Wednesday, January 12

Winter Handwork...working with yarn: dye it, wind it, knit it

Our homeschooling rhythm relaxed over the holiday season...we continued to sing, and craft, and bake, but in a looser fashion than usual. Toucie has been working with some wool in a rather casual, long-term-project sort of way.
It started with a skein of wool that we "ruined" last fall...we tried to dye it in our goldenrod dye bath..after we'd already dyed our shooting stars and our cape of light...there was just enough color left in the dye bath to turn the wool a nasty, dingy color :(   We abandoned the yarn, leaving it hanging outdoors until just recently.

Well, no wool deserves such a fate! After the Yule season passed, my attention turned back to that forlorn skein and I decided to have Toucie help me give it a facelift. With Koolaid.

We didn't use any measurements or follow any instructions...we just winged it. I purchased 3 colors of  Koolaid: purple (Grape), red (Tropical Punch), and blue (Berry Blue). On the first afternoon we prepared a saucepan with about 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup white vinegar plus 2 pouches of Grape Koolaid. We prepared a second sauce pan the same way, using Tropical Punch. We set them to simmering on the stovetop and dangled one half of the yarn in the purple dye and the other half in the red dye. We stirred the dye around until the color started to disappear from the is really magical the way the pigment leaves clear water behind as it latches onto the wool! A quick rinse in cold water and we hung the skein up to dry.

The next day we prepared the blue dye and dangled the portions of yarn that were still undyed into the saucepan. That is what you see Toucie doing above. Another rinse and another day to dry.

Here is what we ended up with...I think it turned out quite beautifully. Toucie says it smells "like artificial candy", so perhaps a more thorough rinsing would have been good...oh well.

The next job was winding the wool into a ball. This took several sittings and a bit of discipline. I've heard Handwork teachers say to children that they are "winding for the world" as a way to create a picture for the child about this important task. One winds the wool for all, not just as if one were going to use it one's is important to wrap the yarn carefully and beautifully. (We unwound some of Toucie's work a time or two so that she could try again to make it just right). One always wraps the wool in a motion directed away from one's self...outward towards the world...winding for the world.

I bet the world would love to have that yarn ball, Toucie!

This winter, Toucie received this knitting tower as a gift. This type of knitting device it known by many other names: knitting nancy, knitting noddy, corker, bizzy lizzy, knitting spool, and probably more! The act of using one of these is called by several names, too: French knitting, corking, spool knitting, (and likely some other terms, too). Once a child has achieved some finger dexterity and control (developmentally speaking), this type of knitting is easy to pick up. Toucie took to it after one demonstration. Her endurance only allows for about 2 or 3 inches of knitting at a sitting, but it has been very pleasant to have this kind of project at hand. It sits in its basket waiting for that 20 minutes of attention that Toucie gives it on cozy, dark, winter evenings.

Now the question is...what do you do with several inches, feet, or yards of corking? We made a spiral dollhouse rug with her first effort, and we have plans to make a headband, but after that....?

Any suggestions?


  1. Lovely yarn! The girls love to braid them and make some belts for themselves... And lots of bracelets to offer to friends (you can felt the results and it makes for a really nice effect).

  2. Oh, perfect, Catherine! Braiding will use up quite a lot of the cord and Toucie will like the idea of a belt to wear. Thanks for the advice :)

  3. That came out so beautiful! I didn't realize you just dip different sections like that.
    Warm wishes, Tonya