Thursday, October 31, 2013

That 70's Yarn

Ramblings about my bin rummaging yesterday:
I mentioned recently that we had a yarn shop in the house when I was little. I remember when it came to an end and having the 20% off everything sale, then 30%, and so on until Mum gave up and packed away what was left into boxes in the garage.  I didn't really pay attention to where everything went and what all there was, but as time went on the pickings got leaner. There weren't many good colors to begin with in our pile- the smart sale shoppers saw to that.

Good quality 100% Norwegian wool never goes out of style, but let's just say that colors do. I first overcame this obstacle by purchasing a few kilos of white and black yarn in the same brand. It wasn't hard to use a ball or two of a weird color if I diluted it enough. One of my favorite sweaters to this day is a black cardigan with hot-pink, grey, and white zigzags on the yoke. But that's no way to kill off a whole kilo (twenty 50g balls!) of a less-than-favorite color. I became a big fan of RIT dye, and still have several sweaters knit from overdyed wool.

Today's lucky winners

I thought I'd seen the last of the new old-stock many years ago, but I visited my Mum last summer as she was preparing to move to a new house. Lo and behold, a few more bags (kitchen-garbage-sized, not ziplocks) of the poor stuff materialized, and came home with me. I'm proud to have had the good sense to let the 4 other bags go to Goodwill rather than fool myself that I might use them someday.  We're talking stuff that is nearly as old as I am in exciting shades the likes of bubblegum, neon red, pumpkin, and taupe. There is some lime green has actually come back into style and some navy that apparently missed prior raidings. And not so much in the sport or dk weight that I'd want to use for a sweater-much of this is in the 8 stitches to the inch department. Good for mittens, and I'm anxious to try doubling it for a heavier, less-than-lifetime commitment sweater attempt.
The puppet mittens I made last winter- note the uvula on the palm side :-)
But there is still only so much bubblegum pink that I'm going to use in my lifetime, so I've turned back to the dye-pot. This time with some better quality stuff, although I had a few kinks this first time using it.
I made swift work of it.
First it gets skeined out; dyeing in ball format gives terrible unevenness. (You may think that is a nice red, but the photo hides just how much it makes your teeth hurt.)
Maroon, it's what's for dinner.
This is the dedicated dye pot. It has seen more color than the inside of a skittles bag.

Oh, don't these look lovely drying in the sunshine!
I was looking for a kettle-dyed look, but was surprised at the variation in how the dye took. I suspect the first wooly bits to hit the water hogged all of the dye molecules despite all my stirring, which wasn't much actually because I didn't want to felt the wool. I was quite surprised at how blue the bubblegum color turned - where did that come from?
would will totally knit with this!
I pronounce the experiment a success, although I never explained why I was revisiting the wool bins in the first place. I just got the Zombie knitting book, and was trying to find some dk scraps that would be the right colors.  Let me just state that I am the queen of mis-matched stash. I have bags of leftovers from 30+ years of knitting, bags of yarn that was bought on discount because it was lovely even if I didn't have a project planned, bags of handspun that I am afraid to use for fear of running out mid-project, bags of extra balls that I tossed in to my order from Knitpicks so I would reach the free shipping threshold... but not an ounce of decaying-flesh green dk to be found.  I wonder if that color would have been popular in the 70's?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Kaleidoscope

Finished up this mandala painting that I started last weekend. This one is India ink and watercolor pencil.