Second Birthdays, and Dyeing the Cairngorms

My little boy had his 2nd birthday last weekend. Funny how we say that, 2nd birthday, it’s like we ignore the day he was born, which is actually the most important birthday really. We had a lovely day at Dublin Zoo with him, and two of his cousins (and their Mum and Dad), the weather held out and we didn’t get wet. We saw lots of animals, had a nice lunch, and generally tired everyone out. Another milestone. I really love watching him develop. It’s amazing how one week he can do something one way, and then something just “clicks” one day, and he works out how to do it more effectively, or more completely. Like counting. He used to look at numbers greater than 10 backwards, so 16 he’d say was “six one”, but yesterday in the supermarket he was saying “sixteen” (he looks at the aisle numbers and yells them out for everyone to hear. Very helpful little chap).

During the week I did a little bit of dyeing (yarn) during the day, as the weather was rubbish so we weren’t out anywhere nice. I decided to go for the “heat yarn up in the slow cooker (crockpot) and sprinkle the dye in directly” method as it involved lots of leaving it alone (always advisable when looking after a toddler, things that require specific timing, like cooking can somehow not work out) and there was no worry about it boiling as the slow cooker would keep it at a constant temperature. I’d like to do a lot more dyeing, but I don’t know an easy way of getting a lot of kool aid in this country, so I’m considering trying out icing dyes, as another non toxic (and therefore not requiring special equipment like face masks and well ventilated rooms etc.) method. I used the methodology found in Knitty.

The kool aid flavours I used for the first skein were: mixed berry, grape, black cherry (1/2 packet of this one), lemon lime and lemonade. The skein soaked for a little while and then went into the slow cooker, and I added firstly some mixed berry to the left hand side, and then the black cherry. The tutorial stated that red was a bit aggressive and took over, so I only used half of the packet. I then left it with the lid on for some time until all the dye had been taken up, and I turned the skein over and added the lemon lime to the bottom of the side that had blue, and grape to the bottom of the side that had black cherry, and again left them to “cook”. After a while I went back and sprinkled bits of lemonade onto any white spots I could find, leaving those to cook each time, then turning it and adding more. Once it was finished I carefully sieved out the water and left the yarn to cool without agitating it. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered doing that, and left it in the crockpot to cool, but I wanted to use it for another skein. Luckily it didn’t felt, despite all my messing with it.

The second skein was only three colours: ice blue raspberry lemonade, mixed berry, and lemon lime. I had a lemonade laid out to add, but there wasn’t too much white left, so I decided to leave the little lighter bits as part of the colour scheme. The method for this was similar, I sprinkled the light blue (ice blue raspberry lemonade) on one side, and the dark blue (mixed berry) on the other, and left them to cook, then turned the whole skein over and sprinkled the lemon lime all over the bottom, trying to cover all the undyed spots.

Once they were both cool I gave them a rinse and then after stomping on them in a towel I hung them up on the conservatory door to take a picture:


Note that the colours look quite stripey here. I then moved them to an airer to dry overnight.

The next day I decided that I should really rewind the skeins, as rewound skeins usually give a better idea of how the colours will look when the yarn is knitted/crocheted up. Slight problem was that last time I rewound a skein it took me forever as, although I have a swift, I’d really need another swift, or a niddy noddy to do the job. I’d read some tutorials about making a niddy noddy from plastic waste pipes (the kind that take your waste water from your sink/dishwasher/washing machine into your drains), but the problem was that I didn’t have plastic waste pipes in the house. I did have a tube from the centre of wrapping paper that was really really sturdy. Perfect! I set about cutting this into bits on the kitchen table with a stanley knife (don’t try this at home folks), not really sure why I did it on the table as I have a proper cutting mat, but anyway I didn’t touch the table (phew!). I then tried threading some yarn through it and then pulling it all together in some really convoluted manner, but it was a bit flimsy. Then I realised that I could just tape it together. Here it is:


I plan to get out the pva glue and do some papier-mâché magic over the joints a bit to make them stronger, but it’s perfectly serviceable this way:


I had to look up a tutorial on youtube to figure out how to wind it, but I managed to get both of my skeins reskeined, and the second one was much faster than the first – hooray! This is “Sea Breeze” before I twisted it all up into a pretty twisty thing(does that have a name?):


And here they both are, looking pretty yummy! The purple one I wasn’t so keen on when it was drying, but it grew on me once reskeined and I could see how the colours worked together. I then saw lots of heathery colours and was reminded of the area in Scotland I come from, lots of heather, so it had to be called “Cairngorm”.

Sea Breeze and Cairngorm

I remember telling Mr. Skirty not too long ago that I’d stick to knitting and crochet, and I wouldn’t bother trying to dye yarn, as dyeing would take up lots of space and time, and would be messy. Oops, I think I might have to take that back, as this really is quite interesting. I’ve still to try the “painting” method, rather than the “chucking it on top of yarn in crockpot and hoping it doesn’t just all merge together” method, or the dip-dye method I did before. We don’t have room for a spinning wheel though, so that’s something that’s definitely not happening. (It’s now on the internet, so must be true!). I’ve only got 400g of undyed yarn left now, I’ll have to buy some more soon. Maybe one day I’ll buy a beautiful wooden niddy noddy too, one with adjustable size, but for now I’m quite happy with my new toy, and very pleased with myself. Expect to see pictures of more dyed yarn in the future!