Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Indigo Dyeing

I think as much as I love knitting , I love the process of  dreaming and planning , searching and buying the ingredients that makes the garment. I have quite a few kits like that in my knitting studio. Never mind that in time I might change the initial purpose and will shuffle those ingredients to make a new more covetable piece. At times I will see-covet-purchase the wool first and continue from there onward with the help of ravelry.

Here is the story of my Deco to be-
When Kate Davies published the pattern I took mental note, time passed, other things were knitted and then on my trip to Rhinbeck and NYC last year my dear friend happen to wear hers on. This photo does not do justice to the colour and look ,we all fell head over heels for this cardigan.Things started to roll on..
The pattern calls for a thick 4 ply yarn and I really liked the feel of my friend's cardi -real wool, firm yet soft so decided to purchase the original pure corriedale 4 ply by Blacker Yarns . Next thing was the colour, although I liked that gorgeous olive colour I took a brave step. I purchased ( half price hooray !) 6 balls of the undyed material.
Indigo dyeing is something I was planning to try for years , I bought some stuff in Marrakesh spices market and my talented friend Elseline gifted me a kit so last weekend when all my world turn white with snow it was the perfect time to experiment . 

I've used indigo (and some woad) in a dry natural extract powdered form. The wool was let to have a good soak in water with a drop of washing up liquid- you really want to let out the air pockets in the fibres.

The active ingredient in indigo and woad - 'indican' is insoluble in water so in order to dissolve it in water the recipe uses alkali -sodium carbonate. After vigorous mixing for few minutes I got a dark blue paste (photo above). I used 12 grams of indigo and 4 grams of woad to dye my 300 grams of dry wool.
For the process to happen the amount of oxygen in the vat's water must be minimal. An oxygent reducing agent -thiourea dioxide helps to minimise it. You introduce it to the vat when it is reaching 40-50 c and maintain this temperature. Stirring should be ever so gentle as to not cause more oxygen in the air getting into the vat. The yarn should be fully immersed in the water.

So you cook it for 45-60 minutes and the water should be yellow-green (photo above).If not add reducing agent , if it turns yellow you will need to stir the water a bit to introduce more oxygen. Then gently you scoop the greenish yarn ( don't let the water drip back to the vat !) and immerse in warm water then leave outside for half an hour and . The yarn almost immediately will turn into a majestic blue. Then rinse with some water and a dash of white vinegar and then again with water that a gentle pH neutral washing liquid.

I've immersed it again to correct some faded spots and to achieve a deeper , saturated blue and this is the result..

I tell you ,once you do it and get a hang of what's going on, this is really a quick way to achieve a beautiful, variegated attractive blue tones. My skeins are truly beautiful and I feel very smug indeed :)

My project bag in the New York theme was hand made and gifted to me by Elseline as well. Isn't it just lovely?

This stunning grosgrain ribbon was bought in New york to remind me of the trip. I think I have found the perfect place to stitch it on..
Its all coming nicely together . There is still the buttons issue and oh yes the small matter of casting on...



Sunday, 13 January 2013

Going back memory lane - Patricia Roberts

If you happen to be on a London knitting tour do try to get an inside glance at the Patricia Roberts' knitting shop. Her website does not show case her latest designs. I've been a stoker for her knitting kits for sale link for  few years now but alas apparently its still coming soon...
Patricia Roberts was a big name in the eighties but don't be fooled by all those big oversize multi color tops , here and there you'll find some real treasures.

I've been collecting her books ( see a photo above ) and again and again I see myself  coming back to those loved , well worn books and admiring and getting inspired by the color combination , fit and stitch pattern. Some of the designs definitely in need of toning down but the potential is awesome..

My dear friend the knitting Cyclist knitted  few of her designs and is a regular visitor to her London shop. I'm having a fantastic first class updates from her. This is how I heard about 'Snowflake'. In all honesty the photo below (which my friend knitted) does not do justice to the garment. It is such a pleasing and striking combination of white-grey-black shades with islands of pop out angora.

I straight away phoned the shop and ordered the kit.
My version is slightly different. The main colour is in her own brand- Patricia Roberts lambswool 1  in flannel colour which is light grey. If you wish to sub it go for a very thin 4 ply thickness or a 3 ply yarn. The zigzag lines are knitted in other colours - mid grey and charcoal. Also the pattern calls for her angora yarn which is more like a dk/sport in weight - I chose dark purplish grey and light lemon. I love the grellow look :). The other angora colours are from my stash -Orkney 4 ply angora in white and grey .

You have to have some patience for all that intarsia and fair isle but I'm loving a very minute of it so far.

I''m currently doing the fronts but it is a slow knit .It will take quite some time to finish it - there are other knitting commitments out there of which I'm sure to post later.
Knit on ! :)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

My Maxfield !

Maxfield cardigan by the talented Amy Christoffers from Savoury knitting was my last project of 2012. It did not start well at all. First was the yarn issue . I really liked the combination of the original main color in dark blue with the glowing bright stripes but the original colors in lorna's laces Honor could not be found. Instead of waiting for new supplies I decided to sub it with blue sky alpacas- alpaca silk color 140 (blueberry ?) which is a bright  navy blue as the main color. For the stripes I liked the malabrigo silky merino 850 archangel . I bought all the archangels I could find in the UK but had to import one from the states. Unfortunately dye lots did not match at all  :(
The other annoying issue is some pattern erratas and the fact that the pattern instructions appeared to be different from the photo on the model. So I made a few mods mainly to lengthen the body. I got slim arms but still felt the sleeves could benefit from some extra width..
Once I got to the yoke all my grudges disappeared and I started to enjoy the pattern immensely. This is a fantastic fluid open cardigan to throw on. The silk and the aplaca give that fluidity.Those stripes are really eye catching and I love how it all joins together with more intense part at the fronts.
The color is not that electric blue as it appears below but a bit darker like a blueberry.

I also love the extra warmth for the back neck created by grafting the fronts at the back. Its almost like wearing a scarf. I was thinking perhaps to add buttons but it looks much better opened.
A bit of a tip- when picking up stitches for the ribbed band on the fronts try to pick up bit more stitches at the bottom as there is some extra gathering of fabric and you don't want it to pucker.

Choices of colors are endless and there are some pretty combination out there on ravelry. Go on and make a Maxfield !

Happy new 2013 everyone !!