Although it has been a week since we got electricity restored along our line here in Camptonville, I continue to hear stories of neighbors in the surrounding area who went without for a week or more. I wasn't that upset to lose power but I certainly wasn't upset to see it restored, either. There are plenty of non-electric pastimes in my daily world, knitting and spinning being right up there at the top. I can even manage to accomplish quite a bit in either with only mediocre lighting.
First, I spent some time in my studio, which has a good window, winding wool for future projects. I wound several skeins of natural Brown Sheep Lambs Pride worsted off so that I could put them into dyepots later. I also want to experiment with overdyeing grey yarns, as I seem to have collected a few pounds, partly handspun, partly millspun from colored sheep, and the rest commercial. Knowing a big storm was predicted, I had stocked up on cranberries, turmeric, and henna hair dye to see what kind of results I could get.
Though the light was never good enough for using the circular sock knitting machine (those tiny needles!), I do need to re-wind the yarns I plan to use into center-pull balls, so devised my own way to keep the sneaky things from getting away.
This yarn is from Knitpicks, a gift that will end up being socks for me... I also wound a skein of Wooly Wonka BFL sock yarn off and a skein of Trekking, both for Glenn.
After spending a few hours on yarn-winding, I decided to move on to mordanting. Alum is the easiest mordant to obtain, as many grocery stores stock it for home canners... to make pickles. I still had a few jars left from some earlier dye experiments, so first scoured the yarns (soaking them in hot, sudsy water), then mordanted them and allowed them to soak in the buckets overnight.
In between all of these projects, the fiercest of the three storms continued to rage, but then it petered out overnight, leaving us with some snow and a pause before the next storm... that was a day spent working at the LYS. DD went shopping for me while I worked, picking up a nice enamel kettle and a few other tools, as you always want to keep your dyepots separate from the cooking utensils. I like to use enamelware, partly because I like how it looks and partly because it is lighter to lift when filled with water and yarn. She found me light grey enamel stock pot, courtesy of Marfa, and I set up my cranberry experiment by pale, wan daylight the next afternoon, when we returned from a brief outing to secure ground coffee (we had used up what we had already pre-ground in anticipation) and survey storm damage.
Before I was finished, the early dusk of winter had descended, and I was working under a Coleman lantern, so I couldn't really tell how well the color was turning out, or even what it was, but at least it smelled good! I left the cooling yarn in its kettle, along with a dash of white vinegar to help the color set, and waited until the power returned before rinsing it clear.... I am very happy with the results!
These colors are pretty close to my actual results, with the cream turning out a nice rosy color and the grey taking on a pinky-beige cast. I don't think I will bother to apply cranberry to any more grey yarn, but it was fun to see what would happen.
I had to wait a week to get back into the dye kitchen, but my next experiment was with henna... I figured since it successfully dyes the protein fiber of human hair, it would be a good try... The Spindling Scot also wrote to tell me it might give me very good results over grey.
Here's my dyepot simmering away Sunday afternoon.... as I like to let my yarns steep a few days after cooling down, just to see if they will absorb any more color, the washed and hung-to-dry shots will have to wait, but the colors are very promising. It could be that more henna dyeing will produce the yarn needed to make a Logan River wrap. Too bad henna doesn't smell as nice as cranberries!
Perhaps you are wondering at the new category listed, titled "Stash Makeover". You will see it a lot this year, as I have decided to consider what I can re-purpose, either through dyeing or through giving up on an unhappy project and casting on something different with the yarn, before going shopping. I have a LOT of fiber/yarn. I have a so-called environmental ethic. This is my chance to live my values while knitting. join me for the journet.