The last few weeks haven’t been great for my crafting schedule, and even worse for blogging purposes: I’ve been slogging away on two fairly large projects, finishing neither, and distracted a fair bit by other things. Real life is such a drag. Anyway, I’ve made progress on my harlequin shirt, which I talked about in my last entry, and cast on and have done about half of a large, snuggly Tunisian crochet shawl. I also had a yarn-dyeing misadventure: I should have read more carefully before attempting to kool-aid dye a cotton yarn.
The harlequin knit shirt is progressing and looks fairly shirt-like now: I’ve made it past the reconnect at the armpits and am working the slow slog of mostly even rows down the torso. The photo at right shows current progress from the front of the shirt: the shoulders straps, neck hole, arm holes, and then gathering to the circular needle. I ended up ordering additional yarn for it, as the first skein ran out well before the halfway mark. I am kind of ambivalent about the whole project at the moment; the worries about how the colorway will actually look in a garment haven’t subsided, and this is exacerbated by the fact that when I hit the reconnect, suddenly the rows were twice as long as before, so the color stripes get narrower. Furthermore, the more I work, the more every loose edge curls up on itself, so I’m worried I won’t be able to get it flat enough to wear. Ah well; I’ve learned a lot from this project even if I end up having to rip it all out and do something else.
While I was waiting for the new harlequin yarn to show up, I cast on a shawl in Tunisian crochet. This is using three colors of yarn from my big box of mismatched sock yarns—they’re all multis, and I only got one or two skeins of each color. These three more or less coordinate, all having a pinkish-red overall feel and comprising a reasonable gradient. I decided to supplement with the white yarn I’d gotten in case the surf shawl needed it, and I may also add some burgundy at the end.
The plan is a fairly simple half-circle shawl in Tunisian simple stitch and honeycomb stitch. For the half-circle shape, each row has four increases on average; for the first few rows I made four increases each row, then started doing eight increases every second row, then sixteen every fourth, and am now up to thirty-two every eight rows. Honeycomb stitch doesn’t play nice with single increases, so I am doing honeycomb stitch in some of the even rows in between increasing rows.
Incidentally, this project is making me fall in love with Tunisian honeycomb stitch, which the internet assures me is completely normal to do; it looks lovely and breaks up the monotonous straight lines of ordinary Tunisian simple stitch. In particular, I noticed with the multicolor yarns I’ve been working with that it looks really good with a different color for the posts than for the chains, which happened spontaneously in some areas of the shawl in progress (see photo). I think my next project will build on this idea—I am planning to make mitts in Tunisian honeycomb stitch in the round, making posts out of a solid dark purple yarn and chains out of either (I haven’t decided yet) a) a lighter purple multi, b) a mint-green multi with light purple accents, or c) the white solid.
Anyway, back to the shawl—the way I am dealing with the multiple, multi-color yarns is by setting up a gradient over the whole shawl and then not worrying too much about the details. In Tunisian, it’s easy to mix colors within a row by switching yarns at the far end of the row, after pulling up all your loops and before chaining back. For the first section of the shawl, I mixed white and the lightest of the three multis this way; in the photo at right you can see the rows alternate between having white posts with colored chains vs. colored posts with white chains. The next section is entirely in the first multi; the third mixes the first and second multis; the fourth is entirely the second multi, and so on. To make sure the sections are in some sort of proportion to each other, I’m making them equal area, which means a quarter of each yarn is in the section mixed with the previous skein, a half is in the section with the yarn by itself, and a quarter is in the section mixed with the next color. Instead of counting rows and doing math, I marked the quarter and three-quarters points of all three skeins, and switch sections as close to the marks as possible. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but when I’m finished I’ll put up a pattern with more concrete instructions.
Finally, I should mention my yarn-dyeing misadventures. I’ve run across a bunch of people talking about dyeing yarn with kool-aid recently, and I’ve got a couple skeins of cotton yarn in colors I will simply never use: Christmas multi and a terrible lime green. So I picked up some kool-aid, on a whim, in the grocery store. Then I went looking for more complete instructions, and discovered that acid-fix dye only works on wool and similar fibers, not cotton. Surprise! A few people did say that it worked on cotton as well, but less effectively, so I figured I had nothing to lose and tried it. Welp, here are before, during, and after pictures of dyeing a Christmas-multi yarn in cherry kool-aid:
The thought with choosing cherry would be that the white sections would become red or pink, the red would become darker red, and the green would become brown, and I’d get a warm-colors multi. The result was what I probably should’ve expected: identical to spilling kool-aid on fabric, the white sections turned a very light pink, and the red and green sections didn’t perceptibly change. Ah well, lesson learned, very little damage done—the yarn is of equal utility to me as before, and the kool-aid cost a grand total of $0.28. Next time I’m at the store I will pick up some RIT dye and do this right.