Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Kool-Aid Dye Project

My fiber guild proposed a challenge this year: dye fiber with kool-aid, make something and display all of the resulting projects in the fiber room at our annual county fair.

Seems like a good idea, but I floundered for inspiration for awhile until I saw someone's fabulous handknitted kneehigh socks on Ravelry.  They had wonderful striping action, and I knew I wanted some for myself.  Now, the socks I admired were from handspun yarn, but I wasn't going to have time to dye fleece and handspin the yarn for the socks.

So I compromised.

Knowing that 100g of sock yarn doesn't quite yield a pair of knee high socks (think mid-calf), I purchased 2-100g of undyed yarn from  Now, I could have dyed the fiber in the skein, but I wanted stripy rather than variegated yarn.  So borrowing a friend's knitting machine (thank you Lindsey!) I turned each skein into matching sock blanks.

Now I had a canvas onto which I could paint kool-aid stripes.

Using Biscuits and Jam random strip generator, I selected my colors and stripe width and repeat parameters, printed out the result and had a guide for my stripe pattern.

The dyeing is pretty easy.  Kool-aid is considered edible and non-toxic (depending on who you ask, right?), and pretty easy to use, with a minimum of prep.  Knitty has an excellent tutorial on dyeing with Kool-Aid, complete with colors achieved from different flavors.
Mixing up the colors, two packets per color.
Ready to dye, the two blanks laid out together.

Wrapped in plastic, ready for microwave "steaming" to set the color.

On display at the fair with other kool-aid projects.  If you look closely you can see the beginning of a toe in the upper left.

Best thing?  The socks still smell like strawberry kool-aid.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

There and back again, a fiber tale

It's that time of year again, when vendors, knitters and other fiber enthusiasts descend upon the Santa Clara convention center for the annual Stitches West convention, where there is easily an acre of booths all selling yarn and fiber related stuff.  This is the best opportunity to see indie dyers and craftpeople in person, touch yarns you've only see in glossy pages on through the gentle blue glow of the computer screen.

Last year at this convention I struggling with epic pneumonia, and had no idea how radically my life was about to change.  It was nice to relax and get high on yarn fumes with a few thousand like minded fiber enthusiasts.  It's one of those rare times when my knitting worlds converge into one place, including Auburn Knit Night, MeadowFarm, and Fiber Trash Girls, as well as friends from the blogosphere and Ravelry.

There were pajama parties, great food, and lots of squealing over color, fiber and accessories.  Here's my acquisitions for this year.

Miss Babs' Yowza.  540 yds of luscious hand-dyed yarns.  This is going to become a Harmonia's Rings sweater.

This was the first time I've seen Western Sky Knits, but fell in love with this glitter sock yarn in the Rustic Rainbow colorway.  I've made socks before in the same yarn base, and they're yummy.

Of course I had to acquire more Abstract fiber.  This is Polworth in Lauren Hurst colorway.

And I took my very first stitches class this year, a fair isle for socks how to with Janel Laidman, author of such sock wonders a Sole Enchantments.

Another Coco Knits pattern that just could not be resisted.  I'll have to see what I have in stash to make this...

And, I won this awesome organizer from Chicken Boots in the daily prize drawings.  I had just been admiring Rowen's organizer when other friends informed me that they'd hear my name announced as a winner, and I was thrilled with my prize!

Friends, food, fiber, so much to absorb...  My senses are still reeling with everything seen, touched, tasted, heard and felt.  I'm really going to sleep well tonight!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Unpacking, The Saga

I’m sitting in my new place,  500 sq ft of laminate floors, double-paned windows, European-style fixtures and soft lighting.  I love it.  My first night I unpacked most of my kitchen, much of which has been packed away for nearly eight years.  I happily washed and dried for hours, reacquainting myself with my paternal grandmother’s crystal and glassware, my maternal grandmother’s cast iron pots and pans, my own dishes and hand crafted pottery mixing bowls.  It’s by no means organized, but its clean and unpacked.
Not so with my beloved books.  The shelving is all up, but every time I look at the pile of boxes, I hesitate.  What’s holding me back?  Finally tonight, a week later, I jumped in while dinner was cooking.  Pulled a box off the shelf, opened it, and put it on the shelf.  It’s a box of games, including the fabulous card game Munchkin and Lord of the Rings trivial pursuit.  That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Ok, on to the next box.  Oh, my knitting books.  I’ve had access to those all this past year.  Right, up you go in a place of honor.  Next box.  Some paperbacks.  Excellent, I haven’t read those in over a year, they’ve been all packed up during the divorce and in storage.
And then it hit me.  For some odd reason that I cannot explain to myself, and yet try to share here, maybe I’m not quite ready for these books to come out of their boxes. 
I’ve never been without books, and can barely remember a time that I couldn’t read.  I’ve kept childhood favorites like Hans Christian Anderson, Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables.  I read and reread old friends like Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Charles de Lint.  New friends too; Kim Stanley Robinson, Barbara Kingsolver and Frances Mayes.  Then there’s the host of reference books; knitting, natural histories, geology, herbals, gardening.  Anyone who’s helped me move knows that I love my books and don’t like to be parted from them.
So upon opening the next box, it hits me, these are intimate relationships I’m reviving.  The oldest of the books have been with me a very long time, and they have anima from being handled so long.  Like the very best of friends, they don’t resent our separation.  They understand and are glad to be welcomed back into my life and on the shelf, but my memories around these books are complex.  The books aren’t different, but I am, and handling them now reminds me that I’m not the same person I was when I packed them away.  No wonder I’ve barely been able to look at these boxes.
Each box, each book, more than any of my other possessions, forces a reminder of who I am, complete with all of the changes.  I’m still not always sure how I feel about all of these changes, hence the hesitation putting books on shelves. How can I reconnect with my books when I’m still figuring out my own story.  This could take awhile…  In the meantime, it’s time to put away dinner and maybe open another box.