Speckle Dyeing With It’s A Stitch Up Dye Kit

This weekend brought the most exciting post I have had in a long while, and for a change it was something destined for me rather than the Eskimini.

Inside the perfectly presented package were two skeins of Marshmallow Cloud yarn (a chunky weight baby alpaca yarn), soft and buttery to handle, and a Dye Kit. I’d been looking forward to this parcel from It’s A Stitch Up for only a couple of days, and I hadn’t even yet started to dream up what was in store for the yarn, so I decided to start the creative ball rolling by playing with the Dye Kit.

Sold alongside It’s A Stitch Up’s beautiful hand-dyed offerings, the recent expansion of this UK-based venture sees these dye kits which allow even a first-time dyer to create their very own unique yarn in a number of colour ways in their own kitchen, and using the same ethically-sourced yarn milled in the UK as is available beautifully dyed and ready to knit in the store. The dye kits are available in a couple of different bases, and as I unpacked the little box of goodies I found inside a lovely high-twist superwash merino.
Also included in the box were all of the bits and pieces needed to give speckle-dyeing a first go. Everything is thought of, from a miniature sieve (which immediately bought back pre-teabag era memories of my grandparents’ teapot and strainer) to high-quality protective gloves, plus all the materials needed to both create your own masterpiece of yarn dyeing and fix it firmly in place.

A close-up picture of the soaking yarn pre-dye shows the lovely smooth and high-twist texture which gives the yarn it’s bounce and strength.

Following the included instructions to prep the yarn for dyeing was really simple; however, deciding on how to dye the skein was most definitely not! The kit contains two shades of dye, and there are many possibilities on how to use these to create something truly unique. As well as the option to use one or both of the dyes, the dyer can decide on whether to combine the colours or to keep them separate, and whether to go for a dense cover of dye or a more sparsely speckled effect. Enough dye is included to give a good full coverage, but I decided to try to maintain some white areas in my skein.

In the end I decided to twist my yarn into a loose helix, spreading out the strands, and then to dye each side one of the two shades, keeping the two colours separate. I didn’t get a good picture of this step, but it looked something like the sketch below:
Once the dye had been applied this gave three areas of green speckled yarn, three blue, and with a couple of areas with little or no dye. Following the provided instructions I then set the dye using the microwave method, and then waited for the yarn to cool. Eventually the yarn was cool to handle and I had chance to wash and inspect my creation.

Bundled up like this it looks just like a mass of random colour, and to a certain extent that is exactly what it is. Professional indie dyers spend many hundreds and thousands of hours perfecting their craft to provide their customers with fine artisan products, and this was a speckle-dyeing first attempt, but  when I rinsed and hung the skein up to dry I was very excited with the results, and once the skein was fully dry, the re-skeining brought out something I think is really quite lovely.
The areas of colour are not too overwhelming, yet there is still a good balance and coverage of pigment.
Once re-skeined, the colours reminded me of distant photos of the earth, the greens of the land, blues of the oceans and white of the clouds. The speckle dyeing technique allows the dye pigments to spread as you agitate the yarn slightly, leading to variations in the saturation of the dye and strength of colour, and this added further to the depth and variety of the finished skein.
yarny speckled excellenceI am extremely pleased with this skein of yarn, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how it might knit up: I think I shall have to do some experimental swatching before settling on what it shall become.
However, plans for my own hand-dyed skein shall have to wait a while, as before then I have two beautiful skeins of the Marshmallow Cloud yarn to fondle, enjoy and dream up a project or two for; and that is most definitely what I shall enjoy my next few days doing.

Speckle Dyeing kits and It’s A Stitch Up’s ethically sourced and beautiful dyed yarns are available to buy from the online store, and are shipped worldwide for a low flat rate. Whilst visiting the store, do take a moment to read the ethos and philosophy of this wonderful venture for an insight into why ethically sourced yarn and the craftsmanship of our indie dyers should be of utmost important to us as knitters and craftspersons so that we can all better enjoy the things that we create.

I will be back soon with tales of what the two soft bundles of yarn at the top of the post might become, as long as I can tear myself away from enjoying my own speckly creation.

I received the above dye kit and yarn free with no obligation to review and I would not endorse a product that I did not think was of excellent quality and value. The above views are entirely my own and have not been suggested or prompted by the vendor. Baby is blogger’s own.

Baby’s Knitted Cardigan And Trousers

The recent freezing temperatures mean that hand knits have never been so very appreciated, and as Baby Awesome hit his four month milestone at the weekend we celebrated with lots of warm cuddles and lunch out with friends. Darwin also enjoyed feeling warm and cosy in one of the first hand knitted outfits I made for him: a Striped Cardigan and Snuggly Trousers combo. Though the cardigan was knit from a well-established Debbie Bliss pattern, the trousers were of my own design, and I have to say that I am extremely pleased with both the fit and the wear. I made the rise very generous to cope with having to fit over a baby nappy, and they fit his little legs just perfectly, and I think the whole ensemble looks particularly smart!

This little guy is growing so quickly that he is in 6-9 month clothing for both his hand knit and shop bought items, so I will soon have to get knitting some more items, otherwise he will be out of hand knits in only a few more weeks, and then I’ll run out of excuses reasons to post cute baby pictures!

Growing Knitting And Growing

Now that Baby Awesome has returned to good health, days are a more manageable mixture of play and rest, as days have made way for giggles and exploration of new ways to move and new things to do, which in turn are tiring enough to allow for the occasional nap. When the Eskimini sleeps it allows for Eskimimi making things, and at the moment I am using that time to put my feed up with an episode of Columbo as I make my way steadily through the entire all-seasons box set, and sit down with some easy but fun knitting.

As for the little prince himself, yesterday we reached a new mini milestone when, at 16 weeks old, he turned from his back fully to his front. Though yesterday he just lay there, calmly, today he is happy to lie with his held aloft as he tries to reach out with his hands in front of him to bear his weight, knees bend behind him as if he was trying to swim across the floor. It puts me in mind that one day he will be crawling, then walking and talking, and though these will be the most wonderful and amazing firsts, I also wish that I could just slow time down and enjoy these days. For now i shall go back to my pot of tea, the warmth of the knitting on my lap and the mixed sounds of a few gentle baby snores and Columbo’s latest deductions.

WIP: Royal Tweed

New year, new you.

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions* as I am usually of the mind that if I wanted to change something about myself I should do it on the day I decided it should be changed, rather than wait for the year to spin around to a shiny new number. I do, however, have all the respect in the world for those who decide to make a change and stick to it, and if January 1st gives someone the added resolve to draw that line in the sand a little deeper than all power to you and good luck with your change!

However, I did manage to pick up something on January 1st that I haven’t had much time for lately, and that’s my knitting. I say ‘pick up’ but what I actually mean is cast on. The date was not suggestive of me wanting to change the amount of time I spend creating (I always want more time for that) but rather came about because baby Awesome has been poorly since Christmas Day (and still is, though he is improving day by day) and January 1st happened to be the day that meant that he was coughing a little less and wanted to sleep a little more, and sleep means peace and the freeing up of one’s arms, both of which are very handy for a spot of knitting.

So, creeping quietly away from a peaceful babe for a couple of minutes I sprang to the yarn cupboard and decided to clear some space by knitting up some Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed yarn into something cosy.
I had two shades: a very regal purple and a rich gold colour, so the colour choice was pre-determined by the yarn that I had. There was enough tonal difference in the two colours to allow for some form of colourwork so I set about with a few ideas, scribbled  few notes, bought up my graphics program and made a few charts to send to myself and with a sprinkle of mathematics I had all I needed to cast on.

As Mr Awesome has returned to work after the festive break I will probably have to squeeze in a little knitting here and there, in the evenings or when the Eskimini sleeps (though he seems to have grown tired of naps when there is so very much excitement in the day time!) but hopefully, no matter at what pace, some day this shall be a gloriously royal looking finished item, in gold and rich purple, though what it shall be and the finished details are. for now, firmly under wraps…

*Unless you count my Instagram 366 days project as a ‘resolution’. I’ve never tried anything like this before, and though, like most things, I could have started this on any day, I thought starting on January 1st would make it easier to track what I was doing. Also, I’m really not going to worry too much if I do miss a day (though I will try not to) or if circumstances mean that for whatever reason I have to abandon it at some point. For now, though, it’s actually been good fun, and five days is five more than no days. You can follow along here for a daily peek at life in Eskimimi Towers: crafts, pretty trinket, nerdy things and cute babies all abound. Instagram name: ‘Eskimimi‘.

Happy 2016! 366 Days Of Potential

Welcome to the New Year!

I have decided to give the whole ‘picture a day’ idea a go alongside the blog, as it’s something I have never attempted before. Will I manage 366 photographs? Who knows, but if you want to watch the days when I do manage to take a successfully pretty or interesting shot, I’ll be putting each picture up on Instagram.

I’d be fibbing if I said I believed that many of my pictures are likely to be something other than a mixture of yarn and fabric, cute babies and occasional cake. If you want to follow along, then my Instagram feed can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/eskimimi or just search for my user name: ‘eskimimi‘.

If you are thinking about taking part in a daily photograph challenge of any kind, please pop your user name into the comments so that I can follow along with all the pretty pictures!