Monday, October 27, 2008

Inkberry Dyeing

Recently I was really inspired by some wool that Falathwen had dyed with pokeberries, which I had always grown up knowing as inkberries. With such readily available, and generally unwanted materials, this seemed like genius! She had gotten a gorgeous red color, though magentas and mauve are also pretty typical results. The really interesting part of this natural dye-good is that there are so many conflicting instructions on how to do it.

But here is what I did:
  • Picked ~4 cups berries (picked off the stems)
  • Boiled in a quart of white vinegar for 30 minutes
  • Mordanted 8 oz wool with alum (just enough water to fully wet
  • Squeezed berries with cheese cloth to have just a dye bath without floating bits
  • Leave wool in vinegar/berry bath with all of mordanted water for a week
As an aside, please buy Heinz vinegar if you are in the market for white vinegar. Most of the vinegar you find at the store is made from petroleum products, rather than renewable sources, but Heinz is not.

Another piece of advice is to wear gloves. Getting the pink color off you hands isn't a big deal when it is just juice, but the hot vinegar/berry mixture does not go away for a couple days... Don't ask me how I know.
After rinsing, the 4 oz of white roving I had (some additional un-dyed corriedale on the right) from Misty of Geek Farm Life, I had a fabulously vivid magenta.

Lucy of Mind's Eye Yarns (and her etsy shop) had once talked to me about how if you want a really true red, your best bet was to start with a golden base yarn, rather than a while or ivory one. I tucked that thought away for a while, but this was totally the moment to give it a try.

I am ever so very pleased with the resulting 4 oz of worsted wool I over-dyed from a deep amber. Chiquita helped too, and even she thought this was pretty neat. We may have to go hunting more berries before the season is over.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


(I admit I totally had to look ophidiophobia up, since I didn't remember the word. It is the fear of snakes.)

This year I am only going to be finishing one pair of socks during Soctoberfest in an effort to not start new stuff for a little longer. This was my last pair of sock in progress, so the rest will have to wait until I finish my 10 FO streak. (This is FO #8.)

Can you tell it is getting cooler here in New England by the color of the light?

Pattern: Aquaphobia by Knitfreak
Yarn: Mind's Eye Yarns Merino/Tencel sock yarn in Slytherin
Yarn Supplier: Mind's Eye Yarns
Needles: US 1/2.25 mm

I love, love, love the look of this stitch pattern (basically the same slip stitch pattern that you see on an eye of the partridge heel). And it is absolutely perfect for a pair of Slytherin socks, as the texture of the pattern reminds me very much of little scales.

But knowing that I simply can not leave well enough alone, I did make a few modifications. First of all I knit these toe up in the Riverbed pathway from Cat Bohrdi's New Pathways book. So clever!

I also eliminated the small cables along the side of the foot, since it seemed to me that yarns that tend to look great in a slip stitch pattern tend not show off a cable well. The column of purled stitches that I left is only 2 stitches wide, similar to the amount to one side of a cable.

And finally I continued the slip-stitch pattern all along the sole and heel of the sock. This pattern tends to eat up more yarn than others, and my modification even more so. So if you have bigger feet or really prefer a longer leg, this may not be the way for you. It just seemed sort of funny to me to put the most durable part of the sock on top and not on the bottom where it would wear more.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

YarnHarlot visits Cambridge

Wednesday Chiquita and I wandered over to Porter Square to see the YarnHarlot. I would totally share pictures, but all the ones that either of us took came out simply terrible. Feel free to see the YarnHarlot's blog entry on the event to see the crowd though.

Chiquita specifically asked if she could come with me and carefully chose the project she wanted to bring. As usual Stephanie was wonderful, though Chiquita felt about done towards the end. This was the first Common Cod event that I have been able to go to, but it was a smidgen late for me to bring the little one too on a school night.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pattern ATC

I hadn't posted anything, because I wanted this card to have a chance to get to my swap partner for this month's round of the Creative Mom Podcast Artist Trading Card swap. This month's theme was "pattern."

watercolor markers and Sharpie on cardstock

The card I received was more along the lines of geometric pattern, but I really wanted to do something inspired by patterns in nature. I thought about spiderwebs, honeycomb, and other items crafted by nature, but in the end I went with a more transient form. I love this idea of birds on a line, having arranged themselves by chance in a pattern: big bird - little bird - big bird little bird - big bird. The only pattern there the one that our eyes and mind make rather than intrinsic to the subject matter at hand.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Big Blue

I don't know that I have mentioned it previously, but I have been working on an afghan for one of my step-brother's wedding. Little did I know when I started it that it would completely eat my brain.

The finished dimensions will be about 4'X6', and it is the project that seems like it never ends. The good news though, is that I only have a few more rows left on the body and then a border around the whole thing. Of course, after I finish I need to start the second wedding afghan for one of my other step-brothers who is getting married 3 months later...

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Socktoberfest and Igs

It is that time of year again. Time for Socktoberfest to begin, and also time for the IgNoble Award Ceremony (which is showing on a live Webcast at 7:15 pm EST tonight if anyone is interested). I do have a pair socks on the needles, that will be coming with me to the ceremony.

I have also been taking stock of the sock yarn stash. Loving numbers the way I do I had to do a few calculations. It turns out that sock yarn makes up just under half of the yardage in my stash, though not all of it is earmarked for socks.

So many great choices!

My sock leftovers are beginning to pile up too. So I will have to work on adding to the sock scrap memory blanket and other projects that call for small amounts of sock weight yarn.

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