09 Apr 2010

Orange things

The handspun yarn currently on my needles began life as a Shetland fleece Tonia gave me for my birthday, about 8 years ago. Do you remember this yarn? I talked it about in a podcast a couple of years ago. This is the yarn that I tried to dye red using avocado peels, pits, and some horrible heavy metals. Might have been tin. The colour stopped a bit short of red, rather nearer to that colour that Crayola used to call “Flesh”.

Yep. Flesh.

So I over-dyed it using acid dyes and, despite extensive pre-testing to determine precisely how much dye would be necessary to dye the yarn a soft coral, I overshot the mark and landed closer to orange. Not quite electric orange, it doesn’t vibrate when you look at it, but… it’s orange.

But that’s not the worst of it, oh no. The worst is that all those chemicals took what had been a lovely soft fiber and just beat the hell out of it. So the yarn isn’t even as nice as it was when I started. And it’s lace weight handspun. From a birthday fleece. And now it’s orange. TRAGIC.

Now that I can knit again for short periods, I am thinking about projects and wanting to start twelve new things all right this second. I discovered the Summit Shawl on knitty.com this week, and the shapes it makes kind of reminded me of … Yes! It’s like one of those safety mesh orange things.

And that is when it hit me that the not-quite-electric-orange yarn would be perfect for this pattern. In fact, I think this is possibly one of those contemporary patterns which really should be knit in orange, always.

As an aside, the pattern is really fun to knit, and the wool yarn (subbed for the 100% silk that pattern calls for) does seem to be working. It’s a good pattern to knit if you’d like to practice your backwards knitting. I’m not sure if backwards knitting is any faster than purling, in my case, but it is definitely fun. Every aspect of the project is making me happy.

Painting will soon commence with my first ever real artist quality paints! Yep, I’ve decided to replace my student grade paint with artist quality as I run out, and the first tubes arrived yesterday. I gotta say, not cheap, this fancy pants artist’s stuff. I hope it’s worth it. I haven’t cracked them yet, as they’re so wee and cute I just want to admire them in their little box for a while longer. (Next time, however, I will get the jumbo economy size because a lot of the cost, I’ve been told, is in the packaging.)

Waiting in the wings for a quiet moment this weekend to cast on, another big ass pile o’ handspun (the fiber is Bluefaced Leicester, a gift from Chris, of Briar Rose Fibers) that will soon become (yet another) knitty.com shawl, Bitterroot, sans beads. There’s a tiny little bit of the most excellent coral running through this yarn, along with greens and browns, though the colours tend to homogenize a bit in this image.

If it seems that I’m having a bit of love affair with shawls right now, it’s because I am. I’ve knit lots, but given most of them away as gifts, and there is an appalling lack of shawl-age in my closet at present. I would like to remedy this fact in a weekend, naturally, but as I can only knit for half an hour at a time, a couple of times a day, I think it’s probably going to be a while before I have shawls to model.

Have a good weekend, knitsibs.

Posted on April 9, in Blog


  1. October wrote:

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend! It is so good to read you are feeling better.

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  2. Nice! I like the safety orange. Glad to see you enjoying the pattern:)

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  3. Renee wrote:

    I sorry about the laceweight – but glad that you’ve found a pattern for the orange. And you are knitting regularly again, and have your knitting mo-jo back – that is a true recovery!

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  4. I remember that dyeing experiment. Forgive me, but I did have to laugh when it came out flesh colored.

    I’m glad to read that you’ve found a good project for it.

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  5. LOL! I can just *picture* that first shawl in your orange yarn, draped like a soft mesh over your shoulders. What fun!

    As for the 2nd shawl…I am drooling over the yarn you have made to use it — and I don’t wear much brown. Hpe you have a wonderful time creating it.

    Weekend blessings!

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  6. LoriAngela wrote:

    I am a new convert to loving the orange. Think how safe you will be walking in hunting season. Knitting backwards is saving my hands in the big Lady Eleanor entrelac. As well, I try to stick to circs so the weight is on my lap and not on my shoulders.
    Great news you can wade back into knitting.
    Will we see some of the orange in your paintings?

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  7. Emily wrote:

    But orange is lovely!

    In fact, for shawls, I reckon vibrant colours work really well. Just finished a Damson in Campari sock yarn, and it’s great, and been admired by all sorts (such as male booksellers in Waterstones. Unusual in my experience!)

    Glad you’re back to a bit of knitting, may it help to take the edge off the joys of UK parliamentary activity. Love to Tonia.

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  8. Nancy wrote:

    Good for you! You certainly should be using artist quality paint.

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  9. Asrana wrote:

    I remember the podcast episode about attempting natural dying and winding up with ‘flesh’. It still makes me giggle. Sorry! Glad you’ve found a promising project for it though.

    Posted on 4.9.10 ·
  10. Kerry wrote:

    I love that you describe it as not vibrating. Your blog is such a pleasant read. I figured it was time to stop lurking and tell you that you made me laugh today.

    Posted on 4.10.10 ·
  11. Leslie wrote:

    So glad to hear you are on the mend. Your dye story gives me a bit of the shivers. My husband does primitive rug hooking and has been going on about maybe dying some fabric or over-dying some fabric to be turned into sky and sea for a project. To add to it all I’m new to spinning and a lot of the gals in the group are quite blithe about the whole process. I’m not so sure. We really have no separate area to dedicate to this process – although it would be a great excuse to finally get the utility sink installed in the garage! At any rate it’s good to hear you’re picking up the needles once in a while again. I’ve just finished listening to the series on the Muses and am enjoying the start of your third season. Still a few more ‘casts to keep me occupied but I really look forward to some up to date input! Inspired by the muses and some very adventurous beginner knitters at the shop where I work, I’ve finally cast on the Pacific Northwest Shawl by Fiber Trends. It’s going well so far. No penance involved here, if I don’t pay attention I will be paying in time spent tinking it all back.Have a great week and stay well.

    Posted on 4.12.10 ·
  12. Kellie wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    I’ve been working on a huge contract piece of knitting and I think I’ll get through the entire archive of Cast-on before I’m done. I’ve been a listener since very nearly the beginning, but it is a pleasure to hear everything again while you’re resting up. You should know that listening is keeping me sane while working two strands of lace-weight linen on size 1 needles and making a skirt and blouse. Thank you for your good work, your excellent taste in music, your curiosity about the world and your generosity in sharing it all with us!

    Posted on 4.13.10 ·
  13. susan in dulwich wrote:

    How wonderful that you can knit again (even if only in short doses)! That handspun is lovely and assuming it is laceweight…well those really are weeny little tubes of paint. When I first looked at the photo my eyes decided worsted or DK, making the tubes rather larger in comparison.

    Just heard a piece on Radio 4 this morning about the candidates campaigning around Pembrokeshire…

    Posted on 4.13.10 ·
  14. Ann-Marie wrote:

    Oh I remember… Glad you can make something of it. I just knitted my first to shawls Citron and Travelling Woman and it´s very catching. I´m so glad you feel better. I miss your company on my dogwalks.

    Posted on 4.14.10 ·
  15. Leslie wrote:

    Hi Brenda, It’s just coming into spring here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m getting along fairly well with the PNW shawl. I have been listening to the archived episodes and loving them. I was listening to episode 31:Forever Summer- and near the end your comment about the polite term “Rosebud” had me laughing with tears in my eyes! I have been doing some small contracts – needlework and mending and I was just finishing up a sweater for a gentleman when the laughs hit. All this on top of your story of the alpaca baby shawl ( and I have been turning it over in my mind that perhaps if I take him up on the offer to knit him a new sweater I won’t need to mend the elbows on this acrylic artifact {yes I know we all love those old sweaters like old friends – but enough already!}and thinking that maybe it’s something that needs a bit more serious thought!) At any rate- back to mending sweater 2/3. Thanks for the laughs and the insights – I really love them. Have a fantastic day!

    Posted on 4.14.10 ·
  16. Amanda Lee wrote:

    I love the color orange and the summit shawl will look great! I have been thinking about knitting the summit shawl but pictures a light pink… now orange is starting to sound appealing.

    Happy Knitting

    Posted on 4.15.10 ·
  17. Cathy aka BalletMommy wrote:

    As another knitter/watercolor artist (at least wannabe), I’ve really been enjoying your posts about both! When I started my first watercolor class I decided to go for the “real thing” paints and was amazed how different they were from what I had remembered as watercolor – those little pans in a tin. I’m sure you’ve already found it, or a similar site, but DickBlick.com has great prices on watercolors and brushes. Have fun!

    Posted on 4.15.10 ·
  18. Jacinta wrote:

    Woohoo! Safety orange LOVE IT! I remember this “Flesh” Coloured yarn 🙂 Glad to read ya … am missing your podcasts, but reading will have to do for now. Hope you are doing well ..

    Posted on 4.16.10 ·
  19. irene wrote:

    It was nice to read you are feeling a little better. I dont think the colour is ugly; it rather reminds me of nice romantic red-orange sunsets, and besides, orange is a happy colour.

    Posted on 4.16.10 ·
  20. bongomama wrote:

    so glad the needles are back in your hands where they belong… have missed your voice terribly but loving your words still. Thanks.

    Posted on 4.17.10 ·
  21. michael wrote:

    i miss the hell out of you Brenda…just wanted to say
    glad you’re doing better 🙂
    hugs and wooly goodness,
    michael in Toronto

    Posted on 4.18.10 ·
  22. Wendi in Biarritz wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    It’s so funny, I’ve been working my way through your podcasts and the last one I listened to was the one about you dying this yarn orange (ok, by default). And I just sat down with my yarn swift to make up a ball of suri alpaca to knit a shawl and I thought maybe I should listen to one of the newer podcasts for a change and went to your blog. I love listening to you while I knit. Thanks for the company and the hours of good knitting time.

    Posted on 4.18.10 ·
  23. Tracy wrote:

    Glad you are feeling better. I have a friend who is also knitting up the Summit Shawl in ocean blue and it is a beautiful pattern! Wonderful choice! Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better…baby steps..baby steps :O)

    Posted on 4.23.10 ·

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