Let Parker paws a moment to consider
Tuesday November 15th 2011, 12:09 am
Filed under: Knit,To dye for

That first one came out definitely a little big. The second one, a little small. The third one coming up–now, there’s your Goldilocks! With a cabled brim and slouch top-to-be.

Meantime, I’m a blue-haired old grammy. I think. Um.

I got up this morning wanting to finally tackle a dye job I’d been avoiding: a secondhand sweater I’d bought that, when it came, was not the soft green-gray I expected but rather was vivid, and I do mean vivid, fluorescent lemon/lime–but in cashmere.

Which is why I didn’t want to give it away but I sure didn’t want to accidentally wreck it.

I got up this morning and straightway filled the biggest dyepot with hot water and stirred in some teal. I’m in it now, keep going. Stir stir stir. Then I did something different: knowing the dye wouldn’t take up well if the water wasn’t simmering, I handwashed the sweater and then put it in there anyway. Worked the new color through and through and through with my hands. It changed just slightly, but for the most part resisted it at that temp. No big surprise.

All that you were ever taught (correctly) about water, temperature change and agitation being the combination that felts woolens? I did it anyway. No catchy scales on cashmere fibers, right? I squished it some more, and then took the pot to the stove. Turned it on.  Stirred like crazy, and about every ten seconds or so for a very long time I lifted it out with my dye spoon and then put it back down, careful to spread it out as it went back in: I had once had dye adhere in a pattern of dark wrinkles because I hadn’t wanted to risk the agitation. Agitate.

Pulling it out and in again like that cools down the water; it took an hour for it to finally get up to a simmer to start the half hour countdown.

I don’t do well standing on my feet. But. When I finally poured out that pot, my new soft green buttoned shirttailed collared cashmere shirt was absolutely, totally, everything I wanted. To dye for.


(Oh, yeah, except the buttonhole thread must have been polyester. I expected that. That’s why I didn’t make a radical change in the color; I have an accent effect rather than an accident.)

Oh, and the blue-haired grammy thing? I knew it was going to be hot work over the stove, November notwithstanding, so I waited to take my shower this morning till I’d finally finished the job. My hands were teal blue from working in that pot at the start, and washing them afterwards did not get it out. Oh well. It would probably take at least the day for it to be gone, two for the nailbeds.

I stepped out of the shower, happened to look at my hands–and then at my hair…

The Cat In The Hat Comes Back, version blue. Tell me if you spot it, okay?

Wednesday June 08th 2011, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Knit,To dye for

Lorraine, owner of Cottage Craft Angora, a small mill, wanted to know what I thought of her qiviut. No, she really wanted to know what I thought of her qiviut. Her 100%. (Picture of a Musk Ox here.)

Now, I’ve bought her Arctic Blend; one 2-ply skein, just to try it out, a 30/30/20/20 qiviut/baby alpaca/silk/merino mix, and dyed it myself, exploring.

It was exquisite. I could be satisfied with this soft stuff oh yes most definitely forever. It made a lot more of a lace scarf than I’d expected to get out of it–for, are you ready for this, ten bucks. Ten. And shipping.

My Mom and my sister Carolyn both wanted that one, out of all the rollaboard-suitcase’s-worth of knitted items I brought to the family reunion. Actually, all the women in the family who saw it did. Anyone would.

I lamented when the website said awhile ago that that blend was sold out; when more appeared just a few days ago, I selfishly ordered some quick before mentioning it to the blog now. Note that I am being very nice in telling you all about it when I can’t afford to stock up more than one color and weight to work with for right now, and I really really like the 2-ply. Haven’t tried the 3-ply. Yet. (Don’t take all the navy, okay, guys?)

Just one more skein… How’s that for a variant on the classic knitter line.

And then. The mailman rang the doorbell this afternoon. There was a skein of that Strawberry Red 100% qiviut from Canada, 44 grams’ worth, for me to go play with. Christmas!

I just happened to be wearing a blouse that matched the yarn as I opened the package; yes, I might like that color. Like, a lot. In the 100%, I would call it more a burgundy, myself.

She’d told me it was coming, actually, and I had just the pattern in mind for when it might arrive.

Ever planned on a name for a baby and when it was born it just wasn’t it? Yeah, I once had our family’s doctor stop by the hospital in New Hampshire to check on my newborn and then he stepped into my room to say, very pleased, that Michelle was doing well now–and I’ve always wondered if he just thought I was an exhausted new mom as I did a moment’s doubletake of an unspoken (Who? Oh right, right, we did change it), “Thanks!” (Duh.)

So. One look at that yarn and I threw out my plans and rewrote and re-mathed.

I doodled a bit to get a feel for gauge. I cast on. I kept the longtail long enough (and it came out exactly to the 1/2 inch) so that I could wrap it across the back of every bump as I purled the first row, an extra strand of yarn to strengthen that edge. Not my usual double-the-cast-on neck edge, though; this way left me the possibility of running a bit shy without having to start over and without risking wasting any.

A few minutes later I knit the first three stitches of a 126-stitch row wrong.

I thought about it a moment and realized, wait. Extra time with pure qiviut. This is a privilege. And not only that, after tinking I can weigh and measure exactly how much yarn that row took up to try to get a better idea of how far I can go with my 320 yards.

Zero grams. It came up zero grams. I can knit this stuff forever.

Quail.come in Silicon Valley
Saturday May 21st 2011, 8:44 pm
Filed under: To dye for,Wildlife

My husband says I can’t call him Dan nor a derivative of such, that would make him from Indiana and he’s a California quail.


Changing the subject, my mom mentioned once, and I pass the word along for whatever it’s worth, that pouring boiling water down a drain was an environmentally healthy way to unblock it, and that doing so once a month, good maintenance.

Well hey. (I know, there’s a $3500 tree root job needing doing, but it’s just this one sink in the immediate term.) Let’s try at least.

What began as a thought at the first pot of water carried clear across the house quickly became action: why not use that heating-up for something I want? I’d had some yarn and a project that had needed dyeing for some time; a little pink in the sink never hurt anything. And that colourmart yarn that was a tad dark? I simmered it, guessing it to have been done in reversible dyes and it was; my midnight navy is now a happy dark-while-it’s-still-damp royal blue.

The drain is running slightly faster. There is a fine lace scarf blocking in a beautiful new burgundy from the previous taupe-brown and two skeins drying and I am very very happy with how they came out. All kinds of housework got done between water-carrying stints and that Malabrigo hat is finished, too.

We were off after that to a friends’ house for a dinner party.

Coming home, there was my quail, meandering about. Made me smile. I guess maybe this really is where he’s choosing to call home now after all; I like that.

I meandered about too, inside.

Finally, I came down and sat down at the computer a moment, my chair seven feet from the window, wondering where he might be now. That male quail immediately came *running*, so fast that he skidded on the concrete and one foot went right out from under him but he recovered fast and dignity reclaimed came right up against the window at the closest point right there–and looking in a few minutes, his head turning this way and that then facing straight on, the dear little thing sang to me.

When I made mamamama gestures back as if I were singing silently in return, he puffed out his chest and repeated himself.

It was so sweet. I am so charmed. But–dude…

I’m so sorry to have to break it to you. You’re just not my kind.

Saturday November 13th 2010, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,To dye for


Boy, that was quick. The folks at Cottage Craft had me wait a bit while they dyed more, not having enough in the same lot, and then threw in an extra 20g as a thank you for my patience. I was surprised and very very delighted. I’d bought enough for one of my shawls (a few more skeins than shown) and now I have a little extra breathing room just in case.

Is it as soft as the stuff Rachel spun up for me? No, but hers was 100% qiviut from the raw fiber, painstakingly dehaired by hand. This is half merino.  Still. This is well carded, well spun, a fragile, fine fiber made as sturdy as one could ask it to be, and I wish I could reach out a skein to everybody through the screen and go oooh, feel this!

I do still have to go finish that baby alpaca project first, and it’s in laceweight so it’ll take me a good week or so.

Meantime, my friend Krys did a grocery run for us tonight.  We are quite grateful; Richard seems to be coming down with my germs.

p.s. and Karen? If you think you recognize that background, you do: that’s the dogwood quilt you helped tie for me around the time of our high school graduation.  Dogwood trees are rare out here but prized because, though the trees grow slowly, their blossoms last a very long time. The pink ones are, as they have always been, my favorite.

Moths and rust are amateurs
Wednesday October 27th 2010, 8:56 pm
Filed under: To dye for

You know you lead a privileged life when you can worry about such things. And yet.

It’s the perfect sweater, for a machine knit: the perfect length, the perfect classic style, the perfectly-soft that is the best cashmere can be, and without being too-young too-tight, it goes in at the waist just enough rather than being a plain downward tube. It’s my very favorite store-bought and my husband loves it when I wear it.

I need advice. Badly.  Fellow fiber types, help me out here.

So. I have this offwhite cashmere sweater. Got a good deal; had no idea that looking it up later would show a replacement cost well above $300.

I bought a reddish-burgundy fleece vest from the well-regarded O—- company (the color was on close-out) and the weather being what it is, took it straight from the box and put it on over that sweater. I was horrified, taking the sweater off later, to find it had turned slightly pink across the upper back and definitely pink under the arms.

I contacted O—-. They said get it drycleaned, email us the receipt for that and we’ll refund it. Was it an O—- sweater? (They asked hopefully.)



What if that doesn’t do it, I asked.

Uh… (he came back in a moment.)  Let’s try first and then we’ll see.

Okay, fair enough.

So, I took it to my regular drycleaner and explained. The woman waved her hands in front of her face to ward me and it off: no, no, no can do, is dye, will not come out, do not give it to us, so sorry.

Now, I’m of the mind that if you have dye that loose that it can rub right on then it can come back out again. I hope.  If I do it right.

Do I… wash it with Purex undyed unscented laundry detergent gently by hand in tepid water? Which, by the way, is how I always wash my animal-fiber sweaters. Ignore the dry-clean-only tags–that’s a cop-out, put there because they can’t put all the information you would need on that tiny tab, as TSE Cashmere is my witness. (Click on their “About” and go to “Cashmere care”–they’re not letting me link directly to the page, sorry.) Drycleaning chemicals harshen and yellow the fibers.

So I wasn’t quite sorry when the drycleaner refused it.

I know Dharma Trading Company sells Synthrapol. I have no experience with it.  I did actually buy some awhile ago–and after reading the warning labels and that bit about prolonged exposure causing brain and neurological damage, and not even being sure it’s what I need for this problem…

I think I need to throw it back in O—-‘s court before I try anything. I need to take pictures first, definitely. And one of the reasons I contacted them was simply to let them know what their (yes it’s made in China) product was doing.

I find myself with a heightened sense of appreciation for my non-damaged sweaters, so, that’s good.

De-moth-er of all angora
Monday October 18th 2010, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,To dye for

I’m going to be a lazy blogger tonight and post here, with a touch of editing for clarity, what I put on Twinset Jan and Ellen’s blog.  Jan had made some baby socks and hat in a soft, soft angora yarn in a muted sunflower-yellow shade; scroll to the bottom of the post to see them.

I don’t usually comment at such length in someone else’s space, but her picture so grabbed me.


Oh. My. Goodness. That angora. That shade (you photographed it better than I did.) BOY, does that bring back memories!

My mom bought some pure angora that exact color on a trip to France before I was born, to knit for her little girls in anticipation of their being upstaged by the new one coming (me).

My oldest sister got a green sweater and she was highly allergic to it. The yellow…sat in a box for something like 45 years.

Until Mom and Dad packed up and moved out of the house they’d raised us in. I had coveted that angora all through my teens and beyond, the only one of the four girls to latch onto knitting like Mom, and Mom had always said, No, that’s not yours. I promised that to your big sister.

She out of the blue, just before the moving van came, mailed it to me after all, all these years later.

You see my blog header? That bit of yellow and those scarves?

That yarn was totally not protected, totally chewed up. I pieced it back together as best as humanly possible and then knitted it up: a scarf for my not-allergic older sister, one for my younger sister, and one each for my brothers’ wives. I dyed them partly on the grounds that no moth stages could survive the boiling water, partly on the grounds of felting together any slipping pieces beyond the splicing efforts.

And that is the story of how my blog top came to look like that. (Note that the ball of yarn has multiple ends.) After wanting that yarn for all those decades, I finally got to have it come to me–and after all that time, Mom was right: it wasn’t for me after all. It was for everybody else.


(Wow. I’d totally forgotten I got seven scarves out of that box!)

Wednesday June 23rd 2010, 9:56 pm
Filed under: To dye for

Yesterday afternoon was one of those times when I was glad I had a knitting project that didn’t require a huge amount of attention–not those rows, anyway–as I sat on hold on the phone for forever. (Yes, it helped me get that shawl finished.)

One of my fellow falcon observers asked me, Oh, did you have to wait on AT&T too?

No, the IRS. Trying to get a refund straightened out.

She winced and decided that maybe the other sounded not quite so bad.  But “it’s all good,” I reassured her, problem solved now–with thanks to an extremely helpful and knowledgeable IRS agent, wherever she was. She answered all my if I/did you/can you questions well.

The other thing I did yesterday was I got a package in the mail from Colourmart: they’d had a brief sale, and I’d ordered a cone of the 70/30 cashmere/silk,  990 yards/150g, the top one there.  Nice!  A little more salmony-orange than I was expecting, but I could always find someone who’d love it and it was pretty enough to be knittable to my  eyes.

So.  I hanked and scoured it to get out the mill oils: they gray the yarn and feel like dried hair mousse. Routine step when dealing with cones. If I’m going to knit cashmere, by golly it’s going to feel like cashmere for me too, not just the recipient later, even if it takes a little extra time and effort to wash it beforehand; after all, that missing last manufacturing step is why cones are usually a lot cheaper.  And no skein ends to connect as you knit!

When that gray was out, though–my stars.  Dumbstruck. I’d never seen a change quite so dramatic.  Note that the color here is actually slightly subdued by being wet.

Who on earth ordered this screaming chunk of fluorescent traffic cone?

Um. Yeah. So now I knew why it was $20 inc shipping from England. (All their US prices include shipping–something to know on that site.)

Now, part of what had been going on in the back of my mind all along with that order was, hey, a cashmere shawl for twenty bucks. If I don’t like the color, I’ll break out the dye pot. Matter of fact, it’s been nearly two years (!) since I hefted that biggest pot, this’ll be a kick to get back to it–I love playing with watercolors, and I physically can now, so, hey, this’ll get me jumpstarted.

Done it many times. Gotten a good yarn cheap because of the color, changed the color.  But–wow. We were definitely going for that dyepot.

Only, the yarn was not.

Now, I have read that there are only so many dye-receptor molecules to be had and that a yarn that is fully saturated simply won’t take up any more.  So here I was, firing up the stove, pouring in the dye–eyeballing it, thinking about it and pouring in a lot more–I wanted a nice deep red here.  I knew just how to get there.

When the time was up the yarn had absorbed some and had let loose some of the orange (oh good)–but most of the dye simply poured right on out of there.  I hate doing that. I try to have something on hand to absorb the excess if possible when needed, but I just didn’t want to be taking up that orange. I am so not an orange person.

Then when I went to rinse the skein, it crocked: the technical term for, it bled dye. Profusely.  Repeatedly.  Redredredglugluglug, without ceasing, no matter how many times I rinsed it.  Dozens.

I knew I could never be happy with knitting something that might ruin the wearer’s other clothes  should they happen to get rained on, or walk through a lawn and have the sprinklers suddenly fire up, or have their kid go wild with a supersoaker, or… Hearing aid wearers watch for water, but normal people don’t.

I looked at that skein in today’s morning light and thought, maybe…  So I fired up the pot again, threw in vinegar, just a little more dye, if only… and put that yarn back in there. Vinegar does nothing without heat, so, heat. There you go.

At least it crocked a lot less this time.  Again, I rinsed it over and over and over. It still does a little, though, and if anyone has any suggestions at this point I’d definitely love to hear them.

The end result is, now it’s what I thought I was ordering in the first place. (It’s not quite so pink in real life, but this is close. If you enlarge their picture and this one and put them side by side, you’ll see.)  And with all that heat and agitation, it has shrunk up a bit and the eight tiny plies have melted and felted very nicely into each other while retaining the shine of the silk.

I quite like it.  But I’m still going to have to wash it some more. (I blowdried it for the moment. No mildewing my cashmere!)

So that thing about the certainty over dyeing and taxes?

It’s all a crock.

Happy Thanksgiving to all
Thursday November 26th 2009, 12:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,To dye for

The spiced pecans (hey, wait, I made more than that you guys!) and two batches of cranberry sauce filled the house with Thanksgivingness and good smells yesterday after I posted, telling us, don’t quit your dye job.

The chocolate torte’s about to be taken out of the freezer.

The silk is staying blue.

Yes, Carol, the stole is finally finished. (Quick, grab some new yarn! I can’t go without a project!)

Over the river and through the redwoods, to auntie’s house we go.  Have a blessed, wonderful Thanksgiving day, everyone.

Little bowl blue, come pew your home
Wednesday November 25th 2009, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Family,To dye for

She came running down the hall in mock outrage.  “MOM! What are you DOING!”

(Is this a trick question) “Dyeing some yarn…?” I answered innocently.

“This is NOT a Random Act Of Cleanliness! It STINKS!”

Oh.  But I was desperate. I hadn’t done any dyeing for a whole solid year!  I had wanted so badly to play with my watercolors, and I had some undyed yarn I’d bought to play with, and it only took a few moments to set up…

“This is NOT what you do the day before Thanksgiving! The house is supposed to smell like food, not cooking silk! It *stinks!*”

I can’t lift my heavy dyepot yet, and I’d finally looked up microwave dyeing to see how long the stuff should cook in there.  Just a few minutes’ worth of boiling time? Hey.  I had a dedicated glass bowl, I’d covered it with plastic wrap and poked a hole in the center for venting to keep the thing from exploding dye, and to be certain of colorfastness, I did let it go for ten minutes–a third less time than on the stove.

It did not spill in any way.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s mine. I finally get to sing my own blues. TaDAAH!

I have been sentenced to spicing the pecans in penance.  The silk/wool has been sentenced to cooling outside.  “And if the squirrels dye themselves blue, Mom, they so deserve it!”

I don’t think I’ll mention yet that I’m considering throwing a little green in there in overdye mode.  Just for fun.

Monday July 06th 2009, 11:06 pm
Filed under: To dye for

imgp7959I did it!  (Pictures now up.)

I bought a 70/30 silk/linen Orvis blouse at an online store’s closeout for $5 brand new, even though the color, Elm, didn’t grab me. I was hoping it would look better in person.

I tried it on.   I looked like a case of Dutch Elm Disease in it.  It truly was not flattering.

But I’d bought it knowing that if I really wanted to, I could change the shade if I got desperate enough to risk wrecking the thing. First, I asked myself: would I ever wear this ahead of everything else in my closet? No, definitely not. Michelle, would you wear this?

As pants in that color, she answered, okay; near my face, no.

So.  In the If You Try This At Home department, know that the thread used to sew a silk garment will not be of the same fiber as the fabric and probably won’t take up any dye–so you don’t want to change the color so far that the newly-contrasting stitching clashes with it.

I also knew my Jacquard acid dyes would take up into the silk fibers but not the linen–although, yellow is the easiest color to obliterate from view. I decided I was safe there.

I got the water to a good simmer and the dye well stirred in while the blouse soaked in hot water. I then lowered the blouse in bottom first, wet sleeves dangling down–not all in a balled-up crumpled heap, but pulling it downwards with my wooden spoon as it went in quickly.  During the half hour I had it on the stove, I stood over it almost constantly, stirring often, lifting it out and letting it back down time and again so that it didn’t develop strong and weak spots of color–no tie-dyeing effects wanted. That in-and-out action also helped keep the water temperature even so it wouldn’t get up to a hard boil.

imgp7965And it all worked. I absolutely love how it came out. Not bad, for five bucks and a little time and work!

Tadpole to frog
Thursday June 12th 2008, 10:55 am
Filed under: Knit,To dye for

from tadpole to frog

It took me five hours to make myself get to it. I snuck glances at it, wondering if maybe it and I could still be friends. Nope. It was definitely a tadpole. The in-laws were up at Dad’s sister’s for the day, Aunt Mary Lynn showing them where the major fire three weeks ago had missed their home in the mountains, and as they drove up there, fire trucks raced towards the new Bonny Doon fire.

I had nothing whatsofreakingever to complain about.end of my rope

I wanted to get it done while they were gone. The rip, rip frogging’s not so bad, it’s that last little bit. Tinking the last row back onto the needles, hundreds of shawl stitches curving and overlapping into chaos, with the silk mercilessly slippery–but the cashmere strand helped steady it. I wound them round the empty end of the silk’s tube. I alternated leaning on my elbows, lying on the floor, hunched way over, trying to make the task more comfortable. I needed the slight friction of the rug’s surface to try to hold it more still to cut down on any one stitch’s running away from home. Lifeline? Me? On a simple pattern? My pride would have guffawed. That’ll teach me.Knitpicks Bare, Robert\'s medicine blanket

But while I was avoiding the whole thing, I got out the Knitpicks Bare merino/silk that had been sitting there staring at me a couple of weeks while the wedding was going on. Ran my hands down its length, pleased again at the texture of it. Nobody home but me. I can stink up the house (*I* think the dyepot in action smells of creativity and possibilities and oh cool.) Jacquard Acid dye in navy, not too much, and at first, the yarn turned a deep purple. I really liked it and debated snatching it out of the pot then and there. I’ve done that before, although knowing that the half hour of simmering is what sets the dye. One time, I grabbed a yarn out of the pot right after it hit the water, set up a dyepot of plain water, and made it do its time in that–it cost me a little of the depth of the color, but it stayed the same overall. Next time I’d probably snatch it out and zap it in the microwave for the rest of its heat, now that I’ve finally dedicated one large glass bowl to the dyezone.Bare merino silk in Jacquard navy

Anyway, I let it go its full time, and the purple gave way to blue, with a little brownishness exhausting out of the pot when I was done. I’ve seen that before, and it makes me want to tour a dye factory and go do research.

Going to a brief doctor’s appointment, I grabbed a UFO on my way out the door. Got that project closer to being done, and I was glad to have it back on current-project status.

So it was a good and productive day. And then I glanced at the clock, remembered when the folks were expected back, knew I didn’t want them to watch me being uncomfortable with my butt high in the air while leaning on my elbows, growling at the silk running away from the tips of my needles, stitch after stitch after stitch, thought again of Diana’s words which rang so true for me: “I’ve seldom regretted frogging, but have occasionally regretted letting something be. not always, but occasionally.” And I frogged the bleeping thing. I did it. It’s done.

And then, as the Bare dried, I knitted the other WIP a little more just to show the silk who was boss.

Drumming up some good yarn
Thursday May 29th 2008, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,LYS,To dye for

Last amaryllis of the seasonThe last amaryllis of the extended season, a Picotee–the last bud just opened.

Mom and I went to Purlescence tonight, where I showed her off, got to hold Nathania’s baby (this is a picture from about a month ago that I finally got to work) and tried to make friends with my shawl project again, which kind of sputtered out in the wedding preparations. But when we got home, I ended up pulling out my drum carder. This box finally came yesterday, after the post office had lost it, and I wanted to play with my new toy.Littlest Purlescence person

Nancy and I had gone in together on an order of Seacell/merino 70/30 mill ends: wonderful, soft stuff, and cheap. But what you don’t pay in price, you pay in time and effort, this being not smooth roving but the stuff that didn’t quite make it that far and got put aside. Well, about time I put that drum carder to good use. (Are you still sure you wanted to sell it to me, Laura?…I can always mail it to your new house if you change your mind…)Seacell merino mill ends

I’ve never seen undyed Seacell before, much less spun nor dyed it. I am going to find out. (Tomorrow, as I glance at the clock. Or maybe next week, as I glance at the calendar.)

first few bats done“Begin: the rest is easy.” Don’t remember where I read that in high school, but it’s stuck with me ever since. And now I have.

They looked better than this when he gave them to me
Wednesday May 21st 2008, 12:32 pm
Filed under: To dye for

rose stewThe amaryllis dyebath having been great fun, I went searching to see if I could do much with my fading Mother’s Day roses, too. Hey, what say we make a whole wardrobe of shawls out of flowers.

The site I found advocated doubling the water to the amount of rose petals and adding mint and lemon juice; it promised me I could enjoy it as pink lemonade when I was done!

Oh joy.

Trader Joe’s had large basil plants yesterday for about a dollar and a half more than buying the same amount of basil leaves picked and dead; was this a trick question? So let’s see, basil is a member of the mint family, right? Nah, we’ll just skip that part… I squeezed a lemon into the pot after stripping the bouquet, which was well past its prime.

The dyebath came out pink as promised, but...Bright pink. I wanted to ask whoever wrote that, wait a minute! Roses come in all kinds of colors! These were deep red almost to black, with small, vivid gold stripes, very striking, very regal looking; who knows what I’d get?

Next time I do this, I want to buy some cheesecloth first, definitely: the amaryllis flowers mostly stayed intact, but those roses had far more pieces and petals and even seeds to deal with. The bath they created was deeply golden at first, not pink at all, and I had visions of Jason and the Golden Fleece. Gradually, though, as I kept the roses boiling away for an hour, the reddishness came out. It looked like it would produce pink or maybe burgundy after all once I added the wool.

My daughter came by the kitchen and when she saw what I was doing, groaned, “You are SO weird!” just like she did when she was a teenager. I laughed and told her she was right. (So there.)

The last of the debris floated in the heat

Notice that the last bit of stuff that I couldn’t quite seem to get out floated nicely to the top as soon as I got the pot back up to a boil, making it easy to skim off right after this pot shot was taken.

But you know? I do draw the line somewhere. I don’t care what that site said. I refuse to drink my sheep.rose of gold

Dyeing to tell the bride and groom
Thursday May 01st 2008, 10:26 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Life,To dye for

some shrinkage may happenFirst, the technical stuff. After I dyed that Fino in amaryllises the other day, I threw in a 25 g ball of Elann’s Baby Silk, the last one from making the original Peace shawl. There was still some color left in the pot, and when I had a few more wilting red blossoms a few days later, I threw them in to boil too. I don’t know if it was the aging of part of the batch, but the pink was gone and what was left was a deep rust color. Not much of it, but enough to do something with. This time, using merino sock yarn, it took up very nearly every bit of color. Does this mean wool takes up amaryllis better than alpaca or silk do? Seems that way. Silk always takes up dye a bit slower anyway, which is one reason I love dyeing a silk/animal fiber blend: you often get a heathery effect with zero effort.

three stages of amaryllis dye and one blank

Meantime, I got permission to share this from Tunie, one of my readers, as my son’s wedding nears. This is the best piece of advice to a bridal couple I think I’ve ever heard; I really like it. She specified after sending this that no words need be spoken, the gesture is understood as is:

“We are celebrating our 40th anniversary in June and I think being good friends (we’ve been best friends since age 16) is one of the keys to a happy marriage.

Something a friend told me when we were engaged helped a lot when we were first married. If during an argument you want to say you are sorry, but are too stubborn, angry or are afraid it will continue the argument, give the other person a glass of water (we used a special silver goblet). It means I want this unhappiness to be over and we can resume discussion when we are calm at a later time. But let’s not continue holding the anger. If the other person drinks it, the anger is suspended. Believe it or not, it worked for us. It didn’t matter who was at “fault”, just that the feeling was not what we wanted to continue.”

Then she mentioned that they used the silver goblet just to make sure a crystal one wouldn’t get broken. We’re all human.

Mauve over and let me see
Saturday April 19th 2008, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,To dye for

Where’s a flowery phrase when you need one.

If I knew the chemistry of the various possible mordants and their effects, I might well have been able to alter how the color came out.  Still.  I like what I got.  Eight hundred seventy-five yards of April-blooming amaryllis-colored alpaca/silk.  One of a kind.

Fino dyed in amaryllis flowers