Monday, February 20, 2006

Distraction anyone?

I have always thought that the best way to get something done on deadline is to do something completely unrelated and unnecessary and time-consuming. You think I'm joking?

When I had two major tests and a ten page paper to write as an undergrad, I decided that the most pressing task at hand was to make a little patchwork backpack. It was the thing I must do next. I simply could not continue with my education until this bag was done. So, I spent 3 hours sewing, and then fell asleep. Luckily, my dorm caught on fire that night (no, I didn't have anything to do with it) and I was given a stay of execution on those deadlines.

When I had to write a final for a summer course, I decided that what I really needed was a day off. I was just too stressed you see? I needed some time to unwind before settling into my "writing zone". So, I spent the day boozing and smoking with N. He was just my neighbor back then, and it was imperative that we spend a day of quality time before I embarked on the paper.

And the most recent evidence of my stupidity of this habit?

Yup, with the end of the Knitting Olympics just a week away, and my Olympic project maybe 1/4 done, this heap of yarn became the most pressing thing on my list. It's recycled from a sweater. That's probably two of the sleeves there, though I ripped it apart a long time ago, so I'm not sure.

Remember my little issue with the Noro? Well since my first attempt, my self-striping technique (and yes, I use that word lightly) has been simmering in my mind. So here is the second attempt. (details, JUST IN CASE you want to try it. And you KNOW you do!)

First, I wrapped the yarn onto little plastic bobbins. I made these from one of those weird flexible cutting boards. I wanted the stripes to be fairly regular, so I wrapped the yarn about 50-60 times around each bobbin.

Then I soaked them for about 20 minutes in warm, not hot, water.

While those were soaking, I gathered together all the stuff I needed. Mason jars, (put them on the microwave tray BEFORE making the dyes, or you'll be dealing with a tie-dyed floor when you try to juggle them all to the microwave), vinegar, and (eh hem) "dye".

Next, I mixed up a base dye. My last attempt had some ungainly colors mixed together, so I thought that starting with a base might help.

What did I use to get that lovely color?

1 Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade, 1 Raspberry Reaction, @1 cup of water, and @2 Tablespoons Vinegar.

Then I added various, reds, blues and purples to get my four stripe colors.

I got my yarn from the bathroom, and dealt it around the colors. In the end, it looked like this colorful mound of spaghetti:

I nuked it for 3 minutes, rest for 2 minutes about 4 times. You can tell when it's done because the water has little or no color left in it. (Though some Kool-aids leave that weird white hazy stuff....JMom and I researched's just salt. Weird, huh?) This is it, just about there. One more zap and it should be done.

When its cool enough to handle, dump it all back into warm water to rinse.

After rinsing, I wound the bobbins into a hank, washed it with shampoo, rinsed and dried. It was a little disappointing....waaay too much white.

The dye just didn't soaked down to the under layers on the bobbin. I'll probably re-dye that one with the base color and it will still look nifty, but my self-striping CLEARLY needs a little tweaking still. So, I got back to my Olympic knitting and vowed to try again another day started all over again. I made longer bobbins and wrapped the yarn so that it only was layered twice.

Of course, I forgot a key step...the pre-soaking. But I was still able to end up with this.

I'm positive that the dye would have been more even and deep had I not been a terd about the pre-soaking, but whatever. I was pretty happy with that result and it seems like a keeper of a technique (with a little tweaking here and there of course....always a little tweaking).

And so the Olympic knitting? Well, I got this done after all my procrastinating stupidity:

Which isn't bad, but certainly isn't Olympic speed. By the way, posing with endless rows of ribbing is my childhood charm necklace. (I told you I'd TRY to find something to jazz up these pictures, didn't I?)


Anonymous Nancy said...

LOL! I am the same way when I'm working on a big project -- I do everything else possible before I start on the project.

I think the yarn looks cool. I love the colors.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

You are WAY more crafty then me. Kool-aid? You rock! Not just for drinking and bad (hair) dye jobs anymore.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I love the colored yarn, even if you're not happy with it. The colors look so good together.

And I know what you mean about procrastinating with other projects. I once wallpapered my bathroom the night before a term paper was due.

11:22 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

Who knew there were so many uses for Kool-aid? Besides dying the dog green for the St. Paddy's Day parade...

I guess if you get thirsty while wearing the sweater, you can always suck on your sleeve.

11:44 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

Wow, I'm totally impressed. Way to rock the Kool Aid!

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Oh my. I had one of those charm necklaces too, wow!

(hadn't seen one in ages...the colors!

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude. Your self-striping yarn is cool, and I appreciated your use of the word "turd". Always cool. Your charm necklace definitely brought back memories for me... I used to have one! And yes, I took a break from my Olympic Knitting, too. I think it's all good. Happy Knitting!

9:21 PM  
Blogger JayneSays said...

Crafty! I'll need to file away the KoolAid dye info into the back of my brain . . . I clean the house to procrastinate.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I can decide to quilt a six year old project, before I must write a paper, or clean the basement.

I will stay up, forgo food and move heaven and earth to finish the project. But clean out the linen closet? Hell to the Nizzzo.

I also use the Koolaid for making playdough. Makes it smell good.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous stellarama said...


omg. you have totally made my day.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous roo said...

V- I love your bobbin solution-- very smart.

I wonder, though-- what if you cut out the middles of the bobbins, leaving a rectangular frame? The self-healing mat ought to be strong enough to stay rigid without it, and the dye bath might have an easier time soaking all the way through to the yarn in the middle...

I really like the yarns you came up with-- especially the first set. And I think this project ought to qualify as Olympian extra-credit.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Can you use plastic needlepoint canvas for your bobbins?

1:16 AM  

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