Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Knit Picks is taunting me!

I've been longing for CotLin in Moroccan Red for almost two months. I bought some for Ishy last month, in Royal Plum. It's very pretty, and it seems practical too. But every time I check the page, red is out of stock. I go back and it's not in yet. First it was early June, then June 15, then June 18, and now June 25.

I just want the pretty red yarn! Is that so much to ask?

Sigh. I love Knit Picks, but this is driving me nuts!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on Kool-Aid dyeing...

Well, I have photos now. First, my dyed samples...which were originally Winter White (Paton's Classic Wool).

I decided to start out playing with cherry and black cherry Kool-Aid, because I wanted red. (Yeah, what a surprise...) On the left is my first sample, straight cherry. It turned out to be a pinker red than I like, and a bit bright. But, that was sort of what I expected.

The middle sample is straight black cherry. It did turn out darker, which is what I expected, but it was still rather pink. How to fix that?

As luck would have it, I bought six (seven? eight?) different colors (um, flavors) of Kool-Aid, including lemon-lime. I wanted it less pink, and green is the complement of red, so logically it would tone down the pink.

It worked, but I overdid it a bit, so I overdyed with a bit more cherry. I like the color--a nice brick red--but it was darker than I wanted. But I'm still very happy with it; that's my third sample. Pretty, right?

I've droned on and on about the colors, but I haven't talked about the magic of Kool-Aid dyeing, which is the most addictive part. I used the "simple" version, which I've seen on several sites. It's really, really easy.

First, soak your wool (or other animal fiber) in lukewarm water. Leave it soaking while you prepare your dye. You'll need about one packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid per 1 oz of yarn...according to the websites. I think you'll need more to get decent (read "non-pastel") colors.

Anyway, mix the Kool-Aid in lukewarm water until it dissolved. Use enough water to cover the yarn plus an inch or two more. You can use as much water as you want, but more water means more time cooking your fiber. It's the amount of powder in the water that matters.

Transfer the wet fiber to the dye bath and press it down to submerge it. Place it in the microwave, and microwave it for two minutes. Let it sit for two minutes, then repeat until the magic happens.

And the magic? As you heat the dye bath, the fiber absorbs the dye. As the dye is absorbed, the water turns clear! It's amazing...

The first photo shows the fiber with the dye about half absorbed. In the second, the dye has been totally observed; note the clear liquid! See? It really is like magic...

Oh, be sure to let the yarn cool before messing with it or agitating it. Don't add cold water water to try to speed the process, either. We don't want random felting, do we? No.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Are there not enough colors of yarn in the world?

Apparently not. Because I decided last week that I really needed to dye my own yarn.

So, it's Friday night. I've finished work for the week, and my husband is out of town. What do I do? I microwave a few yards of yarn in Kool-Aid. Then I try it again, with another color. Then I try to blend colors and make a more custom color.

For the record, black cherry with some lemon-lime added makes a nice dark red; you can use straight black cherry (lots of it, though), but it will be a pinker red. If you overdo it with the lemon-lime, you can overdye it with some regular cherry to tone down the brown.

I still haven't uploaded the photos...I guess I'll have to do that tonight.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Why start yet another craft blog? Because I'm obsessed with making things, and I think my geek friends (who are more than half male) could care less about my craft ravings. Well, okay, they were completely amused when I told them about Kool-Aid dyeing my yarn, but that was just the novelty value of it...

So, what do I do? Um, what don't I do? The answer would be, "Not a lot." I'm a lifelong craft addict, which turned into an art degree and a graphic design career. (Which was a surprise all its own, since I was nearly finished with my junior year of a physics degree at the time...) My mom was a Girl Scout leader, but we were all addicted long before then, if we're being honest. I was also the craft aide at one of the Girl Scout Day Camps.

Okay, what do I really like to do? Well, my first love is paper crafts, mainly my scrapbook and book arts. But those take lots of space, and I can't work on them in ten minute chunks; I don't have a dedicated space for crafts! Hence my addiction to knitting and crochet. I learned to do both as a kid, but there weren't any interesting patterns, really, once I made granny square baby blankets. Fast forward, and now there are. So I'm learning to do both "for real."

I've done weaving and ceramics, and I loved both but don't have the setup; ditto for printmaking. (Maybe someday.) I also play with polymer clay, beads, jewelry, and sewing. Plus lots of weird niche stuff, including candlewicking and stuff.

Anyway, I think the site my friend Ishy and I started, Craft Wonderland, will keep me with lots of material for posting.