Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Because I don't have a knitting blog, and because I am too lazy to think of a good title for one, I'm going to talk about fiber stuff here for a bit. Now that I'm on Ravelry, I'm wanting to do some more detailed journaling. BTW, if you have gotten hooked on the Ravelry smack, email me at for my Ravelry handle, and I'll friend you -- I love having friends!

I've been knitting for, oh, a year and a half now, and crocheting for a bit longer than that. In that time, I've made baby hats and adult hats, blankets and toys, scarves, booties, baby dresses, and several pairs of socks. However, I've never yet knit myself a sweater. This is mainly because my weight has fluctuated so wildly in that time, with the infertility gain and the pregnancy and the massive postpartum weight loss. I haven't been the same weight from one fall to the next in literally six years, and I haven't wanted to sink the time or the yarn cost into a sweater I'll only wear one season.

However, I've stabilized recently, and while I'd still like to lose a few more pounds, I'm not really working hard to do it, and it won't really be enough to affect my upper body size too much. So, I finally decided it's Sweater Time, and Cherie Amour from the latest Knitty stood up and yelled, "knit me!"

I have heard from several people, including Jo, that the yarn called for in the pattern is perfectly delicious. Sadly, I couldn't find a colorway I liked. As a general rule, I don't much like highly variegated yarns, especially on large garments. See how, in the pictures in the pattern, the yarn goes all stripey at the waist, and then there are large chunks of the various colors in the lacey part? That's called pooling.

Variegated yarns are notorious for doing this, and while I'm kind of OK with it in the context of a sock or a scarf, it's just not my thing for a sweater. It plays funny tricks on the eye, which in turn can be less-than-flattering on the body, and obscures the prettiness of a lace pattern. So I knew I'd have to go for a solid-colored yarn or a semi-solid, with very subtle color variations.

Unfortunately, we are currently and temporarily local-yarn-store-less here in my city, until it reopens under new management sometime this fall. I shopped around on the Internets a bit, ordered a test skein, knit a swatch, hated my swatch, and then knit another swatch with some of the bulky-weight wool that's destined for the girls' Christmas stockings. (Which I now estimate will be completed for next Christmas, or possibly five Christmases from now, based on my complete and total failure to actually put yarn to needles for them.) This yarn worked -- gauge was right, and I liked the fabric I got -- but unfortunately, none of the available colors really floated my boat.

This is the part where I decided to get brilliant. See, you don't HAVE to confine yourself to the pre-dyed colors they offer for sale. If you like, you can buy the undyed version of the same yarn, and dye it your very own self. I promptly ordered a bunch of skeins, and some green and black acid dyes, and started plotting how I'd go about creating a nice weathered-looking sage green. Never mind that I'd not once so much as tie-dyed a shirt at summer camp. No, I was going to figure out how to dye, and make myself the One True Perfect Sweater Yarn.

At this point, if you are wondering whether it is a good idea to do a sweater's worth of yarn as your very first dyeing project, the answer is no. Happily, I came to that conclusion as well, and for once I didn't have to figure it out the hard way first. I've dyed two small test batches, just a few yards cut off a single hank, and I feel like I'm actually getting close to ready to do the big scary dye of all yarn. I just need to acquire a few more supplies at Wal-Mart, and figure out where and how I'm going to set up six skeins of wet not-necessarily-colorfast wool yarn to dry.

I now see how people get addicted to dyeing yarn. Believe it or not, there's a whole cottage industry centered around hand-painting and hand-dyeing yarn, mostly sock yarn, and now I know why it exists. I'm very much a product knitter -- I knit because I want to make the things I see in my head -- and if I start dyeing my own yarn, I can get EXACTLY what I want. I have a mile-wide streak of do-it-yourselfism, and the idea of dyeing my own yarn is tremendously appealing.

The idea of spinning my own yarn before dyeing it is also appealing, but really, don't I have enough on my plate?

1 comment:

Stacie said...

Spinning is tremendously fun and much easier than knitting. I have fiber arts envy. I need to bring out my wheel again and then learn to knit something more interesting than scarves.