Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yarn Painting

my four hand-painted skeins.

This past weekend I was lucky to attend a yarn painting workshop given by Sandy Jones of Sandy's Palatte at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI.  What a fantastic afternoon! 

[Mineral Point, an old mining town, is worthy of its own photo shoot.  Many of the original Cornish-built, miners' homes have been restored and there is thriving arts community to round it all out.]

Yarn dying is a dirty, hot business.  And one best not done at home with curious hands about.  For this reason alone I am excited that I was able to get away and try it in a space where I didn't have to worry about anything (except for what colors I wanted to try!)

undyed worsted weight wool

We started with skeins of wool and roving.  Dipped in a bucket of warm water, they are soaked to prepare them to take the dye.  

empty dye jars.
dye will be shelf-stable if not used for up to a few months.

We started mixing dyes (vinegar, dye, and boiling water) in mason jars, and practiced mixing colors on coffee filters.  They bleed nicely and let you guesstimate how two adjoining colors will blend.  Then the fun began.  We painted to our hearts content, completing as many skeins as we wanted.  It was hard to start - the fear that I would create something that would simply turn out brown was high - but once I began I didn't want to stop.  The possibilities are truly endless.

last skein (sock weight) in bright colors.
 what's going to happen with all the white space?

After painting, the skeins are wrapped up in plastic wrap and steamed for about an hour.  Then they are removed from their casing, rinsed (being sure not to agitate, lest you felt them!), and hung to dry.

three of four skeins after steaming and rinsing.

In a mere 3.5 hours I created 4 one-of-a-kind, non-reproducible skeins from which to knit two pairs of socks and two hats. I am so excited to start knitting a project using my custom-painted yarns!!  I can see how custom painting yarns is addictive.  But given the little people in my life it is not something that I will begin doing at home.  I am, however, interested in taking another class and painting more yardage in a particular color blend.  Lucky for me Sandy has said that she's open to hosting one or two day-long dying workshops in the fall and next spring too.

Over the weekend I also bound-off the bottom edge of my Current cardigan!!  Now...on to the sleeves.