2015 (yarn) stash flash and plans

Over on Ravelry, there’s a thread every year to show off your yarn stash.  I figured it’d be fun to show off what I have here (at least the bits that aren’t in WIPs) and talk a little bit about my plans for said yarn this year.

I will preface this by saying I have a fairly small stash and I like it that way — I’m finding that I prefer to buy enough for several projects in one go, and not buy yarn without a project in mind.

2015 Stash FlashI also labeled it by weight because I was a bit surprised by the nice variety of weights I have:

2015 Stash Flash w labelsOne of my big goals this year in terms of my knitting and crochet is to get through a lot of my old yarn that I bought without a project in mind.  I’d also like to make several of the projects I bought yarn for last year, as well, of course!  At the moment, I’ve got 13 skeins or partial skeins of yarn that were not bought with a particular project in mind, and 24 skeins or partial skeins that were bought with a project in mind (plus two partial skeins of black and white acrylic that are designated scrap yarn).

Good news/Bad news

First the bad news.  The knitting needle I’d bought for my Ocean Currents Rug broke!  The tip just snapped off the cable while I was working with it.  It’s been sent off to the manufacturer for replacement, but until I get a new one, there’s not going to be any rug progress.

To make up for it, I’ve had a fair bit of knitting good news.  I have a couple of projects I want to complete in the next year or two that I didn’t have the yarn for, so I put in an order and got it the other day.

I got some Supersocke self-striping sock yarn in the Mali Color Golden Shades to use in a colorwork sock along with some black yarn I already had:

I’m not quite sure why I was so drawn to this yarn — it’s not a color I’d normally pick, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to use it in that pattern.

I also got some Cascade Heritage sock yarn in Como Blue for another colorwork sock with my black yarn:

All the pictures I’d seen of this yarn showed it as blue, but it’s a fairly green-leaning blue-green.  The picture here is the best I could get, but it’s not green enough.  I’m slightly disappointed it’s not the color I was envisioning, but it should work out okay.

I’ve been wanting some custom fit gloves out of a very fine yarn, so I got some Malabrigo Lace in the color Vaa, which is super soft:

And finally, I bought someFilatura Di Crosa Nirvana lace weight yarn in Dark Teal for a lace shawl I’ve been wanting to make:

It’s super squishy and the perfect color!

As if that package wasn’t good enough news, I also finished the bed I’ve been working on for Lily for the last five and a half months.  She likes it:

In fact, she likes it more than she likes sleeping on the couch next to me!

(Click on any picture for more information on Ravelry.)

Adventures in Dyeing, Ch. 1: I Hate Pink

I was given a very small amount of a pink nylon yarn. PinkDye1

Ordinarily, given its color and small amount, I’d just use it as stuffing, but I’ve been meaning to knit a small sleeve for my cell phone to protect its screen from scratches when it’s in the same pocket as my keys, and this yarn would be the perfect amount. Since nylon can be dyed like wool, I decided to see if I couldn’t come up with a color I liked better – my goal was a warm, possibly slightly variegated, brown.

To do acid dying, you need three things: dye, acid, and heat (oh, and water). For dye, I had some gel food colors. For acid, I used a splash of plain white vinegar in my dye water and soaking water. For my heat source, I chose to use a slow cooker, since my stove tends to have irregular heat and my microwave is positioned in such a way that taking hot dye water in and out would be problematic.

I began by winding the yarn on my DIY niddy noddy, tying the hank with some cotton string so it wouldn’t tangle, and putting it in some warm water with a splash of vinegar to soak for half an hour or so. PinkDye2

Then I prepped some green gel food coloring by mixing it with water until it was fully dissolved, and added a bit of that mixture to my slow cooker along with water and another splash of vinegar (as you may be able to tell by now, I didn’t really measure anything…), and heated the whole mixture up until it was steaming.

I added my yarn, and let it cook until the water was no longer green (indicating that the yarn had taken up all the available dye).

PinkDye3 PinkDye4

I then let the water in the slow cooker cool until I could reach in and grab the yarn. I made sure to use rinse water the same temperature as the still-warm water in the slow cooker (this would be important with wool, as sudden changes in temperature can contribute to felting, but I’m not sure it was really important here). There was no color coming out in my rinse water, indicating that I’d done everything right and the dye had fully bound to the yarn! The only downside was that I now had a particularly bright green color…

PinkDye5After drying the yarn fully, I repeated this process with different colors. (Here’s where I started to have trouble.)

My next dye was red (red + green = brown). I used just barely enough water in the slow cooker to cover the yarn, and dropped the red in various places on top of the yarn instead of putting it in the water before adding the yarn, in the hopes that this would give me a nice variegated brown. I definitely got variegation (picture taken during soak for next round of dyeing). Taken during soak for next round of dyeing

Patchy green and red isn’t a good look, so I mixed up some brown dye from some green and red dye and put all the yarn in that dye bath (in the microwave this time). I knew from my research that red strikes (attaches to the yarn) fastest, so I wasn’t too surprised by the results…

PinkDye7 PinkDye8

I couldn’t get the green dye to exhaust (leave the water and attach to the yarn), even though I left it for a long time. I think what happened was that I reached the point where the yarn couldn’t take any more dye part way through my last dye bath, so the red that was dyed first blocked the green from attaching to the yarn. It’s not exactly the color I was looking for, but a dark dusty red is a color I can live with, so I’m pretty happy with my first experiment in dying.

PinkDye9

 

 

Yarn Laundry Day

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a couple of yarns in need of washing for various reasons. The first two are from knitting projects that I’m not going to finish, and so just a dip in hot water to relax the kinks from being knitted.  The third is a ball of sock yarn that I picked up at the local used craft supplies shop for $0.50 — it’s never been used, but is quite old.

YarnsToWash

I wound them all into hanks on my niddy noddy (from last post), then put them one at a time in a bath of warm water and a little liquid laundry detergent.

WashingYarn

After letting the yarn soak for 15 minutes or so, I gave the yarn a couple of gentle squeezes, drained it, and rinsed. I discovered that my used craft supplies store yarn, despite not having any scent when dry, smelled awful and turned the water yellow after washing. That one went through an extra wash and soak in vinegar water before rinsing.  After rinsing, I hung the long hanks from plastic coathangers in my tub to let them drip dry. (Don’t hang wet yarn from metal coathangers. In related news, cream of tartar will take rust stains off of yarn.)

HangingYarn

Finally, I wound the clean and unkinked hanks into nice cakes.  My longest yarn made such a big cake that I had to slip a toilet paper tube over my ball winder to have enough room to hold it all.

WindingYarnNow I just need to finish some of my ongoing projects so I can start knitting with this…

DIY Niddy Noddy the Really Lazy Way

I have a couple of skeins of yarn that need to be made into hanks for washing and/or dying. In the past, I’ve done this sort of thing on my forearm, but I wanted these hanks to be bigger, meaning that I wanted a niddy noddy. There’s a lot of instructions out there for a PVC niddy noddy (for example), but that would have required leaving the house to buy supplies, and it just wasn’t that sort of day.

I dug out a sturdy cardboard box and cut a 18″ x 4″ piece. Because a hank of yarn is four times the length of the niddy noddy on which it was wound, this will give me a 2 yard hank. Then I scored the piece lengthwise and folded it into a square column for the central bar of the niddy noddy.NiddyNoddyStep2

Next, I cut two 12″ x 3″ pieces and turned them into triangular columns for the cross pieces. NiddyNoddyStep3Then I cut triangular notches in the ends of the central column (note that these notches should be at 90 degree angles to each other and should fit the triangular cross pieces).NiddyNoddyStep4Finally, I wrapped all the pieces with duct tape to ensure that my yarn wouldn’t snag on any rough cut edges of the cardboard and taped the cross pieces into the notches of the central bar.NiddyNoddyStep5The finished product:WoundNiddyNoddyThe only downside to this niddy noddy (well, aside from looking really blah) is that the cross pieces will bend if you aren’t careful to wrap your yarn loosely. If I were going to be using this regularly, I’d probably go ahead and make a PVC niddy noddy, but since I don’t expect to be winding often, this works just fine for me.