Friday, May 18

Rosebud's Request...

In my last post I had found this top - it's Rosebud's Request from the current Knit N Style, not a magazine that I buy all the time, but sometimes there are some good patterns in it - like this one! It's free online right now, so I've printed it out, and am in serious want! I've been thinking about what to make it out of, and I have commercial stuff in my stash that would work (several variations there). But in thinking about it, thought that handspun would probably do the trick nicely. I've mentioned that I have some Optim in stock that I'm planning on dyeing and putting up on-line at some point. I know - I really need to - I've just been awfully busy, and am just starting to feel like I'm getting back into my routines.

So anyhow - I looked at the pattern construction - basically it's constructed in 4 pieces - all starting at the corners and working up. I don't think that I want to bother with cutting the yarn all the time, and want to simplify things a bit - so I came up with a Plan - a Very Cunning Plan if I do say so myself (well it will be if it works anyway!)

What if I dyed 8 lengths of roving side by side in stripes, and then spun them in the same order? Could I get the stripes to line up? Could I get all 4 pieces to match? If I don't will it be a total disaster? I think it's going to work, and it's going to be fine. I took a long long length of roving out of my Optim stash... found the halfway point, and broke it there, repeated this a couple of times until I had 8 matching lengths of roving of about 6-7 feet in length.

I laid all 8 lengths of roving side-by-side on my counter top - as you can probably see - I had to go all the way over the top of the stove too!! I put down a wide piece of freezer paper, and then a long piece of tin foil - I left the roll connected so that I could just fold the tin foil over the top of the roving.

I then proceeded to mix up dyes - I started with a dye called gunmetal, really a nice grey-blue... I placed some wide stripes towards the left end of the rovings - then I mixed up some chestnut dye and poured those in between - I tried to get the gunmetal stripes more on the left than on the right, so that the stripes kind of mirror what you see in the actual pattern. I also left just a bit of the roving plain. Not too pre-planned or anything, I just mixed up the dyes and poured them out where I thought they'd look nice. I also mixed some scarlet in with the chestnut in a couple of places, just to give it a bit more pop, and I mixed some lilac to put in with the gunmetal... Just playing, and liking what I was seeing was the key.

After I was happy with the dyeing, I covered the top with tinfoil as well. I double rolled all the edges making a really long packet of roving, which I put on a couple of cookie sheets and threw in the oven which I had pre-heated to 200 degrees fahrenheit. I've read a couple of places that dye strikes at 180 degrees (F), and wanted to make sure that the dye took, but didn't want to scorch it either - I figured 200 degreees should be about safe. I baked my roving for, oh I don't know - probably about 45 minutes. Took it out of the oven to make sure that the liquid in the packet had no color left... There was still a bit of dye showing through, but I took the packets out and just let them sit in the hot tinfoil until they'd cooled down. That did the trick, and all the dye took, leaving me with clear water when I went to drain the rovings in the colander.

Here's what I ended up with. I love the colors! I love the browny chestnut against the gunmetal blue... I love the little bit of white. I love the shine and glow of the optim. It's going to be beautiful. I hope!

One slight problem is that I have a hard time spinning the Optim to a thicker consistency. (well, I have problems spinning just about anything bigger than a fingering weight!). I really thought about dyeing another 4 lengths of roving to match - but know that's just not going to work. Then I thought about Navajo plying each roving - but that's a silly idea. I mean, the whole point of dyeing like this was to try to get 4 skeins with stripes that somewhat match up!
I've been starting each roving from the chestnut side - trying to remember to spin thicker, and have finished the first skein, and although I was really worried that it wasn't going to be a nice DK weight - the Optim floofed quite a lot after I'd soaked it to set the twist, and then abused it a bit. It's all balled up and ready to get started. There are parts of the skein that are more of a sport weight - but I think it will all be alright in the end. I've decided to knit the large size, which is just a bit larger than I'd prefer just to be on the safe side.

One reason that I'm using my handspun for this pattern, is that it doesn't make so much sense to do original designs in handspun, if I want to flog the patterns for them. I really need to start doing more designing for commercial yarns. But then again, it can be really tricky to get everything to match up in a handspun that you want to knit a commercial pattern with. What a conundrum!

Oh, my three little kittens are getting bigger! They've opened their eyes now, and are starting to get to be a bit more playful. Two of them have developed grey faces, ears and tails. Only one is still all white. But boy they sure are cute!