The potato experiment

What?! If you have not heard of my experiment you are probably thinking I must have lost my mind! Why would I want to talk to you about potatoes on a knitting blog? Well, no wonder you ask.

So it all began with some grocery shopping before Halloween. Our grocery shop had some Vitelotte potatoes and they had packaged them in a Halloween package and branding somewhat like Halloween potatoes. I had never tasted Vitelotte potatoes and it was Halloween so I thought this was just perfect timing and bought a kilo!

When I finally cooked these, just peeling them before cooking stained my hands purple and so I thought maybe, just maybe, I could use the peels to dye yarn. These potatoes have such a beautiful purple color. I could just imagine seeing some gorgeous yarn in a beautiful purple.

I looked online and found nothing about using potato peels for dyeing yarn. Maybe not strange! But I decided to do it anyway. So I put the peels to the side and let them dry.

vitelotte potatoes See why I was imagining purple yarn?

When it was dry I cooked the peels. I put them into a small mesh bag and cooked them for hours and boy did they stain! or give color! Not sure how to word that.

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It looked beautiful.

I chose to use some of my organic merino yarn as this was natural dyeing. I read up on mordanting and I had some Alun for mordanting and so off I went. I followed the instructions on how to mordant my yarn BEFORE dyeing. And then I plunged it in.

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I had such high hopes! But something strange happened! The yarn did NOT take the color or almost nothing! I put three skeins in and even after over an hour in the dye stock, there was still lots of color in the water.

I let it sit longer and checked from time to time until I decided it wasn’t working and I took the yarn out. The leftover water was still pink!

I am a beginner at natural dyeing and maybe I did something wrong. Or maybe potato peels are not meant to be used as dye stuff.  Anyway I did it and here are a couple of pictures of my yarns next to the same yarn undyed. If I had not put an undyed skein next to them you would not see these were actually dyed. It’s that subtle.

So the middle skein is undyed. The others have a sort of very light beige color.  I’m not sure if I’m going to use them as is or if I will overdye them with something else. I’m still debating that.

Anyway it was a fun experiment and a lot of people were interested in the results so I hope you have enjoyed stopping by today and seeing my pictures.

Until next time; Have a great weekend and I’ll speak to you soon:)

More dyeing

Hi there, if you have been reading my blog lately you will know that these days I’m doing lots of experiments with my dyeing and this weekend I did some gradient dyeing. The difference between striping yarn and gradient yarns (my definition) is that a striping yarn has 2 or more colors and usually each color will run X meters and knit up into a few rows/rounds of colour that either repeat themselves or not if you are doing a sort of rainbow stripes.

Gradient yarn/dyeing will have longer color sections that will then blend into each other. This can be done using colors that are similar and the transition from one color to the next is sort of natural, the color seems to change organically. Or you could do this using bright and contrasting colors where you will notice the end of one section and the beginning of the next, more than when using more muted or similar colors.

This also requires a new technique which is very different from dyeing striping yarn and is quite time consuming and I think that is why there is not a huge selection of hand dyed gradient yarn on the market and why that kind of yarn is higher priced.

I’ve long wanted to give this a try and as I had a client contact me requesting a custom dye order for gradient yarns, I jumped right in and said YES! Of course I can and will do this for you!

But before dyeing her chosen yarn base, I decided to do some test dyeing first. Both for me to work on my colors and combinations and also for her to see some examples and then choose her colorway. I did 2 sessions and I really like the outcome, especially for the second one. I made some mini skeins where each colour would run between 10-20 meters and used 4 or 5 colors per mini skein. It is not possible to dye gradient yarn in one skein so after dyeing I had to rewind my yarn into a skein for it to dry and then once dry I wound it into small yarn cakes. Yarn cakes don’t look as good when they are super small as they do when regularly sized but you will get the picture of what it looks like.

My first test:

gradient dyeing www.knittinginfrance.com Here I played around with mostly blues and greens in different tones and depths as well as some yellow as you can see. The cake at the top is the biggest I made and here I used 20 m per color where the rest is only 10 m per colour. My favorite is the big one at the top because I feel the colours really flow together and the second favorite is the middle one on the bottom, the blue one. The only “problem” with this one is that the blues are maybe too close in color to one another and so at times 2 different colors really flow as one so, I’ll have to rework that.

After this test I had some dye left and so I quickly dyed a full skein of sock yarn using up the leftover dye and I think it came out beautifully.

www.knittinginfrance.com www.knittinginfrance.com

My second test:

www.knittinginfrance.com Here you have my yarns just out of the pot being rinsed www.knittinginfrance.com And here I have skeined the yarn and laid it out to dry. You can already get a good idea of how the colors are

www.knittinginfrance.com  Here the mini skeins are dry and I tried to lay them out in such a way as to show all the colors in each. So I did 4 skeins, 2 with 4 colors and 2 with 5 colors.www.knittinginfrance.com Here they are wound into mini yarn cakes. Now I just need my client to make up her mind and then i’ll be ready to dye her chosen yarn base!

I’m really happy with the outcome and out of my 2 test session I can really see 5 colorways that I’d like to develop and repeat and I can see me doing those both for yarn and fibre for spinning. In this test my favorites are yarn cake nr 2 and 4 from the left. What do you think?

And today I embarked on a new test, not gradient but cotton! I’m not used to dyeing cotton. That requires a different kind of dyes and a different method. My supplier of undyed yarns just added some Pima Cotton to his offer and I decided to give that a try. Pima cotton is high quality cotton and the yarn can look and feel wonderful and as summer is here, I decide to give that a go. At this time my yarn is being dyed – it takes a long time- and I’ll soon be able to share more about that dye experiment and show you some pictures.

That’s all for today. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed reading the post. Before I leave let me just tell you that in addition to the ongoing offer for a discount on FridaJo project bags there will soon be a super fun giveaway here on the blog so stay tuned:)

New dyeing techniques

Hi there, recently I’ve been feeling inspired to learn new dyeing techniques to maybe increase my repertoire and be able to dye a broader range of colors. Plus learning something new is always such fun:)

www.knittinginfrance.com

So you have seen my speckled yarn which is super fun to do although quite time consuming so maybe not something that I’ll do a lot of just because of lack of time.

Then yesterday I did some layered dyeing for the first time. This is like kettle dyeing only you dye the yarn with X number of colours, one at a time and in between colours you take out the yarn and rewind it differently so that different parts of the yarn/skein will get different “access” to the dye and thus this will give a very rich and colourful yarn. This can be done with contrasting colours to create a sort of rainbow yarn or by using complementary colors or different colors in the same “family” and that is what I did for my first test. So I dyed using 4 different colours of blue/green colours. They were different depths of colour going from very light to dark. This was super fun to do and a little bit unnerving. After 3 colours I thought the yarn looked gorgeous but I had decided on 4 colours and at that time I was really battling stopping at 3 or go for the 4 as I had planned on. Because each time you do a new colour you never really know what it is going to do and I was worried that the last colour might erase some of the color variations in the lighter colours but hey, this was a test so I went for it! And I’m happy I did because I really love the results. What do you think?

layered hand dyed yarn www.knittinginfrance.com here my yarn is dyed and is just getting a final rinse  and it already looked nice

I love how my 4 coloured layered yarn came out www.knittinginfrance.com And here you have my 3 skeins of yarn and I absolutely love the outcome. You have different colors that all blend really well. This is not going to give you stripes but will give you more of a varigated effect. I’m keeping one of the skeins for myself to do a test knit to be able to show you how this type of yarn knits up – although each batch will of course be unique a sample swatch or a pair of socks will give you a good general idea.

And this morning I’m testing another new technique which is called low immersion dyeing and I’m using a skillet for the first time. So this is also quite fun, it’s a bit like kettle dyeing only you have much less water and I feel that the yarn soaks up the dye much quicker – at least it did so this morning. This can produce a semi solid color and I think this can also be fun to use when doing speckled yarn in water (opposed to doing speckled yarn that has been wetted out and laid out on a table for you to dye using a drop counter or syringe. So this morning I did 2 sets of 2 at a time sock skeins. These are 50gr sock yarn skeins and I did them in 2 different colours. One set is brick and the other is purple. Here are pictures of the yarn in the skillet during dyeing.

and more low immersion dyeing experiments www.knittinginfrance.com low immersion dyeing experiment www.knittinginfrance.com I’ll soon be able to show you what the finished yarn looks like.

Lately I’ve really changed my mind about sock yarn and I now feel that as much as I love colourful and stripey yarn, that when knitting textured/cabled socks, the pattern really pops out when using a semi solid or solid color. And that the colourful and stripey yarns work better when they are the star of the show alone – meaning when you are knitting plain stockinette socks. How do you feel about that?

Well that’s all for today and thank you for stopping by. Tomorrow is going to be really exciting because I’m going to introduce you to an artist and she has a shop and she is offering a special discount to my readers!! Yeah!! So be sure to stop by tomorrow as well as I’m sure you are going to love the surprise guest!

Take care

Speckled yarn – what is that? Should I do some?

After watching an episode of Susan B Andersons podcast the other day where she showed a skein of speckled yarn I got to do a little research. How do you dye yarn this way? What do the skeins look like? And most importantly how does the yarn knit up?

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It looks quite interesting though some skeins I’ve seen on the internet do not appeal to me at first, actually seeing the yarn knit up changed my mind completely. If you are not familiar with speckled yarn, it’s a yarn that has been hand dyed, randomly I’d say. The dyer will use a droplet counter or a syringe or some other instrument that will enable them to deposit very small amounts of dye here and there on the skein.

I’ve seen that this can be done either with the skein immersed in some water or by laying the wet skein out and painting the dye on and then steaming to set. The yarn can be either totally coloured with next to no white spots or you can leave some or even much white depending on the sort of look you are going for.

There are not that many speckled yarns out there these days and since the technique seems to be a lot of fun, I decided to give it a go and I went ahead and did the second method (laying the skein out, painting and then steaming). I did two skeins and used a multitude of different colours although there are still some white spots. I think maybe by using the immersion method one can get more coverage and less white spots if that is what one is going for.

Here are some pictures of this first ever dye test

yarn dyeing www.knittinginfrance.com  Here the dyeing is done and now my yarn is all wrapped up in film and steaming away to set the colours.

just out of the dye pot www.knittigninfrance.com Just out of the dye pot and cooling down before rinsing and eventually drying. Can you see that there are 2 different skeins side by side? I did two separate colour mixes, just having fun splashing colour all over in whatever colour took my fancy.

I’ve never knitted with a speckled yarn before so I’m quite excited about that and I’m going to keep one of the skeins for me to test knit into socks (like always I know) and then I’m thinking of offering one for sale at a lower price than usual via Instagram! Yes that’s correct via Instagram. I’ve been immersing myself in Instagram lately and I really love that social media platform and I’ve seen that some people use Instagram for special sales and so on and I’d really like to try that out and thought that it would be fun to do so with my first skein of speckled yarn.

So now I just need to read up a bit on how to actually go about this and I’m going to launch the sale tomorrow Sunday May 30th so look out! On Instagram I’m Knitting in France of course so please check out my account if you are also on Instagram:)

Like mother like daughter

Hi there, as we all know sharing something we love with those we love is a great pleasure. Sharing with people we just met who appreciate our work and share the same passion is also wonderful.

As a knitter I share that love with my mother who has always knitted and taught me when I was young. Today, I share my love of yarn dyeing with my youngest daughter. My other two children are not too interested although my son does help out with the shop (going to the post office or working at shows with me) and my oldest daughter much appreciates my handknit socks and blankets.

But my youngest, Inès, who is about to turn 9, loves working in the studio with me and has worked on the carding machine and enjoys dyeing as well. That is such fun and this weekend she even said to me: “mom, when I will be big I too will teach my little girl to dye yarn”. Isn’t that just too wonderful:)

Do you have stories of sharing your passion with others? Pictures you’d like to share with us? I’d love to hear/see and I’m sure the other readers would too.

Here are some pictures of my little indie dyer

A proud indie dyer at work www.knittinginfrance.com Ines is dyeing a sock blank. She came up with the design herself a young indie dyer at work www.knittinginfrance.com  Hard at work, deciding on organising the colours and so onsock blank being painted by hand www.knittinginfrance.com Almost done

And here is the sock blank ready for you to knit from www.knittinginfrance.com Following morning, here she is with her sock blank all dry and ready for sale! I offered to knit her a pair of socks with her yarn but she would rather I sell it 🙂

Sock knitting kits in the making

I’m currently dyeing like crazy for the show in London (I Knit Fandango) and now I’m working on sock kits. These will be for the Philosophers Walk Socks by Pleximo who has graciously given my authorisation to include her pattern with my yarn.

I’ve almost finished a pair of these myself and I find the pattern both amusing to knit and a beauty to look at. It is great for two colour knitting and I think that stark contrast colours work great for this. I’ve already done kits like this before for my Etsy shop. There is one kit left there – for the shop the kits included 2x 50gr skeins of the main colour and 1 x 50gr skein of the contast colour. This time I will be doing 2 x 100 gr skeins, one of each colour so you can decide yourself which will be the MC and which will be the CC. You could even do one set up for the first sock and then do the opposite for the second sock. Either way the choice will be yours 🙂 The yarn I’m using is 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon which is just perfect for socks.

Here are is picture of my first sock – I really love the look and I’m quite proud of the work I did there even though on close inspection I did notice some errors on the sole side but hey, that just makes them more unique 🙂

The Philosophers Walk socks knit by www.knittinginfrance.com

I really love the way purple and yellow come together so I decided to do more of those and here you can see my first batch of yarn for these kits

hand dyed yarn for future sock kits www.knittinginfrance.com hand dyed yarns for my sock kits www.knittinginfrance.com So there will be: purple and yellow, blue and orange and today I’m doing some pink and grey and maybe some coral and light blue/green sort of colour. The kits will be in their own coton project bag and will include some hand made stitch markers as well. I think those will be quite nice and hopefully a success at the show.

Well, thats all for today, I have some more yarn dyeing to do not to mention all the reskeining and tagging etc so I better get to work. I wish you all a wonderful weekend with some quality crafting time 🙂

#TestMyYarn and some self striping adventures

Hi there, now what does the title refer to here? Two things: 1) I’d like to draw attention to my lines of hand dyed and hand spun yarns by promoting them here on the blog as well as on social media etc. I will have an ad in an ezine to be published in feb or march and along with that mini skeins of hand dyed yarns from my lines will be included with knitting kits being sold at Addicted to Sock Knitting. I will also be donating a skein of yarn for a blog contest launching in February on the Tata tricot blog 2) But I’m also going to be talking about my yarns and my process be it for dyeing or spinning and will share that with you. I just received today my new warping frame which will make dyeing self striping yarns so much easier. I have not had the time to open the box yet so no photo but here is a link you can click on to see a photo of what it looks like: my new warping frame So I will try to do a post about the “behind the scenes” of self striping yarn dyeing for you to enjoy and I’m thinking I’ll also launch a little game here and ask for your help to promote my blog and my yarns and then draw out a few random winners that would in stead receive a selection of mini skeins. How does that sound. In my last post I talked about stitch markers and asked if any of you would be interested in testing my markers and in return share your feedback on your own blog as well as here and I have accepted the one offer I got so thank you Lazy Bene for that. I will be sending her a lot of markers of different types for her to try out, both for knitting and crochet and I really look forward to hearing what she will have to say about them. Also I managed to finish my socks using the gradient yarn from Knitcircus so here’s a picture of them at various stages IMG_2759   This is the yarn as I got it, would into 2 yarn cakes and you can see how the colours transition IMG_2758 Here I’m up to the heel placement. I decided on doing an after thought heel – I did worry about breaking up the gradient pattern of the yarn by not knitting the heels in a tradition way but hey, I just learned the after thought heel and when doing 2 at a time socks I find that just brilliant so on I went. IMG_2760 So here is an almost finished sock and you can see that I have picked up the stitches for the heel knitcircus socks 28jan And here are the finished socks. I love how regular the yarn is and the fact that the colours are really identical on both socks. Breaking up the yarn by doing an after thought heel finally did not do any harm as the heels are almost the same colour as the toes so I think it worked out just fine. Thats all for now so until next time I wish you a great day and lots of crafting time 🙂