Saturday, 24 April 2010

so this is how it started

After the sewing marathon I set to some knitting.

I finished the skew socks.

Lovely pattern, great socks to wear, interesting to knit (although next time I'll do the modifications suggested by the designer on her blog to add a little more wriggle room for getting them on).

Then I did the calculations and realised there was only a few hours left on the endless sister scarf.

A very low level anxiety started somewhere in the back of my mind.

I wrote this post asking for suggestions for the next project, received lots of helpful and speedy replies and settled on tea leaves. I ordered dye for my posmerino stash and broke out the extra postage for express delivery so I'd be able to dye while Wil slept on Wednesday and cast on Thursday or Friday. That my preferred dye colour was out of stock and I had to settle on another which would almost certainly require mixing didn't daunt me in the slightest, though in retrospect it should have.

Because then things started going wrong.

The dye didn't arrive and the anxiety ratcheted up a notch. I pulled out my big bag of cashmere samples thinking I'd knock up a quick neck warmer or something just to keep me going. I wound skeins, dyed a couple of little ones, balled them up but things weren't gelling.

Thursday I spent with Kate who was visiting from Adelaide and we'd planned a we tour of shops and places for the purchase of fabric. Somehow I veered from the path and our first stop was the handweavers and spinners guild were a thousand eminently immediate single skein projects were jumping off the shelves at me. It's all very reasonably priced and made by hand! How could I not?
So I grabbed a skein of super chunky neckwarmer making yarn and got back on the planned road.

We popped into Rathdowne Remnants and then the A1 Bakery to get supplies for morning tea with the busy printers. Suitably sustained we headed over to Fitzroy to visit Clear It, which apparently I am supposed to keep secret so no one else buys all their good stuff but ha, as if.
We'd planned to have a quick peruse here, go two doors up the the new Fabric Store, have a bit of a wander and then head home to get Amy.
Almost 2 hours later I staggered out, dazzled by the sun and fresh air, dying of thirst, dashed 2 doors up, spent approximately 20 seconds in the Fabric store and made a mad rush to get home fast enough to pick up Amy.

So while I am not the romantic frou frou kind and even if I was Alannah Hill doesn't make things in my size (and I seem to recall an old interview with her when she said something akin to all fat people are disgusting) but I must say she buys some pretty stunning fabric and when she decides she doesn't want it after all she sells is shockingly cheaply.

I bought some pink things and things with sequins and things that matched and with matching trims and I had visions of running home and sewing myself a silk shirt like this or with a pussy bow (to wear with a pencil skirt, patterned stockings and perhaps, gulp, heels (like I even own any)).

Can you tell I wasn't feeling quite myself? That somewhere in the background the looming no project anxiety was turning me all funny?

We finally got home, exhausted and sweaty and then promptly all had to go out for ice cream to recover.

After dinner I searched all through ravelry for a suitable pattern for my neckwarmer, decided on this, cast on and started to knit.

And then decided my yarn looks awful in garter stitch and is wrong for this pattern and that really I like the pattern more than the yarn. So I went to bed and dreamed dark bad dreams.

And then Friday morning dawned and I heard the postman and thought thank god, the dye is here. Only it wasn't. So I rang Australia Post because by now I was feeling beyond a little anxious and was downright cranky that the guaranteed overnight deliver premium was a total waste and goddamitsomeonewasgoingtosharemypain.

After 200 hours on hold I had the worlds most frustrating conversation with someone who seemed to keep getting mixed about whether I had sent the parcel, was waiting to receive the parcel, had already received the parcel, whether the parcel had been received by someone else, whether the parcel had ever been sent or indeed ever existed. For the sake of my mental health I had to hang up and deep breathe.

Finally the parcel turned up but the carefully boxed contents had been crushed and one of the dye bags had been sliced open so I opened the package to be showered in toxic staining black dye. Which of course I had to clean up immediately, since loose black dye on one's kitchen floor is kind of unsustainable, only to be told by Australia post that if I wanted to lodge a complaint I had to bring the damaged parcel in as evidence. Needless to say I will not be making a complaint (except this one here of course).

I immediately started the dye process, 2 skeins at a time (that's 5 batches of 200gms of wool each). And the first lot came out too orange. So I added a bit of a deep plum in to the dyebath, reasoning that it was more red plus a little bit of blue which would make it less orange. I altered the contents of each of the other dye lots to match and went on dyeing them with gay abandon. I had a growing suspicion, which I was doing a marvellous job of suppressing, that the colour wasn't quite right, but until the yarn was properly rinsed and dried I couldn't know for sure and no matter what I would need to skeins to all match so there was no point in stopping now.

My main strategy for managing the growing anxiety was to get to work on the refashion pile while the skeins were on simmer. After the great pants refit work over the last month or so it was becoming increasingly obvious I needed to do a similar blitz on my skirts. A bit big, a bit long and rather boring, I had dumped quite a few in the work room after they had been rejected during the morning get ready for work routine. I had already dyed the oatmeal coloured denim skirt to great effect and worked on the black eyelet linen skirt from 2007, but I had a few more tweaks to finish it off. I also had to adjust the floral linen skirt again because it wasn't quite right last time.

Most of the work went into the grey and black lined linen skirt I made in 2009. I took it in and shortened by quite a lot and then added a gathered detail on the side hems to make it a bit more interesting. D says it makes the skirt looks like bloomers (and not in a good way) but I like it, and think it will look great with black leggings and boots for winter work wear.

I then did a quick refashion on this top, which I made in 2008. I was very disappointed that the very expensive lovely soft tencel fabric stretched enormously and pilled quite a lot. I had to take it in a whole lot, add a seam in back and made a feature of pin tucks over the front to give it more structure. It's still not great but a lot better than it was.

Now it's Saturday and the yarn is dry and I can't deny that the colour is not what I had hoped for.
The word that comes quickest to mind is burgundy, and that's a colour I left behind many years ago. D thinks I should overdye the lot black and then start again with real red (the one that was out of stock) for my next project. I would indeed use a black cardigan, and it would be way better to have a good black cardigan than a burgundy cardigan I never really liked, but you know, it just wasn't what I had in mind, it feels like such a boring cop out. Plus I so can't be bothered doing a whole day dyeing again, and risk felting with all this rework. Should I ball up a skein and see how it knits or am I just delaying the inevitable? What is a good red anyway? What the hell do I know??

Perhaps I'll go start on that pussy bow...because I'm not sure how much more project limbo we can take.


Claire said...

over dye, over dye!!! don't waste time knitting a colour that you know you don't like. And, I don't like that colour either... I've got similar results many times, it's like the default colour when things go wrong.

Alannah Hill: I never fit into her clothes even at my skinniest (and I wouldn't pay that much anyway) hrumph!

I like the bloomers skirt.... I'm going to steal that idea in a big way. When a new sewing space is
established, which could be a good 2-3 months away *sob*.

After your fab shopping extravaganza I've got Melbourne envy and wish we were moving there instead of Hobart.

Violets said...

Hello Sooz!

I've been lurking at your blog for quite some months now, just not saying much due to some arm problems that keep me from typing as often as I'd like. Reading all the wonderful things that you share, be it about sewing, family, general thoughts on life, or whatever - has grown to be a regular habit in my life, one that feels quite special and sustaining, and I'm constantly grateful to you for it. :)

I also appreciate you sharing the frustrating and difficult moments, without which you would seem far too much like a perfect goddess of all things crafty - which would make it hard for mere mortals such as myself to hope to learn from you and follow some way in your footsteps! hehe! I'm sorry to hear about how trying the last few days have been, though, I can just imagine. Glad to see you're being resourceful in maintaining the mental health ;).

For what it's worth, I thought the bit of neckwarmer that you photographed was beautiful. I loved the colours.

Best wishes,


froginthepond said...

Over-dye! And maybe choose a different pattern so you're not constantly reminded of dyeing defeat?

Ren said...

I actually quite like the colour. Maybe I am stuck in the 90s!

Belinda said...

I agree with D - over dye the burgundy, but still do the cardigan in red, that would be really lovely.

Do you have some more yarn to try again with the dying to get the red, or - would you be adverse to (shock, horror) buying a yarn that is already the colour you had in mind?

Don't dwell on the blah burgundy, move swiftly to the gorgeous red/raspberry pronto!

travellersyarn said...

In my experience overdying from burgundy to true red is not likely to work. You might get a good brick colour if you add brown, but black can always save the day.

Reds are tricky, and I have had the most success with Jacquard Fire Red 618, which is a lovely true red. Wish I could get a lipstick that colour!