Sunday, February 01, 2015

Friends of Rainbow Valley - Rainbowlicious Yarns

This is something new I am trying out.  Each month I will be asking a friend of Rainbow Valley to us tell about something fun.  The first guest blogger is Laura from Rainbowlicious Yarns.

How to Hand Dye Wool using Food Colouring and White Vinegar.

I am very honoured to have been asked by Rainbow Valley Crochet to write an article for her blog.

One of the reasons I started hand dying myself was because I really love long colour changes and couldn't readily find them. I specialise in long colour change rainbows and sock yarns that self-stripe when knitted, I mostly use Merino wool blends as I only like the really really soft wool. For years I didn’t knit or crochet with anything other than cotton or acrylic as I found most wools scratchy and itchy, then I found merino and fell in love with it :-) The yarns I sell on my website are mostly Merino based, Merino/Nylon, Merino/Tencel, Merino sparkle and my favourite is Merino/Bamboo, it is so soft and has the most gorgeous sheen to it, bamboo was one of my favourite fibres to use before I found Merino as it has a lovely drape to it. I also sell some Blue Faced Leicester which is beautiful and soft too and a favourite of some of my customers.

Here is an easy to follow tutorial on how to hand paint a long colour change rainbow on wool. The yarn must be animal fibre or at least 50% animal fibre for this tutorial to work, as Synthetic/Cellulose fibres wont dye with this method. I use items that are easy to get hold of and food safe so great for doing with your children :-)

You can buy the undyed wool from eBay. I recommend buying superwash as there is less chance of felting it as you are dyeing it.

What you need:-

Knitted sock blank, Glass bowl, Non-natural food colours, White vinegar, Squirty bottles/small containers, Clingfilm, Microwave/steamer, Kitchen towel, small spoon, Jug, Washing up liquid, Gloves.

Optional:- Syringe, Sponge painting brush, Measuring spoons.

The first thing I do is knit up the sock blank, this takes the longest time and is the hardest part :-) I have a knitting machine but you could do it by hand. If you knit the yarn up double thickness, you will have two identical balls to make a pair of socks.

Once the blank is knitted, soak it for 30 minutes in a glass bowl in a solution of white vinegar and cold or tepid water. I use approx. 12 tablespoons (180ml) of white vinegar to 1500 ml of water.

Once the wool has soaked, gently squeeze out the excess water.

Lay out some Clingfilm on the table with the sock blank on top leaving plenty of Clingfilm all round it.

To make the dyes I use food colouring, you have to make sure they are NOT natural colours. I use Sugarflair paste colours as these are very concentrated, they have a wide range of colours and you only need to use a little bit. You can buy them online or from most cake decorating shops.

Start by adding a small amount (tip of a teaspoon) to approx. 100ml of water, (you can use warm tap water to help the pastes dissolve). The more colour you add, the stronger the colours will be. Mix the colours you want to use with the water. Put them into squeezy bottles or any containers you have if you are using a syringe/sponge brush to paint with. You are then ready to paint your yarn!

This can be done in many ways, different way will produce different effects. This is the fun part, play and see what you can come up with.

You can use a syringe to squeeze colour onto the yarn or use a sponge to press it on or even tip the liquid on little by little.

The colour will soak into the yarn and leave clear water behind. Use the kitchen towel to soak up any excess liquid. If the liquid is clear this is a sign that the yarn can take some more dye if you want it too.

If the liquid still has some colour left in it then the yarn is saturated and taken in all the colour it can.

Repeat the process until you have your desired pattern.

Once you are happy with your design, use the Clingfilm to wrap the yarn making sure there is nowhere for the steam to escape.

Put it on to a microwaveable plate and cook in the microwave on high.

You need to cook it long enough to create steam but not too long as to damage the yarn.

I start with 2 minutes on high, then check it. If it doesn’t look like it has steam inside, I put it on for another minute at a time till I can see steam. This is what sets the colour and stops it washing out.

You can also put the yarn in the top layer of a steamer and leave for 30mins.

After the yarn has cooled down naturally, give it a wash under the tap. Use a little bit of washing up liquid to wash out any leftover dye, rinse until the water runs clear, then leave to dry.

Once the yarn has dried it is ready to use, you can either knit straight from the sock blank or wind into a ball.

Hand-dyed yarn should only be hand washed, there are some care instructions on my website.

I hope you have found this helpful and informative, there are many different ways of hand dying yarns this is just one of the ways it can be done and the amounts and measurements are just my personal preference, Have fun!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Last Christmas...........

.....I had a full set of Clover Amour.

My son connived with a friend. I had half the set from him and the other half from her.

I would show you the full set but they are scattered about in various projects, as any good hook should be.
This Christmas, my son bought me some beautiful hand made candle stick holders. Not that I plan to use them for candles but they will make beautiful bud vases for when I finally get all those crocheted flowers done.

So, I treated myself. A new set of Clover Amour, thread ones this time, in pastels to match the bright colours of the larger sizes.

The only reason you get to see the full set is because they only arrived last Friday and the projects I am current working on are yarn not thread.

Soon, they will be scattered about in various projects.

And did you know, they come in bigger sizes now!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blog Revival

I really need to get this blog up and running again. Hopefully, now that the bulk of the EU VAT work is out of the way, I will have more time for blogging as well as crocheting.

When I went to Ally Pally last year, I was a bit disappointed. It is now 5 days and the prices have gone up, making it far too expensive for the smaller yarn suppliers.

As a consequence, lots of regulars I was hoping to see again were not there.

However, these people were.

They are Jamiesons of Shetland and they had a stand full of gorgeous wool!

I can't resist wool. And I don't mean yarn (although most types of yarn are unresistible), I mean proper wool. It felt and smelt gorgeous.

They had shelves of kits along the back. All knitting, no crochet. I asked if they designed them and was told that a designer does it for them. Then I asked why there were no crochet kits and they said "We don't know a crochet designer".

They must have been waiting for me!

After showing some of my work and short discussion, I came home with four balls of this amazing yarn and a fat quarter of matching fabric.

I have started designing something for it but using some acrylic aran. Wool spoils if you frog it too much. As soon as we are all happy with the practice piece (and I am the fussiest) I will make it up in the real stuff.

If they like my work, I get to play with a lot more of their yarn. Next year, they will be having some crochet kits on the stand!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Back to Crocheting

A whole load of events, over which I had no control, seemed to take over last year.

First there were the Distance selling regs which meant I had to re-evaluate the way I ran the website. With Ravelry not being able to provide a shopping cart which complied with the regulations, I had to change my instant download provider.

Then came the EU VAT. More changes to the website but many of which could no be done until the last minute due to not having clear guidelines to follow.

All of this meant no new patterns!!!!!

That is set to change this year. My first pattern is finished already!

This Tiger blanket (no, not a Zebra) was designed in collaboration with one of my students, partly as a learning exercise.

She is making hers in orange and black DK. I just used some yarn I had in my stash which happened to be cream and grey aran.

It is worked in 3 panels, with the middle one being flipped over to match up the stripes before they are sewn together.

Short rows are used to make the wiggly stripes. These also make for an interesting pattern on the background.

The pattern is just the first four stripes which are repeated. Because is is designed this way you can make it as big or as small as you wish. And in any type of yarn.

The pattern is currently with testers and translators. Watch this space for when it will be available.