About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fun With Indigo Dyeing

On the last warm day of fall, I made some time for play.  And by play, I mean dyeing!  Over the summer I had purchased an indigo dye kit and this was my last opportunity to use it, since this didn't seem like an activity that my husband would appreciate taking place in his man cave.

The kit I bought was a tie dye kit from Jacquard which contained everything I needed.  I only tie dyed a few of my items, so the next time (and there will be a next time), I will just buy the dye.  But, the kit was inexpensive, and I did use the wooden resist pieces and rubber bands, although my postal carrier keeps us well supplied in the latter.

My main purpose in dyeing was to color the yarn.  It is a coopworth wool & suri alpaca mix which I had purchased in its natural shade, a creamy white.  Since it is more flattering to my figure to wear darker colors on top, the sweater's quantity of yarn needed a dunk in a dye pot, and I was excited to keep it natural with the indigo.  The resulting shade was a little lighter than I would have liked, although I did give it a little extra time in the bucket.  But, it will be a new sweater in the near future.

The drape front jersey top is one I never wear, most likely because it violates my rule of dressing given above.  I love the way it turned out in the rich dark color, and with the lighter tones in the shadows of the folds.  No tie dyeing or special treatment, just a dunk in the bucket.  I expect this top will be in heavy rotation next summer.

My orange tea towels were quite old and stained, so I threw them into the pot just to see if they could be salvaged.  I was so surprised to see them turn the rich green color, and expect they will see quite a bit more use.

The dye bucket
The sacrifices to my tie dyeing experiment were the men's t-shirts and the pillowcase.  All had seen better days, and, again, were going to be no great loss if the experiment was a failure.  The first step to all the tie dyeing was to give the items a thorough soak, They were not wrung out or dried in any way before being prepared for the dye bucket.

The wooden plates from the kit were used on the pillowcase.  First it was accordian-pleated into a small bundle, and then a wooden square placed on each broad side.  Rubber bands were used to hold the plates in place.  The result is that only the edges are exposed to the dye, creating a piece of cloth that is still mostly white.  Tie dyeing is truly an art, and one where I still have a lot to learn.  But, playing as you learn is a gift to yourself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Savoye: Simple Windowpane Plaid

Savoye Pullover by Theresa Schabes
from Knitscene Spring 2016

While working on my series of posts on knitted plaid techniques, I had a new plaid design published.  My first design to appear in Knitscene is Savoye, a windowpane plaid pullover.  Windowpane is a style of plaid where contrasting thin lines are worked over a solid background.  This pattern is quite simple to achieve with the applied crochet chain technique.  The horizontal stripes are knit in as you go while at the same time working vertical columns of purl stitches.  When the sweater pieces are finished, crochet chain stitched is worked into the purl columns in the contrasting yarn.  In Savoye I worked double lines of contrast for more presence on the light background.  Knitscene-spring-2016-130_small2
With a funnel neck and dropped shoulder sleeves, this is a simple shape to knit.  Just be careful to use an elastic bind off, such as Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off, or the neck opening will be too tight to put your head through!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mad for Plaid: Combined Techniques

Picture Perfect Plaid by Theresa Schabes
from 60 Quick Baby Blankets
I love combining two different techniques for creating knitted plaid fabric into my designs because the resulting design has so much complexity.

The simplest example is by baby blanket at left.  The main body is simple intarsia.  While intarsia may not always be described as simple, in plaid designs it is simplified by being worked in a regular geometric shape.  As a result, the pattern is easily memorized and there's no staring at a chart for the entire knit.

The horizontal stripes are knitted into the base fabric, and where the vertical stripes will be placed a column of purl stitches is worked.  After the base fabric is completed, the purl columns are an easy guide for placement of a crochet chain.  
Cuthaig Plaid Mitts
by Theresa Schabes

My favorite combination is two-stranded intarsia and applied crochet chain.  The intarsia patterning gives you a blurred base fabric that closely simulates weaving, while the vertical crochet chain and horizontal stripes give you a sharp, crisp line of color.  This is certainly an advanced knitting technique, but my Cuthaig mitt pattern is an opportunity to try it in a small dose.  If you enjoy the challenge and appreciate the gorgeous fabric, you can move on to my Gait's Haire wrap/cowl or one of the plaid sweaters I have designed for Vogue Knitting/Sixth & Spring books.  
Gait's Haire by Theresa Schabes
#27 Tartan Pulloverfrom Vogue Knitting Winter 2014/15
I hope you've enjoyed my series on plaids.  Next up:  a couple new designs which have just been published and adventures in indigo dyeing.