Tuesday, August 11, 2009

By this art may you contemplate the variations of the 23 letters...

My ongoing fascination with how holding the same thing in different light to expose more sides of it has taken me many places: as a translator, as a connoisseur and occasional perpetrator of cover songs, as a cook, as a reader of far too much Borges and Calvino. In some measure, this is what guided last week's experiments in dyeing. I started with two colors of dye, a plum purple and a dark brown, four different colors of yarn (tan, white, blue and yellow), some roving, and two sweaters (pink and navy). The slideshow below documents dyeing and shows off the results:
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. I was especially impressed with how the purple came out on top of the yellow. Instead of mucking it up, it just warmed it beautifully into bold, contrasting tones. The tan, which is a blend of fibers, some of which take the dye and some of which don't, softened the same bold colors into muted, gently shifting tones.
With all these variegations, I figured I'd knit up swatches to see how they played out.

With the sweaters, I dyed them with the intention of dismantling them afterward, since that's sort of my schtick, but the few people who've seen the results have expressed horror at the idea that I would take apart this sweater:

They also suggested that I keep it forever and love it and feed it and call it Lulu, but, seeing as it's not my size, I feel it's better to send it out to a loving home. I don't know if it would get along with my other sweaters, anyhow. However, the questions raised suggest I should offer it up as a whole sweater instead of breaking it down first. I'll take suggestions here.

I still wouldn't consider myself an expert here, by any means, but, if nothing else, I like all of these yarns better than when I started—that must constitute some kind of success.

Since I brought him up briefly at the beginning, and still can't get the lappy to mount my external HD with all the music, here's a link to one of my favorite Borges stories, "The Library of Babel," which imagines a library of books which all conform to certain parameters, but which is comprised of every possible permutation within those constraints. This library-world is peopled with librarians trying to extract meaning from the near infinite volumes.

La bibilioteca de Babel (in Spanish)
The Library of Babel (in English)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Waiting on D-Day

Big plans are afoot for tomorrow!

Originally, I was just going to dye one skein of yarn, but it seemed silly to get the whole setup going for one skein (though, for reasons which must remain top-secret at the moment, it would have been worth it). So I'm going to try a couple of things all at once.

I'll be using a combination of Jacquard acid dyes and Kool-Aid. The theme started as plum and walnut, in honor of colors that look as good together as they taste (mmm...Liberté Mediterranée yogurt), but I think I'm going to try and conjure a rich peachy orange from some Kool-Aid, and may make a last minute run to Webs for something green in the morning.

In addition to the skein of handspun originally on the docket, I'll be dyeing some yarn I've already harvested, some of which is starting from a baby blue, some from a pastel yellow, some tan. I'm also going to try dyeing some sweaters which I plan to dismantle, so that the color patterns will be more tied into how it looks knit up.

I'm still pretty new to the dyeing thing, but figure the best way to learn more about it is just to do it. I also have The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook along for guidance, which feels a little like hanging out in the kitchen with folks who know what they're doing (which is really the best way to learn something like this), while still presenting their how-tos in a direct, no-nonsense way.

We'll see how it all goes tomorrow. Oh, will there be pictures.