Dyeing with A Hundred Ravens

Last fall I met Kate, aka A Hundred Ravens, at the Fiber Festival of New England. When I say “met” … I mean I drooled over the yarn and roving in her booth, bought some of each, and staggered on to the next booth.  Our whole group of mad knitters agreed her colors were most excellent.  Later on, I spun up the gorgeous teal roving I bought from her, and made a cowl.  At some point I joined the Ravelry group for A Hundred Ravens. I noticed (how could I not!) that Kate was looking for designers to make patterns featuring her yarn.  Since I knew I’d be doing a second collection of one-skein shawls, highlighting indy dyers, it seemed like a match made in heaven!

Eventually we both got organized at the same time, and Kate invited me over to help dye the yarn for the shawl I was designing — wow!  I couldn’t have been more thrilled.  I dug around in my stash, turning up an undyed skein of rustic wool from a farmer’s market, plus I asked her to help my fix some “problem” yarn I’d received as part of a friend’s destash. Then, like a crazy person, I visited Mind’s Eye and bought two handfuls of merino roving and a big skein of Kona sport superwash. Yes, that’s right … I showed up on a stranger’s doorstep with a whole bag full of undyed stuff.  I have to admit I was a little worried that I would overstep the bounds of good guest manners….. but Kate was super welcoming and said I could dye any and all.

Let’s start with the yarn I was there to “help” dye — Iachos in the Styx colorway (newest iteration). Throughout the afternoon of dyeing, please know that the majority of work and so forth was Kate’s — she directed me and let me play, and I’d stammer out “maybe green?” and she’d produce a magical deep emerald color. So, credit goes to her in all cases — any mistakes are mine to own.

My two skeins of Styx:

IMG_5626

IMG_5590

Next up: my farmer’s marker wool. I’ve had it since 2009, and I always wanted it to be robin’s-egg blue with brown spots (you know, like the real eggs).  That’s all I had to say, to turn this …

9215 Signal Rock Farm undyed wool yarn

… into this:

IMG_5585

It’s like magic! 🙂  I put on the brown spots myself, with a juice box straw.

I brought six skeins of KP Shimmer in a … shall we say, “difficult” colorway: Grape Hyacinth  Quick side story … some months ago, a totally unrelated person gave me five skeins of this exact colorway.  She had swatched with it and been unable to find anything that worked.  Laceweight yarn, with short color repeats of deep purple, bright white, and anemic mint green:

IMG_5542

It’s one of those colorways that looks ok on the skein, but the color repeats are so short, and the contrast so great … it’s really hard to knit it into anything that looks remotely nice. I read through the project notes for Grape Hyacinth Shimmer, and was shocked by the amount of frogging and the number of people who planned to over-dye the finished object.  I also didn’t find any projects that looked amazing … bah.  So, those five skeins went to “for sale or trade”

1330 rehomed lace yarn

Goodbye, crazy yarn! May you turn magically into something pretty.

Imagine my consternation and surprise when I opened up a big bag of free “good” yarn from a friend …. and saw six more skeins of this obstinate colorway. What?? I guess no one knows what to make of it. Thanks to the wonders of an expert dyer, I was able to turn this …

IMG_5541

… into this:

IMG_5629

Now I have 2600+ yards of totally pretty lace-weight yarn. If I can track down my copy of the Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting, perhaps this will become a Rose of England.

One important thing I learned from Kate is that superwash wool takes up dye like it’s going out of style, and untreated wool just lies there, looking wan and hopeless.  I really, really lie the “Ashes of Roses” look to this roving …

IMG_5628

IMG_5589

… but you’d never guess we’d dipped it in rich purple and black. For the other hank of roving, Kate sent me home with a bottle of green dye. I put the roving in a bowl full of dye and microwaved it for 8 minutes. Heat did the trick!

IMG_5627

IMG_5588

 

Last but not even a little bit least, my kona sportweight — totally beautiful.

IMG_5625

IMG_5591

Thank you Kate! It was awesome to dye with you.

FO Friday: Handspun Chicken Mittens

I made something out of yarn that I made!

IMG_5298

Project: Handspun Chicken Mittens

Pattern: Fried Chicken Mittens

Designer: Ellen Mason

Available: FREE! on Ravelry

Yarn: my very first handspun yarn

IMG_5301

 

Fried Chicken Mittens is my very favorite “just a mitten” pattern.  The way the thumb increases are done make for a superior fit!  I knew I would be a bit short on yardage, and my handspun yarn was in two or three different weights.  I started with the most irregular/bulky/fuzzy yarn at the cuff, and knit less cuff than called for.  I knit the mittens two at a time, so that if I needed to turn them into fingerless mitts, they’d be at the same point.  I joined in the mid-range yarn shortly after the cuff, and then swapped to the best yarn as that ran out.

IMG_5296

 

I knew I would be cutting it VERY close.

IMG_5285

 

As you can see, I ended up short by the tip of one thumb.  I stole a bit of yarn from the first batch spun on my new spinning wheel, and called it good.

IMG_5284

FREE Mystery KAL: Lace Shawlette

I am very excited to announce my very first Mystery Knit-Along: Crushed.

As I have mentioned, I am working on a three-pattern collection of lace shawlettes.  Each one is made from a single skein of sock-weight yarn.  I’ve finished the samples and written the patterns for the first two, and I’m in the process of testing them. The third will be done soon.  I will be offering one of the patterns FREE as part of a Mystery KAL during the month of November.

I would like to invite all my readers to join this KAL.  I will be hosting it in the Remily Knits forum on Ravelry.

Mystery KAL icon (300)

Here’s a rough schedule:

  • available now: Pre-Clue (a swatch pattern)
  • Nov 8th: Clue #1 (setup and first few rows)
  • Nov 15th: Clue #2 (main body pattern)
  • Nov 22nd: Clue #3 (border)

Cast-On Monday: Socks That Rock (May 2012 Club Shipment)

The odd-numbered months bring YARN in the mail! Specifically, gorgeous hand-painted sock yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, from their sock club line.  Yay!  I think we’re still in the spoiler period, so I will follow rules and say only that the colorway is beautiful (stash page here), and that I’m doing the not-sock pattern (project page here).  If you click on links, that’s up to you — spoilers abound!

New Pattern Release: Mhara Baby Blanket

Introducing my latest pattern: Mhara Baby Blanket! Mhara means “sea” in Gaelic.

IMG_3606

IMG_3603

Pattern: Mhara Baby Blanket

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: for $1.99 through Knit Picks IDP or $2.50 on Ravelry

Yarn: Knit Picks Brava Bulky in Tranquil

Design/Skills Needed: This fully reversible baby blanket is worked on the bias in garter stitch. Step-wise increases and decreases are embellished as you go with crocheted waves. Explicit directions for stroller- and crib-sized blankets are given, but the pattern is easily adapted for larger or smaller blankets. This pattern includes complete photo tutorials for the step-wise increases and the crocheted embellishment. For ease of printing, these tutorials appear at the end of the pattern. Experienced knitters may print just page 2 for complete pattern with no extraneous photos or information.

Familiarity with crocheting is helpful, but not necessary. Almost any yarn will work with this pattern, provided you use appropriately-sized needles.

IMG_3604

IMG_3605

IMG_3602

IMG_3601

CO Monday: Emperor’s New Mitts, March 2012 RSC Socks, and Tute Catkin

Last week I received the latest shipment from the BMFA Rockin’ Sock Club! The March 2012 yarn is to DIE for.  Can’t share photos yet, of course, but I will soon!  I’ve decided to make the sock pattern this month — it’s perfect for the yarn.

I also cast on for my very own Catkin! I’ve loved this pattern for quite some time, and I think it will be stunning in Mad Tosh Light in “French Grey” and “Byzantine.”

IMG_3577

I hope everyone in the knitting world took time to cast on yesterday for Louise Zass-Bangham‘s new design, The Emperor’s New Mitts. I did, and I don’t regret it one little bit! I elected to use the recommended yarn, Rumplestiltskin (100% pure spun gold), Unicorn (100% rainbow), and Jason (golden fun fur).  Of course it took extra care and time to place the 3000 gold beads, but I think you would agree that the results are worth it!

Here is Julian modelling my new mitts — very pretty, no?

0918 J blocks photo