Electrifying hand dyed yarns, with personality!

Archive for July, 2012

One of these things is not like the others….

So I was apparently a little over zealous when it came to the over dying of the odd hank out…

Odd hank out 😛

I thought I was being smart only using 1/2 the amount of dye that I’d used when dying two hanks at a time, but given that the yarn had already been dyed some it turned out to be too much.  Looking at all four hanks now I’m wondering if I could knit them from lightest to darkest and it wouldn’t be too noticeable…?  I think that’s the plan. If all else fails I can always get another pair of skeins and dye them up too.  Then I can over dye the left overs, and have enough yarn of the darker color to do something else with!!!  OK!  Glad that’s decided (I’m still open to suggestions though, but only one’s that don’t include over dying the whole lot of them, I like the others as is).

Now I just have to keep my butt moving on the wedding blanket, due in less than two weeks *yikes!* and only slightly over half way done.

Now bigger, and with more corners!

Until then I can pretend that the baby blanket plan is going to work.  I’ll prove myself wrong when I’m done with this giant thing gift knit out of love.

Who else has giant and seasonally inappropriate summer knits going?

Dying Fail

So I managed to spend some time dying my yarn for the little sheep’s baby blanket recently.  I used the same hot water dying method I showed off recently.  Apparently, not my best decision.

I loved the result from the first attempt with the sock yearn.  I knew that attempting to dye all 4 hanks of a much larger worsted weight yarn would never work in my little pot… but two at a time didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Turns out that if I wanted the two hanks to be evenly dyed, this method was a fail…

Dying Fail

The hank on the right was apparently the yarn closest to the top of the pot (I did make an attempt and swirling the yarn so that no one hank would be more on top than the other), and the yarn on the left got only the left over dye that managed to seep down to the bottom of the pot.  *sigh*

I did still attempt dying the other two hanks together (more swirling this time!) and they did seem more even, but the pattern I’m hoping to go with would require all 4 hanks.

I’m going to try over dying the one oddly pastel version of this dye lot and we’ll see how that goes.

In the mean time, here’s a picture of 2 out of 4 of my critters…

Linus and Leah

Leah was not amused that Linus encroached on her snuggle spot.


Knitting on a deadline stinks.  I have this tendency to get all wrapped up in the project, forsaking all others, working on it at every spare moment, until my wrist just can’t handle the repetitive movement any longer.  I’ve looked up some knitting wrist and hand stretches, and hopefully that will help out some.  

Today is day three with no knitting on the very large blanket which needs to be done by August 12.  Eek!

I have, however, been attempting to work on other things.  One of which does have, yet another, deadline, and the other, not so much.  The non deadline project, which I really shouldn’t even be thinking about right now, would be more spinning.  I have a full pound of that peacock roving, and I’ve barely even made a dent into the first half of it.  I’ve got about 2 “spools” (I use a drop spindle, and therefore have no spools, so I wrap the singles around TP tubes when I fill up the spindle), and just a tad more on the spindle itself.  Not the most exciting, but it is progress.

Deadline project numero dose would me my little one’s baby blanket.  I’m using Patons Classic Wool in Aran and over dying it in what I’ve dubbed my “Fuzzy Navel” colorway.  Tonight was full of such fun things as….  taking yarn out of skein and making it into dyeable hanks!  Woot!

As I still need to order a Niddy Noddy, and/or a Yarn Swift, my dining table became the next best thing.  I used my knitting supply box to make the hanks a little longer.  

Four hanks put together, 2 set to soak and dye.  I also apparently need a larger dye pot for these bigger yarns.  Hopefully some careful dye measuring will mean the 4 finished hanks will match… as much as hand dyed yarns ever match. 


On a totally separate note, Linus and I made a trip out to the local farmers market tonight.  It’s also a sort of street fair with craft booths and live music.  Linus was busy Hoovering dropped popcorn and other snacks while I shopped for this week’s fruit and veggies.

My favorite thing of the summer finally showed up!  Heirloom tomatoes!!!  So tonight I took one of them and chopped it up with an avocado (another delicious market find!), cilantro, lime juice, and a little garlic and salt.  Mmmmm, not a bad late night snack if you ask me.

Now I just have to kill the heartburn (thanks baby) from all the acid in the tomato before I attempt to hit the sack.  We’ll see how that goes



I’m Dying Over Here!


So apparently off in my la la land, “tomorrow” means nearly two days from now.  Ah well, better late and all that.

I’d been trying to find the perfect colors to dye the yarn for my little girl’s blanket.  I’ve never been much of a pink person, so I was thinking on an orange, yellow, pink mixture of some sort.  As I’m still an amateur at all this dying stuff I gathered together some Lemon Yellow, Scarlet Red, and Magenta RIT dyes (found in the laundry aisle of most major stores) and started experimenting.

Follow the package directions when mixing the dye.  I put each color in a separate glass jar (awesome way to recycle old spaghetti jars and be able to save extra dye).  I also added just a tablespoon on vinegar to each jar, to help the dye stick to the yarn.

Mixed Dyes

I ended up mixing 1/4 part Red, with 5 parts Yellow to get the right orange.  The other two colors I wanted (Yellow and Magenta) seemed good as is.  Just to double-check the colors I dipped a piece of the yarn I was going to work with in for a few minutes, just to get a general idea of it.

While I was doing all the mixing and science, I had my yarn soaking and warming on the stove.  *always use a designated pot for yarn*

Water+Yarn+1/4 cup Vinegar

I heated the yarn, vinegar, and water to low/med low.  You want the water warm, but not bubbling, AT ALL!  Once the water was warm, I poured the dye in.  Yellow on one side, Magenta on the other, and speckles of Orange in the middle (a turkey baster is a handy tool for this).  It’s super important to not move the pot after this, because that will mix the colors even more, and make the yarn nearly a solid color (which I didn’t want).

Don’t Move the Pot!!!!

Put the lid on the pot, and let it hang for a good hour.  Check it every so often to make sure it doesn’t reach a boil.

After the hour , check to see if the dye is exhausted (the water should be at least mostly clear), if it’s not, let it go for a while longer until it is.  Once the yarn has sucked up every bit of dye it can, turn off the heat, take off the lid, and let it cool on its own.  If it’s a 100% wool yarn (or anything that might felt) make sure to let it completely cool before transferring it to a wool wash to take out any excess dye.  Then, hang that sucker up to dry!  *I like to roll my yarn up in a towel and step on it to get out some of the extra water first*

Once its dried, ball it up!

Not very true to color… thank you iPhone 😛

This isn’t the yarn I’m going to use for the baby blanket, it’s a blank sock yarn I had floating around.  I liked the colors enough (much darker than that pic) that I will do things the same way, but on a larger scale.

On that note I’ve started yet another baby hat with it.  They’re so quick, and I get to try out new yarns and patters, I’m addicted!

A little closer to the true color

This is just a simple roll brim hat so that I could get a good idea of how the blanket will look.

This was just one of many ways to dye your own yarn, and frankly my new favorite.  I’d love to hear about other dying styles and recommendations on dyes, if anyone has them.

Beagle (and other critter) Freedom!

A really great thing happened yesterday, and in light of that I’m going to veer off topic today.  

I’ve been passionate about animal rescue for a long time.  It all started with my first kitty Tucker, who was living behind the art room at my high school.  Him and some of his siblings were caught and adopted into loving homes.  After that I swore to only adopt.

A month after my husband and I got married we adopted Linus, our first Beagle.  About two years later we (long story short) inherited Hank, originally pulled from a shelter at age 11, Beagle number two!

Getting more involved in rescue groups and Beagle groups I recently came across The Beagle Freedom Project.  Their aim is to rescue Beagles from laboratory testing.  It is because of them that I am working towards switching out all my cosmetics and other beauty and house cleaning products (yes even house cleaning products are tested on animals!) to cruelty free companies.  *PS, if anyone knows of a cruelty free deodorant that actually works, PLEASE let me know!*  

So, now to that great thing from yesterday…. A notorious breeder in Italy, who supplied up to 250 dogs for lab testing per month, was shut down by the Italian government.  You go Italian Gov!  It’s even lead the government to look into the banning of all animal testing in their country.  You can find the full article here.  




In light of all of this, I encourage everyone to make the switch to cruelty free products.  My Beauty Bunny is a great blog that actually tries out different cruelty free products, so you can get a feel for them before you buy, which is great!  Also, it’s super easy to Google “does _____ company test on animals” and have lots of info pop up.  Of course the easiest way to tell if a product is cruelty free is to check the back label for one of several official cruelty free bunny labels.

Tomorrow we will be back to our regularly scheduled programing, and some awesome hand dyed yarn!  In the mean time, hug your critters and adopt, don’t shop! 🙂

Cupcakes at the OC Fair

So I somehow ended up with a lovely four-day weekend!  I’ve spent a good amount of time on the wedding blanket, including gathering the last of the yarn I will need for it.  I also tried out a new technique of dying yarn (pictures to come) which I loved!  After all that, I baked some cupcakes and met the hubs down at the OC Fair.

My husband is an audio technician and this will be the third year he has worked one of the stages at the fair.  Lots of his buddies from his old shop in San Diego come up for the fair too.  Last year they started a weekly pot luck where each of the guys would cook something (so as to avoid one too many days worth of deep-fried/bacon covered madness).  Most of these guys can really cook!  However I was in the middle of a cupcake baking spree last year, and that became our contribution.

They were not just any cupcakes I might add…  They were boozy cupcakes!  Each themed and filled with a particular drink.  Guinness cupcakes with a whiskey frosting, mojito cupcakes, margarita cupcakes, most of which I found inspiration for or exact recipes for at Cupcake Rehab (awesome blog, lots of fun and tasty stuff!).

This year I was still trying to keep with the theme, even if it was a little less fun since I couldn’t have the drink that matched the cupcake :(.  I found a great recipe for Blue Moon cupcakes, via Pinterest, at The Bitchin’ Kitchin‘.

Blue Moon Cupcakes!

Sadly the frosting melted a bit in my swelteringly hot kitchen (real good day to turn on the oven!  HA!), but they tasted amazing!!!  Very moist, subtle flavor, a little more orange than beer taste to it, but delicious none the less!

After sadly not partaking in the chicken n’ dumplings that were brought (pregnancy aversion to chicken, what can you do?) I took a good walk around the fair while the guys set up for the next act.  It was on this little stroll that I ran into this guy…

Pretty Pig

I thought, “That’s awesome, someone yarn bombed this pig statue!”  Then, I turned a corner…

Pretty Cow

The cow made me think that this must be an official thing.  Sure enough, right next to the cow was a sign, inviting all knitters, crocheters, and yarn lovers to come help bomb that area of the fair grounds at a certain date and time.  I got really excited!  It sounded like a blast!  The sign went on to say that it was a good opportunity to meet some like-minded, wooly friends in the area (which I sadly have very few of).  I took a (poor) picture of the sign so that I could remember the date and time.  Unfortunately for me that date and time had been earlier that morning, and in an unlikely move, I’d taken all my knitting out of my purse, so I couldn’t even just add a little bit to the fencing or something.  Boo.

I walked around and saw a few benches covered, and a flag banner hanging from the trees (made of yarn of corse).  It makes me really want to drop a little yarn bomb somewhere… but where???   If anyone in the OC area would like to join me in a random yarn bombing day, I think that would be amazingly fun!  Drop me a line if you’re interested, and we’ll get this thing set up!


Beagle Helper


Linus is helping me with the wedding blanket while it’s cool enough to work on it. 🙂



This is what it looked like for most of the day yesterday…


It’s rare when a summer storm decides to roll through Orange County, but I love it!  There was even real life drops of water falling from the sky!!!

Most people think of Californians as weather wusses, and it’s true, we are.  Just minor weather like this is big news and has the power to bring major cities to a screeching halt.  The ground hardly even got wet, but there were still people out there breaking out their umbrellas.

This did bring around a nice little cool off, and I wish that meant that I had tackled a few rows on  the wedding blanket, but alas, it was humid as all get out and all I really wanted to do was lay in the rain scantily clad.  I didn’t even manage to spin because everything was just too sticky. 😛

But today is another day!  I have several hours to kill alone in the house before heading off to my 10 year high school reunion (are we that old already?).  Wish me luck!


Basics of Starting Spinning

So I’ve been spinning my little heart out over the last few days, but in small bursts, so the sum total of my work is about 1 spindle’s worth of single ply.  20120711-140834.jpg

In the light of enjoying my drop spindle so much lately, I thought I’d share how I learned to use it.  Tutorials on YouTube are great (and I’ll  link to one in particular later on) but most of them don’t really show in detail the way to get started.

I learned from a great lady who teaches a class in East County San Diego (I believe she was from the East County Spinners Guild).  Her method made it easy to attach the roving and get started.  So that’s what I’m going to share with you.

That string (thin cotton yarn will work too) that’s attached to my spindle is the first step.  Make a long circle with the string and tie the two ends together.  Then you’ll attach it at the knotted end to your spindle (as seen in the picture above).

Pull roving to the thickness desired

With your string attached, it’s time to start preparing your roving.  The roving I had was already pre drafted (pulled to desired thickness).  Basically pull the end bit of wool away from the rest of the wool so it looks similar to the picture.

Put the end of your roving through the end of the string

Put about an inch of your roving through the loop that the string created.

Hold end of roving back over itself

Fold the roving over so that it is touching itself (har).

Run the spindle UP your leg, towards you.  Never mind the passed out Beagle.

Now it’s time to load the spin up on your spindle.  While still holding the roving in one hand (I’m right-handed, but I find it easier to work the spindle with my right and hold the roving with my left) run the spindle UP your leg, towards yourself.  This will load the twist up on the spindle, and thus the roving/yarn.

There’s some more detail (hard to show in pictures without a second person handy) on the actual spinning process on this YouTube drop spindle tutorial.

I prefer to sit while I’m spinning, and use a cheater method.  After I spin my spindle up my leg, I hold steady to the roving and just let the whole thing hang and spin until it almost stops.  I then catch the handle of the spindle between my knees, THEN draft the roving and let the twist run up it.  It just seems easier to me to concentrate on one thing at a time, but do whatever works best for you.

Single ply!!!

Once you’ve let the twist run up the length of the string, and onto the roving, the part folded over itself twists together.  This creates a strong hold, and a secure base for the rest of your spinning!  Learning this was when the lightbulb really went on for me, the rest comes with practice and finding which kind of wool you like using best (my favorite is alpaca, mmmmm).

I hope this helps someone out there get the spinning bug!  It’s tons of fun once you get the hang of it, and after that, as they say, the possibilities are endless!!!


Time For Spinning!!!


So, this whole pregnancy/no sleep thing is finally getting to me.  My body hurts from tossing and turning all night.  So I figured this would be the perfect time to sit bolt upright in a hard, straight-backed chair and do some spinning!  *har!*

But yes, that is the plan, as I have finished the Swirl Hat for the soon-to-be little one.  (Note to self: when the next row calls for knitting 3 stitches together, knit more loosely.)

I have hopes of going all Yarn Harlot and setting aside one day a week to practice spinning, which I am still very new at.  So new that I’m only using a drop spindle, and have not yet invested in a wheel.

I found the spindle on Etsy (some sellers have really great starter kits), and purchased a full pound of undyed wool at The Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA on a short road trip my husband and I took in December last year.  A few months later I managed to dye it, using the Kool-Aid method (super easy and leaves the wool smelling like fruit!).  Finally, I’m getting around to spinning it.  Slowly but surely.

Progress will probably not be so quick as I have a full week working for The Mouse, and what I really should be doing is working on the wedding blanket whenever it’s cool enough to do so.  I will stick to my plan to spin at least one day a week, though who knows what day that will be.