Fannie and the Crockpot

Eat, Knit and Dye

This week is two experiments in one for me. I’ve been wanting to try out using my crockpot for dyeing. However, since acid dyes aren’t food safe, I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my beloved crockpot. That left me with finding food safe dye options. In full disclosure, I wanted to try Kool-Aid, but my grocery store only had one flavor. (Disappointing to the kid in me, I remember there being a whole Kool-Aid section and begging my mom for one of each.) So food coloring it is!

I am going to be dying with Fannie this week. It’s a 100% Merino Wool Superwash with a gorgeous ply twist to it. The stitch definition is stunning.

For dyes, I picked up two boxes of food color in Neon and Basic colors. I figured with these two I can get a whole rainbow of colors.

While the yarn soaked in water, I filled up the crockpot. I decided I wanted to give middle immersion dyeing a chance, so I added a bunch of water. That means there was enough water for the dye to float around, but not enough to just become one color. And 1 tsp of citric acid.

The yarn was added to the crockpot and wiggled around to be randomized.

I used the food color bottles and dropped random drops of color on top of the yarn.

The process was repeated with the Neon Pink, Neon Blue and Neon Purple.

I’m not always a patient person, so I helped the color mixing along by squishing and lightly swishing the yarn and water around.

I popped the lid onto the crock pot and turned it on high for an hour. I checked it at the 45-minute mark by dipping a spoon into the water. Since the water was clear, I knew the food coloring had exhausted.

The yarn was cooled to room temperature and rinsed out. Off it went to hang dry and now I can admire the beautiful variety of color. The thing that surprised me the most was how much red showed up when though I didn’t use it.

I’d say the food coloring was a success! I can’t wait to give it a few more experiments just to see what it can do. Plus, I get to use the crock pot.

Stay tuned for next week where I have more fun with food coloring!

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!

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

Hexalicious Cushion

Finished Size
22” diameter and stands 16” tall.

Gauge
Since this will be felted, you needn't really worry about gauge (Hooray!)​​

Yarn
Schoppel® Reggae Ombre; 100% Merino Wool,  109 yards per 50 gram ball

Color 1874, 2 balls
Color 1965, 1 ball
Color 1963, 1 ball

addi® Turbo Needles
Size US 10 (12 mm) needle

Notions
6 stitch markers, one to mark beginning of round
Tapestry needle
5 standard pillows or poly-fill for stuffing

Instructions
Make 12 hexagons in color #1874 and one in #1965 as follows: 

Cast on 13 stitches.

Row 1: Knit across row to last stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn to front.
Row 2: Knit 1, *knit into front and back of the next stitch*, knit to last stitch and slip, holding yarn to front.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-3 until you have 25 stitches. 

Continue with the following decrease rows:

Row 1: Knit across row to last stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn to front.
Row 2: knit 1, knit 2 together, knit to last stitch, slip last stitch, holding yarn to front.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-3 until 13 stitches remain.

Bind off all sts. Sew the 13 hexagons together in different directions to create a random pattern as shown in photo, remembering to put the unique hexagon in color 1965 in the center.

To remove the stepped edge and create a complete round, you will need to knit 6 oversized half hexagons in color #1963 as follows:

Cast on 13 stitches (or pick up 13 stitches in the voids between the outer hexagons).
Row 1: Knit across row to last stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn to front.
Row 2: knit 1, *knit into front and back of the next stitch*, knit to last stitch and slip, holding yarn to front.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-3 until you have 25 stitches.

Next Row: Knit 1, knit into front and back of next stitch, knit across row until 2 stitches remain, knit into front and back of next stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn in the front.Repeat this row until you have 59 stitches. Bind off all sts. Sew the edges of the oversized half hexagons into place – creating a complete circle. If you’d prefer not to seam anything, you can work the hexagons modularly, picking up stitches from a just-worked hexagon. Wash to felt. Stuff and back as desired. Enjoy!

Upcycled Pillow Backs

Karin recommends seeking out large, colorful shirts without pockets. Look for fun buttons, or snaps. Most of these are found in the women’s department, in the extra large sizes. “Men’s shirts are excellent as well, but they frequently have pockets – which I generally avoid. However, pockets can be worked into a pillow back if you are making a gift, simply put a little message in the pocket for the recipient, and it will look like you did it on purpose!”

Avoid shirts with darts; you’re looking for square or rectangular pieces.In general, the width of the shirt, from seam to seam should be no smaller than the width of the pillow, and the length from the armpit to the hem should be no shorter than the length of the pillow. The larger the shirt, the larger your pillow can be. Cut the front body of your shirt away from the sleeves and the back. Lay it flat on a table, with the buttons closed and facing up. Lay your felted panel flat on the front of the shirt, right side facing down, touching the buttons. If there is room, align the shirt buttons so that they are centered on the panel.

Pin the panel to the shirt front, then use the panel as if it were a pattern piece and cut the shirt even to the panel. Keeping the panel and the shirt pinned together, use a sewing machine to stitch around the entire panel. Use a basic stitch,and keep the felt on the bottom while stitching. After you’ve stitched around the piece, open the button panel (it’s a little tricky, as the buttons are now on the inside) and turn inside out. Stuff it with a pre-made pillow form or poly-fill. You can easily create a custom-sized pillow form if you find an almost perfect zippered form: unzip it,remove some stuffing, sew a seam to make the case smaller,and you have a custom sized insert without a lot of work!

Ergonomics of Knitting – Carson Demers

"I’ve been a knitter much longer than I’ve been a physical therapist or an ergonomist, but I still remember my first addi experience.  I was knitting an afghan with let’s say “rustic” wool, and (horrors) bamboo needles.  Ah, the ergonomically unenlightened knitter that I was.   More time spent than one would hope for the amount of fabric produced, I confess my forearms were positively sore.  Then one evening while working on that project in a knitting circle at a local yarn shop I spied them.  Shiny, sleek, and downright sexy (yes, a knitting needle can be sexy!), someone across the table was working with an addi Turbo®.  I can’t lie - I was indeed first impressed by how beautiful those needles looked.  But, it didn’t take much observation to see how effortless they made that knitter’s work.  Stitches were soaring.  So then and there I bought a circular to replace the bamboo needle I was using.  Smooth, fluid, and best of all comfortable, my knitting experience was transformed.  

That was my first addi Turbo® and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I’m a lot more ergonomically savvy now than I was at that time and I still love my Turbos.  They pair perfectly with yarns that offer resistance on other needles, reducing the work of forearm and hand muscles. Their cables are strong, smooth, well behaved and support even a heavy afghan without fuss.  I love how the reflective surface of the needle creates value contrast with nearly any yarn - which makes using them easy on the eyes in more ways than one.  Comfort is always an ergonomic priority and addi Turbos® help me knit comfortably."

It's no secret that we are fans of Carson Demers and his work to help fiber artists continue making with less opportunity for injuries. his book, Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Handknitting contains all the information you could need to help ensure a long life of comfortable crafting. We are also delighted to offer this book for purchase in our shop and online. 

Imagine being told you have to stop knitting because of discomfort in your hands, arms, neck, or back. Imagine the sense of frustration and the longing to get the needles back in your hands. Imagine the lingering doubt you might have when you can pick them up again: “What was I doing wrong after all these years of knitting?” “Will I get hurt again?” “Will I have to stop knitting forever to make this pain go away?” Maybe you’d like to be a faster, more efficient knitter, or a knitter who produces more projects, but you’re not sure what’s getting in the way.

This book will help you understand the ergonomics of knitting so you can improve your safety, efficiency, and productivity in knitting. You’ll learn to identify ergonomic risks that contribute to injury and reduce knitting efficiency. Throughout the book, you’ll be provided with activities and guidance to improve your knitting ergonomics so you can knit more confidently and comfortably. Through instruction in stretches, exercise, and self-care, you’ll also learn how to manage the discomfort common to knitters before it becomes an injury, and how to recognize when it’s time to seek help from a health-care professional.

Want to knit comfortably? Get your very own copy of Carson's book here:

About Carson Demers:
By day, Carson is a physical therapist who runs an ergonomics program for a San Francisco Bay Area medical center. Every other moment, he’s knitting, spinning, designing, teaching, writing, or otherwise up to some fiber fun with a watchful eye toward ergonomics. His passion and experience in fiber arts combine with his expertise in physical therapy and ergonomics to create a unique skill set that he eagerly shares with the fiber community at local yarn shops, guilds, and major knitting events across the country. He is a regular contributor to Ply magazine.

Sadie Fiery Sunset Part 4

Eat, Knit and Dye

It’s the final week of the 4 Skein Fiery Sunset fade set and I’m so excited to see how this turns out. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. So far, it’s shaping up to stunningly bright set, and that’s right up my alley.

Once again, I am using Sadie as my base. The nice thing about using the same yarn for each color is I know that the gauge and fabric will match. I know that you can mix yarn in a single project, but I’m just more comfortable using the same yarn base together.

In looking at the 3 colorways I have already dyed, I think that it makes the most visual sense to do something in the yellow end of my color spectrum to balance out the colors.

For this, I used Jacquard Acid Dyes.
• Yellow = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Sun Yellow
• Orange = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Sun Yellow and 1/16 tsp Deep Orange

Wanting a mostly solid yellow base layer for the yarn, I filled up my old pot with water, the dye and 1 tsp of citric acid. As you can see, this pot is starting to get pretty worn down. Acid dyes are not food safe and should only be used in dye-dedicated pots and this is a good reason why. All of the repeated uses of citric acid and dye is causing the Teflon to wear away and peel. This isn’t the only pan I use where this is happening. I don’t care about the damage, but I certainly wouldn’t use these pans to make food.

After soaking the yarn for 30 minutes in water, I placed it into the dye pot and made sure it had plenty of room for the dye to circulate. I brought the water up to a near simmering temperature and let the dye exhaust.

To add a bit of depth and texture to the yarn, I splattered orange dye mixed into a condiment bottle on the very top of the yarn and again, let it exhaust.

Using the shower ring, I pulled the yarn out of the now clear water and decided it needed a little bit more orange, so I put back in with the pot. I did try to get the mostly all yellow section on top.

And I added just a smidge more of the orange dye, letting it exhaust.

It turned out perfectly! It’s a beautiful yellow with hints of orange mottling. I think it’s going to knit up in a beautiful fabric of a tonal yellow with just a little bit of interest. And it balances out the Fade set just right.

Now all that’s left it to knit this up into something! I can’t wait to get started.

Stay tuned for next week where we see what a crockpot can do!

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!

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

Sadie Fiery Sunset Part 3

Eat, Knit and Dye

As I continue my way through dyeing a 4-Skein coordinating fade (see Part 1 and Part 2 here!), I’m tackling the next colorway. Since the original colorway features all 6 colors, I decided it would be the middle of the fade. Last week I used red, orange and yellow. This week, I’m going to red, pink, purple and blue. 

Once again, I am using Sadie as my base. It’s a sock yarn, and before its dyed, it feels a bit coarse. But once it absorbs the dye and spends some time in hot water, it becomes this fluffy and soft yarn, and very squishy. It’s one of my favorites of our undyed bases.

And because I used the fancy fish pan for the last week's project, it seems only fair the brownie pan makes an appearance. I’m particularly excited about using it because this extra-long hank is finally long enough to fill out all the sections of the brownie pan. The pan was filled with some water and 1 tsp of citric acid.

While the yarn was off soaking in water, I mixed up my dyes in condiment bottles. Once again, I am using the colors from the original colorway and they are all Jacquard Acid Dyes.
• Red = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Fire Red
• Magenta = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Hot Fuchsia
• Purple = 1/16 tsp Jacquard Violet and 1/16 tsp Brilliant Blue
• Blue = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Brilliant Blue

I’m calling this my haphazard application process. I used the bottles to lay down random blocks of colors, many of them jumping over the brownie edge dividers.

I did try to keep the red and pink together, and also the blue and purple. And then I let the dye exhaust.

Using my prongs, I poked around the yarn and determined the bottom hadn’t dyed. This is what I expected to find.

I picked up the hank and turned it over. And replied the dye in roughly the same places. And then, you guessed it! I let the dye exhaust.

With the prongs, I flipped up the yarn to see how much was left undyed. There was more than I wanted.

I added some dye to the water and draped the wet yarn across the dye water. I know it’s not going to penetrate all the way through, but I’m embracing the mottled look.

I’m super happy with how it turned out. The colors match perfectly, and my fade is starting to shape up! Is this the Twilight section?

Stay tuned for next week for the final skein of Fiery Sunset Fade!

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!

Jacinto Ottoman

Kick your feet up on this comfy, squishy ottoman! Worked in 100% Merino with large needles it's a faster-than-you-imagine project and adds additional seating in your home that celebrates your knitterly talents.

Finished Size
22” diameter and stands 16” tall.

Gauge
10 stitches and 24 rounds = 4 inches in Linen Stitch.

Yarn
​​Schoppel XL
100% Merino Wool; 72 yards per 100 gram hank

7 skeins #7251 Camel (Main Color)
1 skein #6045 Fern (CC 1)
1 skein #0581 Savanna (CC 2)
1 skein #1100 Shrimp (CC 3)
1 skein #2790 Pink (CC 4)

addi® Needles
Size US 17 (12 mm) 40” circular needle
Size US 17 (12 mm) double pointed needles

Notions
6 stitch markers, one to mark beginning of round
Tapestry needle
5 standard pillows or poly-fill for stuffing

Instructions
Using size 17 (12 mm) 40” circular needle and MC, cast on 169 stitches. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist. Place marker to mark beginning of round and knit two rounds. Work in Linen Stitch pattern as follows:

Linen Stitch
Round 1: with CC1, *knit 1, slip 1 with yarn in front, repeat from * to end of round, end knit 1.
Round 2: with CC1, *slip 1 with yarn in front, knit 1, repeat from * to end of round, end slip 1 with yarn in front.
Round 3: with MC, repeat round 1.
Round 4: with MC, repeat round 2.

Repeat these 4 rounds until stripe measures 3”, ending with round 4. Work 3” as established with CC2, then CC3. Work 5” in CC4, then 2” in CC3. Knit 2 rows with MC, decreasing 1 stitch in last round. Bind off all stitches. With MC and circular needle, pick up and knit 168 stitches. *Knit 28, place marker, repeat from * 5 times. You will have 6 sections.

On following round, decrease as follows: *knit 2 together, knit to 2 stitches before marker, slip, slip, knit these two slipped stitches together through the back loop, repeat from * to end of round. 156 stitches. Knit one round. Repeat these two rounds until 12 stitches remain, switching to double pointed needles when there are too few stitches to fit around circular needle.If desired, use remaining contrast shades to create a bull’s-eye pattern, knitting with CC on plain knit rounds and working decrease rounds in MC.

Cut yarn leaving an 18” tail and draw through remaining stitches several times, drawing the piece closed in the process. Weave in ends. Repeat on cast-on edge with MC only, stuffing the ottoman as you work. Weave in all ends and steam gently if desired.


Sadie Fiery Sunset Part 2

Eat, Knit and Dye

Out of all the yarn I have dyed so far, the Sadie Fiery Sunset is my favorite. The stunningly bright and saturated colors. The bright and cheerful nature of the colorway. I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to knit with it. And since I usually knit sweaters (slowly - like a glacier), I decided that I would make it part of a sweater set. But a color fade color set. So off we go!

I’m once again using Sadie, a 70-inch / 175 cm hank is 80% Merino Extrafine SW Wool and 20% Nylon blend. The hank is longer than most undyed hanks. Should you want a smaller hank size, Sabrina is a good option.

The yarn was attached to a shower curtain ring and soaked in water for 30 minutes. Then it was loosely laid out in my new friend, the fish steaming pot. Water was added so the yarn was almost submerged, and 1 tsp of citric acid sprinkled on top of it.

For colors, I used the same dyes from the first Fiery Sunset so maintain color consistency. One of the key parts of color harmony is making sure things are in the same family. For instance, if you want to have blue and red yarn in the same colorwork piece, in general, they should both be warm or cold colors. If one is cool, and the other warm, there is a better chance the colors will not work in harmony together. This is a generalization, but it is usually a good rule of thumb.

I mixed up some Jacquard Acid Dyes in squirt bottles.
•  Yellow = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Sun Yellow
•  Orange = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Sun Yellow and 1/8 tsp Deep Orange
•  Red = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Fire Red

With the pan on the stove, I turned on the two burners and brought the water up to just before simmering. My goal is for a mottled fade. I added the yellow dye by concentrating it on the top third of the yarn and splattered it down another third.

On the bottom third, I saturated the yarn with the red dye and splattered it up to the middle third.

Finally, I added the orange dye in the middle third and splattered it into the yellow and red. I was more careful and lighter handed on the orange over the yellow. Yellow tends to get taken over by pretty much every color, and I wanted to avoid that.

At this point, I felt like things were too mottled. To help with that, I used a prong to push the yarn down and let some water seep up. That water carried the dye and helped mix the colors.

Nothing left to do at this point, but to let the dye exhaust, so I worked on some other yarn.

After using the prong to move the yarn around to make sure the water was clear, I picked up the hank by the shower hook and turned it over. Plenty of the yarn wasn’t dyed. So, I bet you’ll never guess what I did next...That’s right! I repeated the process.

The dye exhausted, the yarn cooled to room temperature, I washed it and hung it up to dry. I love how it turned out! The colors are bright and vibrant, and it coordinates perfectly with the original Fiery Sunset! I’m calling this a win.

Stay tuned for next week when I work on the next segment of this sweater fade set.

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!

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