Monday, August 25, 2008

My gorgeous yarn experiments!

Now that my yarn is dry and finished I just have to share a few more photos. Here is the yarn in skeins, and then, because I couldn't help but play with it, wrapped into balls and ready to knit. The color's not quite right in the second image, but you get the idea. Sunshine and candy canes, people!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yarn Dyeing with Powdered Juice Drinks

I have long wanted to experiment with doing my own yarn dyeing. I had the chance to give it a try this weekend thanks to a few lucky thrift store finds. Both the yarns I got were old and the color just slightly off from what it had once been. Luckily, neither had moth holes or other moth damage, and both were 100% wool.

Kool-aid dyeing is simple... one package of kool-aid per ounce of yarn (to saturate, that is). The drink is acidic enough that no additional acid is needed, and you don't even need that much heat to set the dye.

My first attempt was with a pale yellow worsted weight wool, about three ounces, and some orange kool-aid. I decided both experiments were going to be monochromatic, but I wanted something unique. The yarn was already in a long skein, so I tied it in a few places and I was ready to go!

I mixed up the kool-aid in a large pan (2 quarts of water, 1 package kool-aid, no sugar, of course). I only used one package because I still wanted a fair amount of the original color to show through, with a bit of perking up. Then I put the pan on the stove on low heat.

I submerged about 1/4 of the yarn and waited 15 minutes, submerged another 1/4, etc. until the whole thing was submerged. Another 15 minutes, and the water was completely clear, all dye absorbed. I then rinsed the yarn in cold water and hung it to dry.

The process with the second skein was similar (moved to my mom's house for this one, though). I had one ounce of lace-weight pastel pink wool, which I wound into a long skein (about 1.5 yards in length) and tied with thread. The dye was Disney Cool Splashers mix in strawberry flavor. I wanted a more uniform gradient on this one, so I submerged two-inch sections every five minutes. Because I had a smaller amount of wool, all the dye didn't get absorbed, but a fair bit did!

Anyway, this technique is really easy and fun, and you can get all kinds of different results by using tye-die techniques, using squirt bottles to paint stripes on the yarn, etc. It's pretty fool-proof, and I'd be glad to answer any questions. As soon as my yarn dries I'll take pictures of the finished balls and whatever projects they eventually become. Yay!

The knitting continues

Well, as August winds down and the days start getting shorter my thoughts are turning once again to sweaters and scarves for myself, something I have accepted will probably never happen. The waiting list is gradually decreasing and my knitting minions are improving their skills, though who knows if they will use them for good or for evil.

I am still making a fair bit of business for myself selling patterns. The bonnet pattern has been available for some time through Ravelry and through me directly, and I recently released a very customizable kilt hose pattern as well. I have a pattern for knitted fingerless gloves with mitten flaps, which I have so far only made for gifts, and if anybody would like a copy of that, it is also for sale. All patterns cost $3.

In other news, I have some major yarn lust these days, and it is hard to keep myself from buying new yarn for myself (though I have quite a large stash of quite nice fibers), especially now that Noro has released kureyon as a sock yarn in the same gorgeous palettes as its worsted weight version. It's a bit steep at $20 a ball, but a ball is enough for a pair of socks, and it is hand-painted and amazing. If you would like to pay me in sock yarn, feel free. I am a sock addict. Nothing is as satisfying to me as a pair of socks.

I am also getting to use my knitting skills in new ways. I am teaching a friend from dance class to knit, with the goal of eventual kilt hose for her husband. He's the one whose hose I repaired several months ago. I am doing more repair work on sweaters, socks, etc. and learning more about how to make projects that survive abuse. I have been in talks with my employer for over six months now (I'm a social worker) about using knitting classes as a way to help improve concentration and teach relaxation techniques (not to mention math skills). Any activity where hands are busy so minds can wander is a great help to the sort of clients I deal with.

That's the latest from Russet Lodge. I plan to do much more Fair Isle and Intarsia colorwork in the near future. I need to do something useful with all the leftovers from my projects filling up my yarn stash. Any good suggestions? When in doubt, I usually just look to Knitty.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A little knitting chuckle

I saw this cartoon today and had a little laugh since it's so true...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Russet Lodge: The Real Life Story!

For those who don't know, I named my knitting blog Russet Lodge Knits after a series of comedy sketches by the venerable Catherine Tate displaying a refuge/home for harrassed redheads called russet lodge. When I was doing some vanity googling I came across this article from The Times Online, and it was eerily appropriate.

Family forced to flee just for being ginger
Andrew Norfolk

A family of six have fled two homes after enduring a vicious hate campaign, apparently prompted by the colour of their hair.

Kevin and Barbara Chapman say that anti-ginger prejudice has led to their property being vandalised and their four youngest children being subjected to a litany of cruel taunts, verbal abuse and bullying.

The Chapmans and their children, who are from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, have a blaze of red hair which, they claim, has reduced them to living like fugitives in the city. Their plight carries uncomfortable echoes of the Catherine Tate sketch in which a group of ginger-haired outcasts find safety in a refuge after being ostractised by society.

Another victim of hair-colour prejudice, the Premiership footballer Dave Kitson, of Reading, claimed two years ago that fans who made fun of his red hair were as bad as racists.

This year, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, dismissed his homeland security spokesman after a race-row scandal. Patrick Mercer, a former Army colonel, had said that soldiers with red hair were given a “far harder time” than blacks and that comments like “Come on you black bastard” and “Come on you ginger bastard” were “the way it is in the Army”.

The Chapmans – who have nine children, with only the four youngest living at home – appear unable to find sanctuary anywhere Newcastle. At each new home – three in the past three years – their windows have been smashed, graffiti has been sprayed on their walls and the children, aged between 10 and 13, have been physically attacked.

Mr Chapman, 49, has reported several incidents to the police and – after the slogan “Ginger Is Gay” was daubed on their home this week – is in discussion with council housing officers over another move.

He says that the taunts of neighbours, adults and children, have become so bad that his 11-year-old son, also called Kevin, contemplated suicide. Last week the boy was assaulted by a girl in the street who punched him several times and left him with a black eye.

“Kevin’s never even seen a life yet and he’s been driven to this. The abuse we have to endure is just disgusting,” Mr Chapman said.

“It started more than three years ago, when the kids started getting bullied by local lads over the colour of their hair. They’ve been punched, kicked and thrown over a hedge. Every time they go out, these gangs have got to them. We can’t even go to the local shops, which are only two minutes away, because the kids get all their stuff taken off them.”

The younger children have attended three primary schools in the past three years as the Chapmans moved from their old home in the Walker area of the city, first to Newbiggin Hall and then, a year ago, to Kenton Bar. The couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Ryelle, said: “Every time we make new friends we just end up getting bullied and it happens every time we leave the house.”

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said that housing staff were aware of the family’s plight and were discussing it.

Mr Chapman said the council had suggested that he should dye his family’s hair, which outraged him because he had brought up his children “to be proud of themselves . . . and the way they look”. The spokesman said that the dye suggestion had initially been made by Mr Chapman and that the housing officer’s response had merely been: “You could always do that.”

The Catherine Tate sketch:

Inside Russet Lodge, the shelter for ginger-haired people:
Sandra: Being ginger is who I am; why should I deny that?
Rita: You shouldn’t. And that’s why we’re here. We have all sorts of gingers here. Gingers in denial, confused gingers, even militant gingers. But they have one thing in common. They don’t need to fear the outside world. They’re all welcome to stay here in peace and harmony. . . . Duracell, ginger nut, carrot top, copper nob. We’re used to getting that kind of abuse every day out there. People asking us to move away from areas where food is being prepared. Total strangers assuming we’re Scottish. Forever trawling the streets, trying to find a hairdresser’s that isn’t fully booked. Well, not in here. This is a safe haven for everyone and everything ginger. Let’s keep it that way.

As darkness falls outside the Russet Lodge refuge, a crowd gathers with flaming torches, carrying placards bearing the slogans “No Gingers!” and “Not In My Village”.

As the title credits roll, they are heard chanting: “Gingers Out! Gingers Out!”