Tea Blossoms

We hadn’t seen these things before last month, but they were intriguing.  Fully-bloomed flowers, infused with tea, then dried and packaged into little balls.  You put the little ball into a teapot and pour boiling water on it, and it unfurls the flower to make something visually-pleasing for you while you wait for your tea to steep. 

Thanks to a dyed yarn swap with my friends in the Cheerful Charlies group on Ravelry, I received a box of six tea blossoms (Teaposy brand) from my friend 3himmies.  Tonight we made the first one, the “Falling Water” posy.  Here are some pictures for you.

Sealed in its pouch.


Out of the pouch. Looks like a little nut.
Dry and in the pot.
After blooming!
We have a movie of it blooming, but we don’t want to pay the outrageous fee that WordPress charges!  I’ll put it on the us-picks.com site and come back here to link to it.  A bit awkward, I know, but…it’s free…

The Bad Dye Saga

Please excuse me while I try to fix the formatting on this post.
Well, I couldn’t stand those skeins that I posted about yesterday.  This morning I tried overdyeing them one last time, using a saturated pot of black.  One skein turned out great – a very deep grey with harmonious rainbow undertones, sort of like what I imagine Death’s garden (on Discworld) would look like.  The other skein looked like what you saw yesterday, but covered over with a weak grey…sickly and gross.   I don’t get it, since they were in the same dye bath, but…probably the first (better) skein soaked up most of the black, leaving the second skein floating in the weak remainder.

So I decided to really take a leap of faith and try Rit Color Remover on the second skein.  This is a chemical available at drugstores and grocery stores for a couple of bucks per packet.  Here is my saga, in pictures.

This is the skein that came out fine this morning. Death's Garden.
This is the bad skein, before Rit treatment.
Bad skein in the crock pot with the Rit treatment (beginning).
Bad skein after the Rit treatment was done. Exciting! Not a color I'd ordinarily use, but I'll take it.
Bad skein in its rinse water.
Drying on the rack.
Not bad at all, you think?  That’s what I thought too…until I realized that all the rinsing had caused the yarn to start felting.  At this point I have two options.  One is, when it dries, try winding it off into a ball, carefully pulling apart or even cutting any felted strands.  I’ve done this before with less-felted skeins and it’s a pain, but can be done.  The problem is that the yarn has mostly lost its elasticity and cushiness at this point, and probably wouldn’t be much fun to knit with.  The second option is to tie it off and throw it into a laundry cycle, ending up with a thing I call a “felted neckring.”  Sort of a scarf – sort of a giant felted necklace.  (Yes, I’ve done this before…by accident!)  It could work, but again, this isn’t a color I’d use.  Would any of you like a squash-colored felted neckring?  It’s merino, silk and cashmere.  Here is a picture of the one I did previously.
With flash. Shows detail, but color is inaccurate.


Without flash. Color is accurate. I like this one.

 This neckring fits easily over my head and is just about the same size as a wound scarf would be around my neck.  Seriously…if you want one, I’ll make one.  Of course, the benefit of felting it into a neckring is that the laundry process would take care of any lingering chemical that might still be in there.

 So it’s back to the old drawing board AGAIN!  I told Chris that I’m taking a break from dyeing for a few weeks, possibly even months…

Reality versus Perception

In cosmic harmony with my sister, I too will write a blog about perception this week.

I have a program called Corel Painter X.  This is a digital art program which allows the user to create art either with a mouse or a pen tablet, using your choice of media such as Conte crayons, watercolors, oil pastels, pencils, whatever.  I bought it with the high hopes of becoming a better artist.  This has not happened.

What this program does superlatively, at least for me, is allow me to open a photo file of some yarn, and use the Digital Watercolor settings to approximate what this yarn would look like if I overdyed it with various colors.  It’s a fun thing to do, especially when I have some yarn that’s not up to the mark, and almost always comes out pretty accurately.

Today I took a closeup of one of the skeins of orange/pink/red from yesterday and messed around with various Painter X colors that could be approximated with dye that is on hand here.

This is the closeup of yesterday's yarn.


Here is the same picture, after I used Painter X to ‘overdye’ it with turquoise.  This was probably the tenth color I tried, and it was SO AWESOME…I stopped messing around with Painter X and took 2 skeins up to the dye pot immediately.  The blue areas have a neat blue/purple gradation, and the center green section runs from chartreuse through to kelly green.  You might be able to see it better by clicking on the picture.

Same image doctored with Painter X.


And then I dyed the actual yarn, and this is what I got.  The real problem here is that my dye solution was too weak.  That’s why the pink areas are still pinkish.  I don’t think this yarn will be happy if I try dyeing it again, so I’m stuck with this zombie barf yarn.  It may yet be pretty cool for something, but it is not quite what I’d been hoping for.

Very little actual turquoise.

 What do you suppose this yarn might be good for?  The suggestion box is open.

This Week’s Crafting Fun

This week I’ve taken a break from knitting, sort of, to do some dyeing experiments.  Thanks to some inventive Ravelry folks, I learned a technique for dyeing self-striping yarn.  This kind of yarn has been very big in the sock world, but difficult to find in other weights or other types of yarn.  My experiment was with Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, which happened to be the only white yarn I had around the house.  The yarn is wound onto plastic knitting looms, separating each color by an empty peg, and then each big ‘packet’ of yarn is dunked into a dye bowl (or you can brush on the dye with foam paintbrushes, which I’m never very good at).

This is how the yarn looked on the loom before microwaving.

This results in a yarn that goes about 10 garter stitch rows before changing color.  There was a little color contamination – you can see at the lower part of the blue, there is some green overlap, and at the right-hand part of the green, there is some yellow overlap.  Here is a fingerless glove I knit with that very yarn.

Too small, and the ruffle is too thick, but it shows the striping!

So that was pretty exciting.  But I don’t like Spindrift much (which is part of the reason I was willing to sacrifice it to the dye experiment), so I’m not going to bother with a second skein of the self-striping.  And frogging this glove to reclaim the yarn is probably pointless, because the thumb sleeve, cuff ribbing, and ruffle are all done with new strands of yarn – so I’d end up with a lot of fairly short pieces of yarn, no good.

Well, that was interesting and came out well (and now there is a new technique in my repertoire for the future).  For my next dye project, I wanted to satisfy an old longing – the desire to have red, and hot pink, and orange, all on the same skein.  Nobody seems to make this combo!  I wonder why?  (Rhetorical, facetious, snarky question.) 

Today I prepped my last five precious skeins of the now-discontinued Plymouth “Dye For Me” Merino Silk Cashmere yarn, and did them all in the same dye bath.  Since these are really big skeins, I soaked all 5 of them in the citric acid water for about 10 minutes (while I mixed up my dyes).  The five skeins had absorbed almost all the citric acid water, so I simply put one skein in the pot, squirted dye on and rubbed it in, laid the second skein in the pot, squirted dye on and rubbed it in, etc. until all 5 skeins were in the same big pot, and full of dye.  Then a 15-minute nuke and voila.

Hanging out to dry.

I only had Jacquard “Pink,” not “Hot Fuchsia” (which would have gotten me much closer to my real vision), but it was still a fairly intense pink.  I used the whole little jar!  The red is Fire Red and the orange is a combo of Fire Red and Sun Yellow.  It looks very ‘sunset’ to me, and I am going to make a shawl called the Hypernova with it.  Can’t show you a pic of Hypernova because it’s copyrighted.  I’ll put a pic up when there’s something of my own knitting to show you.  But since the skeins above are still outside drying, it’s going to be a while.  Stay tuned.

More Success

I’ve been spinning up the silk/wool batt.  It’s a good one!  Very easy to spin, and coming out quite interesting.  Because of the variations in the dye, I have long sections of white, interspersed with sections of white/green twist, and then some smaller areas of all green.  Since this yarn spins up very fine, it’s taking a long time to fill just one bobbin (and I need to fill two, to ply together, and get a balanced yarn).  So it’ll be a while until I have something to show you here – but at least it is looking promising.