Monday, June 9, 2008

"Today, I dyed a little on the inside"

to make up for my recent lack of pictures i went a little crazy this time! hey, i wanted you to have something pretty to look at, so don't complain! besides, there's PLENTY of text to read while the pictures load :b

lots of exciting things are going on in my neck of the woods these days! i'll start with the title, and this is a hot topic! i don't think i mentioned that my package from hello yarn *the one that went on the road trip to NJ* was a dyeing kit and 8 ounces each of 3 breeds *24 ounces total* of wool that i haven't spun yet! i got shetland, falklands and BFL i know it seems weird that i've been spinning for quite some time and these are very common breeds that most have maybe even learned on, but the only things available to me at driving distance were merino, mohair and something the shop called "new zealand" wool, which i've never heard of being an actual breed of sheep, so who knows, the lady working the day i bought it said "it comes from new zealand" go figure, at a spinning supply store the only person who spins is the owner, who is never there!! but now that we have the almighty internet, i have a wealth of new wool types to choose from!!

more to the point; i bought a dye kit, lets get to the actual dyeing!!! first off, i have to say that this dye kit is AMAZING!!!! ANYONE who is nervous about dyeing, never had experience and has been petrified to try on your own, THIS KIT IS FOR YOU!!! it comes from hello yarn *and the girl who owns the site is super helpful and very sweet* and it comes with, get ready to hold on to your hat: jacqaurd acid dye (either in primary or customizable kits with color options), one of those doctor's masks *because breathing the dye powder will KILL you. hehe, just kidding. but seriously, it's dangerous!*, latex gloves *so you don't have zombie hands from green and black dye*, 4 bottles for making dye solutions, 4 beer-type plastic cups for mixing colors with one another, an eye dropper and the best part of all? written by adrian herself, 5 pages of FULL instructions and tips printed out and sent in a sheet protector , so you can keep it close while dyeing and don't have to worry about accidentally splashing dye on it! and you can get the set of primary colors for $20, that's a steal!!! as if it couldn't get any better, she also carries a staggering amount of undyed yarn and fiber. the only thing i regret about my order from her? i didn't get the kit with more colors of dye!!!

so after putting it off for a couple of days to mentally prepare myself, i mixed all the stock solutions up the night before dyeing to lessen the number of steps and give myself ample time for dyeing *i did this because i have kids, so i have limited periods of uninterrupted time, but if you don't have kids, you can do this all at once*. the next afternoon, i set off.

my initial color scheme was from a digitally created picture of marigolds with a few shades of sky blue, it was really beautiful and i decided it would be easier if i had something to reference for color mixing. once i chose the picture, i used a technique from an older issue of spin *i would tell you exactly which one, but it's now suspiciously missing...* however, the idea is that you take a picture with a color scheme that you love *the picture can be anything, nature, inaniment objects, people, etc*. you then open it in a photo editing software and pick the colors you like out with the eye dropper tool and take it over to a second blank document and drop it there.

now, in theory it sounds easy right? well, you can't use the cheesy old microsoft paint program *which of course is what i have* and in the article the author uses a serif suite program, so i go check out their website, and turns out they have the serif photoplus 6.0 for free *there are more you can download, but they aren't free, guess which i chose!* i was still not able to do exactly what the article had described, but with ALOT of tinkering around, i found a way you can do pretty much the same thing. the tutorial follows here, but if you don't want to read it, scroll down past the picture of my computer monitor where the rest of my dyeing journey takes place! :)

i want to say, before you read these instructions, these aren't profesional instructions, this is just a run down of how to do it, don't take it word for word. but if you DO have questions, feel free to contact me or leave a message here on the blog, and i will try to help you to the best of my knowledge!
open your picture into said software and chose the eye dropper tool. this is used to hand pick any color in your picture, and it's VERY TINY, so pretty much any color you can see in your picture, you can get it back out with that eye dropper! click on the color you want, and it will come up in the color tool bar *you may have manually open this in the top most tool bar by clicking on "view", then scroll down, and you should see "color tool bar" then click that to open it* at the very left of the color tool bar will be two squares, the top one will be the color you just picked up, click on that square. it will take you to a color customization pop up. on the right will be a color wheel, don't touch it. on the left will be rows of colors and some blank (white) squares underneath them, if you click the next white space, it will say "add custom color?" click yes. now repeat this with every color you want in your color scheme. once you've finished all the colors, open a new file in photo plus. this is the part where you put all your colors on one page *see a picture of what my finished document looked like below* you can do this any way, but i found it very easy to use the paint brush *or spray paint* tool and pic the tip that covers the most area, then just apply your colors in a big enough area so it's super easy to see *think paint swatches* and print! `voila! it's not as hard as it sounds, if you print these shoddy instructions out to follow along with AS YOU'RE DOING THIS, it will make it much easier.

sorry for the crappy picture, but i didn't want to put the original artwork up here and i'm lazy, so i just took a picture of the colors i chose!

i gave my wool a little soak in warm water, using only four ounces, for i may not have enough counter space to coil anymore than that, and boy was right! i got out all my pre-mixed colors, and began blending them together, all in all i had 6 different shades: red orange, orange yellow, stock yellow, 70's yellow *yellow stock with a little black added*, stock blue, and sky blue. and since i wanted a yarn that wasn't self-striping, i chose to apply my dyes randomly to my pre-soaked wool.

pre-soaked wool, waiting for it's dye!!this picture is to illustrate the ONLY tiny space i have in our kitchen that i'm able to utilize for dyeing! yes, it sucks! i had all the mixed colors lined up in that 3 inches in front of the sink and at the VERY back inch or so of my little set up there.


i know this picture is pretty scary looking, at this point, i thought my first hand dyed roving was going to absolutely SUCK!!!

at this point, i thought i was doomed. i rolled it up in the saran wrap, and banished to my stock pot for steaming.

but look what came out!!!

i didn't even check it until after the 20 minutes of steaming was up and it had been cooling for a while.... i was too scared! but i was SO pleasantly surprised when i took the foil off the top and i saw the glimmer of PRETTY colors!! now that looks like more of what i was going for! i wish someone would have told me it would look terrible until after heat setting! and the funny thing is, once the roving dried, you could really see the personality of the shetland wool had really come out with the heat, see all the little waves? the ends are curly, too! it's going to be soo fun to spin it!!! hopefully in a couple more days i'll find the time to play with some more colors!! :D

OK, this one is just gratuitous! i couldn't resist!!!

in other fiber news, i signed up for the june fiber of the month swap on craftster, it was so nice last month to get a hand-picked selection of things based on your questionaire that you love, but still, you may not have picked for yourself! it's like, having a personal fiber shopper! these are the fibers i like/don't like, these are my favorite colors... no GO forth and bring me fiber! and speaking of last month's swap, i can't believe i'm so dense i forgot to post about what my partner sent me!!! the main fibers were 2 little balls of hand dyed roving in turquoise/teal and brown *really pretty* and 2 different brown rovings, one is a natural brown, and the other was commercially dyed merino, but they're both beautiful and then she sent me TONS of extras *hooray for extras!!!* a little tussah silk, a sandwich baggie FULL of purple bits and bobs of left over wool, another full baggie of ECOSPUN (!!!! i've been wanting some of this forever!!!).... and, i may be missing something but suffice it to say, she was AWESOME!!!

anyhoo- the send out date for this month's swap is the 22nd again, so i'm assuming it's the same every month. maybe this time i'll actually take pictures of what i receive so you can see it, too! i think the most anxious part of the process is waiting to get your partner, to see what they're hoping for, and whether or not you have it or can get it! well, i think for me the fear is magnified since i don't have ANY local fiber suppliers, i have to order all my stuff off the net or travel considerably far away *and pay for gas!*

since all that writing took me FOREVER, i only have a moment to mention some knitting updates! i finished kyndra's socks!!!! yay!! i thought this day would never come! after all those tries of coming up with socks that didn't fit, i finally got it right! and they look so cute, if i may say so myself! i L-O-V-E that yarn, and i'm glad i was able to use more of it for such a special project, because i'm saving those babies forever!!! not just because it took my so long, but because they're so sentimental....*tear.

here is the first sock that fit, all finished up! navajo plied merino yarn, dyed with kool-aid. 2x2 ribbing on cuff, pattern made up as i went along, cuff down

and here is the second one, all done but the toe. WOOHOO!!! no second sock syndrome for me!!! well, i guess it may be hard to get SSS on toddler socks, as they don't take so much time to knit, but it's an accomplishment nonetheless, damnit!
i also have started a new knitting project! SOCKS!!! i told you i love knitting those darn socks!!! but i'll be keeping this pair all for myself!!! i'm using the navajo plied autumnal handspun, which was spun specifically for a pair of socks for me. the pattern is.....drum roll please.... out of my NEW book sensational knitted socks, which JUST came in the mail a couple of days ago! it's great, and from just flipping through it, i KNEW i had to start on a pattern immediately! but i want to talk more about the book in a later post, when i have more time to ellaborate!

on a bit of a side not, i have ALOT of that roving left over as it was sold in 10 ounce bundles, and i had decided early on that i would make a matching article for myself with whatever was left after the socks. i initially thought a pair of gloves would be nice *and i've really been wanting to knit a pair, as i NEVER have* but now i'm thinking i would get much more use out of fingerless mitts, because i DO live in texas, but on the odd day when it's cold here, my fingers stiffen up real bad which makes for not-so-fun knitting, and even when it's not so cold, i have low blood circulation in my feet and hands, so i need something i can wear more often than a regular pair of gloves, and i think these will be perfect!!! has a great pattern, but i've seen ALOT of other patterns that i like, too, so i'm gonna have a hell of a hard time choosing!

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