Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tutorial: Dyeing With Turmeric

Every time I hear my friends on Ravelry talk about dyeing, I get a little bit jealous. I have visions of myself making beautifully colored skeins and rovings, but perhaps my final year of graduate school is not really the time to take up a new hobby. Plus, dyeing requires an investment in separate equipment if you want to do it safely. So I opted for an easier method for my one-time dyeing experiment: dyeing with food.

The advantage of dyeing with foodstuffs is that, as long as you don't use potentially toxic mordants, you should be able to use equipment you have lying around your kitchen. A disadvantage, at least in the case of turmeric, is that the results are not colorfast. But for a simple, safe, and fun first attempt at dyeing, turmeric produces lovely results.

Here is what you will need:

* Yarn (I used KnitPicks Bare Laceweight)
* Turmeric
* A large bowl
* A large pot

That's it!

First, you need to make your dyebath. Fill the pot 3/4 of the way full with water. Add the turmeric; I used 2 tsp of turmeric on 4 ounces of wool, which gave a nice buttery yellow shade. Bring water to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes to extract the color.

Take the dyebath off of the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. While the dyebath is cooling, place your clean, undyed yarn in a large bowl filled with lukewarm water. You want it to wet completely through, which will take about an hour.

Once your dyebath is cool and your yarn thoroughly wetted, put the yarn in the bath. Let it soak overnight, turning it every once and a while to ensure that the dye is distributed evenly.

Remove the yarn from the bath and rise several times until the water runs clear. Wash the yarn with a gentle soap or wool wash.

Enjoy the beauty that is yarn hand-dyed BY YOU!

Monday, February 15, 2010

February Is Spinning Away

I am enjoying to read all of the craft blogs and their cute ideas about how to, or how they did, celebrate Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, I'm not that cute and I'm not that organized. The only person who got a Valentine's gift this year was my mother. My husband didn't even get a card.

We're not usually a V-Day gifting family, but Mom mentioned how cold her hands get while typing and I had just spun up some lovely Valentine's Day-ish yarn. So I whipped up a pair of Ysolda's garter stitch mitts, wrapped a ribbon around them, and sent them off to Mom. I hope that she enjoys wearing them and they keep her warm!

The above fiber is the second 4 oz skein I've spun up in less than a month--all part of training for the Ravelympics. My Ravelympics challenge is to spin up the 8 oz of white alpaca roving that's been sitting around my apartment since the 2008 Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. I'm finally confident enough in my spinning not to worry about ruining such beautiful fiber.

So far, it's going very well. This is the finest yarn I've even spun and, while I'm enjoying working with this fiber, it's certainly taking forever to spun. Luckily there are plenty of Olympic events to watch while I work through all of this roving.

Are you participating in for the Ravelympics? What are you making?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


I'm designing a shawlette pattern at the moment. I realized after knitting three Ishbels (one, two, three) and two Damsons (one, two), that maybe I needed a new shawlette pattern to knit. So I decided to design one.

I chose a stitch with both garter and lace and added a simple ruffle boarder because I wanted a very textured look. For some reason, texture in a shawl seems very rustic and comforting to me and makes me want to wrap the cloth around my neck and shoulders.

Unfortunately, wrapping the fabric only around my neck is the best way to wear my shawl at the moment because I screwed up the paired increases. I was looking to make the charts easier, but it came at the expense of the overall shape of the shawl. I'm a little embarassed to show the next photo--it's just too deep in the back and I should have seen it coming.

So for now, I fold my first attempt in half and wear it like a scarf. Back to the charts I go and hopefully I will have a nice little shawlette pattern to share with you all soon!