Month: December 2010

mr. fezziwig-a dyeing adventure

mid’s mother gave me a box full of yarn about a week ago. most of the yarn is left over from projects that she completed in the past. the skein on the top of the box was a full skein of fishermen’s wool (lion brand). i’ve been wanting to try dyeing fishermen’s wool for awhile now (or is it fisherman’s wool? well it doesn’t make that much of a difference).

i got out of work early christmas eve and a coworker drove me home, which gave me several hours worth of time before bedtime to play with dyeing.

mr. fezziwig,after washing

i’ve been playing around with sock knitting (yes. let me repeat that statement for the 18th time this month in this blog…) and i’ve been wanting to play around with knitting heavier socks to wear with my boots. i normally dye for warmer colors, for whatever reason but an informal poll of facebook friends and coworkers leaned in the direction of the cooler tones.


wool soaking in water, vinegar and salt

at one point my mother had a full set of enameled cookware from oneida, and when she upgraded to a new set of cookware i snagged the stockpot. originally i wanted it to make chili. it’s a good size to dye yarn in*.

i normally kettle dye in solid colors, but i wanted to try for a varigated yarn. i also normally dye in the crockpot, but in this case the wool wouldn’t fit (i dyed an 8 oz skein). so i skeined up the wool and left it to soak for half an hour** in a solution of vinegar, salt and water*** in the same pot that i dyed the wool in.

grape, pink lemonade, ice blue berry, lemon lime

grape, pink lemonade, ice blue berry, lemon lime

i used every available non metallic container i could find to hold the mixed koolaide in until the yarn was ready to be dyed. these were just mixed with water. see the nice white noodle stirrer? yeah, it’s not white anymore. i would also suggest using a normal plastic or wooden spoon if you have it-unless you’re trying to manhandle the yarn a little, which i was.



after the yarn had soaked i dumped the koolaide over the wool and placed the pot over medium-high heat, letting it come to a boil and then cooking the wool for half an hour.

at which point i noticed the inevitable while turning the skein over for color distribution- it had turned into a muddy, washed out mess.


washed out, nastiness

i keep food coloring and frosting dyes around just to play with. they can create a deeper color than koolaide but they do require a slighter higher level of work. while poking around for more koolaide to overdye this mess with, i found a tin of royal blue wilton’s frosting dye.


in goes half a tin of dye

half a tin of dye later, the yarn is finally a respectable color.

however, i overloaded the wool so after another hour of cooking i just took it off the heat, strained it, and washed it.


washed with shampoo-gentle enough for you, gentle enough for yarn

draining after shocking

i did shock this batch. i don’t normally, but i wanted this yarn slightly felted for wear. i dumped it out of the pot before the water cooled and then hit it with cold water out of the tap.

*always dye in non-metallic cookware. it doesn’t react to the dyes.

**wool takes 20 minutes of soaking to be fully wet. it’s best to soak for longer stretches of time, but i’m both impatient and interested in seeing how wool takes dye after different soaking times.

***i add vinegar when dyeing with koolaid and frosting dyes out of habit. koolaide technically doesn’t need it, but the frosting dyes do. salt helps blues and greens take without breaking and take easier in general.




the last of the three spirits- merry christmas!

i hope that everyone had a good christmas! (and if you don’t celebrate, i still hope that it was a good day).

mid and i had a quiet day. our car has been in the shop for the past week which forced us to re-work our holiday plans. we ended up spending the day watching movies and generally doing not much of anything. i koolaide dyed two skeins of yarn and worked on socks. mid played eve online all day. i made a chicken dinner and it was overall the type of relaxing day that we only get once about every 6 months or so.

the second of the 3 spirits

you would have thought that with this whole long, drawn-out fiber diet thing, i would have at least blogged for the end of it. but i missed it.

in my own defense, this weekend i was out of state. i had to make an appearance in rhode island for our family christmas gathering. i have gone in something like four years, i really had to go this year. it was the normal too much food, too many loud family members in too small a space, and too many awkward moments of not knowing what to say. but with my past history, this means i have another 4 years before i have to reappear…

so how did i actually do?


-i used something like 7 balls of yarn over the course of the month, including holiday wishes and 3 1/2 pairs of socks.

-i spun roughly 4 skeins of wool before my spinning mojo left me and i got sucked into the epic sock challenge.

-i didn’t finish any rolags, bumps, or braids, and i received 2 bags of alpaca fiber. my mom replaced my broken spindle.

-i bought several balls of yarn for socks and christmas presents. i didn’t buy any yarn for myself, or at least, any yarn that was intended for myself on the outset.

-mid’s mom dropped off a massive box of yarn while i was gone. while it was very nice and it will get used it does defeat the purpose of a fiber diet? BUT. the rules did state that gifts don’t count!

great fiber no buy: day 27-white christmas

i say this with the full understanding that with the way my life works, we will be back into the 70’s with no snow for christmas this year.

however, with temps about 10 degrees under where they should be and wind chills driving even lower, and an estimated 16 inches of lake effect forecast by tomorrow morning, we’re probably going to be seeing a white christmas this year.

one of the strangest things about the city of buffalo is how…weird the general attitude towards snow is. when i was growing up, everyone would say, it’s not so bad here. it could be buffalo. buffalo’s the place that gets all the snow.

for some backstory that may or may not be relevant, i was actually born in newfoundland and my mom says that snow is in my blood. my parents were both stationed on a lend-lease base and i was born in a blizzard at the end of march (a snow bound fire sign. i think it explains a lot). i was raised at the halfway point between utica and cooperstown (think baseball hall of fame), which is something like the third worst area of the state for snow. i then did my bachelor’s at oswego- as in, the colbert report’s prime example in 2007 as to why global warming DOESN’T exist. (that’s a joke, by the way. apparently i’m no good at humor.)

what i’m driving at is that i’m fairly familar with snow. buffalo in fact has let me done for the past two winters for what people around here seem to consider ‘bad weather’. the past two winters have been fairly mild, with the notable exception of the day that the University at Buffalo decided it was unnecessary to plow and left me snowed in my apartment all day. now that we’re getting what is starting to reach snowfall levels that i would consider ‘bad’ the entire city is in a panic. it leaves me bewildered, because this is the type of stuff that oswego deals with all winter…but buffalo is the snow capital of the state?


the major issue facing me on a day to day basis right now is the fact that the bus stop that i use to get to work every day is roughly a mile, uphill, in a suburb that seems to think of sidewalks as being a luxury item and shoveling is a gift to society, not something that is mandated by the town. i actually do fairly well temperature-wise when mid lets me walk instead of dropping me off. i do actually wear layers now, including my boot socks (these poor socks get washed on an almost daily basis now) and tights.

my boot socks do have a flaw though, in that they’re not nearly tall enough. i have really heavy, thick calves which means that ‘normal’ knee high/mid calf patterns aren’t going to cut it (see: the whole issue with the boot socks and my self esteem).

which all boils down to me using all the orphaned skeins of sock yarn and drafting out a proto-pattern for tall socks for my winter commute.

great fiber no buy-days 23, 24, and 25- the first of the three spirits

this is going to be an insanely long weekend.

today was a dentist appointment, the first of what will amount to five visits between now and the end of the year.

later this afternoon i leave for the first of three christmases/holiday celebrations for this year. we’re heading out to my parents’ place near cooperstown. fingers crossed, we’ll leave after mid gets out of work and then be back sometime sunday. i’m hoping to get a good amount of knitting done on his socks.

great fiber no buy: day 23-the glow of electric…

i know that you know the end of the quote, and if you don’t know the end of the quote, then your christmas movie watching experiences need to be broadened.

this is going to be an offtopic entry, but hey, you probably don’t want to know all of my boring thoughts on sock knitting either.

mid has a new goal in life. or rather, two goals in life, but they sort of dovetail. mid’s great plan is to become the king of the crazy christmas house ™.

example a: a crazy christmas lights house

he’s become enamored with this idea for the past 2 months or so.

a short description of the dynamic of our house, involving christmas: while i don’t actually practice a belief set that has christmas as a primary holiday, i was raised christian and there’s a lot of stuff about it that i do still follow. our winter holiday falls really close to christmas, and i’ve never really given up my love for all things christmas. i’m the type of person that has no problem listening to christmas music the middle of august and i want to decorate as soon as possible.

mid, on the other hand, really doesn’t like christmas. there’s not much about it he can really get behind. this is why i was so suprised about the whole tree issue. the christmas tree wasn’t my idea- that was all him.

mid’s grand plan for the years to come is to make one of these crazy christmas houses. he’s been talking about routers and breakers and controllers for months now. at one point he was talking about turning where we’re living now into one of these lit monstrousities until i convinced him that would probably be a very bad idea.

the second leg of his great plan is to have at least part of this light show relate to the hogfather. i bought the book for him as a way of keeping him occupied (and it’s my favorite book currently). and now he wants a sleigh pulled by pigs.

example b: a clip from hogfather. i wanted a clip where death’s dressed up like the hogfather but i couldn’t find one.


christmas gets a little…weird around here.