Archives for July 2013

Dyeing the Color Wheel

My very first post on this blog was about my system for keeping track of colors when I dye yarn. Looking back, I realize how little I knew about blog writing because, man, that post is long-winded! I still stand by my system, though. I spent some time over the last few days adding to my collection of dyed samples.

Here are some of my favorites.

Hand Dyed Yarns

My goal was to create a definitive set of ratios for dyeing the basic color wheel from yellow, red, and blue primaries. (Unfortunately these are not as straightforward as you might think. What looks like “orange” to me is 90% of the yellow dye and 10% of the red dye, for example.)

Color Wheel

Every color on this wheel is made up of only one or two primary colors. People often advise that you do this if you’re dyeing for the first time, since it’s really easy to create “mud” if you mix all three primaries.

Complex colors contain all three primaries, and to my eye are often more interesting. To avoid “mud,” I measured out 90% of each original color, plus 10% of the color opposite it on the color wheel. Although these look dingier than the original colors, I think they’re also easier to wear. I would gladly knit a whole sweater out of most of these colors.

Complex Color Wheel

It’s interesting to me that mathematical changes don’t always correspond to changes in what we see. For example, the yellow-y shades on the wheel appear to shift a lot when you mix in 10% of the complementary color, whereas the purples shift much less.

Hand Dyed Yarn

Hand Dyed Yarn

To dye these little samples, I use the microwave method described in this book. These are acid dyes, which sounds a bit scary but really just means you need an acidic solution (such as diluted vinegar) for the dyes to set. It’s kind of magical to watch the fluid around the yarn go from opaque to clear as the reaction occurs!

Dyeing Yarn in the Microwave

The downside to the microwave method, as I learned from my friend and dyeing guru Liz of Dharma Trading Company, is that the results can be uneven, because you add acid to the reaction at the beginning, making the dyes strike very quickly and potentially unevenly. You also can’t stir continually in the microwave, so some areas get exposed to more dye than others. And of course there’s a limit to how much yarn you can dye at a time. On the other hand, I’ve had good luck dyeing single skeins this way and actually really like some mild variegation in my yarn. To me it looks more interesting and, well, hand-dyed.  For example, the yellow yarn I used to make the socks in this post is something I dyed in the microwave.

Now I just need to decide what to do with all these teeny-tiny skeins!

Hand Dyeing Yarn

Indian Summer Patchwork

Yay, I have an actual finish for Finish It Up Friday! This baby quilt is for a friend’s son’s second birthday. The fabric is Indian Summer plus some linen solids.

Indian Summer Patchwork Quilt

This quilt is ripped off (to the extent that any patchwork quilt is novel) from Holly’s, though I decided to go a little more in the baby boy direction with blue fabrics. The binding is “Squiqqles Blue” from Cleo by Dear Stella, which, close up, looks a bit like tiny lightning bolts. Appropriate for summer, at least where I grew up! The back is a slightly textured gray fabric from Northcott, which I chose primarily for softness.

Indian Summer Patchwork Quilt

This is the first quilt I’ve quilted entirely on my home machine, rather than on a rented longarm. (I know, backwards….) I definitely struggled to avoid puckering when I was quilting in the second direction across the first set of lines. I seemed to often have a bit too much fabric on top, even using my walking foot. Anyone have any tips to share? I feel like I must be making some newbie mistake.

I hope this quilt is a hit with the recipient! I tried to size it for easy dragging around the house.

My Life in Knitting

I don’t have much to show for the last four days; my major project has been excavating my craft room (aka former living room) out from under the mounds of scraps and random projects on every horizontal surface. Here’s a peak into what it looks like now.

sewing room

Ahhh, so much better! (Except for the weird rippling in my cutting mat. Does anyone else have that problem?)

Those built-ins are one of my favorite things about my apartment. The left hand side is where my yarn stash lives.

sock yarn

While cleaning out this room, I also sat down and sorted through all my knitting projects that are in progress stalled and going nowhere since I started quilting. I’m going to show them to you here in the hopes that I’ll get some motivation to just finish them already. Give me a kick in the pants, ok?

To try to keep this to a reasonable length, I’m not going to include what all the yarns and patterns are, but holler in the comments if you want more info.

Ok, first up, some socks. Pair #1 just needs a few more rows.

rios socks

Pair #2 just needs the bind off for the second sock. The first one is around here… somewhere.

serpentine socks

Pair #3  is almost to the toe of the second sock. This is yarn that I dyed to satisfy my craving for yellow socks.

yellow socks

Moving right along, we have this little polar bear, which I did not finish in time for last Christmas.

knit polar bear

Next, this pretty awesome sweater, which I just need to get up the courage to seam together. I made some modifications to the pattern to remove a hood, so I also need to reacquaint myself with the plan. What did past me have in mind, exactly?


This next one is a “pattern” of my own design. Basically it’s a long tube scarf that forms a double layer because it’s knit in the round and then folded in half. I’m planning to put button bands at the ends so I can wrap it around and button it into a big thick cowl.

textured scarf

And finally I have this little dilemma.


I’m pretty sure that I knit the mitten on the right first, based on the improvement in the colorwork from the right one to the left one. I have plenty of yarn and should probably just make another one to match the one on the left, now that I’m over my initial disappointment. And yes, I did try wetting the smaller one and stretching it out, but that didn’t help too much.

So that’s it! Oh, except for these three!


Sometimes you just have to know when to call it quits and give the yarn a new lease on life, you know?

Clashy Bright

I’m jumping on the Clashy Bright bandwagon! If you haven’t seen Rachel’s new mosaic contest over at Stitched in Color, it’s a fun one. Inspiration from Rachel’s post:

In the summertime life runs along at a brisk and boisterous pace.  And the colors of summer, clashy and bright, are a celebration of that life, crashing and colliding, stumbling upon beauty in serendipitous moments.

Here is my choice of 12 fabrics.

clashy bright mosaic

This challenge took me a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I really love this clashy combination! (According to my spell-checker, “clashy” is not a word, but doesn’t it seem so much more appropriate than “clashing?” Even the word “clashy” is kind of clashy, right?!) Perhaps inevitably, I now want to buy all these fabrics. (Interior commentary: Ooh, and self, you already own three of them!)

I tried to choose fabrics with a summery feel to them. My inspiration for the main colors was this lovely bit of crochet from Sarah London’s blog.


Pretty unique, huh? So I thought, but it turns out I must really like this color combination on a subconscious level, because when I went to my Pinterest color board, I found two other examples of clashy brightness very similar to it! There’s this amazing quilt by Applekrisp, via Flickr.


And finally this mixed media piece by Annie Flynn, which skips the burgundy but brings in the lime green.


So go check out the contest if you’re in need of summer color inspiration! Two other entries I’m loving are Melissa’s and Sarah’s. Happy weekend, friends. I’m off to concentrate on not buying fabric.

Two Words: Woven Bag

Thanks to everyone who played along in my guessing game last week. The two words I was looking for were…

hand woven bag

… woven bag! Actually no one guessed correctly; I guess I stumped you all with my never-before-seen weaving ability! So instead I’m just going to draw a winner randomly from the comments for the giveaway. More on that at the end of the post.

Some background: I have a little rigid heddle loom, called the “Knitter’s Loom,” which I love, even though the biggest width I can achieve with it is about 11 inches. I’ve made a lot of scarves. When I realized I could stabilize the woven fabric with fusible interfacing and sew with it, I got excited to try making some small accessories.

rigid heddle loom

I especially love to weave with hand-painted yarn like this. These yarns look great in the skein but can sometimes be a little disappointing when they’re knit up, depending on how well the colors distribute or pool together. But weaving gives a subtle plaid effect that I think really lets the colors shine.

I followed Elizabeth Hartman’s zip bag pattern yet again. The only slightly tricky thing was getting the seams to lay flat where I attached the woven fabric to the pleather for the bag bottom. I ended up using a 1/2″ seam allowance and then top-stitching the pleather back down to itself. Actually I “top-stitched” from the wrong side, but I think it came out ok.

leather seam

I like the look the top-stitching gives to the bag. A few more glamour shots….

hand woven bag

hand woven bag

I think if I make this again (and I just might!), I’ll experiment with more of a boxy bottom to the bag rather than a flat pouch, to make it more useable as a purse.

Ok, so now for the giveaway! The mystery giveaway item is an 11″x12″ piece of the woven fabric, which is more than I needed for this bag. There were six guesses, and the random number generator says the fabric goes to…


Comment #3, snips! I will be sending you an email. :)

Linking up today at the Let’s Get Acquainted Monday Linkup at Plum and June.