Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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I'm back! Phew. What a week. I had a fabulous time in NC and have plenty of stories to share. Tomorrow. Or later this week. Want a preview? Let's see, there was visiting my niece's 1st grade class and demonstrating how to make yarn (!); having my niece teach me how to skate backwards; teaching her how to use the Joy; hanging out with my brother and sister; bonding with my nephew... yup, lots of good times.

I came home to this wonderful surprise:

Dye-O-Rama angel yarn for me!

My Dye-O-Rama yarn! My pal went missing so Sheila of Wool2Dye4 was my angel. Sheila was a Dye-O-Rama sponsor and since I helped organize, we had sent a bunch of emails back and forth early on. When I found out she was going to be at MDSW, we met up and hung out. So I got to meet my angel pre-angel. How cool is that? Sheila included beautiful glass buttons from one of her customers, Terri Persing, that match the yarn perfectly, and some Eucalan wool wash samples. Of course, I'm most excited about the yarn. I can't wait to see how the red speckled one knits up. Thanks so much, Sheila!

I slept most of Saturday, but when I (finally) woke, another package was waiting for me:

Alpaca yarn from Sunrise Ranch

Lucky me, 2 packages in two days! Inside were my Prize Patrol goodies from Claudia's MS Ride: 2 skeins of lovely 3 ply alpaca yarn, so soft and yummy, from Deb at Sunrise Farm. Really. Soft. Deb also included a bar of handmade soap that smells wonderful. I'm thinking lacy scarf for the yarn. Ohhhhh yeahhhh. Thanks, Deb!

Speaking of packages, 2 more bits. Back a month ago, I had a birthday contest. Well, I finally sent out the package right before heading to NC. I didn't take a photo so you can head over to Anne's to see it. Yep, better late than never. :) Check out her beautiful lace shawl in her post from yesterday. Knit in no time. How does she do it?

Last, while I was in NC I got an email from Susan of Susan's Fiber Shop, asking me if my package had arrived. I ordered it quite a while back, but she was out of stock and more were being made. Guess what it is??? It should be here sometime this week. Picture Snoopy doing his happy dance. Yup. That's me. :)

Thanks so much for your comments on the cormo. Some times I feel like I go on a bit and I'm not sure if anyone's interested, but I figure I'll throw it out there and see. It's nice to see the spaghetti stick to the wall every now and again.

Dye-O-Rama pal

My Dye-O-Rama pal got her yarn and liked it! My pal is Pippikneesocks, and you can imagine that when I drew her name I was a bit intimidated, thinking, crap, what am I doing in the experienced group, mebbe I should be in the WTF group! Have you seen all the yummy things she makes?

I wanted to come up with something different for her, and I knew I wanted to use pink and black, her signature colors. My first idea was to spin a 3 ply yarn with one ply variegated pinks, one ply variegated blacks and one ply either white or white with hints of pink and black. Dyeing the pinks went fine but somehow I had brown in my head instead of black and variegated browns just weren't happening. Ug-ly. I'll tell ya all about it another time. 

All's well that ends well, though. I'm happy with how things turned out.

I won!

Hey, I won something! I never win anything! I won something! I donated to Claudia's good cause by way of Anne and won some alpaca yarn from Deb of Sunrise Ranch Alpacas in the Prize Patrol! Heh. I won. Mebbe the rain will stop. If it does, maybe I'll see pigs. Flying. :)

Now that I've won something, does that mean I can no longer say I never win anything? I'll have to change to: I almost never win anything! I hardly ever win! If winning things were like batting averages, I'd be batting a .001!

Just doesn't have the same ring.

Family time

I'm heading to NC Thursday to visit my sister, niece, nephew, and brother. I so need a vacation and to hang out with family and be super auntie. My nephew turned 1 this month and I feel like I'm missing all his moments. You can bet I'll be soaking up the moments this trip. I probably won't be able to blog while I'm there, but I've been such a slacker lately I'm sure you're used to it by now.


I wanted to really thank y'all for being so supportive about Gram. I didn't say much after the last post a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't return emails to your wonderful comments. All I could do was take it in and appreciate your words of support and the ideas you brought.

Last week I finally pulled myself together enough to look up Alzheimer's caregivers support groups and located a couple in the area that I might go to. I also did some research on and picked out a few books on Alzheimer's. It's strange. These are the types of things that, in other parts of my life, come naturally to me. Finding resources and information to help me understand something I don't understand. Somehow, I blanked. I had thought of support groups before, but it seemed distant and unattainable. Until a couple of you suggested it, and a week had passed, and I stopped to think, I felt like I had no idea how to find a support group or what to do. It's like my brain short circuited, was a skipped record stuck on a track, a program stuck in a loop, unable to compute.

When the books arrived, I couldn't bear to look at them. They sat. Until today. I started reading at lunch. I think they'll be helpful in finding ways to cope, finding ideas for how to respond to Gram when she says things that make no sense to us, when she tells us she's seeing things we can't see. For figuring out how to see the good things, the happy, the light, and not just the sad and heartbreaking. Or amidst the sad and heartbreaking.

We had a good visit with her yesterday. She seemed to be in good spirits, and she's moving around fairly well. She was talking about her family, and pulled out an old family photo, in black and white, with 11 "kids" ranging from teenager to 30's. I asked about each and she told stories. I loved that.

When the aide came to take her to dinner, Gram introduced us (again) to the aide, but couldn't remember my name, or Scott's. Lately she can't remember "grandson"; she knows who we are but can't remember the labels, the names.

Anyway, thank you. Your words touched me and helped carry me through the last 2 weeks.

Podcast help?

I often read my posts to Scott and have a lot of fun doing it. When he reads them on his own, they don't sound the same to him. So I thought mebbe I could record some of them. So you can hear them how they sound in my head! (yes, I admit, scary thought) Or listen while knitting. ('cuz I'm all about multitasking.)

'Cept, I know nothing about how to make that happen. And yes, I could find a book on it, or a website, but, um, I gots a lot on my plate right now. And I know there are some of ya out there with some experience? That would be happy to hook me up? :)

My Dye-O-Rama yarn is finally dyed and dried and ready to go out! Wanna see?

In the knit:

Pink Panther

Skeined up:

Pink Panther skeined

A light steaming and a bath did not entirely remove the crinklies, but I don't think it'll be an issue in the knitted item. I wonder if the cooking or the cooking and drying in knitted form made the crinklies so pronounced.

This time 'round I made several changes in hopes of having clearer color bands. Overall, the changes worked great. But first things first... How I did it the first time.

Knitting blanks

Here's my knitting machine (one of them):

knitting machine

It's a Studio SK860, I think, bought new several years ago. Suffice it to say, I had grand plans.

And me using it:

using the knitting machine using the knitting machine

Scott took them, despite protestations of unwashed hair and grubby clothes.

This machine knits primarily dk to light worsted weight yarns. I'm no machine knitter so don't hold me to that. But that's a rough range. I "cast on" with grippy waste cotton over 30 needles at dial setting 6 and knit about 8-10 rows. Then I switched to the Kona superwash and knit 200 rows (I weighed as I went; 200 rows = 2 oz). Back to the grippy waste cotton for another 8-10 rows and then off the bed. Rinse and repeat for the second skein.

knitted blank

Note: this made a very loose fabric, which worked out fine. The yarn fulls when washed and dyed, and you don't want a tight gauge getting in the way of dye penetration.


I soaked the blanks in hot water with a bit of dish detergent and rinsed gently before using. When ready, I laid out my protective plastic drop cloth and plastic wrap and unrolled the blanks onto the plastic wrap (stockinette stitch, as you know, wants to curl up something fierce, so I did my best to lay it flat).

blanks laid out

Dye calculations

I based my numbers on Deb Menz's Color in Spinning, past experience and guesstimation. Good old guesstimation. Here's how it went. (If you really hate numbers and would rather skip to the fun part, jump to the Aside).

My color pattern was:

Pink Panther - color repeat

To figure out how much dye to use, first I figured out what dye intensities I wanted. I knew I'd get good saturated colors with 4% dye solution, and then I figured 1% ought to do it for the greys and light pinks.

Pink Panther - color repeat

Next, I figured out what percent of the whole each band was. The total was 6", so each (non-white) color was 2/12 of the whole. Here's where it gets a little interesting. If you like math. If not, maybe the opposite.

If I were doing a straight 4% intensity calculation, I'd have:

     4 (percent) x 2 oz = 4 x 56 g = 224 mL of 1% dye solution

But, since we're only looking at a portion of the whole, say the black band:

     4 x 56 g x 2/12 = 37.3 mL

because the black takes up only 2/12 of the whole. Right. And for the 1% bands, I decided to dilute the 1% dye solution to .25%, so that the calculations would be the same as above. Same amount of liquid, different amount of dye.

Last step (are your eyes glazed over?) -- my knitted blank ended up being 36" when laid out, so I was able to fit exactly 6 full repeats in there. What luck. So for each 1" stripe (or set of 1/2" stripes), I used:

     37.3 mL / 6 = ~6 mL


To be honest, you can just wing it and put as much as looks right to you. If you want consistent stripes, then use the same amount for each stripe. It's that easy.


I laid out measuring tape next to my blank. Following the color pattern, I added the dye and skooshed in to make sure it got all the way through to the other side. I started with black and did all the black stripes, then did the pink stripes, then the lighter colors.

dyed blank

Above, the black bands were placed and skooshed between the 6" and 7" marks, and 12" and 13" marks. The grey was placed over the migrated black sections. I used more pink than calculated because I wasn't happy with the intensity. Hence, it migrated more.

dyed blank

I spritzed a nice layer of vinegar over the whole shebang. After nuking and forgetting. Doh!

Time to fold the plastic wrap in to the middle to seal it up and then carefully roll:

wrapped and ready to go

Nuked for the usual [~2 mins on, several mins off] x 3.

I was worried that the black would run, so I unwrapped fairly soon after and soaked in hot water with a bit of dish soap. (Ideally you'd let it sit and cool so the dyes absorb in, yada yada. Also, Kona is superwash so I knew the temperature change wouldn't felt it.)

cooked and cooling

You can tell there is much less white here than before nuking.

ready to dry

Also, there are a bunch of areas where the black drooled, plus one section where I accidentally spattered black... I wasn't quite happy with how it turned out so I made a bunch of modifications and tried again. That's the photo at the beginning of the post! Details on that coming up.

Thanks so much for your words and thoughts. Just. Thank you.

This week I'm at a technical conference in Boston so posts will be spotty, but I've been dyeing and it's been fun so I hope I can squeeze something in here and there.

I tried a new method over the weekend:


It's about time I got started on my Dye-O-Rama sock yarn! I knitted up some Kona on the knitting machine and then dyed stripes of pink, black and white. The results were a little unexpected with some bleeding of black dulling the pink, a few black splotches, and a lot less white than expected from dye migration. But, overall, I got the effect I was looking for, so with a few tweaks I think it will suit my purposes. I'll post more details on the whats and the hows soon (you know me, there were plenty of calculations flying around, some useful, some not so much).

Dye-O-Rama update

Woaaahhhh Nelly. As of this moment we are at 248 confirmed registrations! Does anyone else feel faint?

Less than 5 hours before registrations are closed (8pm EST) so, if you want in, be sure:

- you went and filled out the form

- you got your confirmation email and clicked the link

- your name shows up on the form page

- you also registered at the Dye-O-Rama group blog

If you have problems, email us right away at so we can get you squared away!

Yarn Harlot update

She was high-larious as usual. I had heard a portion of her talk at the Spa Knit and Spin fiber retreat in January, but stuff still cracked me up, and there was new stuff that cracked me up too. If you have the chance to go listen to her, go!

The shop was packed, standing room only, and though we were early and were standing up front, come book signing time Maria and I found ourself at the end of the line. A long, slow moving line. Hehe, I'll bet the line at Webs is even longer. Remember yesterday when I was hoping not to say something really stupid or embarassing, or gush too much, or not say anything? Well, I get up there and after showing her my Knitting Olympics spin-dye-knit-a-scarf and thanking her for the inspiration to try something so ambitious, I found myself smiling and standing there silently. While she signed. Silently.

"Oh, I'm standing here silently. And smiling. I said I was going to try not to gush. Or stand here silently."

She looks up.

"So. Yeah. I love your blog and you were the inspiration for starting mine. So thank you."

She smiles.

"I said I would try not to gush, you probably get that all the time --"

"Actually, I don't --"

"You don't?" Incredulous look. "Really?" How can she not get anyone gushing? I was standing there for half an hour before she arrived and witnessed gushing. I remembered the first time I met her a year ago and feeling lots of internal gushing going on. She didn't know this?

I start talking really fast. Really fast. There's still the line, you know. But she needs to know. "So I was at work today, and I was telling this IT guy, because I'm, well, I'm in IT too, and we're outside the building and I'm telling him I'm going to the Yarn Harlot's book signing, and he says, 'Yarn Harlot' and --"


"Yeah. So I tell him how I met you a year ago at your first book signing and how I felt like I was 13 and meeting a rock star, even though I never gushed when I was 13 about any rock stars, and I told him it felt like [insert flapping hands and wild excited gestures], 'oh my god I'm meeting the Yarn Harlot oh my god!!!' You don't get that?"

She laughs. "No."

"People were doing it here before you arrived. 'I can't believe I'm going to meet her! I'm so excited!' See, they're all trying to be cool when you arrive so you don't see it, but before you get here they're all excited and gushing."

She's smiling. We're all entertained. I go on tell her how excited I was when I first met her. Flaping arms. Talking fast.

"Wow, you really got over your quietness."

I'm pretty jazzed up by now and smile and wave bye and try to move slowly so I don't fall over anything. How can she not know? People drive hours to see her. There were people from Connecticut and Maine there.

Every time I remember that moment, I chuckle. I was silent. I gushed. And to some people I may have been stupid or embarassing, but to me, I was sharing the excitement, giving her a glimpse of the excitement that goes on that she doesn't get to see. Being myself.

We thinks the Internet Explorer funkiness is unfunked! Or refunked, or something like that. Go try it and let us know if you have problems.


Sign ups are open!

Registrations will be open for 48 hours, you snooze, you lose, hahaha. When you fill out the form you'll get a confirmation email and will have to click the link to finish registering. Kudos to Noelle's hubby for setting this up!

We're having some issues with Internet Explorer (I know, you're starting to think I have something against you IE folks, right?), so if you can, use Firefox or something else. We hope it'll be fixed soon and will post an update.

What are you still doing here? Click below!

ETA: We believes the Internet Explorer problem is fixed, so go try it out! Let us know if you have problems.

Sign-ups begin this Thursday, April 20th at 6:00pm MST (8 pm EST?). We won't have a number cut-off this time but sign ups will be available for 48 hours only. If you won’t be around please have someone sign you up, 'k?

Noelle’s husband Cody is our tech guru and is creating an online registration form. Thanks Cody! Noelle has been hard at work setting up a blog where we can brag and share our dyeing woes and questions. We have a few guests who are dyeing pros who will share tips with everyone and be available to help with questions.

Some swap business:

  • PLEASE DO NOT SIGN UP IF YOU ARE GOING TO FLAKE! Don't make us open up a can of whupass on you. ;)
  • There will be a choice on the registration form to sign up to be an Angel. This means you are willing to dye a second skein of yarn to replace a Swapper who had the nerve to flake out on us (the noive!). It’s nice to know we can contact someone to help us out if we need it. We're hoping we don’t need Angels but, you know, just in case.
  • Cody and Noelle have put togther a countdown timer so you know exactly when the sign up will start.

Let us know if you have any other questions. We’re really excited about the swap and already have over 100 people ready to play. Very cool!

I'm excited that there's been so much interest! Some more information about the swap:

  • We will give plenty of notice about when the offical sign up will be. Just keep an eye on one of our blogs and we will give you a 36 & 24 hour notice.
  • You will need to register to be a part of the swap. Just leaving your comment in the previous post does not ensure that you will be in the swap. We will need all of your information and that will be your committment to join the swap.
  • Beginners will be welcome. We will have two official groups. One will be the WTF am I doing group and the other will be for people who feel pretty confident in their dyeing skillz.
  • You may use any dyes as long as they are permanent and lightfast.
  • We will do international swaps. We will specifically ask whether you mind having an international pal or not.
  • We have had a lot of interest already and we may have a 100 person limit for this first round. We will let you know about this.
  • Finally, please do not sign up for this swap if there is even the slightest chance that are going to flake-out on us. We recruited Noelle to help with the organization of this swap and the 4 of us will not be very nice DYE-O-RAMistras if you don’t follow through with your committment. Most of you have probably been a part of a swap before and know that nothing sucks more than having a pal who doesn’t do what they are supposed to. Ya know?

So stay tuned for more details!

In other news...

Gram fell this week and as a matter of course went to the hospital. Nothing "serious" and she's been moved to the rehab area, but unfortunately she's too weak to go back to her place until she's better, and she won't be getting better. Most likely she will move to a nursing home soon. So... I'm not feeling my usual self, and may be posting less often. I will keep up with Dye-O-Rama updates and will be spinning and knitting as usual, but most likely less chatty and less present.

Love to dye yarn? Always wanted to give dyeing a try? Join Scout, Cookie & Monica in the first hand-dyed yarn swap - DYE-O-RAMA!

Who wants to play??
Sign-up will be before May 1st
You will get your assignments shortly after and will have 6 weeks to dye your magic yarn
This round will be sock yarn - at least 440 yds
You can use Kool Aid or acid dyes, your choice
You can do variegated, self-striping, etc, your choice
You do not need a blog as we’ll have one where you can post your pictures if you’d like
We will do international swaps!

If you’re interested please leave us a comment (or email) so we can figure out how many people want to play. Sign up will be next week. We really think it will be a fun swap! More details soon….pass it on okay? The more the merrier!

You know you want to...

ETA: Good questions!

  • Finished yarns are due mid-June, around the 15th.
  • I think food coloring and natural dyes would be acceptable as well. As long as it is wash and light fast, I don't see a problem. :)
  • As for colors, I think the person you will be dyeing for will list their preferences and you can be creative within that. That'll be a good way for people to work outside their comfort zone. ;)
  • Newbies welcome! I think we'll have 2 groups, beginners and those with some experience, so don't be afraid to give it a try!