Kyle William Tutorial Videos
This is a short post but an important one... announcing a new feature on the Kyle William website: the VIDEO channel! Videos will be added over time, focusing on knitting techniques, hints & tips, and should be helpful when attempting a new technique or taking the first steps to learn how to knit. Techniques featured in this series are based on the right-handed English (or throwing) style knitting, where for the most part the working yarn is held in the right hand.
Click the VIDEO link at the top of the site to be directed to the page showing the various videos.
Have a particular technique you'd like demonstrated? Send an EMAIL. Like what you see? click the "like" facebook button or share this post on twitter with your friends. Thanks!
I knit for many reasons. I knit because it's creative, relaxing, fun, inspiring... I have discovered through my knitting that it is also a great way to start conversations. When I knit in public, people seem curious about what I'm making; they ask about the techniques, the patterns, the yarn... This is part of the reasoning behind my series of patterns that are designed to raise awareness of different issues. This pattern, CURE, features a "virus" motif, one red ribbon, and was created to encourage HIV/AIDS awareness. Beyond the knitter gaining access to the included information sheets about the virus, transmission, testing and various online resources, I hope this information is shared with others while the project is being knit, or perhaps the fact sheets are included with the hat as a gift to someone. Being able to share facts and resources is one of the greatest gifts we can offer our communities!
In addition to these wonderful benefits, 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of this pattern are donated to Project Open Hand; a non-profit organization offering “meals with love” to people living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses and to seniors in San Francisco and Alameda Counties since 1985. Learn more at www.openhand.org.
Following this pattern, it’s easy to create a custom hat supporting HIV/AIDS awareness! Knit one for yourself, make another for a friend or charity! Share the knowledge you gain with those you love to help raise awareness about the virus and how it is transmitted, and feel good about your purchase; knowing that you're helping Project Open Hand do the wonderful work they've been doing for over 25 years!
If you're interested in knitting the hat, click the "buy now" button below and complete your purchase for an instant download. Another way to show support? Click the buttons at the bottom of this post to share this post with your friends on facebook or twitter. Encourage your knitting group to each purchase a copy of the pattern and do a knit-a-long. Thank you for your support!!
100% of net proceeds from CAUSE hat pattern donated to Living Beyond Breast Cancer
As an additional note, the other pattern designed to raise awareness, CAUSE, benefits Living Beyond Breast Cancer. 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of this pattern go to an amazing nonprofit in PA. Founded in 1991, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers specialized programs and services for the newly diagnosed, young women, women with advanced breast cancer, women at high risk for developing the disease, African-American and Latina women as well as programs for caregivers and healthcare professionals to help them better meet the needs of women affected by breast cancer. Learn more at www.LBBC.org.
To purchase this pattern, click the "buy now" button. Thanks for helping to spread awareness of these important issues while helping me to raise money for these worthwhile organizations.
Copper Penny Dyeing
What fun this project is! With a few simple household ingredients, you can dye yarn a beautiful color! The first time I heard of this technique was scribbled in the margines of an old natural dyeing book another artist had left
in one of my classrooms. Intrigued, I jotted down the notes and went hunting and gathering in my neighborhood for the required materials. Download a complete tutorial on the process by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.
You'll notice that it doesn't take much to do this experiment! It also doesn't require fancy yarn... any 100% wool yarn should work quite well. The first part of the project is to gather the materials necessary to make the solution.
Why pre-1981 copper pennies? It has to do with the copper content. According to Wickipedia, (which is always accurate, right??) the copper content of pennies before 1981 is around 5%, and from the varous websites I researched for the recipe, they all specify pre-1982 or pre-1981 pennies.
1793–1857 100% copper
1857–1864 88% copper, 12% nickel (also known as NS-12)
1864–1942 bronze (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc)
1946–1962 bronze (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc)
1943 zinc-coated steel (also known as steel penny)
1944–1946 brass (95% copper, 5% zinc)
1962–1981 brass (95% copper, 5% zinc)
1974 Experimental aluminum variety (test strikes only, not circulated)
1982–present* 97.5% zinc core, 2.5% copper plating
Where do you get 100 pre-1981 pennies? The bank, of course! (First I went through my change piles and sorted the pennies... I found almost enough for the experiment there.) I visited the teller at my local bank and got $4 worth of rolled pennies. in the first 2 rolls I found a total of 11 pre-1981 pennies which was enough to complete my first experiment, and after opening the other 2 rolls (and finding a few additional ones lying around) I have 51 more pennies saved up for the next time I want to try this!
Of course, after all the preparation, I got a bit ahead of myself in the experiment and used tap water instead of the distilled water that my recipe calls for. Tap water includes iron which might change the way the solution develops. The metals and minerals in tap water affects dyeing, so if an attempt at controlling the color is desired, then distilled water is the way to go. I'm going to proceed anyway with this version (I could pour out the liquid and re-start it since it was such an immediate realization) to see how it looks. I'll then repeat the experiment with distilled water to see how that compares.
I put the sealed jar on the roof of my building with a note, letting the other tenants know what wacky experiment I was doing, and then followed it up with a quick email to let them all know, just to be sure everyone is aware. It was mixed around 11:30am on Monday, May 9, 2011. The liquid almost immediately started to change color. Even on the silver paint of my rooftop it is noticeable!
The above photo was taken after 48 hours, and the liquid is even more blue. (The sky was very cloudy when I took this photo; the blue is actually more brilliant than it looks). I am checking the liquid daily to see how it looks, and I shake up the jar each time to mix around the pennies.
...and here it is one week later - in brighter light... it doesn't seem that much more intense when I compare the photos. (It actually seems lighter/brighter). That being said, my guess is the solution is probably not harmed by leaving the copper in for longer than recommended.
The next step is to soak your wool. I used Patons Classic Wool (100% wool) in the color "Aran" for this experiment. It comes in skeins that weigh approximately 3.5 ounces. I wound 2.25 ounces onto my niddy noddy, and loosely tied the skein using scrap bits of yarn in a "figure 8" through the yarn to keep it secure in 4 different places. Here's my skein of yarn bundled up for a "before" photo:
Then, fill a large bowl or pan with cool water. Open up the skein and submerse the yarn so that it's all able to soak up water:
Some of the yarn sits on the top of the water and is exposed to the air... it's not getting wet! In order to fix this, I put a plate on top of the yarn and allowed the water to submerge the plate:
Let the yarn soak for about an hour in the water so that it is fully wet. Next, take the pennies out of your blue solution, being careful not to breathe in the vapors. Rinse the pennies in water. I don't know for sure if you would want to re-use the pennies for dyeing again or not (anyone have thoughts?)... The next steps require a few additional items: rubber gloves, a strainer of some sort to easily drain the liquid and keep the pennies in the jar, and a container of some sort in which to soak the yarn. Hooray for the dollar store; $3.00 plus tax for these additional items! Note: even though we are using simple household ingredients, I really suggest not using food preparation items that might come into contact with the blue ammonia solution. It's best to have dedicated supplies and materials for your dyeing and experimenting. When in doubt, don't use something that you use for food preparation.
Carefully wring out the yarn from the bowl of water, and put the wetted yarn into the blue solution. BE CAREFUL not to get the solution on you. (If you do get it on your skin, wash immediately with soap and water.) When I did this, the yarn turned a strange beige-gray color. I put the plastic wrap on top of the yarn to try to be sure that the liquid was in contact with all of the yarn. After 30-45 minutes, there was no more blue in the solution.
Once this happens, remove the yarn and rinse in a soution of vinegar to set the color. Note that this color is considered fugitive, meaning the color might/will fade over time. Be aware of this when you do the technique, knowing that if you combine it with other colors that this one may fade.
The photo above was taken after the yarn had been rinsed and vinegar was added to the rinse bath. There's a distinct but subtle change of color when the yarn is put in this "afterbath" - it got lighter and more green. The photo below shows an attempt at illustrating this difference. Click on the photo to enlarge.
At this point, there's not much more to do. Rinse the yarn well, remove the excess water, and hang it to dry. In the end, I ended up with a green/gray yarn that I'm pleased with. Note that this dye is fugitive, meaning the color will fade over time, much like many other dyes. It's worth noting, however, and keeping in mind when pairing with other yarns.
One more photo to compare the colors. If you do try out this fun technique, be sure to send me a note to let me know how it goes! Ready to try? Click the link below to download the tutorial for copper yarn dyeing!
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Last Friday, we did some natural dyeing using yellow onion skins and madder root. The processes were all similar, and while I didn't take as many images as I'd like, I thought it might be fun to share some photos of parts of the process. There are a few things I want to note, most importantly, DO NOT use your cooking or canning pots to dye fiber! It is probably not safe and might make you sick! Visit a thrift store or buy inexpensive pots to do this. Consult a book on dyeing for more information, and by all means, don't take my measurements/calculations to be "correct"... it's all an experiment, and, in my opinion, as long as the yarn turns out pretty, it's successful!
The first step is to prepare the fibers. We used only wool in our process. The yarn needs to be tied into a skein, which can be done on a warping board (as above) or between two chairs or two hands of a patient person. The yarn needs to be secured in 3 places by tying a yarn around the fibers. Look at a commercial skein of yarn that hasn't been opened and chances are you'll see how this string is to be knotted. It helps to keep the yarn from tangling on itself. Do not knot the string tight or you'll create a "stripe"!
If you want to label your yarns, get a tyvek envelope (the FedEx or UPS or Priority mail envelopes that feel like a mix between plastic and paper) and cut it into little squares. This is a great opportunity to reuse! Cut a small hole in the tag or use a hole punch, then string it through one of the strings you knot around the skein. Use a Sharpie marker and make a note about the yarn - your name, the fiber type; how you intend to mordant or dye the yarn - whatever you think is important. If you are dyeing a bunch of different ways or different yarns, these notes are helpful. Also, the tag can stay with the skein after you're done... and it'll remind you what you did so you can explain it to anyone interested!
Any animal based (protein) fiber should accept the natural dye easily. Plant fibers are less successful. If the fiber is synthetic (nylon, acrylic,) you'd want to use acid dyes. Also, you can overdye yarns... if you don't like the color of a yarn, try overdyeing it! If the fiber starts off a bit darker, then the color will be darker when dyed.
The skin of the yellow (or red) onion dyes fiber beautifully. I went to the local chain supermarket and asked the produce clerk if I could clean out the onion bin. After quickly explaining what I was doing, he was more than happy to have my do this; it made his produce look better, his job easier, and the skins that would otherwise have been garbage are put to use. NOTE: He did mention that in a month or two that the onions will begin to arrive with less of a skin, so for those interested in dyeing using onion skins, I suggest gathering materials sooner rather than later, or you might be waiting until the Autumn.
Having never dyed with onion skins before, I did a search online and found some sources that hinted at soaking the skins for 24 hours prior to using them. I took 2 plastic jars and filled them with skins (which I first weighed so that we had an idea of the weight of the skins we used), then poured boiling water on them and let them soak for a few hours the morning of the class. I figured it can't hurt, and while it wasn't the way our instructor generally did the dyeing, we used the liquid and skins.
We put the dry skins and the ones that were soaked in sacks after weighing the materials (we had 5.6oz of onion skins). Putting the skins in some sort of mesh sack helps keep the dyestuff from tangling in the fibers. Old stockings work really well for this, and these mesh bags worked well for onion skins. In our case, we had about 9oz of yarn which we soaked in cold water for about half an hour. Then, we put the wet fibers in a pot of hot water with about 2oz of mordant (we used Alum) and let it soak in the hot water (which was cooking on a little hotplate) for about an hour. We don't want the water to boil, but the hot water and mordant helps to make the fibers recieve the dye better. There's LOTS to know about natural dyeing, and a wonderful resource is the local library. Check out some books and give it a try!
The liquid from the soaked onion skins went in the hot pot of water and the mesh sacks went in as well. Immediately, the color of the water was golden! After they were in the pot for a while, we added the mordanted yarn
We let the yarn simmer for about an hour, keeping an eye on it to be sure it doesn't boil, and stirring the pot to keep the fibers mixed around the skins. After we were happy with the color, we poured the mixture in the sink (which you shouldn't do with acid dyes!) and squeezed out the yarn. At that point, it needs to be rinsed (I like to rinse it till the water is clear, then put some vinegar in the water to set the color), and hung to dry.
Onion skins make an amazing range of golds and yellows. The fiber on the far right of this photo was "overdipped" in the madder dyepot which is why it gets a bit more orange at the bottom of the skein.
The process for dyeing with madder is pretty much the same. The root we used had been harvested around 15 years ago so this was a bit of an experiment. The root bits could have been smashed up a bit more, but other than that, here's what we did...
Madder roots in the mesh bag sitting in the dyepot cooking out their delicious color! We let this cook just like we did the onion skins. These sticks came out during the process; it would have probably been good to use the leg of a ladie's stocking for these bits... Again, we had 9oz of yarn, soaked in cold water then put it in a pot with the alum (again about 2oz) and soaked for 1 hour. We had 8oz of madder root which was soaked overnight in a big glass jar. The liquid went into the pot and the root bits went into the mesh bag.
When we were done with the process, the fibers turned out this gorgeous orange/peach/rust color! After soaking them and hanging them to dry (remember to put them somewhere that if they happen to drip that if it happens to still have dye in it it won't be a problem) - I hang my skeins in a tree in the backyard - the water drips on the grass below... and it doesn't stain anything.
The week before we dyed with Brazilwood; an endangered wood! One of the participants got Brazilwood shavings from a woodworker who makes violin bows! The wood is old, and is part of his collection of materials. Instead of the shavings being thrown out, he allowed us to do some dyeing with it! The color we got is a gorgeous pink/orange!
You'll also notice that there is some purple colors in here... After the dyeing, we added baking soda to the dyepot which made the purple/fuschia color, and added vinegar to a different "afterbath" and that made the brighter coral color.
The sort of red ball in the middle of the last image is one that a student overdyed. It's just dyed with the same brazilwood 2 weeks in a row. Gorgeous!
So there you go... natural dyeing, a few different ingredients, and unpredictable (but beautiful) results! Go get a book from the library or your local book shop, do a google search for a natural dyeing workshop in your area, and get to it! There's a world of color out there for you to discover!
Here's a helpful online link: Dharma Trading offers natural dyes and mordants for purchase (as well as a LOT of other things) - if you can't find materials locally, you can always order from them!