The Countdown is on …

Well, it’s only a few weeks to go now for the first episode of It Takes Balls To Knit – The Show to be released. As a matter of fact, I was just on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful Pender Harbour filming a segment for Dyeing To Knit You with Jenna Valley of Everlea Yarn! We had a great time filming and I learned a lot!! So much so, that I’ll be doing a return trip soon to film a second and possibly third segment. Turns out Indigo dyeing is an entirely different process to acid or natural dyeing! Can’t wait!

Jenna Valley of Everlea Yarn and I, in beautiful Pender Harbour!

Not only is Jenna the force behind Everlea Yarn, she started (and still maintains) Vancouver Yarn, a phenomenal resource for who’s who and what’s happening in the Vancouver knitting scene! She’s been keeping everyone connected here for over 10 years!! Make sure you tune in to see her telling you all about natural dyeing on the show and help support her in her foray into this area of the knitting world!

In regards to the show, I had a giveaway of a Stitchip® from my friends at XRX Publishing – the same great people that bring you the Stitches events every year. I’d like to announce the winner – Risa!! An e-mail has been sent out to her and I’ll update everyone on which of the 6 Stitchips she chose. Risa was eligible for the draw because she subscribed to this website to help support the production of the show. There will be many more subscriber giveaways in the future. I have 5 more Stitchips, and Jimmy Beans Wool has confirmed they’ve already sent some SmartStix that will be passed on to someone in the future (after a review on the show)! If you’d like to get in on the action AND show your support, please subscribe and help me get the show to you. Even if it’s just $1/month, every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.

There’s one more little thing I’d like to ask you for with regards to the show. I’d like to make this show as interactive as possible, and several of the segments will rely on your feedback and participation. I’d like to start prepping some of those right now, with a little help from you of course! I need your input/feedback for the following segments in the show …

Show Us Your Knits … Do you have any fabulous knitwear that you made that you’re particularly proud and/or fond of? If you’d like it to be featured in the show, please send some pictures (being modelled by a person would be great) or even a short video. Include all information that may be relevant (yarn, special techniques, pattern name, designer, etc) in whichever format is easiest for you.
Knitflix … One of our show segments will focus on television shows and/or movies that feature/mention knitting. Are there any that you’ve seen that fit the bill? Just to name a few so you get the idea
Demolition Man : remember when Sly knits the sweater for Sandra while catching up on what he missed while in the freezer?,
Pushing Up Daisies : Chi’s character is a closet knitter of socks!,
Outlander : I’m sure you’ve noticed all the knitted pieces, and now we know Jamie’s character knows how to knit,
Gotham : young Bruce and Alfred sport some great knitted sweaters throughout the series,
Once Upon A Time : filmed here in Vancouver it’s loaded with knitting,
Elementary : I actually have two patterns on this site reverse engineered from the great stuff Joan wears in Season 1,
and others. Keep your eyes peeled and if you see/hear of one, drop us a quick note telling us the specifics (show, episode, how knitting is featured, etc).
Knitter Spotlight … Would YOU like to be on the show? Do you know someone who should be? Send us the details telling us who and why? We’ll contact you/them and have a short vetting process to see if we can make it happen! We really want to make this show about the entire scope of knitting, so we want to be entirely inclusive of all aspects of the craft, and all the people that participate in it.
Event Spotlight … Somewhere around the globe, I’m fairly certain there is an event going on every weekend in the knitting world. If you’re someone that puts on one of these events, or if you know of one, big or small, please let us know about it. We’re working on putting together a list of the events going on globally and need your help to do it. again, any information you can provide – event name, location, contact person, dates, # years running, website, etc – would be great! We’ll add it to our growing list and put it on out events page. We’ll have an Events Segment in the show so you never know. Your event may be in it one day!!

If you have any of the above information for us, you can send it to

itbtkshow@gmail.com

We appreciate all submission and look forward to including you in this!

Hugzzz 😎

Color me wowed!!

Have you ever seen “Clown Barf”?

It’s kinda funny! No, really, it is!

Have you ever knit with it? No, it’s not some new fiber developed by the knitting community. Although, it’s creators certainly have the intelligence and background to probably do that!

Well, thanks to Nicole and Cordula, (Kalessin and Haramis17 on Ravelry – follow the links to see some of their great works and designs), you can if you want to! And it’s actually much more pleasant than it sounds. Click on this picture to see how. It’s a merino/silk/cashmere lace weight yarn from DyeForWool.

clownbarf.jpg

 

Clown Barf is one of the many uniquely named colors from the creations of these 2 doctors. Yes, that’s right, doctors, as both ladies have a PhD, Cordula in molecular medicine and Nicole in biology!! Together, these 2 enterprising women have created DyeForYarn, where they come up with hundreds of colorways and dye silk and wool based yarns for sale.

nicole and cordula
Nicole (left) and Cordula, the brains behind DyeForYarn!

So what takes someone from the worlds of molecular medicine and biology to create astounding colors in a dye lab? Their story is a great one and recently I had the pleasure of asking Cordula and Nicole that very thing!

  • How did the 2 of you meet? How long have you been friends?
    ~ We met back at the university, where Cordula just finished her PhD in molecular medicine and I started my PhD in biology, continuing her research in the same field. We soon became friends long before knitting was a thing in our time off.
  • You’re extremely intelligent women as you both hold PhD’s. What got you into dyeing and do you still practice with your PhD’s?                                                                                      ~ When you’re working in a medical science lab, most of the time there’s no reward for what you do. Plus the experiments have to be repeated over and over to create reliable statistics for publications. You can publish once a year, when you’re good and you get a slap on the back for your work when you’re lucky. So in our free time we discovered knitting – especially complicated lace shawls. A very rewarding pastime in addition to creating something that you can actually use.
    That led to the need for lace yarns in solid colours, preferably silk. Which there wasn’t much of in Germany at the time. So after a few Etsy orders which we placed in Canada or the US, we thought we’d try dyeing yarn ourselves. It was very much fun – and very rewarding – so we decided to sell them on Etsy.
    Ravelry helped a lot with creating our international success, because we showed our FO’s knit in our yarn and people started to notice us. Btw Cordula is Haramis17 and I’m Kalessin on Ravelry (I change my hair colour now and then). Five years ago we quit our day jobs at the university and have been working in our dyeing lab full time since then.
  • You have a lot of silk in your yarns. Is this your favourite fiber? If not, what is?
    Yes, in fact it is! It’s a very special material, sometimes hard to work with, but always worth the effort.

isbl_1680x420.18548012_ae7155ui

  • How do you come up with the names of your colours? Do you always try to make sure there is some sort of idea as to what the color may look like or do you like to make it amusing?
    ~ Sometimes we dye a colour and it’s clear to us from the first glance, how it’s going to be called. If the colour resembles a certain plant, for example, the name we choose usually indicates this particular plant dyeing or already being dead. But there are colours where it’s hard to determine which hue it actually is. We call those “non-colours” and they get names like “Misanthrope” or “Depressed thoughts”. But not randomly chosen. We still try to find the most fitting name possible in our eyes.
  • How do you get inspiration for your colourways?                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~ We get our inspiration from the things surrounding us. Sky, sundowns, nature, architecture etc. Or from interesting things or names we read in books or hear in songs.
  • What is your favourite colour (each of you)?
    ~ Nicole: Dozing by the pond
    Cordula: Nocturnal maelstrom

dozing by the pond   noctournal maelstrom

 

  • What is your least favourite colour?
    ~ Actually we like all colours, because each one has its charm. Before we started dyeing yarn the answer would have been “pink” from both of us. But you start to look at colours differently when you work with them all the time.
  • You are both very beautiful women! Do you have a colourway to match your eyes? They’re stunning!                                                                                                                                  ~ We just had a look at our eye colours. Cordula’s are a gradient of Too hard butter cookie, Burning haystack, Rain in a graveyard and Face of Fear. My gradient ranges from Fango and then the same colours as Cordula’s. In fact the colour Set with our bitter tears is very close to both our eye colours.
  • In your introduction about yourselves, you mentioned that your desire lead to a need for lighter and lighter yarns. Do you only work with fingering/lace weight yarn? Will this always be the same?
    ~ At the moment lace and fingering weights are still our favourites, for shawls as well as garments. But we also carry a Silk/Merino DK weight and a super soft pure Merino Sport weight which we started to use for garments as well. So there are definitely options for using heavier weight yarns in the future.
  • With the multitude of Indie-dyers on hand, how do you manage to stay on top in this extremely competitive industry?
    ~ When we started our business back in 2010 there weren’t that many Indie-dyers in Germany. That was one of the reasons we decided to dye our own yarns. We offer mostly solid to slightly semi- solid colours, which are especially great for elegant stoles and cardigans. Colourwise we try to dye every colour there is, from very, very light to almost black, from muted to intense, from pale to saturated. This and the special yarn qualities we carry is our way of trying to stay ahead.
  • You’re a great success in Europe. Any chance of seeing you overseas at one of the knitting conventions here?
    ~ Actually most of our customers live in the US and we also have a few retailers there. If it wasn’t so expensive to travel overseas with 80 to 100kg of yarn, we’d definitely consider it.

Needless to say, there is so much more behind these women and their wonderful creations. Below are a few links that will get you pointed in the right direction to see their wares. I’d definitely recommend a click onto their sites. The names of the colors alone are entertaining enough, but the vivid colors they create are simply astounding. I especially like the fact that the vast majority of their colors are solids, as that is still my preference as it allows a wider flexibility when putting colours together in a creation. I know Joie would agree! 😉

DyeForYarn (German website – use Translate in your browser to see other language versions)

DyeForYarn Etsy (Etsy shop – silk based fibers)

DyeForWool Etsy (Etsy shop – wool based fibers)

DyeForYarn Instagram

As a special treat, Cordula and Nicole have set up a special 10% OFF discount coupon in their Etsy shops for anyone reading this blog post! Click on one of the above links, and when you place your order, use the code DYEFOR10 with your order! But hurry, this will only be valid until Monday July 25th!

I really like the ranges they create in each colour, and being a fan of blues, you can probably pick out some of my favorites. And as for the names, lol. Here are a few of my favourites …

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Gone Awry, Giant Clam Closing Forever, Melting Milk chocolate Truffles, Tweety’s Revenge,

First glimpse of a Supernova, Fury in the Slaughterhouse, and Bat in a Dark Mood.

I could write lots more, but I urge you to check out the site(s) and revel in the delight of colours and fibers you’ll find! Comment below and tell me three of your favourites! If you can pick only 3! 😉

 

montage

Hugzzz 😎

Inspirational Wonderment!

The variety that exists in our industry is second to none. Even if we restrict this discussion to just knitting, I could go on endlessly on all the facets there are. To get a small example of this, you need only go to Ravelry and see how many little sects there are. The last time I was there, it was over 35,000 groups. And this is just on Ravelry! Yes, I am aware that there are overlaps, but needless to say, if you have a particular niche that you want to explore, you can probably find someone else like minded and do it with them. That’s what makes this such a great industry and allows for the easy creation of a community. Over the next few posts I am going to highlight a few of the individual sects that I discovered at Stitches West that help keep this community thriving.

wondrland-pan

Now obviously we wouldn’t be able to knit without yarn. There used to be a time when the yarn we got was very limited and the colors very bland. Nowadays however, there are dyers aplenty, and you can get pretty much any color or variation of it that you can imagine. Elissavet of WONDERLAND DYEWORKS is one of those said dyers, however she chooses to dye the roving or fleece of the particular fiber in order to offer more choice to the fiber artist. Developing her love of fiber since her introduction through wet felting, Elissavet infuses her passion in every small batch of hand dyed goodness coming out of her Oakland studio.

wondeland-dyeworks-16

Her color palettes tends towards the earthy tones and offers fiber artists worldwide the ability to create one-of-a-kind works of art. Whether spinning, felting, or knitting, the fibers can be transformed into unique statements limited only by the imagination of the person creating them.

Yes, Elissavet can be found on Ravelry, just follow this link … Wonderland Dyeworks Ravelry

and Etsy … Wonderland Dyeworks Etsy

wondeland-dyeworks-17

As knitters we often go to our stash and think, “Hmmmm, what am I to do with all of this yarn”? Thank you Elissavet for making this a little easier to answer – “something wonderful”!

Hugzzz 😎

 

Show me your GREEN BALLS! (No, not you HULK!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s day everybody! You’ll notice that my site is green to commemorate the day.  Even though I’m not Irish, I’ll take any excuse I can find to drink – even if it’s green beer. I’m not much of a beer drinker myself, but I don’t think I could bring myself to dye my rum green. So I’ll be going out a little later for some green beer and wings.In the meantime, for St. Patrick’s Day, check through your stash and pull out some yarn – but it has to be GREEN! Believe it or not, the only yarn I have that’s green that comes immediately to mind, is the one I dyed green for my Jamaican gold sweater. Well, I’ll have to try and find something else green – wait, I know! I have quite a bit of Lopi around and I’m sure I have green or green tweeds in that somewhere. Thank goodness Helen had me organize my stash a few weeks ago so i can actually find it. So this sounds like a little contest in the making. The first person to show me a picture of something made in green yarn (not previously done) will get a little surprise from me. The only catch is that you have to finish it before I do. If I’m the first person, then nobody wins – hehe. I’m a pretty quick knitter, so pull out your balls and get going! Send me an e-mail with a picture and I’ll do a post about this in the future.

The test scarf - you can see I casted it on waaaay too tight!

As far as knitting for today, well, I did some work on multi-directional knitting. I mentioned in a previous post that I was a member of a group on Yahoo and had gotten a pattern for a scarf. Well, being the type of knitter I am I tried it first with just some white organic wool to test it out as it was a new technique for me. Once I understood the concept behind it, I used another yarn (multi-colored) and made one to the width I wanted. The scarf is worked in triangles  – 2 right hand triangles (one to cast on and start, and one to cast off and  finish), and as many isosceles  triangles as you want for the body.

The MD Sscarf I'm working on ...

I understood the concept behind getting started and making the body of the scarf but hadn’t done the last triangle as yet. Earlier today I worked on my practice scarf to get the jist of the last right hand triangle to finish the scarf.  Now that I have it, it’s time to finish the real one. So I’ll get on that and show you a picture of it very soon – maybe as soon as tomorrow, or even later tonight!

Hugzzz 😎

Dyeing and loving it!

The yellow and green for my Jamaican Pride sweater. A swift is a great place to let them dry!

Well, I have to say, if I had gotten these kind of results the first time I tried dyeing, I’d have done lots more of it by now. The green and yellow have come out well and I’ll be doing the black later today. I am fairly certain that it will work out too. I will do it using the simmer method as that seems to work the best. On my way home earlier, I stopped at the store and got some unsweetened Kool-Aid. There is a really good page online right here that gives excellent instructions on dyeing with Kool-Aid or and other unsweetened fruit drink mix. Obviously the different mixes will provide varying results, but you will have fun experimenting with the different kinds and combinations I am sure.

I bought 6 packets of Kool-Aid – 2 each of cherry, tropical fruit punch, and grape. I started by dissolving two packets of the tropical fruit punch in about 3 liters of water. I thought it was a blue color because that was the color of the packaging, but was surprised to find out that it was a red. I then added the two packets of cherry and about 1/4 cup of vinegar. This was a ballpark and it was probably a little less than that. I mixed this in a pan of water which I brought to a simmer while the yarn to be dyed was soaking in warm water in the sink. Once the pot began to simmer, I squeezed out the excess water from the yarn and added it to the pot. I carefully moved it around to allow the dye bath to coat the entire skein. If you agitate it too much you run the risk of felting your yarn so be careful. I was very surprised at how quickly the yarn absorbed all the color from the dye bath. This did not happen with the yellow and green batches from yesterday. I will have to try a little experimenting with the black to see what happens. Within minutes the water was clear, just as it should be. This means that the yarn absorbed all the dye and was ready.

At this point you have the option of letting the yarn cool down naturally with the water, but I was too impatient and I wanted to try the grape. I strained the yarn and rinsed it in the sink. Again, I was surprised as the water stayed clear – the dye was already set into the yarn. Again, this did not happen with the acid batch from yesterday. I am thinking now that I will add vinegar to the black batch even though it says you don’t have to. I then dissolved the remaining two packets of grape in water, added vinegar, and then the wet yarn. Unfortunately the purple didn’t turn out nearly as well as the red. There were, however, numerous factors that could have contributed to that.

  • I was using a much thicker, different yarn (the previous yarn used was a fingering weight merino/cashmere blend – this was a chunky weight, 100% wool)
  • Even though I had less yarn, I had less Kool-Aid (only 2 packets this time)
  • It’s impossible to know what processes the yarns went through beforehand and how this would affect color saturation when dyeing.

I intend to get some more grape and add it to the batch to see how that works. I am thinking I will need more for the coarser yarn and the darker color as well. I also plan on trying sprinkle dyeing with both Kool-Aid and acid dyes in the near future. I will definitely keep you posted as to the results so be sure to watch for future posts on dyeing. This is great because now I can use all those hanks of wool I have in my stash. There was also a mention that you can get spectacular heathery results by dyeing colored yarn – especially gray. I will have to try that too!

I ♥ dyeing! Happy Valentine's Day!

Hugzzz 😎