hung them outside to dry. After they dried came the part where I have to rewind the now-tangled skeins. I wound them into balls, which are ready to be knit into the sweater:

hand dyed yarn

I'm still working on the practice-round sweater in a green cotton yarn, shown in the photo of the book above. After that, I'll get to work on this one.


XUE said...

The last pix reminds me of Easter eggs! said...

Hi Robyn,
I bet that sweater will turn out beautiful. Thanks for posting on my etsy thread

Take care,