Tissue Paper Yarn Dyeing

Dyeing yarn with tissue paper? Yeah, it sounds a bit unusual, however I have been busy playing with all kinds of dyeing approaches this last week as I get ready for a class I am teaching in two weeks at the Crochet Guild of America’s Chainlink Conference.

I have been working with food coloring and Easter egg dyes, while dabbling with Kool Aid. I have been playing with multiple protein based fibers (yarns that are made from animal fibers, like wool, alpaca, silk, mohair, etc.), but it was trying to find something in my closet that sparked me in a little different direction.

I tend to be a person that doesn’t really throw much out, if I can find another purpose for it I will hold on to it to use it in the future, so tissue paper from gifts gets saved. When digging through the closet I found a stack of this saved tissue paper and I began to wonder….Can I dye with this?

The answer…YES!

I began by soaking the yarn in a bath of water and citric acid (1 teaspoon citric acid to 4 cups of water), you can use white vinegar instead of citric acid if you like (1/4 cup white vinegar to 4 cups of water), then I wrapped various pieces of colored tissue around the yarn. After covering the yarn with paper I placed it in a microwavable bowl and added some of the water/acid solution. I placed it in the microwave for 2 minutes, took it out and waited.

I have to wait after removing it from the microwave, frankly because I do not like to burn myself. After it cooled down a bit I removed the tissue paper and rinsed out the yarn. I was impressed. Some colors bonded to the yarn better than others, but that could be because I had some different quality papers. There was some white space, and different colors in different patches. Offering a bit of a kaleidoscope of possibilities.

I am continuing to play with this technique, and currently find a vast amount of ideas just bubbling to the surface. I am sure that by the time my workshop comes around in a few weeks I will have a very contagious attitude to share with my students!

Teaching and Still Learning

Why do I still take crochet classes? That was a question I was asked recently, and apparently many people do not easily understand the reason.

I must first admit, that I took my first crochet class in 2011, thirty years after I taught myself to crochet. I took the class because I happened to be invited to attend a Crochet Guild of America conference, and figured I would try everything it had to offer. I actually took a few classes at that conference, and realized that even though I knew quite a bit about crochet there was so much more to learn.

Crochet does not just have to be the working of a couple of stitches to create an afghan, which was my long standing practice with the craft, it can be an experience of bonding, an experience of growth, an experience of connecting. Taking my first class opened this world to me.

In each and every class I take I learn something new, even if it is a topic I thought that I knew really well. Every teacher has a different way to bring the material and information alive, in this process I see crochet from a different angle, and different history, and different life.

Yes, I might be going a bit deep, but crochet is so unique to each individual. Not only is all crochet handmade, as there is no machine crochet, but it is often learned from one generation to another. I often find students are unsure of their abilities in crochet, and I think this is due to the nature of learning in a personal setting from an older relative or neighbor. This might intimidate students from taking classes, it did for me for too many years, but overcoming the awkward discomfort I thought I would have has shown me more than I could have imagined.

Even as I teach more, I continue to take classes to retain and re-imagine what crochet can be. If you haven’t adventured into a crochet class, I really recommend you do. You will meet interesting people, learn stories and connect….everything that I realize I need.

The Quest Shawl- A Stunning Design

Check out my fun new design, the Quest Shawl!

This asymmetrical shawl, is one that I envisioned after meeting the yarn creator Sabrina of Anzula Yarns. Sabrina exudes a great energy, and that really comes out in all the fabulous colors of her yarn. It really is an inspiration for me, and I have a couple more designs in the works as I speak (I hope to share them soon).

Quest Shawl

So, Quest Shawl is worked from a point with subtle increases working outward to form a triangle, in a pattern of lace stitches and textural stitches. This stitch difference is played with a contrasting color change and you have some very dramatic effects. It has a simple stitch pattern repeat, yet enough focus to keep the pattern entertaining.

The long dimensions of this shawl, a staggering 77”x45” (196×114 cm), it can lend itself to multiple ways to wear it, as well as offer a balanced feel. It was pointed out to me that this shawl actually manages to have enough length that when wearing it that the narrow point drapes evenly with a point on the opposite side. This may not seem like much, but I have noticed that smaller shawls of this type, almost feel like the narrow point can be a bit of a tail.

The yarn is Haiku, a light weight 70% Superwash Merino/20% Bamboo/10 % nylon yarn, which is really soft and luscious. I really love how it drapes, and the feel in the hand.

I have found that when I wear this shawl, that I get stopped with compliments. I usually pair it over a black dress, but even over a pair of jeans and simple top this shawl offers a look that is hard to forget.

Get your show stopper and have fun creating your own stunning look (find the pattern here).

 

 

Rip Back Crochet, Maybe Applies to Life

I hate it when I can see the design, but it wants to fight me into existence. That is the plight I am on currently with one project. This is not always my design style, seeing the vision and needing to create it, but it occurs periodically, and when it does it can be a bit of a head ache.

Often times it is because the final vision does not always offer hints how to create it, there is a stumbling point or a chasm that needs to be addressed. No, my vision does not share the “how”, so things may end up in time out more than expected. I may rip back the entire piece several times….I am currently on the third full draft of “over half way” rip back…I lost count on the ones smaller than that.

I guess I should say “current” project, as I know of another that has been haunting me for more months that I care to admit, as my mind is still figuring out the last piece before it can be considered finished.

Looking at my words as I type them, I realize really this is just life, at least for me. If I don’t know all the steps it can be harder for me to begin. I am able to work from one step to the next, but if the next step is not in clear focus, well, I hedge and stall and may not get to the finished goal.

Sometimes I see this as a sign that I should take another direction, or look for another goal in life…yes, I do it in designing too, but maybe I should rip back a bit more and take the step from another direction. Just as I will finish this design that showed up in my head, maybe I need to remember to take the same approach in life.

Sorry didn’t mean to get philosophical, but crochet can do that to me sometimes.

Creating Love Knots

As summer approaches my design mind begins to drift toward stitches that are light and airy. With the change of season coming upon my region I have found myself playing with a classic crochet stitch referred to as a Love Knot (it is also recognized as a Solomon Knot).

This is a really airy stitch that highlights yarn in a very unique way. Yarn really has an opportunity to show its true nature be it springy or limp, squishy or firm, heavy or light. One of the things I really love about this stitch is how it really allows you to “stretch” the usage of the yarn, it is really easy to create an entire wrap (of a substantial size) with a mere 400 yards of light weight yarn. It feels like the yarn could go on forever.

Working the stitch might at first seem a bit cumbersome, but really you are essentially securing loose chain stitches.

To create a Love or Solomon’s Knot you simply pull a loop through the stitch you have just completed, pull it up to a height you feel comfortable with repeating, I find I usually pull up a loop of about 1” (2.5cm) in height. Now yarn over and pull through the loop, just as if creating a chain stitch, I try to pinch the base of the “pull through” so that I can distinguish the yarn being pulled through the loop.

You then insert your hook between the “loop” and the “Pull Through”, yarn over and pull through a loop, you now have 2 loops on your hook. Yarn over and pull through both loops. This process is essentially creating a single crochet (a double crochet in UK) in the space between the “loop” and “pull through” of the long chain. This completes the stitch.

You repeat the process of these long chains with single crochets worked between the loop and pull through for as long as you want to work this stitch. This process creates a long chain, so create a fabric you have to work these stitches over themselves.

To work into a second row of the Love or Solomon Knot, after a knot is created, a stitch (a single (UK double) crochet is most common, but any stitch can really be worked) is then worked into the closing “single crochet” of another knot. Various patterns offer different approaches of when and what stitch to work into, but this is the basic process.

I find myself playing with technique lately, hoping to share something with you soon.