The Happy Swap Blues

Did you know that I don’t like to knit with blue yarns?
It’s true. I don’t like to knit with blue yarns and I can’t explain why. I find it boring. Tedious. It makes me moody and cross.
While blue is THE colour to compliment my face.

Luckily we have the “Achterstevorenswap” in the Dutch Karma Swap Group and I love to offer to forfill people’s wishes and as a result get to post my own wishes regularly.
Just recently I wished for a pair of blue socks and another time I wished that someone would knit me a shawl with my own blue yarn.

Both wishes were granted!

These are my new, blue socks:
blue handknits
These are Ophidia socks, a design by Hypercycloid Designs. These were knitted by Helga, as part of Tour de Sock 2015. TdS is a different kind of international sock knitting competition than Sock Madness: “Ophidia is Stage 5 of the 2015 Tour de Sock, a six-stage speed knitting competition benefitting Doctors Without Borders.”

Beautiful blue socks! With cables and ribbing and *sparkly* red and pink accents. Things I could never make myself and now this pair is mine 🙂
blue handknits

Helga also send me some little balls of yarn in nice colours for stranded knitting:blue handknits
Marvelous!

Having forfilled my wish Helga got to post her own wishes and I offered to fulfill one of them and she chose my offer! So with the socks and the balls of yarn came a pair of knee high socks that needs to be overdyed. A bold adventure since the yarn is half wool half acrylic and acrylic does not take up dye. Also: it’s very difficult to dye an existing knit in an even way. For even dyeing you need to stir the pot and you can’t stir knitwear because it will felt.

It’s pretty daunting wanting to dye something this complicated for someone else but Helga is very gracious about it and about half of the time I feel like I know enough about dyeing to give it a try. I’ll make sure to start the dyeing project only when I feel like that!

My other swap wish was a shawl from my own blue yarn and I got it and I blocked it yesterday evening!
blue handknitsblue handknits
This pattern is Liliaceae by Angelika Luidl, a free pattern. I used this pattern once before, in 2010, to knit my mother a shawl in a very high end yarn:


This yarn is The Old Piggery Merino/Tencel Sock in the colour Sweet pea, 50% soft merino 50% tencel. Beautiful yarn! So soft en with such gleam. I bought it specifically to knit a shawl for my mother with, when I was on holiday, by myself, to Devon, to a knitter’s retreat, in 2010. It was a long weekend and it took me about a week to travel there because I had to make all kinds of arrangements because back then I could only travel for one hour and then had to lie flat for an hour. It was a wonderful weekend 🙂

It’s where I learned proper darning (Swish darning) and also carding with colours, from the inspiring Wrigglefingers whom I since have met again at Midwinterwol where she gives workshops in this technique and also: her daughter sells handdyed wool and I bought this green yarn at the last Midwinterwol for a Spring vest and it has indeed been cast on 🙂


Welsh Mule yarn by Shepherd Cat.

Yeah. It was a special holiday for me back then, still being very ill, and it being all about knitting. I wasn’t carefree enough to buy myself quality yarns back then but I did for my mum.

Now, in 2017, I am better in buying luxury yarn for myself and I bought and dyed this:


The yarn is Chester Wool 4 ply Mulberry silk,  that I dyed myself just a few weeks ago.
This yarn is thinner than the pattern calls for and that’s why Anneke cast on for 19 pattern repeats instead of 17. She knitted with needles 3,5 mm and used 85 grams of the 100 grams skein. The shawl is plenty wide and high enough.

Now I have this lovely Summer shawl I would never have knitted for myself, in just the right colour. 🙂

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“Just add a little green….”

I wanted to dye a skein of soft fingering yarn cornflower blue.

Because I’ve won the Make-A-Wish-Swap in the Dutch Karma Swap Group again and my wish was for someone to knit me a blue shawlette 🙂 because my eyes looks smashing when I wear blue next to my face but I myself don’t like to knit with blue (???).

Easy plan, easy dye. I went to the cabin yesterday, one day before my husband, and pulled the pots and pans from the wool room. Lillepoes was giving directions.

And I ended up with green instead of blue:

It won’t photograph properly. It’s a deeply saturated dark green with blue semi solid. It was a green variegated yarn to begin with and when adding blue it became VERY BLUEGREEN. The kind I don’t like at all.

Then, while trying to make it a proper green instead of a teal, I mixed too much green dye and then had to find extra things to dye green.

By then it was already getting really late. The cat kept nagging me, demanding food and attention and bed routine. But I knew I had to finish it all before bed (rinsing and spinning it all dry and putting it on the drying rack in the middle of the room) and clean everything up too because things had to be tidy for this morning or my husband and Poekie wouldn’t fit in the room.
dyeing wool
dyeing wooldyeing wool
Oh man, why do I do this to myself? Again and again? (I must secretly love it, that’s the only explanation for it. Alright, alright, the only sane explanation for it.)

Dyeing on the evening of a busy day in which I drove all the way to the cabin, by myself, with Lillepoes loudly giving directions for the full 75 minutes it takes me to drive there and with all the mad people on the road, clearly all letting their blind cats hold the wheel.

Sigh. Stuck with a cup full of extra strong green dye I found myself digging through the stashroom, late at night, frantically looking for more stuff to dye.

Here I am chucking dry fleece and dry silk into the pot with the dark skein from the first pictures:
dyeing wool
The fleece is Swifter that I had dyed too “Autumny” and too blue-green back in the Autumn. It’s such great fleece! Great staple, nice touch, nice smell. When I rooted through the stash-room I had real difficulty not to dismiss all plans I have for the next few days and start carding it right away. Lovely fleece!
This:

became that:

Now card it in with the rest of the white and I’ll spin for a lovely jumper!

Make haste! make haste! I cannot wait to spin this! No. Wait. Noooo. We are knitting the Sock Madness sock while we are at the cabin. We are also casting on for a new vest if we need to do something on bigger needles. And we have the Music Maker sock with us for easy knitting. We have an all day birthday visit on Saturday and an all morning spinning group on Tuesday and we will be travelling back on Wednesday and there were a thousand things you wanted to paint while here. Also shower. So: no. No carding.

The silk skein I threw in is the lovely mulberry silk fingering yarn. But I kept it in short because I want my silk to be lightly coloured. Like willow wisps:

Yes, succes!

Silk soaks up colour like nobody’s business, I could actually use it as “a mop” to drain the dye from the water and dye the fleece evenly and not too dark. I was lucky though, the water had not had vinegar yet which makes dye soak into silk even faster. Too fast would have been a problem here because silk needs to be presoaked for quite a while to become thoroughly saturated. Only thoroughly saturated yarn will take up dye evenly.

Otherwise it will stay on the surface and only in the places that are wet. Which is a desirable effect on its own when dyeing speckles or for a sprayed look. But not for me, this night.

I was also lucky in not overdoing it and dye the silk too intense. It’s hard to gauge a shade when the yarn is wet and when you’re dyeing in the evening. The lamp over my dyepot is a daylight lamp but still… better to dye during the daytime.

I then started the pot again. This time dyeing with just Ashford blue, on an undyed base. But I had no sheep yarn left. I did have more silk though…. not sure my well-wisher wants to knit with it. Silk is slippery, especially this mulberry silk (my favourite!). But the colour is s*m*a*s*h*i*n*g*l*y blue:

I would LOVE to wear this colour near my face.

Again I had to take care to not leave the silk in too long. It is a bit more intense than I wanted. I remember thinking: “O yes, this is just right! Or maybe a little too light?…. I’ll just leave it in the water, the water is nearly clear anyway.”

And then the silk went and soaked every bit of dye it could find and became two or three shades darker than I had wanted. Still beautiful.

For a while I had the silk parked outside the pot and threw in two bits of sparkly sock  yarn to “mop up” the extra dye in the water. When they had done so (but apparently not to the maximum extend) I put the silk back in and heated everything to dyeing temperature and added vinegar

It’s happily blue glitter yarn now 🙂
The light one used to be light green, the dark one was a multicolour. They now go well together. Perhaps for a crocheted hat?

Aw, the sparkle doesn’t show one bit in the picture. It’s very pronounced in real life though and will look great in crocheted fabric. I have 25 grams of the dark, 45 grams of the light. Enough for a pair of knitted socks for me. Enough for a crocheted hat?

Two toned shawls

You can knit a shawl out of one skein of fingering yarn (sock yarn weight but mostly softer than sockyarn). Such a skein is 100 grams and has about 400 m of yarn on it.

Many shawls at the moment combine two skeins, just to make the shawl more wrappable. A bit more yardage, a bit more warmth.
I love colour contrast and it suits my face so I love these kind of shawls. This week I made a trade with someone and she is going to knit a shawl for me, out of two skeins from my stash.

The pattern is Me and You…and you and me from Fiddleknits
pic by hummingbirdtx
pic by knitcrazycpa

So I spend some time “tossing the stash” to chose which yarns to send. I found some lovely combinations.
Now I want all these shawls!

This is the combination my friend is going to knit:

A Merino Lace from 100%wool -the one I tried to make into Brioche with a white lace– and a OOAK handdyed silk single from Bart&Francis from Belgium.

Both are boldy coloured skeins but the striping in the pattern will tone them down, perhaps even give the illusion of green (I lóve green).

Fiddleknits has another shawl pattern coming out next month, it’s a sister design to the one above.
I chose these colours for it:
A Seasons and Elements from Moonwise in Cassis with a dark silvery Krokus from Dutch Knitting Design.
You wouldn’t believe how soft these yarns are!

Then I found an orange The Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga! with a OOAK handdyed silk merino mix from Dutch Knitting Design:

I have no pattern in mind for this one but I love how the combination is way out of my comfort zone or my habits in combining colours.
A Rhubarb green and red with orange? Go me!

In my queue is still the Rockefeller for which I chose the colours months ago. My handspun with a pale blue lace from Colourmart held triple.

pic by IgnorantBliss
Some of my friends have made this design and added some intelligent tweaks, to make it perfect and neat in all its details. I’ve been impatiently waiting for my shoulder to heal because I cannot wait to follow the trail along the pattern and their technical tweaks! And I get to knit it with my handspun, such a treat.

Digging through the stash I ran into plenty single skeins I’ve planned to turn into shawls for a while now.
Like this Drops Kid Silk into a Boo Knits Temptress shawl, with big old beads.

pic by Boo-knits

Yes, I made a Temptress before

I need another one! A fluffy one!

And this steel colours tencel that needs just a little bit encouragement to become a finished Spikey Gothic Neckwarmer. It has steel coloured Miyuki beads…

And then there’s this wonder of a skein, handdyed sock yarn by Wol met Verve:


Its colours are very much out of my comfort zone (just like the Rabarber skein up top, the one I’m going to combine with the orange Skinny Bugga).
But I love it and have been admiring this skein for a year now. There are so many colours and nuances in it!

It requires a clever approach, colour wise, because a skein like this will pool and flash and might loose a lot of its subtleties if the colours are not mounted right.
So I’m thinking knitting in the round, stacking the colours. Then perhaps steeking? Or weaving. Or crocheting freeform and let the colours guide. Or using elongated stitches.

I’m going to have a long hard think about it to find out how to make this gorgeous skein into a gorgeous piece of fabric.
Might just as well because I still cannot knit a stitch… I tried some knitting the other day -on those blasted leg warmers- and my shoulder pain came back. Together with tingling in my fingers. Even a whip like sting.
Oops!
I’d better play by the rules and stick to playing with yarn and colours in my head.