Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

23. July 2009 11:14
by Jobo

Takes the cake!... erm Icing! - Dyeing with Wilton's Icing Colours

23. July 2009 11:14 by Jobo | 1 Comments

On the weekend I decided it was finally time for me to get back on the dyeing experiment bandwagon... so I dug out some goodies and got to work!

About 6 months ago I purchased 10 pounds of wonderful Merino top, for the express purpose of playing with and dyeing... and maybe someday when I get half decent at it, dye some to sell?  I plan on buying some more professional dyes, but the closest LYS that sells them is 2 hours away, so needles to say the plans are there, but I am still using food colouring dyes for the moment.  I also plan on trying some Kool Aid dyeing in the next few weeks.  I want to make purple yarn for my mom as a special treat, and I think maybe Grape Kool Aid will be one of the easiest ways since we know that Wilton's Icing Colours tend to separate depending on the colour you are in search of.

This partcular day the goal was just to play with what I already had in the house.  I decided to try a modified "kettle dye" approach.  I soaked my merino in water + white vinegar for about an hour, then poured the wool and soak into large glass pyrex baking dishes, leaving enough water to cover the wool.

Then I mixed up my icing colours with hot water and a little vinegar for good measure, and using a children's oral medication syringe, I squirted the colours all over the wool trying to keep the puddles somewhat separate.  I was hoping to keep a little of the undyed white areas, since I like the way these look in some of my past projects.  (I find the depth of colour is interesting when there is some "white" there to shade the colours... gives more variations and subtleties)  I know some spinners out there HATE seeing any undyed fiber in their finished braids.  I'm not so opposed to it, especially when I'm dyeing for my own use.

Once the dye had been applied, I popped each baking dish into a 350 degree oven, one at a time, for about 10 minutes, or until steam started coming off the water.  I kept each tray hot but not boiling for about an hour, and then left them to cool completely.  Once cool, I rinsed carefully in a sink full of cool water and hung outside to dry. 

This is one of the combinations I ended up with:

"Painted Daisies" - 2 x 4 oz. braids of 100% Merino Top

Excuse the dreary pictures... I took these after dark one night so I could start spinning it right away.   It rained cats and dogs last night in a big thunder storm.  We got completely soaked leaving the grocery store, the rain was coming down in buckets!  not the best weather for snazzy photographs exactly

After a little drafting and then spinning.... this:

became this:

... which was promptly 3 plied:  2 strands of painted roving and one strand of undyed white merino top (to try and tone down the colour a little bit, mellow out the Bright Yellow!)


Here is the finished yarn peeking out the top of my purse (in my drawer at work) it was just staring at me from over there so I couldn't help but take it's picture.  The yarn fades from yellows into pinks, into creams, but in a random fashion, so I'm not sure exactly what it will knit up like.  I am thinking I would like to make socks with it, since it is somewhere between fingering and sport. I'm thinking maybe another pair of jaywalkers?  It will be stripey, but not exactly solid stripes, more variations of colour floating by

This is skein number one... and there is a second waiting to ply at home tonight.  I just need to finish spinning the natural single and then the plying will be a fast job.

... one more gratuitous yarn pic :)

When I finally get around to finishing and knitting something up, I'll post the finished project!

17. July 2009 08:41
by Jobo

Swallowtail: Before and After

17. July 2009 08:41 by Jobo | 3 Comments

July 16/09 Sometime in the Morning - the BEFORE

I finished the last bit of the Lily of the Valley section quite quickly and breezed through the last two portions.  I decided to follow the "written out" directions for this pattern (mostly because I am not as comfortable reading charts as I would like yet) and really enjoyed this knit from cast on to bind off.  If I had time to work on something like this steadily over a week or so I think I could have finished completely in a week… instead of the month it took me with all the breaks and periods of non-knitting in there. 

Surprisingly I only used one ball of the yarn.  This amazes me completely, because I thought for sure that 4 ounces wouldn’t be enough for any major kind of project.  This entire shawl was completed with TWO ounces of yarn.  Hmmmm something makes me wonder if I am calculating something wrong or missing some important observation to tie this whole thing together. 

Either way, I finished with NO modifications, and it looks to be fairly small laying on the coffee table.  I think this might be deceiving though, because when I stretch it out so that the lace opens up… the thing almost doubles in size.  I think I will be surprised to see how much it will grow during the blocking process. 

In a way I am kind of afraid to do too severe a blocking, which is what I think this shawl might need coincidentally.  Because it is made of singles I have this dread that maybe a thread might drift apart somewhere, or get weak from the stretching and pulling and make a weak spot in the fabric that could open and ravel.  I didn’t find ANY place along the yarn that felt too “loose” on twist, or felt like it might drift… but after all the knitting hours spent on Swallowtail, those things happening sound a bit like a knitting disaster.   

The plan is to soak her this weekend and then gently block her on the spare bed.  I have been trying to get my hands on some stainless steel wire lengths to use as blocking wires this time, but I am not having much luck finding any. For the straight portion along the top and spine of the shawl… I think this time I might try running a thicker string (aka braid or shoelace) between 2 pins to create a kind of wire like line… and see if I like the feeling of it.  The other thing that someone on the Ravelry do-it-yourself knitting tools page suggested was to open up plastic coated wire coat hangers and use those as blocking wires.  I suppose if you used decent quality ones and watched for rusting that this might work out okay too in a pinch. 

The other option would be to just bite the bullet and go out and buy a proper set of blocking wires.  The only thing that erks me about that is the fact that there are no stores around here that sell such a thing, and I’m not sure how ridiculous the shipping would be on a set of 36 inch long wires… maybe I will have to look into it more. 


I had planned on waiting until the weekend to block the finished shawl... but I just  couldn't help myself.  I stayed up a little later than I normally would... gathered the necessary blocking junk and got to work!


July 16/09 Sometime after 11pm - The AFTER

I had originally decided to wait to block this shawl until I had gotten to the metalworks store to buy my new blocking wires.  (1 lb of 36 inch long Stainless Steel Tig wires... approximately 30 pieces... for FIFTEEN BUCKS!  taxes in.  that's a score!) 

My impatience is showing again I guess, because although it was bedtime (6 am comes waaay too early these days)  I really wanted to see how big the shawl would grow when blocked... would the lace and nupps stand out proudly?  would the yarn drift apart and I would have to cry myself to sleep?  too many unanswered questions.

Because I had "wires" on the brain... I wondered if I had anything around the house that might act wire-like under the right circumstances.  I finally decided on trying doubled up worsted weight yarn, which I strung through the lace in the same manner you would thread wires, and then sewed the lines down into the edges of the mattress so I could pull them tight.  Then I used a combination of eyeballing and measuring to even out the distribution of the lace on the lines.

This half-assed technique actually worked better than I thought it would!  I can totally see how the rigid wires would take a lot of the fiddlyness out of stretching out the lace.  Because my yarn lines didn't stay perfectly straight (despite really yanking on them and tying them down quite securely) I did use more pins that you probably would have to if you were using wires.

Close up of my yarn wires and an overall view of the shawl

As for Growth... I was very surprised at how much everything grew after soaking and blocking.  Straignt off the needles Swallowtail was less than 40 inches from wing tip to wing tip, and less than 20 inches along the spine.  After blocking - 54 x 28!  I think that's completely amazing!  Here I was worrying that it was going to be so small that it was useless (who wants a shawl that's more like a big bandanna? seriously)  And after the bath and the stretch she is just perfect!  I am a fairly small person,  so I think the size will be just right... can't wait to get home tonight and peel it off the bed and try it out!

I am really pleased with the gentle stripes of colour.  I was nervous that the way I had spun this originally (to be one ply of a 3 ply worsted yarn... but I decided to try leaving it as singles last minute) would result in a displeasing distribution of colours.  My original plan was to take a coloured painted roving and just tear bits and pieces off of it in a random way and just spin it.  None of the stripes or colour changes were planned.  I guess my random colour placement wasn't as random as I thought, because just look at the stripes and ripples!  I'm not sure I could have planned it that well if I had been trying?

closeup!  trying to show several sections of lace...

closeup of Nupps!

Overall, another pleasing project!  and BONUS! I have enough of the same yarn to do it all over again if I want :P  (should there be Swallowtail Twins?)


15. July 2009 13:27
by Jobo

Destined to be Norwegian Mittens... someday

15. July 2009 13:27 by Jobo | 2 Comments

For some time now, I have admired (drooled and dreamt over) patterned Norwegian Mittens.  In fact, the first time I saw Terri Shea’s book (Selbuvotter) I ordered it right away without hesitation.  I’ve made a few pairs so far…

For example… Mittens I made for myself last winter :)

This book has great background about the art of mitten making in that area of the world... as well as a wealth of patterns a ideas.  The one thing I found a little difficult was choosing a yarn to make them with though, since most of the prescribed products aren't available in canada.  I swatched and pondered for quite a while before I made these ones. 

In response to the yarn selection issue, I have been thinking for a while about making some with my own yarn.  I’ve come to realize that if knitting something is fun – then knitting it with your own handspun MUST be even More fun!

So I set out to find something in my stash that would work to make mittens out of.  I also owe one of Mark’s uncles something from hand spun yarn, since he has been nice enough to send me raw fleece to learn how to wash and prep for spinning.   Since my first attempt at the washing and prepping process I think I may have gotten a little better at it… but I definitely still have a ways to go!

I had some basic white medium soft fleece that I processed from ick to passable wool.  This was my first real wool carded into batts with my drum carder.  Certainly that process was much simpler than the time I had flick carded and then hand carded a few pounds of fleece.  It isn’t the softest wool… probably around a medium fineness.  I don’t think I’d want it rubbed up against my neck or anything, but it isn’t as scratchy as some of the basic wool products I’ve worked with (aka Briggs and Little or Condon’s Wool)

I also had some unnamed natural grey roving from when I bought my spinning wheel down in Rochester last year.  I know the lady in the store told me what it was, but for the life of me I can’t remember.  It doesn’t feel like any of the other wools I’ve been working with… quite long staple, kind of hair-like, medium to fine feel.

So I have 2 colours – natural and grey… all spun up, probably enough to make a small pair of mittens, but I’m not sure exactly.  I need to do some calculations and see how much of each colour I will need.  I think I still have enough of the grey to do another bobbin worth, and I know I have a few more batts of the natural colour wool.

Either way… These two are destined to be Norwegian Mittens…. Someday.

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