Is this really my first post for this year?
I know we have had internet connection problems but have often thought of 'things' to post about and I hadn't realised that I'd not written anything yet in 2011.
A few weeks before Christmas I had an idea that I'd like to dye some self stripping silk yarn. I had seen some in a yarn shop when shopping with a friend but thought I'd like to have my own colour combinations. How could I achieve this? I had run a workshop with Beds WSD guild when we had dyed some sock yarn so that when knitted it would give self striping socks, but this had meant making several small, joined skeins on a peg frame, tyeing each one so that it didn't get tangled and dyeing in the microwave. It worked well but I want subtle graduations of colour in yarn that could be used in weaving and/or knitting.
One day the idea came to me that a knitting machine would be useful in this project. Where to get one? I needed to find a kind friend with one or acquire one cheeply, as this was just an experiment.
Next day, at a craft fair, I was talking to a couple who had admired my weaving and inconversation I told them of my idea. Surprise, surprise!!! The lady had a knitting machine to dispose of. Even more surprise, when she said she didn't want anything for it, she was decluttering and had another anyway.
On the third day we were all free and so I was able to collect the knitting machine.
This seemed to be a good omen!
After replacing some warn parts and cleaning the machine, another friend came to show me how to use it. I only needed the very basic information.
I got on and knitted some 'blanks', knitted rectangles of 100g of silk yarn. These were soaked overnight to make sure the yarn was thoroughly wetted through and would take the dye, which I applied across the knitting in stripes, encouraging each colour to mingle a little with the next, so there were no definite lines. Once the dye was set and the knitted piece washed, rinsed and dried, I pulled out the knitting, wound the yarn into a skein and steamed out the kinks from knitting. The silk yarn was ready to knit, but into what?
I weave scarves and shawls and have knitted a few recently, so, on seeing that one of my cushion covers was showing signs of wear, decided to replace it, the cushion at the bottom of the picture is the result.
The top square cushion is worked with a finer yarn, 50/50 wool and silk, in a pattern called moss stitch chevron. They have both been admired and I am pleased with the result so, now - more yarn to be machine knitted and dyed. Maybe some of it would be great for a scarf weft. A change from my usual habit of space dying the warp.