For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
I get the darnedest stuff in the mail from Makers’ Mercantile. The latest box was preceded by a note that said, “I’m send you something kinky.”
I’m not a prude, but that did give me pause.
What arrived in the mail was yarn. Oddly packaged yarn. I’ve had yarn in skeins and balls; but this arrived as two neat little cakes.
Cute, right? Turns out this is a new yarn, and it’s called Kinky. And you buy it in a cake. It looks like this.
The cake is plain, and that’s the point. The note enclosed said that decorating a cake of Kinky is step one before using it. Decorate it with what? Just about anything, apparently. Dye, paint, markers–whatever will leave permanent mark on the fiber–it’s 100% superwash wool.
Which explained why these were also in the box.
I’m not a dyer, and I admit that on the list of things you can do with yarn, dyeing it is way down my list. We all have our limits; that’s one of mine.
I’ve dabbled in dyeing, and the process reminds me of the fishing trips I was forced to endure as a child. You drop in the string, and you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Then you pull the string out and see what you got.
Just not my cup of tea.
But this was different. The Kinky Yarn cake is made up of a knitted tube, rolled and tied. The instructions suggested that I could unroll and decorate it, or not.
I decided to leave the cake intact. That way it would feel less like dyeing, and more like putting the finishing touches on a fancy dessert.
For cake one, I pulled out a paint brush and a couple bottles of Textil Marabu textile paint. This stuff looks like poster paint and acts like it, too–it’s got the same consistency. But instead of using it to announce a bake sale or the drama club’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross, you use it to paint fiber or fabric.
This was, wonder of wonders, fun. It didn’t take long for me to have this little cutie sitting on my work table.
This would be neat way of getting the kiddies involved in your fiber work, if you can trust the kiddies with paint or markers. Put on the smocks, cover the table, and let them go to town. Keeping an eye on them, of course. Then knit, weave or crochet with what they’ve created.
Sort of be a fun gift to a knitter or crocheter, too. Paint it up for them with Bon Voyage, Happy Birthday, or a portrait of the cat. Or put out one for each guest at yarn lover’s party, with markers and paints for decorating in the center of the table.
For the other Kinky cake, I used Fashion Spray Marabu, which comes in a little spritz bottle. Unlike Textil Marabu, which is pretty thick, Fashion Spray Marabu is what the name suggests–a spray.
Word to the wise: when you press the nozzle the first time to test it, aim it a scrap of paper or cloth. Like this.
Do not, I repeat do not, accidentally aim the nozzle at your face. I learned that the hard way. There is no photograph, because I was busy going ack ack gah cough ack while wondering if I were now Permanently Smurfed.
The spray was super fun. Spritz here, spritz there. I used two colors, and had a good time applying them over each other and watching how they blended where they touched.
I let both cakes dry thoroughly, which is also recommend for Kinky. Only after it’s dry do you undo the cake, unravel the tube, and wind the dyed yarn into a ball. The yarn will be kinked–therefore the name. The kinks can be left in, to add interest to your fabric. Or, if you don’t like the kinks, block the finished piece and they disappear.
After drying, I was pleased with the appearance of both cakes, but checked the spray version and noted that of course the spray liquid hadn’t penetrated far beyond the surface.
That’s part of the fun of the knitted cake structure; it means some parts of the fiber are likely to remain untouched and produce unexpected effects–sort of like the game you play whentie-dyeing t-shirts. But I didn’t want this much of my cake to stay white. So I did one more thing.
I took what was left of my blue fashion spray and diluted it with enough water to allow me to dip half the cake into it. There I let it stand for a few hours.
Then I took out the cake, and prepared a similar bath with the remains of the purple spray. I dipped the other half and let it stand for a few hours.
Next time, I’ll show you what sort of yarn I got from each cake, and knit some up to check out the results.
See you in two weeks…
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.