Back to the salt mines

I’m back to the grind of the book, so you lucky ducks again get what That Laurie and the tail end of her indigo adventure. Almost the tail end, actually, since there is one more you’ll want to see tomorrow.

The writing is going well, and will be interrupted tomorrow with a very fast trip to NYC, to do some sort of book sales conference thing (Note to self: ask Sarah-the-wonder-publicist why I’m going to NY and what I’m supposed to be doing there.) I’ll be gone less than 24 hours, but I’m so lame I’m excited anyway.


(PS. I’m knitting a new sweater, ’cause you know…I SO have time. Can you tell what it is?)

Lookit! Lookit! (I’m Look-it-ting; I’m Look-it-ting)

(AKA- Laurie’s dye adventure, episode #4)

The above title comes from one of my favorite Charley Brown comic strips, but it also adequately describes the kind of behavior I have been indulging in with friends and family, proudly showing off indigo-dyed blue yarn. Of course, to them it just looks like blue yarn. Oh, well. Here is the recently dyed polwarth skein that endured and thrived in thorough immersion:


I particularly like the way in which the skein matches (almost) my blue jeans and my blue shoes.

Here is my earlier skein BEFORE its second visit to the indigo vat. It is hanging on the clothes line in all its splotchy glory:


And here is the new blue polwarth skein AND the over-dyed old skein, now a much darker and more even blue:


The lessons from the two dyeing sessions:

1) The indigo dye vat is probably more forgiving than the instructions suggest.

2) Look for color CHANGES in the dye vat in the pouring session and the transformation to “indigo white,” NOT particular shades.

3) You can keep dipping for a LONG time, but the yarn must be out and exposed to air for 30 minutes in between and keeping the vat warm is important. I dipped the over-dyed skein 3 or 4 times. Which leads to the next lesson …

4) Heat + agitation + changes in temperature lead to a different kind of wool magic – fulling/felting, especially with non-superwash merino. The skein cooled in the ½ hour out of the bath and was heated (and agitated) upon its return to the dye vat. The result? My skein began to develop a dreaded dreadlock-style clumping of strands of yarn. Needless to say, I stopped the redipping process. Trying to separate the strands while the skein was wet almost convinced me that I had achieved a nice indigo-colored felted skein. Crossing my fingers, I set the skein out to dry.

Once it dried, I was able carefully to re-skein it while separating those strands that had clumped/fulled together. I gained two important insights from this problem: a) slightly fulled yarn CAN be separated into its strands, but you must do so when it is dry (wet wool is weaker than dry wool so you can seriously damage the yarn by trying to wrench it apart while it is wet and b) it would have been a VERY good idea to re-skein the yarn BEFORE over-dyeing so that the “blotches” in the original yarn could be redistributed and overdyed perhaps more evenly.

With the merino skein above, I find I actually like its faintly mottled appearance a lot.

Now, folks, on to the BIG question: what should I knit with my 440 yards of indigo-dyed fingering weight merino? What about the 150 yd skein of handspun polwarth that I dyed in a later session? For that skein (to be shown in the addendum to come along with more experimental indigo skeins), I have thought about making a new pattern, Arabella, from the Arisokka Textile Blog. It takes about the right amount of sport weight, and the Arabella I am working up now from other handspun is looking very cool. Of course, some kind of Fairisle pattern is also a possibility, or so you will think when you see the last episode in this series.

Although the merino yarn was originally for socks, I resist putting my carefully indigo-dyed yarn into a form that I know I will wear through sooner rather than later. Make your suggestions for 440 yard merino skein OR the 150 skein in the comments today! (I am stopping just short of the Harlot’s daring willingness to let us vote on which sock pattern she should start a while back; after all, we all know how THAT experiment turned out!)

Update from Steph: For the love of crap. Sorry about the comments guys…I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I’ll put my technical team (um…that would be Ken) on this and try and find out why my comments thingie is determined to mention the size (or lack thereof) of male organs when you try and say something civilized. Not that male organs aren’t civilized (well..they often aren’t actually, but that’s another problem.) but I don’t know what the trouble is. We, well…Ken will get on it.

Update again: Ken fixed the comments. All hail the mighty tech god and all round good guy. You may resume commenting, without fear of any sort of suggestions about the size of your “meat and veg”.

53 thoughts on “Back to the salt mines

  1. I vote for the FlowerBasket Shawl. I need to plant indigo in my garden next year for that wonderful effect.
    I didn’t comment yesterday but Steph tell that other Teresa congrats on Baby Snowflake.

  2. Umm, would that be some kind of cardi? ’cause I have like, wool guilt that I haven’t started mine yet. The yarn is still in its squishy innocent skeins, wondering when the hell I’m going to wind it into a ball and start a (look away, Steph) a swatch!
    Laurie, that indigo yarn is begging to be made into a lace scarf. Well, it’s begging me to make it into a lace scarf.

  3. For the Lace leaf pullover, if you don’t want to do the really annoying kitchner graft across the center of the sweater. I made an upside version of the lace leaf chart. This way you can just knit straight from the neck all the way down.
    Finished sweater:
    Flipped chart:
    (Yes, I put the arms on the wrong sides. Ssssh! If you don’t tell anyone I won’t either.)

  4. That polwarth is a beautiful, rich shade… if it were mine I’d probably just keep it somewhere I could look at it all the time and everytime someone came over I’d say, LOOK! I did this! All of it! (I just learned to spin and that seems to be what I’ve done with everything I’ve spun so far…) Of course, a lace scarf would be beautiful in that color, so I’m with Clare on that one.

  5. My instinct was lace scarf, too. And Stephanie’s leafy pullover is making me want to see a leaf pattern involved, which would be a nice way to echo the botanical dye source, too.

  6. Leaf pullover? The one in Interweave (last winter?), it’s by Teva Durham and it’s in the Loop-d-loop book. Can’t wait to see it done!

  7. A lace leaf pullover! Can’t wait to see what yarn you used and how it turns out. It seems like everybody’s I’ve seen is a slightly different shape. Mine turned out very Michelin man-like on my sturdy frame 🙁

  8. Ohters beat me to it, but that has to be Teva Durham’s Lace Leaf Pullover. What yarn are you using? I can’t find a sub for the Filtes King Van Dyck that I like.

  9. Pout. Everyone in Blogland is making the sweater that I like. This is so Not Fair.
    and, “meat and veg”? Ew!!

  10. Now I’m wondering what type of “meat and veg” comment I might have gotten. Have fun in NYC and it’s not lame to be excited.

  11. Yup, Teva’s pullover from the book and IK. What yarn are you using? The suggested one? The color looks the same.

  12. Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Ken.
    I think a whirlwind trip to NYC is totally a reason to be excited, you jetsetter you. Have fun at the sales conference. And play nice.

  13. *pout* Now I will never know what size my veggies are. O.o
    Laurie, if you ever end up with a “splotchy” skein looking like the one before you over-dyed it, for the love of wool, call me. Email me. Send lumberjacks to my front door to get my attention. I will buy it with my first born if need be. Maybe it’s just the picture, but I actually drooled over the colorway it created.

  14. Teva’s lace leaf pullover would look so fine on me because i have tiny shoulders. let us see it on you when you finish.
    marie in texas

  15. Gansey vest — under a jacket it would look like the real thing, but more appropriate to an academic setting. (And no, that’s not a gansey-crack. Some people are sooooo sensitive.)

  16. Have fun in NYC! Boy, those publishers sure make you work for your money.
    Of course that’s Teva Durham’s Lacy Leaf Pullover. Is it a gift? It doesn’t strike me as your style. Yeah, as if I’d know after meeting you once. *snort* Never mind.
    Safe travels.
    And to Laurie: gorgeous yarn

  17. my guess is the lace leaf pullover from IK. i was thinking of knitting it, but couldn’t find a suitable substitute for the prescribed yarn that got very scratchy reviews. what are you using? looks like the same color (exactly) and everything?

  18. Laurie, that darker skein looks really alluring. I’m not a technical knitter so my suggestion would be to use the larger amount of more variegated blue yarn for a lightweight sweater that could be worn around the house. The variations in the blue would complement plainer stitches. An finish it so that it’s just at the top of the pelvic bones, only just dangling over the top of a pair of jeans. That way the great belts that are in fashion this year could be seen as well.
    NYC – miss it madly. Blow it a kiss for me, Steph.

    (re, the “I’m lookiting, I’m lookiting part” :))
    The indigo yarn looks lovely!

  20. mmm lace leaf pullover! My favorite Teva pattern. Unless you swiped part of the pattern from it and did something crazy like use it on (gasp) something else 😉
    Laurie, thank you for the Indigo posts! I’ve been thinking about indigo dyeing recently… mm.

  21. OOOO!!!! Your blog remembered me, for the FIRST TIME!!! It was worth the innuendoes about my, um, size.
    I’ve made that sweater, and it’s waiting for me to be brave enough to try that Kitchener-ing part, right across the unhideable middle.

  22. I keep thinking indigo would look awesome with some cables on it. The dye would wash out more on the cable tops and make them stand out even more… Everyone seems to be going for lace scarf, it could be a lace & cable scarf? 🙂

  23. Teva got you too, and thankfully you’re doing it on a sweater, not a one skein wonder how this is going to cover my supposedly small self.
    I missed out on the questions about my male organs. I don’t have any, but I’m disappointed all the same. I wonder what 20th century deconstructionist philosopher that would make me, eh?

  24. Definitely the lace leaf pullover. I only lack the sleeve seams on mine now. The grafting does kind of stink, as mentioned before, but I used the matching sport weight, EZ’s sewn cast off, and some fake grafting to do the trick. There’s an inside seam with this method, but the sport weight makes it barely noticable. Also for those needing a cheaper, less itchy, washable, whatever substitution, I used Lion Woolease T&Q. Not my favorite yarn, but it worked beautifully and fits my college student budget! Good luck with it- its certainly the fastest, coziest knit I’ve done yet.

  25. What a sophisticated audience you have to recognize that pattern so quickly! I was stumped, and so had to google lace leaf pullover, which got me to IWK… great sweater (for a daughter, per chance?), which then got me looking at the shrugs (for my teen niece), and now I’ve printed the ribbed shrug and am going to dive into the stash for some appropriate yarn. Well, printed is not quite the right word for it… we got a new computer this weekend – an eMac, and I apparently didn’t set up the printer right because all I’m getting is blank pages… so wrote it out. Will deal with printer after the stash dive.
    PS glad to hear Monty is nursing well (one less thing to fret about).

  26. Gorgeous! And that applies to the indigo yarn, the leaf jumper and Monty (of course).
    The only thing that would worry me about the indigo yarn is its colourfastness. I have a skein of (indigo + something else natural) purple yarn from a woman in Scotland who does beautiful stuff, but when I was buying the skein I overheard another customer say how he bought his favourite jumper from her 10 years ago and it still rubs off its colour when he wears it. Is there a way of making indigo super colourfast?

  27. If it is the Teva Durham sweater, I’ve seen the original and the yarn isn’t as scratchy as comments here seem to suggest. I want to make one. The graft in the center… no big deal for the Harlot, more of a big deal for me. You’ll need a sweater while in NYC. It’s turned colder today.

  28. Glad the comments were able to be de-bugged!!!
    Yeah, had no clue what the pattern was, I just thought it was very pretty.

  29. Another vote for the leaf thingy sweater by Teva Durham. Her designs don’t usually speak to me (yes, I hear pattern voices. doesn’t everyone?), but I like that one.

  30. Ya don’t suppose it was the exposure of the “full Monty” in yesterday’s blog that brought about the meat and veg thingy, do ya? 🙂

  31. I read your blog all the time but have never commented. I am sure you’ve found the answer to this already, but I work in publishing and can tell you that twice a year (or so), publishers hold sales conferences, where their sales folks congregate and get huge binders full of information on all the books that are coming out that season. The fact that your editor wants you to go to the sales conference means that they really want to impress the sales folks that your book is something special and that said sales folks should take extra time to present your book when they make their sales calls to bookstores. It’s quite an honor, since the sales people hear so much information that the ones I’ve always seen leave the sales conference with this glazed over expression. At least with your book, they’ll remember what I’m sure will be a charming presentation and personal appearance, and hopefully that will transfer to higher sales.

  32. I’m Look-it-ing reminds me of reading ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy and much of it is from the viewpoint of a couple of kids, and frequently you get: “‘Stoppit!’ He stoppitted.” It was a terribly sad book, but a lot of the language was fun like that.

  33. I say Teva Durham’s sweater, the one that uses the same leaf as the leaf cravat she designed…which I started last spring when I needed green, and then didn’t finish because it got hot…now I think I should pull it out again and finish. Christmas is too close. I need gifts. No one needs to know it was originally meant for moi.

  34. I’m so jealous– I’ve been dying to knit the sweater from Teva Durham’s book for months!

  35. Laurie- I’m w/ Stalker Angie, I LOVED the skein before you redid it! It was very nice afterwards, too, but…
    Monty is absolutely beautiful- way to go Teresa!

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