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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.

We are now one month away from Sock Summit, and preparations are definitely moving into high gear.  Base yarn is on perpetual re-order, and I mutter grumpily about how Kraemer’s Sterling yarn is out of stock until too late. The near-constant use of equipment is taking its toll in the studios of indie dyers from coast to coast.  First, Jennifer’s second best dye-pot blew up, then one of my Rubbermaid soaking tubs developed a crack that slowly leaks water.

rose and basin 002 small

The thin grey line in the middle of the picture?  Leaky crack.  I can still use the basin for soaking and washing dyed yarn if it’s in the sink, but next time I’m at Fred Meyer’s Wall o’Rubbermaid I’ll need to get a replacement.

And what have I been dyeing? Sock Summit and Ravelry are  sponsoring a contest for dyers selling in the Sock Summit marketplace, called Dye for Glory,  and I’ve worked up a couple of colorways to enter.  One goes by the catchy name of Clown Barf, a term of affection that knitters apply to particularly BRIGHT colorways.  This is my version:

Clown Barf 009 small

Available in my Etsy shop, of course!

We had a run of lovely warm weather, so the roses have been happy.  Here is a bloom of Just Joey, a lovely apricot rose with a delightful scent that thrives in the Northwest. No black spot!

rose and basin 001 small

I’ve been dyeing some self-striping yarn by winding a bigger diameter skein, dyeing 28 inches of it one color, and the remainder another — when knitted in  a typical sock configuration, you get one row of the first color, followed by two rows of the other.  There are various ways of doing this, but here’s a particularly fun method and colorway that I’ve developed.

blue and purple yarn 001 small

First I make a very hot vinegared dyebath in a purple that I’ve mixed from red and blue dye. The longer section of the skein goes into this while I’m holding the shorter section out of the water.

blue and purple yarn 003 small

The red dye and much of the blue strikes on the skein as purple, but there is some blue left in the dyebath.

blue and purple yarn 004 small

Dropping in the remaining undyed section of the skein allows it to start soaking up the blue.

blue and purple yarn 005 small

The purple section is still taking up a little of the blue as well.  This makes for a very interesting and nuanced purple.

blue and purple yarn 007 small

Since I wanted to reuse the pot of water, I then steamed the yarn to make sure the dye got throughly fixed.  Here’s the skein as it’s cooling down after steaming.

A bonus is that there’s still a little blue left in the dyebath, because I didn’t let the skein cool in it and absorb those last few molecules of blue dye. 

blue and purple yarn 006 small

So I can take another skein of yarn and drop it in to soak up those last bits. It’s a prettier pale blue in person, and may stay that color, or get overdyed to deepen the color.  So many choices!

I finished the small sock that I started on World Wide Knit in Public Day. It’s another Wee Tiny Sock, done with no changes this time, just simple and easy.

blue sock and roses 001 small

Nothing quite matched it in the garden at the moment, but it goes nicely with this purple something-or-other.

I now have three tiny socks.  Sock Summit lasts 4 days, so perhaps I need a different sock  pin for each day?

The pink striped rose is now in quite full bloom, and it scents the whole front yard.

blue sock and roses 005 small

You don’t even have to take time to smell the roses, they come and get you!  But taking a moment to stick your nose into a bloom is just divine.