Oxford Dali Inspired Gradient

Eat, Knit and Dye

I know last week I promised a post on ice dyeing, but that’s just going to have to wait! One of the things I do for Makers’ Mercantile as a Graphic Designer is pattern formatting... which means I get to see all the patterns before they get released. And when the pattern for this crochet basket crossed my desk, I was hooked. (Yeah, I know, it’s a terrible pun.) Makers’ Mercantile is releasing this super cool kit that includes everything you need to make this basket, featuring Schoppel Oxford yarn.

I’ve been obsessed with Oxford and wanting to use it in a project. Its super-duper chunky nature makes it a natural for home goods. I’ve been wanting to try a crochet pattern, and I had just joined a Make-Along group on Ravelry called “Gorgeous Gradients”. Everything just fell into place and I knew this was the right time for me to do this project.

First things first. To get a gradient, I decided the easiest way would be to make my hank of Oxford into an i-cord. Using an addi Turbo in size US 19 (19!!!!!), I knit 5 stitches, and then slid the work back across the needles, never turning the work. Bonus: now I know how to make rope when the Zombie Apocalypse happens.

The hardest part of making the i-cord was the ridiculously cute cat who clearly wanted my attention. At least he wasn’t trying to "help"!

Once the i-cord was finished, I soaked the yarn in a basin of cold water and Synthrapol for 16 hours. Why so long? First, I wanted to make sure the yarn was thoroughly saturated because I didn’t want any undyed spots. Second, it was time to go to bed and then to work.

Because the MAL I am participating in is called a “Work of Art”, I needed to select a piece of artwork from a master. I chose Knights of Death by Salvador Dali. A grisly name for a beautifully colored piece. To match those colors, I used Jacquard Acid Dye in little glass spice jars.
  · 1/8 tsp Jacquard Fire Red
  · 1/8 tsp Jacquard Jet Black
  · 1/8 tsp Jacquard Brilliant Blue
  · 1/16 tsp Jacquard Brilliant Blue + 1/16 tsp Turquoise
  · 1/16 tsp Jacquard Turquoise + 1/16 tsp of Kelly Green
  · 1/16 tsp Jacquard Kelly Green
  · 1/16 tsp Jacquard Kelly Green + 1/8 tsp Sun Yellow

Before I got down to the fun part of dyeing, I needed to do all the prep work. I drained the water from the yarn and wrung it out about fifty billion times. Then for extra good measure, I wrapped the yarn in three towels and walked all over it. It’s amazing how much water that yarn can hold. Lastly, I prepped my counter by completely covering it in layers of plastic wrap.

I arranged the yarn in a zig-zag of 7 rows to match the 7 jars of dye I mixed up. This helps me know which jar goes with which row.

To apply, I used a syringe to squirt the dye on the middle section of each row. To make sure I got the i-cord thoroughly saturated, I applied dye on each side and lightly massaged it. Also, I washed my gloved hands between each color to make sure the color didn’t transfer.

I left the loops of the zig-zag undyed. This is where the gradient blending between colors is going to happen.

To achieve that, I squirted a heavy amount of the dye color (Color A) at the start of the bare area next to Color A, then applied less and less dye as I moved towards the next color (Color B). Then I went in the opposite direction, starting Color B heavily in the Color B area, and then less dye as it meets up with Color A. Once I was satisfied with the dye distribution, I massaged it all together, creating a lovely blend of color.

Next, I figured out how I was going to heat set this massive amount of yarn AND make sure the colors didn’t run together. I added a layer of plastic wrap over the yarn i-cord making sure the plastic wrap top layer was pushed down to the bottom layer, sandwiching the yarn.

Slowly, I peeled up the plastic wrap and started folding it over its self. This created a long flat package.

And finally, I folded the packet into thirds, so it would fit on a plate. Being extra paranoid, I wrapped the package in more plastic wrap. I popped it into the microwave for 2 minutes. I let it rest for 15 seconds, then microwaved it for 2 minutes. I repeated this one more time for a total of six minutes. Then I let it cool for hours because handling the steamy wet wool can cause felting.

From previous experience, I was learned that for me, the microwave method doesn’t always exhaust the dye and there would be a lot of dye left in the yarn. I filled up my sink with water and some clear dish soap and dropped in sections of yarn (for this picture it’s the Brilliant Blue through Kelly Green section). When using red and green dye on the same piece, don’t let them soak together in this stage because red+green=ugly brown). So much excess dye came out of the yarn, I dropped in a couple of hanks of Sadie to help soak up the extra dye.

When the water was finally clear-ish, I gave it one final rinse, wrung it out and hung it out on my porch to dry. I’m pretty satisfied with how the colors turned out. The black turned way more grey then I was anticipating, but all in all, it fits in with my color scheme, and the yarn contained in an i-cord was a great thing, because I don’t have a ball winder that would handle that yarn.

I sat down with my friends Roq and Holly, who walked me through the basics of crocheting and got me started.  Yup, this is the first thing I've ever crocheted! This basket was super fun to make and pretty quick too. I love how it turned out! It striped more than I thought it would, but that’s because I didn’t understand how a crochet stitch works, and now I do.

I took this basket home, fully intending it to be used as a cat toy receptacle. I put it on the ground and walked away for 5 minutes. That’s when I learned its not a basket. It’s a cat trap! Octavia loves it, she looks pretty smug. Kodiak tried it out too, but he got distracted and had to go pounce on something.

Want to make your own? You are in luck! Makers’ Mercantile is selling a kit that gets you everything you need to crochet it. And if you want your own colorway, there is a coupon code for Jacquard Acid Dyes! Just enter JACQUARD15 at check out and receive 15% off Jacquard Acid Dyes through August 31, 2019.

Ready to make your unique colorway? Hop on over to Makers' Mercantile® and pick up your undyed yarn and supplies. We can’t wait to see what you make, so tag us on social media with #makersmercantile!

Quickly crochet three classic and functional nesting baskets with our Crocheted Basket Trio Kit. Created with a bulky and soft merino yarn and size 15mm hook, you will be amazed how quickly these stitches will fly off your hook. Included in each kit is enough yarn to make three large baskets, or crochet one of each of the three sizes included in the pattern for an elegant set of nesting baskets.

Included in the kit:
  • Schoppel-Wolle Oxford - one hank in each of the following colors:
    • Natural
    • Gray
    • Black
  • addi® Plastic Crochet Hook in size US P (15.0mm)
  • Crochet Basket Pattern
This kit has a retail value of $166.00
Yours for $65.00 plus free US Shipping
While supplies last

Stay tuned for next week where we find out what happens when you combine ice and acid dye (this time for real)!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy