Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kool-aid Dying

Kool-aid dying is great for those who wish to experiment with dying yarn or fiber but don't want the complexity usually associated with natural or commercial dyes. Granted, you are limited to reds, orange, purples, and green, but those colors are vibrant.

Your materials:
• Unsweetened Kool-aid. I used Cherry for this example.
• Yarn made from animal fibers. Sheep's wool, alpaca, silk, llama, camel... My example is silk. Plant fibers don't take dye well and generally won't take the color from Kool-aid at all.
• Big cooking pot.
• Measuring cup.
• Spoon. I prefer to use a wooden one.
• A stove.
• Tap water.

Doing it:
1. If you haven't already, wind your yarn into a hank and tie it loosely in 2 or 3 places. I used a niddy-noddy, but you can use your arm or the back of a chair as well.
2. In the big cooking pot, mix up the Kool-aid according to the directions but omitting the sugar.
3. Soak your yarn (or fiber) in water and get it thoroughly wet. This is important since it helps the yarn to more thoroughly and evenly absorb the color from the Kool-aid.
4. Place your yarn in the pot with the Kool-aid, moving it around until it is saturated.
5. Put the pot with the Kool-aid and yarn in it on the stove and set the temperature at medium-high to high.
6. Let it heat up, stirring occasionally to help the yarn take the color evenly.
7. When the water begins to boil, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the stove, remove the yarn, and dump the Kool-aid. It will either run clear or almost clear of color. This means all or most of the color was absorbed by the yarn.
8. Rinse the yarn in hot water and gradually cooler water. This will remove the excess Kool-aid and gently cool down the yarn without shocking the fiber.
9. Gently squeeze out excess water and hang the yarn up to dry.

No fixative is needed since Kool-aid contains enough acid to set the color during the dying process.

• Mix colors. When you mix red and green you will get brown. Mix cherry and grape and you'll get a different color than if you mix strawberry and grape.
• Try it on different colors of fiber. Even browns and grays. The natural colors will add earthiness to the vibrant Kool-aid colors.
• For darker colors use more Kool-aid and less yarn or fiber. For lighter colors use less Kool-aid and more yarn. In other words, adjust your ratios. One batch of Kool-aid with one ounce of yarn will give you more saturated color than one batch of Kool-aid and four ounces of yarn.
• Try a yarn with a mixture of plant and animal fibers such as a cotton/silk blend. The cotton won't take the color and the silk will. This could give you an interesting visual texture.

Most of all, have fun!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crochet Symbols

I was a fairly experienced crocheter by the time I saw crochet symbols for the first time. But even though I could read a pattern and interpret it successfully (usually), I was struck with admiration and appreciation at how much easier it was having them.

The book Laceworks by Yoko Suzuki is full of beautiful crocheted lace doilies. The instructions for each doily is written in standard crochet pattern style but also illustrated with crochet symbols.

What really struck me as remarkable was this:
1. Finding my place in the instructions and seeing what to do next was so much easier with the illustration than with the written instructions.
2. The illustration clarified areas that were complex to explain in the written instructions.

I've included crochet symbol illustrations in my Rustling Fringe Scarf pattern for reason number 2. Realizing that my written instructions could get frustrating for someone no matter how I tried to make them straight forward and clear, I decided (with unprompted confirmation from my technical editor) to add the symbol illustrations.

Have you had experience using a pattern with crochet symbols? Did you find it helpful? Should every pattern include them or only the more complex ones?

Share your thoughts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rustling Fringe Scarf

My latest new pattern available on Ravelry is the Rustling Fringe Scarf.

The playfulness of the leafy fringe, dangling off the edges of this scarf, adds a whimsical quality that is enhanced by the color transitions of the yarn.

Crochet Symbols Chart Included
Yarn: Any worsted-weight yarn, approximately 400 yards. Model shown in Plymouth Yarn Kudo, 55% Cotton, 40% Rayon, 5% Silk (100 g/198 yds per skein), color number 42.
Supplies: Size G-6 (4mm) crochet hook and a yarn needle
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 5" (13cm) wide at the core and 10" (158cm) wide with the fringe and 48" (158cm) long.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fiber Festivals

I love fiber festivals and the fact that there are three close enough to my home here in Colorado is a bonus.

The first one coming up is the Pagosa Fiber Festival in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and it's always on Memorial Day weekend. It's small and cozy, but a great opportunity to meet smaller suppliers from southern Colorado. It's a great stop on the way to or from Durango from the Front Range.

The second one is the Estes Park Wool Market in Estes Park, Colorado. Bigger and busier, it attracts people and suppliers from all over the West. It's like a fair with the vendors in a big building and a lot of animals of all varieties in the barns and being shown in competition. This year it's occurring June 10th through 13th. This is a lot of fun to do since I can go get my fiber fix in the morning, then go enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park in the afternoon.

The final one is the Taos Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico. It's smaller than Estes Park but bigger than Pagosa Springs and this year's dates are October 2nd and 3rd. The drive there is beautiful and the timing is good for enjoying fall color. When I'm done at the festival, I love to go enjoy the city of Taos.

Needless to say, I've marked my calendar. Do you have fiber festivals in your area? Where are they and what do you like about them?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Creative Use of Knitting in a Commercial

This is too fun and inspirational not to share.

Sorry, it's a bit big for the space.