Getting Back to Work

Hey all!

There’s been a LOT going on in the last few weeks, so I thought I would pause and share some of the home life that’s happened as well as give you all a look forward at some of the things to come for the shop and the blog!

For those of you who missed it, we got some new neighbors at my house:

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And we’ve had some really cool weather (in so many senses of that word):

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Oh, and then there’s that little thing that happened a few weeks ago:

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We’re so happy to have our second son here and the whole family is settling in very well. We were lucky enough to have my parents and my in-laws here back to back to help with the baby and with our three year old. They were such wonderful help, I wish I could keep them all here forever!

It’s been a few weeks now and I’m ready to get back to work on a few things. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may remember this basket:

Italic Nesting basket 9.5 inch bath towels1.png

It is the smallest in a series of nesting baskets (baskets that stack inside of each other), and the basis for a pattern that you should be seeing in the shop in June. The pattern will include instructions for this same design for three different sizes and for making an Italic version (pictured above) and a straight version.

I’ll be doing another blog on crochet colorwork very soon to help with some pointers on how to keep your colorwork designs looking sharp in a couple of weeks. Keep an eye out so you get some time to practice before the pattern goes on sale!

We’ll be starting our Christmas Stockings soon and in preparation for that I’ll be doing a little intro on some “fun” yarns that you might find at your local craft store and how to work with them. Pull out your drawing pads and graph paper and get some ideas jotted down for what you would like to have on your sock this December. Christmas in July has never been more serious–or more literal, I think.

The other piece I have in the works is a pattern bundle set for both knitting and crochet. Since we’re all past the beginner stage, I think a set of beginner patterns is in order for all of you who have made it this far! Some will be familiar (like our dishcloth from the Crochet 101 and Knitting 101 tutorials) and some will be new. Keep an eye on the shop over the summer and into the fall for these fun items!

I’ll be sticking to one blog post a week for a little while. I haven’t found a ton of time for working on this between kids and home life (if you’ve read my last couple you may have noticed they’re a little scattered), and I want to continue to give you all my best work if I can.

I think that’s about it for now. As always, I love to hear from you all. If there is something you would like to see or learn, please let me know.

P.S.

Shortly after I finished writing this, I dropped my cell phone (which also serves as my camera–bet you hadn’t guessed that huh?) and shattered the camera glass on it. The face is fine and a replacement is on the way, but you may get a post or two with old, repeat, or borrowed photos until the new one is up and running.

Baby Update!

As promised we had our second son this month! Tuesday to be exact. We’ve only just gotten home, and I found a quiet minute to help keep you all updated. 

I apologize in advance if I am slow to respond at this point. Please be patient as we adjust to having a fourth member of the family. 

Happy April!

Hey everyone!

I hope you all are enjoying the beginning of spring so far! I thought I would take a little break from all the informative blogging to give you an update on the home front.

As many of you already know I am pregnant with my second child (a boy!) who is due on April 22! That’s about two weeks from now and we are ALL super excited in my house!

I want to let you all know this because once the baby comes I may not be as readily available as I have been for questions and help with patterns.

For the time being, the blog is going to go back to once a week while we get ready for and settled in with the new baby. I know you’re probably bummed to hear that, but I hope to make up for it by starting our socks EARLY! I’ll be taking you through the basics of socks and have two ways to crochet and two ways to knit socks done up for you along with the “short version” patterns for those of you who just need the quick guide.

The Etsy shop will still be up and running, but no custom work will be available and only digital downloads will be for sale for a few weeks while I get back on my feet and into the swing of having two kids.

If you need help with anything, please feel free to email me or check out the FAQ page. Like I said, I’ll be slow to respond, but I’ll do my best.

Happy crafting!

Natalie

Other Tools You Might Need

I’ve gone over MOST of the tools of the trade at this point, but there are a few tools that cover knitting, crochet, and design that I’ll cover here so that everyone has a list of tools in one place. This is not an exhaustive list of EVERYTHING you’ll ever need, but some good general pieces that you should have on hand. I can’t count the times that I’ve needed something on this list and it WASN’T called for in the pattern at all.

With that in mind, let’s take a look!

Yarn Needle

yarn needle

It may seem silly, but I’m going to say it: a yarn needle and a sewing needle are NOT the same thing. A yarn needle is a large, usually plastic, needle with an eye you can ACTUALLY see through. They’re intended for passing yarn through and used to sew sweater seams or tuck long tails. Sometimes to darn work (that doesn’t mean cursing the work, really!).

The thing about keeping a yarn needle on hand is that sometimes even when you “don’t” need it, you’ll use it to pull ends through to the back side of the work when they get unruly or to help tie difficult knots. Recently I used on to hold a stitch that I had dropped in my knitting until I could find a way to reintegrate the stitch into the work.

Stitch Markers

These little guys come in several different varieties, but I have to say my hands down favorite is the safety pin style pictured above (officially, these are called “locking stitch markers”). They’re like small plastic safety pins and they work for crochet, knitting, design, and holding finished parts in place for sewing.

In general, stitch markers are used to keep your place in a work. Sometimes for counting rows, sometimes for keeping patterns. In knitting, you’ll often be asked to use ring makers (the whitish markers shown above) and slip them as you work the pattern so you know where increases or decreases are. In crochet, usually you’ll place a marker so you can count back so many rows. In either art, you can use them to mark the *’s in the pattern so you know where the repeat starts and ends. When designing, I often use these markers to help me keep track of  changes in the pattern or where I am trying something different to see what it looks like.

Spare Yarn

spare yarn

Spare yarn is EXACTLY what it sounds like, yarn that you have leftover. This can be ANY length of yarn, whether it’s a small ball or just a 6-8 inch length that you keep hanging around. Spare yarn is often used for holding knitted stitches when there are either too many for a stitch holder, or in place of a stitch holder. Crocheters will use spare yarn less often, but it does happen from time to time.

Designers, you should keep as MUCH scrap yarn on hand as you can. You will use it for practicing stitches and working out patterns before you make the nice copy. When you’re designing something meant for cashmere, DO NOT practice it ON cashmere, seriously.

Measuring Tape

measure tape

I expect that most of you are familiar with this tool from somewhere. There are two kinds of measuring tape, one is pictured above and the other is the semi stiff version usually used in construction or found in tool boxes. I prefer the flexible kind for yarn work, but either one will do really. The point is to have SOMETHING that will allow you to measure your work.

Knitters and designers, you should have about 5 of these hanging around your house, you will lose them and you will use them. Most knitting patterns have SOME section that says “knit even for x inches” or something similar. Having one of these on hand will make life a LOT easier. Designers, it doesn’t matter WHAT medium you’re using to design, you need to know if your work matches your measurements. You’ll need to check things like waist sizes of garments early and often if you’re making anything fitted.

Crocheters, don’t think you’re off the hook here. You may not need this tool as often, but when you find that awesome sweater pattern, you’ll probably need it to either measure yourself or the garment before sewing or blocking the work.

Stitch Counters

stitch counter

There are all kinds of really cool stitch counters out there. You can get some pretty neat digital ones if you like those, or you can just stick with the old fashioned twist to count kind pictured above. One of the cool things about the plastic ones is that you can slide it onto your hook or needle and it will pretty much just hang out there. Either way you go, the point behind these is to help you count either stitches or rows.

I’ve mostly seen these called for in clothing, both knit and crochet, but I’ll be honest, I have a three year old, one one the way, and limited concentration. I use this tool on just about everything I work right now to keep track of where I am.

Plastic or Metal Gauge

knitting-gauge

This odd looking tool is starting to become one of my favorites. The holes in the top portion of it correspond to US knitting needle sizes and can be used to measure a crochet hook if the size is unknown or worn. The slide at the bottom helps you determine what your gauge is (knitted or crocheted) when you don’t have a ruler handy. I use mine mostly to measure unlabeled hooks or needles (especially DPNs) to make sure I have the right size for the pattern I’m starting.

This is one of those weird tools, and a rare occasion, where I’m going to tell you to just get one. You won’t use it often, but when you need it, you NEED it and every time I have needed one I have needed it at a time when I couldn’t get to the store to get one  (either they were closed or I couldn’t leave).

Stitch Holder

stitch holder

A stitch holder is almost exclusively a knitting tool. It is used for–as the name indicates–holding stitches. I have also used them for marking rows and the beginning of rounds, but that is not their intended purpose.

Knitters you will often see these when making gloves or working with cables.

Safety Pins

safety pin

These are another tool that I would expect you know from somewhere already. Safety pins are used all over all kinds of crafts. When it comes to knitting, crochet, and design, I use them for marking stitches, holding small amounts of stitches, pinning sections together before sewing, pinning ends to the ironing pad for blocking, marking size changes, and several other things.

All around these are just useful. They work for just about anything in a pinch, if you know their length (look on the box they come in) you can even use them to measure.

Straight Pins

straight pin

Straight Pins are more common in sewing than they are in knitting or crochet, but you WILL use them if you choose to block your work. We’ll be talking about blocking work soon, so keep an eye out for how to do that coming soon. For now, know that straight pins are pretty much exactly as described. They come in several varieties, some with large plastic heads like the ones pictured, some are just small pieces of metal that look almost like penny nails.

When we do get around to blocking work, you’ll use these pins to make sure you work is at the right measurements before we block it.

Outside the Skein: How to Make Yarn Without Spinning

One of the best things about any of the yarn arts is that you can do them with just about anything. Yarn is just a kind of string like rope or twine or ribbon. But have you ever thought to look beyond the craft store and into the more eclectic side of string?

How about something like thing gauge wire? Like these wonderful creations by Blanka Sperkova:

blanka-sperkova-works

Photo Credit: http://www.designswan.com/archives/wire-knit-not-the-knitting-you-know.html

That might look a little intimidating, but it’s worth trying if you’re interested in it. You’ll want strong needles for this and I would start with a florists wire or thin jewelry wire that you can get in quantity. Wire will not be forgiving like yarn is and when it breaks is does not go back together well, but if you put in the practice on cheaper wire, you’ll be ready to put in the money for the kind of wire you’ll need to make something as beautiful as the picture above.

Finger Knit Shoelace Necklace | Orange | iNecklace v1.0

For those of you a little less adventurous, how about something still in the ball park like shoelaces? The taped ends can be decorative or can be snipped off. You can even get rolls of shoelace yarn on Etsy and other places if you don’t want to bother with the snipping. Working with shoelaces is very much like working with either cord or ribbon depending on which style you get.iHooked on Etsy has some interesting necklaces made from shoelaces you can check out.

Photo Credit: https://www.etsy.com/listing/232755991/finger-knit-shoelace-necklace-orange

 

But enough about the pre-done jazz right? We’re “DIY-ers.” We don’t need no stinking online, free shipping, make it for me junk right?

Yeah, maybe that’s a bit extreme, BUT if you DO want to make yarn yourself, I have a fun project for you and older kiddos that can be done with anything from grocery bags to sweatpants (preferably freshly WASHED sweatpants). I’ll be using plastic grocery sacks today, but the concept works the same on anything that is round in shape (shirt bodies, pant legs, sleeping bags, etc…).

First, we’ll lay out our material as flat as we can. If you’re using shopping bags, do what you can to make sure they have the handles laid flat as well and match up all the “corners” at the bottom so they look like they would fresh off the stack.

cut-the-bag

 

 

Next, cut off any uneven or closed off parts. In the case of our shopping bags, I’ll cut off a thin strip at the bottom (maybe a 1/4 inch or so) and the handles at the top so I’m left with a nice square. If you’re using a shirt, you’ll want to cut it at the armpits and for pants, just cut off any thick hemming or places where the elastic is sewn in.

 

 

Once you have that prepped, cut your bag or fabric into about 1 inch strips. With fabric you can go a little thinner, but with the grocery sacks, you’ll want to stay as close to an inch (or even a little over) as you can because they tend to tear if they get too thin. For the plastic, I find that folding the bag into thirds (matching the side seams and leaving the open ends at the top and bottom) helps when cutting them. That won’t work as well with fabric because it will try to slip.

Now that you have your strips, keep your three year old busy or wait till nap time. Chasing them around the house with half your project is entertaining for them, but troublesome for you.

When the little one is taken care of, take the strips, open them into rings and lace them around each other. This is done by taking two rings and laying one over the other. Then pull end one of the one ring through end two to make a knot.

Pull the knot tight, but not TOO tight. This is thin plastic and will easily tear. If you’re using fabric, you want it to be sturdy but not rip. Keep lacing rings together until you have a good length. Then wind them into a ball using your hands (the yarn winder was NOT made for this) and you’ll be ready to go.

ball

Anything you can make out of yarn you can use this for, just remember it ends up being a “bulky” yarn or bigger depending on what you’re using. My favorite things to make with plastic yarn are door rugs (like welcome rugs) or reusable grocery bags (the irony is the best part). You can even use them to make holiday wreaths or place mats. If you want different colors, hit up your family and friends for bags from specific stores. Certain mega-marts use brown or grey bags that can be laced together to add some color to the basic white and red of most grocery stores and take out places.

 

Yarn Balls

Sort of sounds like a curse doesn’t it? “OH, Yarn balls!” Well, it can be if you don’t have a yarn winder of some sort. And I’ll be honest, there are a few that may make that REALLY a curse!

I happen to have a small yarn winder myself, but I have found that sometimes that just doesn’t cut it when it comes to cleaning up the mess that is my scrap yarn. And let’s be honest, in that mess of a craft closet I keep, sometimes I can’t find the blasted thing.

The good news is if you have a pair of fingers and a free hand, you can wind yarn with a pull from the middle WITHOUT a yarn winder.

Now, if you DO happen to have a yarn winder, I’m going to go through the instructions on how to use the thing. Yours should have come with some sort of instruction sheet and their really not THAT complicated, but when I got mine the instructions were in Japanese. Luckily my husband and I took Japanese as our junior college courses and were able to get through them, but it’s not exactly a common language here in the US.

Before you start, here’s an

OPTIONAL EXERCISE: Remember when I said acrylic is a form of plastic, just like the nails you get at the salon? Go grab a plastic grocery sack and cut the handles off. Flatten them out as nicely as  you can and then grab each end of the handle. Pull as far as you can without breaking it. It should get nice and thin (kind of looks like yarn now right?).

Ok, now put it back.

Yeah…that bit doesn’t go so well does it? Plastic likes to take new shapes, but doesn’t really like to go back the way it was. Your acrylic yarns will do the same thing if they are stored in a very tight ball. BE AWARE how tight you are winding your ball whichever method you use.

With a Yarn Winder

First thing you’ll want to do is make sure that your yarn is MOSTLY tangle free. Many times I’m rewinding a ball or turning a half used store bought skein into a ball so that’s done for me. However, for those of you who have just dyed yarn using the mess methods, you’ll want to at least give it a cursory untangling or be prepared to wind the ball twice.

Once you’re satisfied with the stat your yarn is in, make sure that your winder is set up in a good location. Mine has a small metal clamp on the bottom of it, so I have clamped it to my desk.

yarn-winder

Next you’ll lace the end of your yarn through the spring like part. Mine happens to be silver.

spring-piece

There were some seriously complicated instructions on how exactly to lace the yarn on my instruction sheet. Just put the yarn end through the hole. It’s a LOT easier.

Now that we have that bit done, find the v shaped slit in the top of the winder. There should be one on either side of the cylindrical part.

v-shaped-slit

Lay your yarn across the two slits and gently tug it into place so that it’s held by the slits.

yarn-across

Here’s the tricky part–and unfortunately the part that I can’t show you in pictures. You need to keep  a steady tension and pace as you start to wind your yarn.

Just like when you’re working, the tension is SUPER important here. I seriously CANNOT stress enough how important it is to have a medium tension. Too tight and the yarn could snap as you’re winding too loose and the ball won’t come together (and the yarn may wrap around the gears at the bottom–TOTAL NIGHTMARE). You have GOT to have a good tension on this. Your yarn should flow freely, but your ball should still form up nicely. It may take a couple practice goes to get it right.

Once you have a happy tension, you’ll want to make sure you have a happy winding speed. You may want to practice winding with an empty winder so you can get used to a pace that works well for your. You want to be able to do one ball in one sitting (if you have small children, you might need to wait till they are otherwise occupied) and you’ll want to make sure that the whole ball is wound at about the same pace. Speeding up and slowing down will make the ball tighter or looser and will make the ball uneven and sloppy.

When you’re done, the yarn ball (or cake, as they are sometimes referred to in this shape) is ready to remove from the winder. Just gently remove the starter piece of yarn from the v shaped slits and slide the ball off the winder. There will be a sizeable hole where the winder was siting, but if you gently squish the yarn from the outside of the ball toward the center that will go away and not hurt your ball.

Now you’re all set and ready to work!

Without a Yarn Winder

For those of you who DON’T have a yarn winder, but still want to have nice yarn balls that pull from the middle with less trouble than the store bought skeins, grab your yarn and hold out your hands because that is all you will need to make this happen.

Start off by laying your yarn across two fingers and holding it in place with your thumb.

lay-yarn-across-fingers

Wrap the yarn around your two fingers angling it slightly (which way it is angled doesn’t really matter). The goal here is to start your nice tension. Don’t cut off the circulation to your fingers and don’t leave the yarn so loose that it’s hanging off your hand.

angle-1

After you have a few rounds in one direction, wrap the yarn at the opposite angle for a few wraps. This will help to crate a stable base for your ball as you get it started.

angle-2

Repeat that process, switching between angles every few wraps until you have a small ball forming on the end of your fingers. Try to keep from winding too tight. Especially with acrylic or synthetic yarns, the tighter they are stored, the more they lose their shape for working with later.

repeat

Once you have a small ball formed, slide your fingers out and use your thumb to hold the center of the ball. This will hold your starting string in place and help you to mark the center so you don’t accidentally cover over it.

hold-thumb

Now, wind your string around the ball, being careful not to trap your thumb and turning the ball every now and then to keep an even wrap going. Just like before, do a few wraps on this side and then turn the ball and do a few wraps on the next side. If it helps, imagine there are four sides to this ball and just try to work them evenly.

wind-right

When you’re done, you’ll have an easy to work ball like this:

done-hands

The nice thing about hand winding your ball as opposed to using the winder is that there is no size limit on your ball. if you want to take a one pound skein from the store and turn it into a hand wound ball you can easily do that (granted, it will take some time). If you wanted to do that with a winder, you would only be able to get partway through it before the winder was stuck due to the limited space between the threading post (the silver part) and the core (the part that holds the yarn).

 

 

How to Dye Yarn–Part 5

This is IT! The last entry in my how to dye yarn series (for now anyway). I may be back to this series after the baby is born with more techniques to dye yarn. For now, I’m trying to stay away from any toxic dyes (like acid dyes) as a precaution.

Even this section on composite dyes, most of the work was done by my husband because we didn’t want me around the chemicals used in this process. My husband opted not to use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for this process, HOWEVER I must recommend to ALL of you to follow the safety instructions on your dye packaging and use gloves,  a dust mask and safety glasses while you are using these products.

Cellulose Fiber Dyed with Composite Dye

As in the last two posts, before you begin grab what you need! Don’t forget the PPE!! I will say this a thousand times because I want you all to be safe and healthy and not take unnecessary risks. I would also advise an apron or clothing that you don’t mind permanently changing color (this is TECHNICALLY fabric dye and will take to MOST fabrics). We will ALSO need:

you-need-cellulose

  • A glass jar (large enough to tightly fit your yarn)
  • Squeeze bottles (mine are new ketchup and mustard bottles, but clear works fine)–one per color used
  • Paper Towels (for cleaning spills mostly)
  • A two cup measure
  • Hot water
  • Iodized Salt
  • Packaged composite dye
  • A notebook or printout with your instructions
  • 4.5 oz Pre-washed Cellulose fiber yarn (I’m using cotton)
  • A craft colander (Optional and not pictured)

I’m gonna give you all the heads up now, this process is a little more creative than the last two I’ve written up. There is a VERY large component of “I thought it would be cool” to this one, so be warned going in that I will show you what I did, but that is NOT the only way to do it.

To get this started, mix up your dye in the squirt bottles. My bottles are 12 oz bottles, so I had to do a little math to make sure that I made the right amount for the container I was using. In this case, about 1/2 a pack of dye powder (25 g.) and 3/4 tablespoons salt with 12 oz of hot water. Then cap the bottle and shake to mix (remember to cover the hole in the top with a towel or gloved finger).

mix-dye

Now, here’s where you benefit from my mistake. I thought I would be clever and use a tea kettle to make hot water and then let it set for a bit. BAD IDEA! The plastic bottles were NOT meant to take boiling water and did NOT do well with the boiling water. My second attempt worked MUCH better, I just ran the tap water until it was as hot as it could get and that worked fine for the hot water part.

jars

Now that the dye is mixed up, go ahead and set it aside for a couple minutes (it will help the bottle to cool before you handle it). Grab your glass jars and your yarn. I did three different methods of putting yarn in to see how they would come out, so I labeled my jars, but you do not have to do that. If you want to put dye on the bottom of the jar, now is the time to do so. The key with the dye is to remember, you can add more but you CANNOT take any away, so don’t go too nuts.

 

Pack your yarn gently into the jars, but make sure it’s squished in there pretty tight. Like I said, I was doing three methods of this. For the “mess” methods, I cut the ties holding my yarn (knowing that it would cause a HUGE tangle later) and for the twist method, I left the ties on. Just remember, in order for fluid (dye) to move, there has to be air. So leave a little bit of air space to allow the dye a way into the middle part of the yarn. Now, here is where we start getting creative.

If you want your yarn to have more white space and a little more defined lines, twist your loops and put them in the bottom of the jar. If you want to have a little more wild variation, use one of the mess methods. For the spaghetti mess, I snipped the ties and grabbed an end then started pushing it into the jar. For the straightened mess I cut the ties and laid it out on the counter, pulling it long and straight then lifted it into the jar. The two mess methods came out looking about the same, so either way really.

Once you have your yarn in your jar, get your colors and use the squirt bottles to run dye down the side of the jar like so:

dye-the-yarn

Tipping the jar will help to get the dye to the bottom of the jar and cover the skein better.

Time for more creativity! I was using three colors to dye these. You can use one or five or however many you would like. Because I was using three, I dyed my yarn in three equal swaths of color. You can do that, or you can make a thin line of one color and a thicker line of others. You can leave some white or not (I chose not). Whatever you do, just remember: you are NOT filling the jar with dye. You have too much if your jar looks like this:

too-much

To be fair, that skein still came out nicely, but it would have probably done better if there was a little more air in the jar and a little less dye. Your yarn should have color, but basically be dry.

Now, we wait. The dye needs about 15 minutes to absorb. Because of my boiling water mistake, we had one dye sit on the yarn a LOT longer than the others which created a really interesting impressionist effect. The less time you let the dye sit, the sharper the lines will be, but the more will wash out. I was using fairly light colors to begin with, so I decided to let mine sit a little longer. If you’re doing a solid color, check the manufacturer’s instructions, but usually the longer it sits the darker it gets. With variegated colors, the longer it sits, the more the colors bleed into each other (which can be cool, but not always what you wanted). Here’s mine after the time was up:

dyed-yarn-before-soak

Once it’s ready, add hot tap water to fill your jar. I was using half gallon jars, which may have been a bit big for what I was doing. The idea is to cover the yarn with water and let the dye hang out so it can stick. Don’t worry that the water goes murky or the colors seem to become one big mess. The yarn has already absorbed most of what it’s going to.

add-water

And now we wait…again. At LEAST 1 hour. You can leave it until the water has come down to room temperature if you would like, but at LEAST 1 hour. Pay attention to what the manufacturer says about this part. I haven’t yet seen a “no more than” warning, but it’s always a good idea to check.

Once your hour (or more) is up, drain the water off the jar and remove the yarn from the jar. Rinse the yarn until the rinse water runs clear. Hang the yarn up to dry and remember that the more spread out the yarn is, the quicker it will dry. If you went the mess method, there’s not need to stand on ceremony, just hang it up and deal with the tangle when it’s dry (wet yarn does NOT like to untangle).

open-twist

 

 

If you did the twist method, just find the tie and hang it up. If you have a dowel or a drying rack with a removable rod, you can insert the rod into the loops and spread them out a little. Just remember to turn the yarn every 8 hours or so to keep from having a weird spot where the dowel touches the yarn.

 

 

 

Once the yarn is dry, lay it out, untangle it if needed, ball it up, and you’re ready to go!

A couple notes for this method as well:

  • You can make more precise dye lines by preparing your dye in small bowels and use a foam brush to paint the dye on. This is called hand painting. Be sure to lay a garbage bag or piece of plastic down UNDER your yarn so you don’t end up painting the table by accident.
  • This method ALSO works for Acid Dyes. Follow the same instructions, but when you get to the “add water to the jar” step, ALSO add your setting material (usually Soda Ash or something similar). Remember to check your instructions. The manufacturer may ask you to use warm or cold water rather than hot. Follow their temperature recommendations.

How to Dye Yarn–Part 4

We’re getting close to the end of this series now, I promise!! I promised you home-school parents and camp leaders (among others) a fun project for the older kiddos, and here it is! Acrylic yarn is cheap, readily available and easy to find in large quantity; as is acrylic paint.

This is a project that I would say kids 10 and up can do basically on their own with direction and supervision (of course, you know your kids best, so be mindful). I would also recommend this as a “mommy and me” craft with younger ones as long as they can follow directions. My three year old wasn’t up for it at the time I did this set, but I know he would LOVE the squish-the-bag part (again, you know your kid and what they’re ready for).

Acrylic Yarn ‘Dyed” with Acrylic Paint

Before you begin, make sure you are wearing “paint clothes” or an apron that can get permanently messy. Acrylic paint dries rapidly and you will have 7-10 seconds to get it off your clothes before it stays that way for good. Once you are appropriately dressed, gather your supplies! For this process, you will need:

supplies

  • A 2 cup measure (if this is for food, you will ALSO need a 1/ 4 cup measure for PAINT ONLY)
  • A paintbrush of any sort (a chopstick or other thin stick will due)
  • Paper towels
  • A large ziptop bag (the more yarn you have the bigger you will need)
  • Any color acrylic paint (or colors to blend)
  • Water
  •  About 3 oz Pre- washed acrylic yarn
  • A notebook or printout with your instructions

Once you have all those together, put your instructions somewhere you can easily see them without having to touch them. Mine were in a notebook, so I left it open to that page on the table, but the fridge is a good place or pinned to the wall behind the space where you are working.(Sound familiar? We did this for the food coloring project as well!)

Please remember, Acrylic is basically plastic. Plastic is NOT good for eating. Please DO NOT USE your food dishes for ANYTHING that will touch the paint. When in doubt, use craft dishes.

mix-paintThe first thing you will want to do is decide what color you want. As you’re thinking about your paint color, remember that the color will end up lighter than it looks on paper and that you will be hanging your yarn to dry, so there will be a natural variegated look to it (scroll down to see my end ball). The hanging part means that the top will lose more color than the bottom and make parts of the ball paler than others.

If you have a solid color that you like, then you’re set to go and you can move on to mixing. If you’re mixing a color, grab your paper towels and use one to mix up. I was trying to mix blue and green to get teal, but I didn’t have the right sort of green on hand, so I mixed a dark and light blue to get a nice mid blue.

 

Once you have your paint color decided, mix 2 cups of water with 1/4 cup paint in your zip top bag. Remember if you have more than one color you’re mixing that you will need to have a TOTAL of 1/4 cup of paint. If you’re mixing equal parts, that’s easy enough, but if you aren’t it can get a bit tricky.

To mix it, just pour the water and paint into the bag and zip it shut. Remember to leave some air so the mixture has space to move. You may need to rub on the bag a little to get any paint that stuck to the plastic.

rub-to-mix-paint

Once your paint and water have mixed nicely, stand the bag back up and very carefully open it so you can add your yarn.

add-yarn

Close the bag back up and massage the paint into the yarn. Remember those ties we have on the yarn to discourage tangling? Do your best to slide them around just a little so the paint covers the space underneath the tie, otherwise you’ll have a white stripe in your yarn. The more coated your yarn is with your paint/water mix the more color will be visible.

massage

Once the yarn is coated to your satisfaction, remove the yarn from the bag (again, careful not to spill the excess water). Give it a little time hanging over the bag of paint mix so that all the excess mixture can run off to the point of just dripping. You do NOT want a paint stream through your work area. Acrylic paint sticks to just about everything! No joke.

remove-yarn

 

 

 

When the yarn is ready to move, hang it dry in a safe location. This can be done on a drying rack, hanging dowel, or just using a regular clothes hanger. The best way to do this REALLY is to fold over seven or eight layers of paper towel and let the yarn drip straight onto the towels. I was stuck working in my kitchen, so to practice safety, I took a craft bowl and put a CLEAN zip top bag into the bowl. Then hung the yarn inside the new bag to drip.

hang-dry

Once the yarn is dry, it’s ready to ball up and use!

I do have a couple of notes that I would pull out of this process, so I’ll share those with you guys now:

  • For the recipe listed here, the yarn is double the amount I actually used. I found that my yarn was very “crunchy” from the paint and I think it would have done better to have less paint for the amount of yarn I used.
  • You can get a lighter color and less “crunchy” yarn by using less paint than called for here. The mix is really up to you, but the more paint you have the more “crunch” you’ll have to deal with. The upside of that is that you get darker colors
  • This project can be done (following the same method) to make GLOW IN THE DARK yarn! I’m serious, this stuff actually works for that, just get the glow in the dark acrylic paint from you local mega-mart or craft store in the paint sections. This usually comes in the smaller bottles. 11214199_10208232507719809_1842973856261281432_n
  • To make a TRUE variegated yarn, you can mix up several bags of paint and dip different parts of the yarn into the mixtures. Using rubber bands or ties to hold your yarn together (tie dye style) will ensure that you get some white sections as well and help to keep colors separate.

 

Beginner Tool Recommendation!

Oh. My. Word.

needles

Y’all, I literally JUST got these off the porch and I ALREADY am in LOVE!! When I bought them, I thought they were a set of the cheap plastic wire kind (they’re $8.99 for a set of 18!!) but they are SO much better than that!

These bamboo needles have a plastic tubing for a cord that is MUCH more flexible than the cheap ones you’ll get a your local craft store or mega mart and they come in sizes from 2.0mm (US0) to 10.0mm (US15) which is basically EVERY size you will ever need.

I read through some of the reviews and the lower reviews seem to complain that the product is not well made and not sized correctly. Well, I gave a tug on the tubing and while it does have some flex (don’t give it to your toddler) it doesn’t pop off easily. I also pulled out my knitting gauge to check the needle size. If you’ve never seen one, it looks like this:

knitting-gauge

I use the holes in the top to check the knitting needle size when I have needles that aren’t marked or (like for these) that are, but I’m not sure how accurate they are. This set DOES gauge a little small, but only in the larger sizes and we’re talking fractions of a millimeter at that point (this is part of the reason you ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GAUGE).

The other REALLY cool bonus is that you get sizes you wouldn’t normally find in the US like 3.0mm and 2.5mm. If you’re reading international patterns (and goodness knows we do sometimes with the internet), you may run across these sizes and if you’re in the US it may not be easy to find the needles you need in store.

Beginners: this is probably the best gift you can get yourself! They’ll help you remember to check your gauge and they are not NEARLY as frustrating to knit with as some of the needles you can get cheaply in the craft store. BONUS: they have basically every size you’ll ever need, so you won’t need to go out and buy needles every time you have a new project.

Ready to get the product? I got mine on Amazon.com you can too!