It's the time of year for us West Coasters to start tormenting those of you in the rest of Canada with images of burgeoning spring. I wouldn't be so cruel as to post pictures of the snowdrops that have been up for a few weeks, but yesterday I did notice the buds on this tree outside our building are ready to pop, and I couldn't resist snapping this shot. (It may be some consolation to see that the skies here are still cloudy and wet.)
I am working on a pair of sweaters that have been commissioned as an anniversary present for a friend's parents. It's been quite a challenge to come up with a pattern that will honour the requirements of everyone involved: flattering and wearable for the recipients; reflecting the love and artistic eye of the giver; and fulfilling the design standards of the maker (me).
I have come up with a Cowichan-style cardigan with intarsia images symbolic of different aspects of my friend's parents' lives. I wanted to use Briggs and Little 4 ply wool - it's a sturdy, springy yarn from an historic Canadian mill in New Brunswick. My local yarn shop only carries the 2 ply, and a limited colour selection at that, so I ended up buying lots of white, planning on dyeing it and knitting with 2 strands. I needed a light warm beige, easy peasy, right?
I haven't done a lot of dyeing lately, so I reviewed my notes and merrily set to mixing stock solutions and soaking the yarn. Then my inner mad scientist took over and the kitchen started to resemble a laboratory with smoking beakers and bubbling cauldrons. Halfway through I realized that I had used Procion MX dyes instead of Lanaset, and had a momentary freakout. But, guess what? Procion works just fine on wool as long as you follow the recipe for acid dyes, which, thank God, I had. So I learned something!
Of course, all that wool jammed into two big canning pots, and complicated by trying to dye a pale colour, resulted in no two skeins being exactly alike. This I am actually happy with, as knitting from two skeins at once should give a bit of a marled effect, and add a liveliness to the background. Luckily, the rich red colour I wanted for the motifs was available at the store, so I didn't have to dye that as well.
My bathroom is now gaily festooned with dripping skeins of yarn. I can't wait for summer when I can work outside.
To help me out, here is the Indonesian mermaid/angel/goddess who hangs in my bathroom and is supervising the drying of the yarn. She has her work cut out for her. I want to start knitting tomorrow.