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Today is World AIDS Day.  To quote from, “World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.”

My knitting pal,  Steven Ambrose,  has organized a fundraiser today to benefit the Lansing Area Aids Network, which provides a full range of services to HIV-positive people, and also works on AIDS prevention issues.   I’m donating $50 worth of yarn and/or fiber as a prize for his amazing drawing, and all you have to do is make a donation –today!– to be eligible to win a piece of this great stuff.

We all know someone who has been affected by HIV/AIDS.  My dear friend Jerry Jacks died from AIDS in 1986, and I still miss him. With prevention, testing, and treatment, it’s not the death sentence it was then, but no one can be complacent.  I hope you are able to help.


Edit:  To clarify, Jerry died because of AIDS, but perhaps not from it.  He had been very ill, but feared getting a diagnosis of AIDS, so his illness went untreated.  Thank you to my friend Andi Schecter for confirming that.

When we left our yarn last post, it was getting a nice cherry red overdye on the portion previously painted with  small black sections. Here are a pair of skeins after all the dyeing has been done.

But who wants to deal with a skein of yarn that’s over six yards long? No one, clearly, so it’s off to be reskeined to a more workable skein diameter.

The skein is looped around a chair, then through a C-clamp attached to the counter. The end of the skein is going to the electric skeiner on the left, where’s it’s being wound into a standard 2-yard diameter skein size. When I’m not taking a picture of the process, I’m up near the skeiner pulling the yarn forward and untangling it as necessary. There’s too much friction in the system to be able to sit back and watch the yarn wind off, I have to actively move it along.  It’s a good upper body exercise, rather like hauling up an anchor!


Finished skeins look like this. The small green skeinlette is a matching one for knitting heels and toes that are a solid color, rather than getting clumpy striping due to the change in diameter of the knitting in those areas. This has turned into a pretty popular option, with more than half of the customers choosing to get the solid skeinlettes.

We’ll finish off with a shot of a sample length of the yarn, wound into a small ball.  The final step is knitting this onto my Tube of Eternal Sampling so see how the self-striping pattern actually works. And that’ll be the next post!

I’ve been dyeing some yarn in a watermelon-inspired colorway, and thought I’d take the opportunity to share someof the dyeing process with you. First, let’s look at some watermelon.  I want a self-striping yarn, so naturally it’s  going  to be green, white, and pink stripes. But I also want the seeds, and I want them to be black.

Here are some test samples.  They’ve all been steamed, so the colors are set.  The green gradation is nice, so I’ll use that green formula. For the watermelon seeds, there are two techniques  in process here.  The red and black skeinlette was painted black, then red was added.  The white and black skeinlette will get an overdye in a red dyebath to see which technique gives me the effect I’m hoping for.

 Now we’re looking at the  same red/black skeinlette from above on the left, and the newly overdyed red/black skein on the right.  On left skeinlette, some of  the black dye mixed with the red, shifting the color.  The overdyed skein to the right keeps the red true to itself, so that’s the way to go.

Now to dye a full skein.  Actually, I dye the self-striping yarns two at a time, so here are two skeins laid out in the floor. I’ve wound them off on a warping board, soaked them in water, and laid them out to mark off the lengths that get dyed each color. I use twist ties to indicate where to do the color changes.

This colorway will have three shades of green.  Here’s the darkest green, which is the end of the skein. The skein is on plastic wrap, which gets wrapped around the yarn as I go, to keep the colors from rubbing off on other sections of yarn.

I’ve painted all the green sections, moved past the section that will stay white in the middle, and now am working on painting the black seeds.  The first pair of skeins had way too much black — it spread a lot more than I anticipated — so I’m just painting on very short sections.

Now all the painted parts are done, and it’s ready to steam.

Don’t confuse the yarn steamer with the char sui bao steamer!

After the painted sections are steam set, the end of the skein that will be red and black gets its red overdye.

You can see the black sections — since the black has been already been steam set, it won’t spread out or effect the red dye at all.

Stay tuned for the rest of the process!

Last year, I dyed a custom colorway for the science fiction convention Boskone, and it was such a success that we decided to do it again this year.  Priscilla Olson of the Boskone committee and I designed a colorway that was inspired by the dark hard SF written by this year’s Guest of Honor,  Alastair Reynolds. I’m calling it  Star Field, and here is how I make it.

First, I wind a skein of Sterling yarn into a ball.

Then I find both the inner and outer end of the yarn

and machine knit a rectangle using both ends of the ball of yarn.

The result is a knitted sock blank, a canvas to paint on whatever I choose.

I can paint two at time. Here’s my sample for reference, and painting of two more  in progress

Two finished sock blanks — next steps are steaming, cooling,  rinsing, drying.

In the  Damselfly Yarns fulfillment area (the nice table in my office) the finished blanks are labeled.

Here’s a view of three blanks, laid out so you can see the full effect.

Since the blanks are knitted double,  socks can be knitted that have identical gradations of colors.  Or, a scarf can be knitted that will be palindromic: each end one color, shifting evenly to another color in the middle.

This will be available  at Boskone in Boston , February12-14. They will selling them for the low, low price of $25 — such a deal!  After the convention, I will stock Star Field in my Etsy shop for $30.

What’s that glowing in the night sky?

The Knit-Signal, calling all knitters and helpful folks to the aid of those in need — in this case, cash donations urgently needed for aid in Haiti.  Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot explains it all here — I love how she uses the metaphor “donations, even little ones,  add up like stitches on a sweater.”  Her favorite charity is Doctors Without Borders, and so she has put together Knitters Without Borders

or Tricoteuses Sans Frontières, which sounds even cooler.   If you make a donation to Doctors Without Borders and let Stephanie know, you become a member of Knitters Without Borders and are karmically entitled to use the badge and enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling.   Stephanie also draws names of folks who have let her know they’ve donated and distributes some swag to them — I’ve offered some of my hand dyed sock yarn for that as well.

I’ve split our donation between them and CARE, but there are many other fine organizations helping the people of Haiti cope with this horrific disaster. I hope that you can add a stitch or two into the sweater of aid that the world is putting together.