Which brings me to a conversation earlier this week in which I tried to explain my fascination with the dyeing process. It too is hard to get across. My urge to dye yarn began during a visit three years ago to New Mexico for the Taos Wool Festival. One of the days in NM I spent at the Ghost Ranch – primarily staring at how the cloud movements changed the color of the rock bluffs and walls. A subtle shift in cloud cover could change what was a pinkish-terracotta wall into something I can only call dusty-purple. It was fascinating! After a day of watching colors I spent hours wandering through booths of lush yarns and fleeces – wool, alpaca, and llama.
Deadline knitting forces me to invest excessive amounts monogamous knitting time in completing a project. There are no “oooh shiney” diversions when a deadline looms. While in a previous post I wrote that I would not have Mom’s shawl finished in time for Christmas, I then set myself on a path to do just that.
Friday night’s attack of the clumsy helped tremendously. During a mid-Ravelry post regarding weight and yardage I rushed back to the laptop after weighing some yarn and ran smack dab into what serves as our coffee table. The impact of my right foot against the library card catalog that is topped with granite was excruciating. I howled – and maybe swore – then fell on the couch grabbing my aching appendage. Chris was kind and brought a bag of peas to stop the swelling while I whimpered. He’s good at gingerly patting what hurts and making me laugh at myself – even if it is between tears and bouts of nausea.
Yesterday I was sidelined from any activity I couldn’t hop on one foot to accomplish. Therefore an enforced day of knitting brought me much closer to my goal of having the shawl finished in time for Christmas and maybe even in time for the final days of Season of Lace.
This morning I was so pleased with my progress I took a time to pin the shawl on the little blocking board for a few photos.
I’m smitten with this pattern. Those little Estonian Star Flowers are a joy to watch bloom with each added row. The designer is Jenny Johnson Johnen of Sweden. She’s a clever gal, that Jenny. I foresee several more Echo Flowers in my future.
It was hard (mostly because I stink at photography) to catch the true color of the Pink Champagne Silk with the camera. The flash washes out the light color. The sheen and beads are glorious in person but don’t show up well on the screen. These photos just do not do justice to the shawl as a whole (or close to whole since it’s not off the needles yet).
The top photo is the truest to the color and sheen. The little dots are clear silver-lined beads.
I returned to Oklahoma with a fierce desire to dye yarn, several books, and a handful of natural herb seeds to begin a dyer’s garden. After several years of research and thought, I shifted from herb dyeing to the traditional method of dyeing. Several reasons brought that switch. First – we are already working on one crop and I didn’t want to add more growing/harvesting time to that endeavor and second – a concern for what the mordants would do to our water source – Clear Creek and a shallow well.
Once I finally began dyeing I was enthralled with the color changes that the fiber undergoes during the process. By no means does the color you pull from the dye pot give you the exact shade of yarn your fiber will be when it dries. And different fibers respond completely different in the same dye bath. It’s endlessly fascinating.
From the start I wanted to work with lace weight or fingering weight yarns. Feeding my own addiction some would say. But only partly so – what I’ve discovered in my own lace knitting experience is that a knitter picks different yarns for different types of knitting. A pale color will highlight intricate stitches – like those in Estonian lace designs. A deep rich color will give you big bang from a distance (and photograph much easier!) letting a simple design be a true work of art. A skein with vast color changes regardless of the hues can be too busy and obscure the stitches that took hours for a knitter to accomplish. Additionally the dyer must keep in mind that when a knitter is using the yarn for a lace project the yarn is stretched out with yarn-overs and blocking therefore the mass color of a skein plays a bit differently opposed to a solid stockinette knitted garment.
All of these facets, different fibers and different dyeing techniques, have a place in a knitter’s stash. I’m the coming years I hope to offer a well-rounded selection of yarns for knitters – those who purchase my yarns, win them in contests, and myself.