Knitting a sweater

>> Sunday, June 04, 2006

I learned to knit when I was quite little, and over the years took on some quite ambitious projects. I knitted clothes for my stuffed animals, a large afghan blanket in a fancy pattern, and even a complicated aran sweater, with a few varieties of cables in a medium blue colour. I learned from this that aran sweaters are probably best in the classic cream colour, or maybe dark brown or moss green, and also that they aren't very flattering when knit up a few sizes too large.

I stopped knitting for several years (discouraged possibly by the huge blue aran sweater), but now I've been knitting again for years and I still haven't made another sweater. So I decided recently to take the bull by the horns and make one. Of course I'm hoping it will turn out to be something cute that I might actually like to wear, but just in case I haven't invested much. I found this bag of yarn for $5 at our family yard sale, it's 100% wool but superwash so I can wash it and it won't felt. It's also nice and soft, not too bulky, and there were sixteen 50 gram balls - plenty for a sweater.
I decided that the pale pink was a little bland, so I embarked on a big kool-aid dyeing evening. I've done this before with great success and I had some packets left. All you do is wind the yarn into a loose loop tied at each end and put it in the pot with some dissolved kool-aid powder and a bit of salt. Then simmer until the water runs clear.
Some people suggest you need vinegar, but I haven't found any need for it. I've washed kool-aid-dyed-wool in hot water and the colour didn't run. Also I couldn't find sugar-free kool-aid but the kind with sugar seems to work fine. The only thing I would suggest is to make sure you soak the yarn before dyeing - wash it with a little bit of dishwashing soap first - and that way the dyeing will be less blotchy. And incidentally, when you use the ice blue powder the water doesn't quite end up clear, it ends up white, but that's ok.
You can mix and match colours, and of course add more packets for deeper colour. The colours are nice and saturated as long as it's wool. Cotton doesn't absorb the dye as well, and ends up in pastel shades. Once the dye bath is clear the colour seems to be set in, I rinse the yarn but the water runs clear right away.
It turned out that kool-aid was on sale for $1 for 6 packets, which is really good, but unfortunately they seem to have changed the dyes. My old strawberry was bright pink, and the new one seemed more orange. So instead of a bunch of pink/purples, I ended up with lots of varieties of orange and a dark brown. I did have two fuschia skeins from the old kool-aid I had lying around, and mixed with the orange and pale pink I actually like the combination. I made this swatch:So now I'm ready to go - I've picked out a sweater pattern from one of my books. It's a popular book and the swatch kind of gives it away - so maybe you can guess which sweater pattern I chose?

5 comments:

Julie June 05, 2006  

Cant wait to see the finished product!

Lucia June 06, 2006  

Amazingly I find your blog full of techniques I can learn from. You are a great teacher :)

valentina June 07, 2006  

Peppermint Twist?

valentina June 07, 2006  

Nah, make that Flo.

Claire Louise Milne June 07, 2006  

you were right - it's peppermint twist!

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