Sabrina Rainbow Explosion

Eat, Knit and Dye

My very first post was all the way back in May 2019 and featured a beautiful rainbow long gradient. It's time to return to my roots! I’ve done a few fade sets, but this time I’m going for gold and making a 5-skein set at the same time.

My base yarn is Sabrina, an 80% Merino Extrafine SW Wool and 20% Nylon blend.

For blue, I used a 50/50 mix of Jacquard Sky Blue and Turquoise. For red, I used a 50/50 mix of Jacquard Fire Red and Hot Fuchsia. And for yellow, straight Jacquard Sun Yellow. In 3 condiment squeeze bottles, I added 1 tsp of citric acid. I mixed up 1/8 tsp of powdered dye with 3 ounces of warm water. For the blue and the red dyes, I used 1/16 tsp of each color to get the total 1/8 tsp of powder. Then, holding my finger over the opening, I lightly shook the dye and water until it mixed. That took care of my primary colors.

To get my secondary colors, I used three more empty squeeze bottles. To get green, I started with yellow and slowly added blue until I got the green color that I liked, which was approximately .5 ounces of the blue. I repeated that for orange and purple. To each bottle, I added water until it was full.

I soaked all yarn in water for 30 minutes before starting. Each hank was placed on a shower hook. I folded the hank in half and put it into a turkey roaster.

That was repeated until all 5 hanks were in the same pan. Water was added so about half of the yarn was submerged.

I wanted to make sure my strips of color were equal size. I could have marked the ends of the pan, so I knew where that was, but I’m an eyeball-it kind of person. I started with the yellow and laid down a strip of dye.

And then I laid down strips of blue and pink. This allows me to see where my primaries go and helped make the sections fairly uniform.

Afterward, I followed with the secondary colors. With the pan across two burners, I turned on the heat to before simmering and let the dye exhaust.

I did notice that the dye wasn’t penetrating too far in, so I used my prong to gently move around the yarn and inject color into the hank. And I let the dye exhaust (this is a time-consuming method. You’re going to hear that a lot.)

Using the shower hooks, I picked up the yarn and turned it over. This is where the shower hooks really come in handy. I like not burning my fingers.

As you can see, the other side was pretty bare. Clearly, that had to change.

Once again, I laid on my primary colors in the same placement as before.

And I laid on the secondary colors too. Then, I let it exhaust. Again.

Using the prong, I wiggled the yarn around some more and if I found bare spots, I added more dye until all my dye was gone and it had all FINALLY exhausted. I let the yarn and the pan cool overnight before rinsing and hanging up all that glorious yarn to dry.

And oh my gosh! I am in such love with this yarn. It’s such a stunning rainbow (if I do say so myself) and I cannot wait to make this into a sweater! Since this is a hand-dyed set, obviously each hank is a bit different, so when I knit it up, I’ll alternate rows between the hanks.

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

Q&A with Bellish!

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Hello Makers!

If you haven’t already heard, there’s a new app for iOS that generates sweater patterns for free called Bellish!

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This revolutionary app allows the user to feel like a designer by offering multiple points for customization! Choose from different necklines, sleeve lengths, body lengths, and textures – all available in a variety of gauges with new options added regularly!

Ready to learn more? Check out our Q&A with Bellish Knitting below!

Makers’ Q&A: Bellish!


Q)
 How did the idea for Bellish come to be? 

A) Bellish began with the idea of creating digital tools for knitters. These days we use our smartphones and tablets for so many of our daily tasks, and it was a natural next step for us to ask if there might be a way to make those devices more useful for knitting. As knitters, ourselves, we wanted to create a dynamic, personalized knitting experience that went beyond what was possible with a PDF. 

 

Q) We love knitting sweaters, which is why Bellish is so appealing! Are there plans to eventually expand the offerings beyond the realm of sweaters?

A) For the time being, the focus is on enhancing the sweater knitting experience to the fullest. We’re building a robust library of options, with new sweater styles, yarn weights and embellishments underway (we add new features almost every week).  It’s certainly a possibility that we’ll add other kinds of knitting projects down the road as Bellish grows and evolves with the feedback of our users. 

 

Q) What is your favorite feature that’s included with the Bellish app?

A) There’s a real sense of immediate gratification when you’re able to customize your design in real time and see the textures and colors transform right before your eyes. Of course, we love the digital tools in the app: the row highlighter, stitch/row counters and clickable stitch checkpoints, but we think the absolute best thing about Bellish is that it makes it easy for any knitter to bring their sweater ideas to life. We’ve loved watching knitters use Bellish as a starting point and then add their own creativity to the mix.


Q)
We love how the Bellish app can allow knitters to fall in love with a yarn, then make a pattern around it. Based on your testers, what’s been the most exciting pairing of yarn and pattern you’ve seen so far? 

A) Knitters loved having the ability to create their sweaters based on the yarn they already wanted to use (rather than trying to find the perfect pattern, and then looking for the right yarn to go with it). One of our testers said that she had yarn in her stash from a friend of a friend’s mom, and it had been sitting dormant since the 1980s. The Bellish app made it possible to finally turn that yarn into the exact sweater she wanted it to be – she said that her friends were very impressed that she finally found a use for it.

One of the other things our testers have really liked about Bellish is being able to open the app while they’re at the yarn shop. They can stand right there in front of the yarn they fell in love with, and – with a few clicks – design a sweater to go with it, and know exactly how much they’re going to need.

 

Q) With any idea that blooms into reality, there’s always something to discover along the way. What’s been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from the beta testers and users so far?

A) Two things really stood out for us. First, we wondered how knitters would feel about seeing an illustration of their pattern rather than a finished photo. But when you think of each knitter as an individual designer of their own project, it makes sense that they would start with an illustration and then bring the sweater to life on their needles – our beta testers loved that process. Second, we were very curious about the skill level of the knitters who would find Bellish most useful. Would it resonate more with beginners? Experienced knitters? We had thousands of beta testers and the feedback was so interesting: it was almost exactly a 50/50 split between those who felt Bellish was perfect for beginners, and those who felt it was designed especially for experienced knitters. We were thrilled to see that Bellish is providing an inspiring and worthwhile experience for knitters, regardless of their skill level. It’s a fun, creative resource for any knitter!

 

Ready to download the app and give it a try?

CLICK HERE to download Bellish

Use the hashtag #MakersBellish to show us your progress on social media!

Fannie Twisted Stripes

Eat, Knit and Dye

I had a vision for this one. I really did. I wanted something bright and sunny, with beautiful fades of pink, red and orange. That isn’t what I got. But I got to use the crockpot, so that’s a win! 

Once again, I am using Fannie, a 100% Merino Superwash Wool for my base. And I’m also using food coloring for my dye.

To start, I immersion dyed the entire hank with yellow dye. I don’t have a picture of that, but all I did was fill the crockpot with water, yellow food coloring and citric acid. I turned on the heat for 30 minutes on high and let the food coloring exhaust. This left me with a lovely semi-tonal yellow base.

I twisted the wet yarn into a hank and put it back into the crockpot (Bonus! I used the same water.)

On one side of the hank, I dropped in three drops of red food coloring.

On the other side, I put in a few drops of pink food coloring. I put on the lid and let it set in the crockpot for 30 minutes (the temperature on high). The food coloring exhausted, the yarn cooled, and I hung it up to dry.

As you can see, there is no discernible difference between the pink or the red. I think all the color just blended into one color. The twisting also left the yarn with stripes of color. Not what I was going for, but sometimes serendipity just takes over.

Stay tuned for next week for a rainbow explosion!

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

Czech Buttons

One would presume that Czech Glass buttons are made in the Czech Republic, but doing so would be a mistake. You see, after WWII, many Czech families who had been making glass buttons for centuries in the traditional Czech way, moved to Southern Germany. And with them, they brought their button-making knowledge. Although thousands of button making families migrated to Germany after the war, less than 100 of these families are still making buttons. With cheaper labor available just about anywhere in the world, this time-honored tradition is now limited to less than 100 families in Germany. However, the families that remain, still make these buttons using the same techniques their ancestors used, and in some cases, even the same equipment!

It all begins with very large rods of glass.  These rods are heated in a furnace with an open flame.  The temperature of the furnace needs to be anywhere between 1500 and 1800 degrees to melt the glass, depending on what kind of glass is being used.  Once the glass is beginning to melt, the buttons can be formed.  


This is done with a special tool, that holds a mold in it.  The mold can be interchanged so that you can create different shapes and impressions with the glass.  

This is actually a very quick process, and dozens are made every minute – even by hand. BUT, this is just the beginning of the process! Once the buttons are formed, they need to be annealed properly – this is the process of cooling down the glass at a very slow speed, so that it will not easily break in the future. This is one step that is not usually performed properly in countries where imitation Czech Glass buttons are made.  Thus, the cheaper buttons tend to break far more than a button properly annealed in the trained hands of a professional.  

Once cooled, the buttons need to be separated – this is done with a two small, round, very sharp circular blades – think of a can-opener, it is similar to that.  After being separated, each individual button will need to have the edges smoothed out, which is done on a grinder.  Not until the button is perfectly smooth, is it ready to sell.

Once cooled, the buttons need to be separated – this is done with a two small, round, very sharp circular blades – think of a can-opener, it is similar to that.  (photo) After being separated, each individual button will need to have the edges smoothed out, which is done on a grinder.  Not until the button is perfectly smooth, is it ready to sell.

Makers’ Mercantile carries Czech Glass buttons – made in Germany, just like this. 

Make Along Update

THE WEEKENDER

JANUARY 3 - FEBRUARY 28, 2020

We are giving ourselves until the end of the month to finish The Weekender sweater by Andrea Mowry. While we have a suggested time frame for the knit along it's never to late to join in and finish at your own pace.  We recommend using HiKoo® Trenzado or any other worsted weight wool.

Believe it or not, we already have two completed sweaters!

And we've got a third sweater working on the last few rows of the first sleeve!

Knit using

HiKoo® Kenzie 1026 Kea

We are so excited to finish up our sweaters and wear them in March!
If you've been knitting along from afar, share it with us on social media by tagging us @makersmercantile.

THE WITCHING HOUR KAL
FEBRUARY 7TH - MARCH 27TH

Knit Using HiKoo® Sueno

Knit using HiKoo® Simplicity Spray and HiKoo® Sueno 

Join in the Fun!

It's still early in the knit along and because we are so excited to have you knit along with us we are offering the pattern FREE with the purchase of the yarn!

Fannie and the Mad Scientist

Eat, Knit and Dye

I fully admit it. I have no idea what I’m doing with this one. I’m just going to poke around and see what happens. If it’s great, awesome, if it sucks, awesome. As long as I had fun! 

I grabbed a hank of Fannie, 100% Merino Wool Superwash, and got to work! I soaked it in water for 30 minutes and contemplated my dyeing options.

I decided to give food coloring another go. I filled up a pot with water up to about an inch. I added yellow food color.

I scrunched up the yarn and literally dropped it into the pot. The accompanying splash was not impressive.

Using the Green, Yellow and just a touch of the Neon Blue food coloring, I just dribbled random drops everywhere.

To make things more interesting, I smushed the yarn and dye around until it started blending.

Happy with my mad scientist concoction, I turned on the heat to just before simmering and let the dye exhaust. And naturally, I let it cool, rinsed it and hung it up to dry.

It’s an interesting concoction of random blurs of color. I like it. It's random and weird. I’m glad I tried out this technique!

Stay tuned for next week for something bright and sunny!

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

February Sock of the Month

Howdy Ya'll!

Is it just me or was January 872 days long? But now you probably got your February sock box, and since we are inching towards Valentines Day we're celebrating all things love and sweets... so perhaps February will scoot a long a little better. (January seriously. It was not pretty!)

First of all, isn't the yarn just yummy? I loved watching it change as I knit these socks and I love how squooshy it is. I am a loose knitter and almost every sock I knit is done on US1s. I knit these on size US2 FlipSticks. That sharper tip was so perfect for the yarnover stitch in the pattern.

And speaking of that little stitch, loosen up on that...I ripped back more than once because I just kept pulling it too tight and it looked funny and made little holes. Once I loosened up, the arrows started to pop and they were so much fun. Creating them made the pattern go faster, and it was such fun watching them take shape. (I realize now that in progress pictures would have been so helpful for you guys and I just didn't think of it but I will do better next month, I promise!)

The other thing I wanted to mention was the size of the sock. I worried that it wasn't as adjustable like a lot of patterns I use or create.... And with that stitch count.. how's this going to fit my fat foot?! It fit me great (also I love the ribbing on the ankle) but then! In some sort of sock magic! It also fit my teen daughter with a slimmer and smaller foot. So go for it. There's a lot of give in the fit!

If you didn't get this month's box, or you're curious what's inside, you can watch Karin reveal the February Sock of the Month box in this video:

I hope you like your stitch marker. CeeCee and I really wanted to capture how deep and beautiful the red of the yarn was. We love making stitch markers and playing in beads. In a future month we might create a stitch marker tutorial for you...they make great gifts and are so fun for sharing and swapping.

I'm in the Ravelry group (I'm Knittybe over there) so please hop over there and join the conversation. If you get stuck, or something doesn't make sense, please ask! I know you will enjoy knitting these cozy socks and I'm glad to help you if you need it. I love knitting socks and if you're new to it, it really doesn't need to be scary.

I may have already had a peek at the yarn for next month...in fact, it *might* be on my needles right now. It's beautiful yarn. The pattern is fun. It is different from anything I've done before and I don't want you to miss it! Please sign up for March before they sell out!

Your sock knitting pal,

BeLinda

Sadie Sorbet

Eat, Knit and Dye

The crockpot has returned! I love dyeing things in it because it’s so easy. Just pour the dye, set it, and leave it. Since I use my crockpot to make actual food, I’m sticking with food-safe dyes. In this case, its food coloring.

This week I am working with Sadie, a 80% Merino Extrafine Superwash Wool and 20% Nylon that I just adore.  You should seriously check it out!

I prepped a skein of Sadie by soaking it in water for 30 minutes and attaching a shower hook. To prep the dye, I got out three teacups, filled them with water and 1 tsp of citric acid.

Here’s how the food coloring broke down:
• Orange Teacup: 3 drops of Yellow and 3 drops of Pink
• Rose Teacup: 3 drops of Yellow and 3 drops of Red
• Pink Teacup: 3 drops of Pink and 3 drops of Red

I put the yarn in the crockpot like I was folding a hand towel, so it was draped over itself. I poured the food coloring directly onto the yarn in sections. First the Orange Teacup over the middle, and the others on the sides.

I popped on the lid and turned on the crockpot on high for an hour. I checked with a spoon to see if the dye had exhausted and it had. The yarn was cooled, rinsed and hung to dry.

The crockpot has returned! I love dyeing things in it because it’s so easy. Just pour the dye, set it, and leave it. Since I use my crockpot to make actual food, I’m sticking with food-safe dyes. In this case, its food coloring.

This week I am working with Sadie, a 100% Superwash Merino Wool that I just adore.  You should seriously check it out!

For such a simple project, it turned out gorgeous. It looks like a delicious sorbet and now I’m hungry!

Stay tuned for next week where I play with more 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