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Would a standard sized ball winder be able to hold about 1200 yards of fingering weight yarn  (11 ounces) in one ball? Having dyed this lovely,  continuous, knot-free skein, I’d hate to have to break it.

When a weaver says, “I’m destashing, would you like to come get stuff before I take it to the Goodwill?” always say yes. Fellow member of  Seaview Weavers Heather did just that, and not only did I get some nice fabric, but I seriously scored in the yarn department.  Among other goodies, a two pound cone of blue-grey fingering weight alpaca, which promptly set me thinking about knitted shawls.  The pattern I decided on for the first one is the Seascape Shawl from Fiber Trends, but I wanted the yarn to be bluer, not so grey. 

 Cone o’yarn

Here’s the cone, after winding off a shawl’s worth of yarn. Good thing it was on the floor, or I’d be suffering from Blue Lung Disease from inhaling all those particles!

 While I pondered colors I knitted a sample in a lace pattern I’d been wanting to try,  bound off, gave it a cursory wash, then threw it in the dye pot with about a 1/4 t. of turquoise stock solution and glug of vinegar.  About 45 minutes later


it was cooling in an exhausted dyebath.  Not really the way you are supposed to do it, but it’s just a sample, right? Once it was pinned out and all dry

All dry

it was a teal color — lovely, but not what I had in mind for the shawl.  I wound off more small skeins and overdyed them with different colors.

Overdyed skeins

From left: Sky Blue, Red, and Purple.

The purple is a lovely dark shade.  The red is very interesting.  There are blue undertones and a dark red halo.  I’ll do something with this that involves grapes, I think, as it reminds me of the bloom that is on the outside of dark unwashed grapes. And the blue on the left is just what I wanted!  In the jar, the Sky Blue stock solution looked like it might be too close in color to the yarn, but somehow it intensified only the blue and not the grey.  I just love it.

I washed the  large skein, made more stock solution, simmered, and let it rest.

Shawl yarn

My husband peered into the pot on top of the stove and asked, “Blue spaghetti again?” Yup.

In other news, Sandy managed to figure out what the Mystery Object is, although both Bonnie and Syne had good ideas. It’s a fake pregnancy — my daughter is playing the very pregnant charcter Edna Louise in her school’s production of Come Back to Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy DeanLisa may have Grossman’s Gams, but I have Bear’s Belly.

Since the comments on the ivy-dyed yarn got spread over two posts, I’ll address them all here:

Lisa made an outrageously clever pun— Brava!

Sandy contemplated awful things to do to ivy — yes, indeedy.

Cathy-Cate suggested  that pureeing the ivy would bring satisfaction in many ways. A good idea, and one I contemplated, but I don’t have a dye-dedicated food processer and I’m a bit leery of using the food-dedicated food processor on leaves that I don’t consider edible. Not that there is toxic spray on them or anything, but still, it’s ivy!

Jennifer asked about mordants, seasons for gathering said ivy, and another possible use for it. The mordant the book specified was equal parts of alum and cream of tartar. The yarn was simmered in this, then rinsed and put in the dye bath. The dye bath was never what you might call dark, so I think all the color that there was went into the yarn. The book didn’t say a thing about time of year — any suggestions? I was talking with my friend Heather and she mentioned that she learned the hard way that bronze fennel only gives good color if it’s gathered after the first hard frost.  As for feeding ivy to lambs, wouldn’t that make the milk and/or meat taste dreadful?

I found a lovely little dye guide at Half Price Books, The Fabric & Yarn Dyer’s Handbookby Tracy Kendall, which has all sorts of recipes for dyes and printing and general fun with fiber. One of them was a recipe for dyeing with ivy, which caught my eye, there being nothing good about the English ivy that clogs part of my garden. The thought of boiling it up to get something useful was irresistible, so I set to work, using the last skein of Knit Picks Bare that was kicking around.
Take 7 ounces of chopped ivy leaves . . .
Take that, you ivy!

Chopping ivy leaves is harder than you might think. It’s a tough leaf that fights back.

Pour 2 cups of hot water over chopped leaves and let sit for an hour.

Strain off liquid and add to pot with yarn and enough cold water to cover.  Bring to boil and simmer for one hour.

The color in the book was a lovely greenish brown. My yarn came out sort of a pale butter yellow.  Maybe not even butter, but margarine.  Looking around the garden, I saw the perfect match:

Autumn still life

Somehow I don’t think Decaying Hosta is a catchy colorway.  This puppy’s getting overdyed.

The good news is that the box of yarn Jennifer sent me is not lost.  Hurray!    The bad news is that it’s back at Jennifer’s because I hadn’t changed my Zip code on my Paypal account with sufficient thoroughness after the post office gave me a new one. Oh. So the post office got tired of taking mis-zipcoded packages from this stack and putting them in that stack and sent it back to her — with postage due, adding insult to injury.

At any rate, it’s on it’s way again, correctly addressed, and will be here directly. And Marie at the yarn shop is very understanding about shipping issues, so that’s all right.  This waiting thing — I’m getting very good at it.