Monday, 25 February 2013

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

I spent a big chunk of Sunday dyeing wool using Kool-Aid.

The Blackbird and I travelled to Iceland (thecountrynottheshop) about a year ago, where I discovered that wool (100%, barely processed, natural-as-hell wool) is very cheap. Turns out that sheep are one of the few things that can be farmed there. I bought tons, even though I didn't know what I would necessarily do with all of it. (I've since bought more online, too.)

Anyway, yesterday I found myself in the mood for dyeing, which I haven't done in a couple of years. I've got loads of Kool-Aid stashed away in my craft room, so I grabbed a few packs and started putting the wool into long skeins.

I used Einband laceweight wool. The first ball got looped around the legs of a chair. My legs are aching like nothing else today as a result of all the stretching I did. The second ball, therefore, ended up wrapped differently, resulting in a shorter repeat of the colours.

Agitha got involved. I had to shut her in the bedroom for a bit.

First, I soaked the wool in the bath while making up the dye. I had a light blue in mind anyway, but I thought it was nice that it was called "ice/glacier blue" - appropriate, right? I love the vaguely milky quality of the colour. Obviously this is about 100 times stronger than it would be if you made it up for drinking, and there's no sugar in it.

Next step: start squirting the dye all over the wool. I wanted the colour more intense in some places and lighter in others, so I decided to grab some dye, squirt, water down the dye in the cup, grab some in the syringe again and squirt it, dilute the dye again, and on and on like that until the dye is almost clear.

Here is the wool mid-dye. See the strands of darker wool holding the skein? The last time I dyed wool I didn't bother to do that, and untangling it all afterwards took me hours. I learned my lesson.

I also used my hands to gently roll the skein in the dye, to ensure a more-or-less even dye. Should probably have worn gloves.

Having dyed only half this skein, I ran out of blue. I ran upstairs to my stash, grabbed another blue packet, and tipped it into water. Disaster! 

Turns out Tropical Fruit Punch is red (and, judging by the smell, predominantly cherry-flavoured. I don't know about these things. I'm British. If we want artificial fruit-flavoured sugar drink, we're all about Ribena and Robinson's). This is where the decision to do a second skein came in. I put the red gunk to one side for a bit while I found a packet of dye that was actually blue, and completed the dilute-and-squirting from earlier. I left that to soak while I put the second ball into a skein and tied it up.

Here is the second ball mid-dye. I ended up using some orange dye (orange flavour, orange colour, orange packet - I know where I am with this one) for a bit of colour variation.

Here are my hands mid-red batch. In for a penny innit. (It came off surprisingly easily once I started scrubbing.)

 Finally, both skeins of wool were plonked into my bamboo steamer and set over a pan of simmering water. I let them sit in the steam without the stove on for most of that time, for fear of the wool felting.

Here are the skeins post-steaming...

... And hanging up to dry. (As I should probably have said earlier in this post, please excuse my filthy bathroom. It was like that when we moved in, and no amount of scrubbing will get rid of the dirt. I eagerly await the day I can afford to rip the bathroom out and put in a shiny new one.)

I am so so pleased with the colours. It's just this second occurred to me that they look like fire and ice. Have you ever seen ice that shade of blue? There really are glaciers like that. And the milkiness of the colour makes me think of the Blue Lagoon, where the water is opaque and white and the bottom of the pool is covered in black volcanic pebbles and grit. I haven't decided what I'll use these for yet, but when I knit the blue one up I think it would be interesting to incorporate little black or silver beads into it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Sold a brooch!

Woke up this morning to find I'd sold this brooch, which I made a couple of years ago. I haven't sold much jewellery recently, so that was a nice Friday morning surprise.

The sparkly part behind the key was actually the start of a bead, only the resin didn't cure properly so it stayed sticky and soft.  Rather than throw it out, I dropped it into the middle of this one, and I think it came out rather well. As I've said before, I love being able to use things up. 

Brooches like this are made front-first in a silicon mould, working in many layers. Because these moulds are usually opaque, you have to trust in yourself that it's going to look good once it's finished. I've ended up with a few duds from time to time for exactly that reason. But when they go right, they look like this.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

A finished quilt

I've recently finished this quilt, which I am naming (inasmuch as I name quilts) Ruby Soho.

It's made from a charm pack from Moda's Ruby collection, plus a grey from the same collection for the back, and a bunch of generic plain white quilting cotton. I love the colours from this collection -- they remind me of apple blossom and new leaves and other such things. The binding is half red polka dot and half bright aqua, both from my stash, which was pleasing. I love being able to use up scraps from previous projects rather than buying new crap.

I managed to get home from work in time to photograph it in the sunset. I think this means spring is almost here. As much as I love the crisp cold, the dark does start to get to me after a while.

It's available in my Etsy shop. It's something like 84 by 96 cm, so slightly bigger than crib size, or perfect for a lap.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Good afternoon!

This is where I will be posting my craft projects, tutorials, progress reports, and general musings on my crafty life.

I knit, sew, crochet, and make jewellery, and I dabble in lots of other crafts, depending on my mood. I also cook and bake.