Over the summer I posted a little bit about the fact that I was doing a lot of secret knitting for my sister's soon to be born twins. They've now arrived--actually later than anyone would have dreamed of for twins, and are in fact four weeks old today. They're extremely cute, and of course I'm sure that my wee niece and nephew will turn out to be brilliant and talented, because they're already so cool.
Niece needed another blanket like she needed... I don't know, something she doesn't need, because my mom crocheted a few for each of them. But I wanted to knit something anyway. And I wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary. I saw the pattern for the ten-stitch twist (as far as I can tell, the pattern's available only through ravelry?) when perusing patterns, and thought it looked cool. I looked at various striping yarns to see if there was something I wanted to use, and couldn't decide on anything. And then I thought... perhaps I could dye striping yarn myself. And for whatever reason, that's what I decided to do.
I bought six skeins of KnitPicks Bare Superwash Merino DK. I wasn't sure I'd need them all, so I initially decided to dye four of them. My goal was to do a relatively wide stripe effect that went from natural to lighter pink to darker pink, with hopefully a bit of graduated color in the transitions. First, I knew that I'd need to reskein the hanks into something much, much longer. I did this by using chairs around the dining room table, and literally walking around the room over and over. I tied the ends of the four skeins together, which meant that my super hank was actually four skeins worth long.
Next, I bought Kool Aid. Cherry and Tropical Punch.
Next, I dyed. I wet the yarn thoroughly with cold water and a touch of vinegar (I think). Then I heated up water in a pot on the stove and started with the cherry.
This is actually the point at which my plans started to go awry. Not terribly, and I'm still happy with the result of the blanket, but it's not quite what I meant it to be. The problem was that I had no idea how very, very quickly the superwash would soak up the Kool Aid. The result was that the darkest part was a lot darker than I expected it to be, and, in addition, that the ombre effect I hoped for (that is, the gradual fade from one color to another) wasn't really going to happen. Because, seriously, within what seemed like seconds, all the color was in the yarn, and the remaining water had barely any color in it. It was crazy.
After this first bit, I put in more of the undyed yarn and added the tropical punch.
Pretty much the same thing happened, though you can possibly see that there's at least a little more shading in this part. I then dumped the rest of the yarn in the pot, hoping to get at least a touch more color into the undyed part, and cooked the whole things for... a while. No boiling, but I tried to keep it just below a simmer.
Once it had all cooked for a while, I rinsed rinsed rinsed (which didn't really get much color out--the Kool Aid really stuck), and put it out on the porch to dry (this all happened in August, so there was no worry about freezing!).
It does indeed look a little messy, but... there you go.
Now, the winding. The winding was scary. I had help from mom, without which this wouldn't have worked at all. She held on to one end of the yarn (actually, she had it kind of draped over her) while the other end was on a chair, and I worked the ball winder, which was actually kind of in the middle of the giant loop, and we'd carefully guide each round of yarn, and... we had a couple of moments of extreme entanglement, but fortunately nothing that required cutting.
I brought this yarn with me to Britain, and the project turned out to be perfect plane/train/sitting in the hotel in the evening knitting. Particularly at the beginning, it was a nice small project, and even when it got bigger there were always only ten stitches on the needles, which meant that if a jostle happened and stitches got dropped, it was never a big deal.
The only remotely complicated part of the knitting is the very center and the beginning increases to build up to the swirl pattern. After that part, it's great mostly mindless knitting. The pattern works by adding occasional short rows to what's essentially a long strip of garter stitch, joined along the edge. So you just knit garter stitch, with a pick up at the end of the right side rows, and regularly spaced short rows.
The result is, I think, quite nice indeed. Looking at various finished versions of this, I liked the ones that made the joined edge quite prominent, and so did the same. For me, that meant that on the wrong side rows, I slipped purlwise with yarn in front the first stitch (which is the one that did the join with the previous circle/tier). I like the added interest.
I also made a big change in finishing the blanket.
When I got to the end of my dyed yarn, I decided the whole thing wasn't quite big enough. So, I did a tapered end to the swirl (as in the pattern). Then, once I got back from my travels, I dug out the remaining two skeins of undyed yarn. I decided to do one more round in the plain yarn, but have this one be a total border circle of the yarn, and then to dye the rest of the yarn in a more or less solid color to match the strips, and do an i-cord edge. And that's exactly what I did. The plain border took more than a skein of yarn (which I anticipated). And the i-cord edge is, I think, a nice clean end to the whole piece. Looking at it in this picture, my only issue is that the stripes were not quite as wide as I initially imagined, and perhaps as a result, they stack up on each other more than I expected. And the join on the white band isn't quite what I wanted. But in the end, a great pattern, and a cool result.
Hopefully my niece will think so too, once she's old enough to notice. And, er, hopefully she doesn't hate pink.