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 🙂
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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!
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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. 🙂

“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?

Weird wool wednesday: dare to wear! Shop bought wools.

Today I got some shop bought wools: a knitted bolero and a woven scarf. The bolero is knitted cotton, the scarf is woven merino/silk, with a print printed on top it.

Gifts from a non-knitter who was very daring, picking these out and giving them to a knitter!

She chose very well. Both items are well within my colour palette. The blue is the kind of blue I cannot make myself knit. And the scarf has the kind of print I wouldn’t dare to buy for myself. But getting them as a gift works wonderful. I’ve been wearing them both all day. Thanks mum!

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Wearing shop bought knitting and a shop bought shawl doesn’t make me feel weird at all. I would have expected to feel betrayal or feel guilt because “I can make this myself”. But I can’t make this myself. And I wouldn’t if I could. It’s just too much work. And it’s grey blue! I don’t knit dull blue.

Oh how this grey blue works for me. I feel good wearing this.

cutting the blue wire

I started a Rockefeller shawl, one of the two-toned shawls I’ve been looking forward to for ages now.

Beforehand I did a lot of colour mixing and matching to find the two yarns I wanted to put into this shawl.
There was contrast and saturation and hue to consider. But in the end it all comes down to: properly framing this handspun:

It’s 466 m handspun from 140 grams of BFL/Silk batts I got as a birthday present from Kooldutchlady.

Pretty soon after spinning the yarn I knew I wanted this yarn in a Rockefeller Shawl.
And it needs a well chosen second yarn to play with.

So about 6 months ago I forced half of the Dutch Karma Group to help me choose the second colour.
My main inspiration is this shawl of one of my Karma friends:

Rockefeller Shawl by Kooldutchlady. (there are no coincidences)

Amazing colour choices! And some clever modifications to the pattern such as the continuation of the borders and smoothness between Clue 1 and 4.
But the colours! To choose that yellow to go with an aqua handspun? genius!

In return for my nagging for advice the Karma Group forced invited me to articulate precisely what it is about Kooldutchlady’s colours that I find so amazing. If I could analyze the colour thingies going on here I could perhaps apply the same thing to my handspun.

I tried. (links to Dutch conversation. Stay here if you want to get the gist in English)
Here’s a close up of her shawl, to really show you the colours:

The yellow brings something entirely new to the table!
It takes the handspun into an unexpected direction. Without upstaging it. How come?

How did Kooldutchlady arrive at this particular yellow?

The handspun is mainly blues and turqoise. There are some hints of yellow in it but also hints of purple.
The yellows are not nearly as saturated as the solid skein is…
Is it the saturated turquoize that allows for such a saturated yellow?

And to put it next to the purple… that takes some guts! The Yellow makes the purple pop:

In terms of darkness there is not much contrast between the two yarns. One is not darker than the other.
I went as far as to look at the shawl in grey tones:

And at our yarns:

Left Kooldutchlady’s handspun, mine is on the right.
My skein looks like it has more contrast…

After these thoughts me and my friends tried to think about my handspun in a similar fashion.
We thought about purples, about pinks and even greens and yellows. But mostly we thought about silvery greys or blues. These were eye openers for me. Clear cold morning blues… they would work beautifully with my yarn!

If it’s true that my handspun has quite a bit of contrast within itself I need to address that. There’re pronounced dark bits and light bits. To play with the light bits seemed like fun and it would provide a clear contrast to the dark bits.

I put some light colours next to the skein. Grey colours, blue colours, dusty pink colours.
Some made the light parts of the yarn speak loudly. Some made them recede. Some made them grey.

After a thorough discussion with my friends and much holding yarns together I decided upon a pale blue colour to frame the handspun. It’s a laceweight I have in my stash and keeping it triple would still give me the yardage I need.
Yesterday I casted on:

The yarn is greyish blue. Much grey.

meh.

It yields a very floppy fabric, perhaps because I’m holding a thin lace weight triple.

But the blue. This is such a meh blue!
It makes me sigh looking at it, never mind knitting it. I would knit with it because in the end it would give a smashing shawl.
Only it doesn’t.

This particular muted greyish blue does not grab the handspun by the hands and takes it for a swirl. Instead it just lays there snoozing, shedding, expecting the stripes to do their magic all by themselves.
pic by Adrian Denegar

This is not going to be a shawl with any of the vitality Kooldutchlady’s shawl has.
Chosing a colour that is both lighter than the handspun ánd less saturated than most of the handspun probably was a mistake. Especially in a design where that yarn’s role is as a framework for the the handspun. I should have thought more of Tiffany lamps and less about … I dunno… using what’s in my stash.

Should I have gone for a brighter, fresher light blue like the ones a lot of my friends suggested? There were pictures of crisp icy mornings in Finland….

Or should I remember that I don’t like to knit with blues anyway?

A real dark colour could also work:

This is a charcoal silk (which I’ll definitely will not be using because it’s one of a pair destined for a Summers Top and also silk is too drapey for this shawl. It needs a round yarn with nice round garter stitch knitting. Yarn like Wollmeise.)

Six months ago we did ponder dark colours. We had some concerns that it would result in a shawl that’s too flashy. A shawl that would wear me and not the other way around.
It’s when people notice your garment first and then you. They should see you first, notice how healthy and radiant you look (which is aided by the colours and contrasts you wear).
Too dark a colour may overwhelm me?

Still I love (to knit with) the dark colours. Charcoal, dark green, Dark Purple.
Some of which happen to lie on my table in WIPform: Charcoal Summer Top; Dark Blue Peabody Sweater and Fliederbush Purple Tunic. Let’s combine:

Each colour brings out something different in the handspun. Of course I’m showing you terrible pictures here. None of these colours are true to the colourthings I see happening here on my table.

The Charcoal makes the light bits of the handspun pop.
The Peabody brings out the grey in them.
The Purple connects with the intense purples of the skein and emphazises the blues. It also makes all the light bits light blue, nothing grey to see.
The Fuchsia brings the middle tones of both the blues and the pinks to the front and makes the light bits a whitish blue.

Looking at it I conclude that the Purple makes all the colours in this skein pop. Yes, I’m going with purple.

Purple in a nice round yarn that will make the garter stitch rows look like little strings of pearls. A nice round yarn that will keep the shawl together both colourwise and shapewise. Yes, I’ll need a purple round yarn in a yardage that matches that of my handspun.

So please meet 100% pure Wollmeise in the colourway Fliederbusch.
The colour is pretty close to the handspun I’m using for my lace tunic and it’s the kind of purple that we in Holland call “pimpelpaars”.
It’s as purple as purple gets.

Colourway Fliederbusch on the various yarn bases of Wollmeise. Picture from the German Wollmeise Fan Group on Ravelry

When in doubt, go pimpelpurple.