Sunday, December 15, 2013

Check out my Kool Yarns!

I spent most of last week at my dye pots playing with Kool Aid and Wilton's food coloring recipes.  Some of the recipes were given to me by my good friend, Beth, and others were happy accidents or new creations by me.  It's quite amazing the depth of color and range of color you can get simply with food coloring and Kool Aid packets.  I have learned much in this week and wanted to share my latest creations as well as some tips.

The above picture is one of my creations.  I call this "Forest Nymph."  This one was dyed using a combination of different Wilton's food colorings.  The brown food coloring broke a bit, which is why you can see a bit of red in the brown sections.  I like the effect and it makes it more of a chestnut colored brown.  This is super wash merino and nylon yarn, fingering weight, and a whopping 462 yards!  You can find it in my shop, HERE.  

Meet "Red Brick Schoolhouse" my lovely red color way I created with a recipe of Kool Aid I created.  The yarn is a soft twist merino fingering weight, 400 yards.  You can find it in my shop HERE.  

TIP:  When dyeing with Kool Aid, I HIGHLY recommend using Kool Aid packets and NOT the canisters.  Yes, buying the canisters is less expensive overall, but the ingredients are not the same.  The company puts sugar into the canisters while the packets are unsweetened.  In dye attempts using grape from canisters, I found that the grape color isn't nearly as dark and vibrant as it is when using the packets.  The sugar also lends to making the yarn stickier and can cause issues with burning (I haven't had this happen, but read it on a forum).  Unsweetened Kool Aid packets or even generic packets like they sell at Kroger are your best bet.

My friend Beth passed on a recipe to me for the above color way.  She named it "Moody" and was sweet enough to let me keep the name.  The first attempt I did of this here at home came out very dull in color, especially the purple parts.  Of course, I was using grape Kool Aid from a canister so I wasn't getting the color result I wanted.  I over dyed this skein with grape Kool Aid packets.  I LOVE IT!  It's so soft and squishy too.  Super wash merino/nylon yarn, 462 yards, fingering weight.  CLICK  HERE to see it in the shop.  

This is "Blue Ice"  on soft twist merino yarn.  This is based off a recipe from my friend Beth.  It's a vibrant blue with a few hints of purple and white in it.  You can find it in my shop, HERE.

OK, back to holiday crafting!  :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dye Experiment: What water works best?

I posted a few weeks back about visiting my friend, Beth, and dyeing some yarn with her.  I was so surprised by the color differences I got with dyeing at her house compared with the colors I got by using the same formulas at home.  It could have been the wool difference...we used BFL at her house and I used merino wool at mine.  Different wools will absorb dyes differently which makes sense given they have different fiber characteristics.  Beyond the wool difference, I felt that maybe my tap water also had something to do with it.  Where I live, we have extremely hard water!  Since we don't have a water softener, we have to buy drinking water, use shower filters, and filter our tap water.  

I decided to do an experiment with four kinds of water to see what would happen when I dyed mini-skeins with Kool Aid.  

The four kinds of water to test were:
1.  Tap water
2.  Pur filtered water
3.  Distilled water
4.  Reverse osmosis drinking water purchased at Earth Fare grocery

The first thing to do, was to create mini-skeins.  I used some Lion Brand Fisherman's wool for this experiment since it is too rough for me to knit with it.  I made four, 10 gram mini-skeins by wrapping the yarn around a sock book and then measuring on my scale.  

After labeling the jars, I put the mini-skeins into each jar, and put 2 cups of the appropriate water into the four jars.  I let the yarn soak in the water for an hour or more to help it absorb the color quicker when the time came to add the Kool Aid. 

Before adding the color, I removed the soak water and squeezed out the excess water in the mini-skeins.  Next, I dissolved 2 tsp of cherry Kool Aid in 2 cups of water, and added it to the first jar.  I continued to do this, making sure to put only the designated type of water into each.  I then put the four jars into my large canning pot onto the stove.  Using tap water, and being sure not to get the water into the jars, I added enough water to cover the jars (just 1 1/2 inches below the rim of the jars).  Then I turned on the heat to medium high, and let it cook.  

I made sure to put the jars in the canning pot in order of where I have my sticky notes since I didn't know how to label the jars before putting them into the water pot.  

Cooking the yarn!  I let the water get to a rolling boil, then turned the heat down to medium for 10 min, covered the pot, and turned it off.  I didn't open the pot back up until many hours later.  Once cooled, I was able to remove the yarn from the jars.  

The color absorbed the quickest in the reverse osmosis and the distilled jars.  Here's a picture of the tap water jar.  You can see that it has not fully exhausted.  I could have put it back on to cook, or put it into the microwave to absorb, but since it was 11pm at night, and I was tired, I decided to let it go.  This is an experiment anyways...if it didn't fully stick to the yarn, it doesn't matter.  

Here is a picture of the reverse osmosis water jar.  The water fully exhausted!  

The distilled jar also fully exhausted.  The Pur filtered water (no pic of it here) did not fully exhaust.  Showing that the tap and Pur filtered water needed more heat and time than the reverse osmosis and distilled waters.

I hung the mini-skeins on my drying rack and kept the labels by each one.  They dried overnight.  

When looking at the final mini-skeins, it's hard to distinguish each one based on color alone.  I tried to capture the difference with my camera, but it's so subtle, I think you can only see it in person.  The reverse osmosis and distilled water skeins are slightly darker than the tap and Pur filtered skeins.  If I were to wash them now, I'm pretty sure that the tap and Pur filtered would run color given that they did not fully exhaust in the dye bath.  The reverse osmosis and the distilled water skeins exhausted completely, and should be colorfast now. 

Now, I'm not a chemist, but my husband (also not a chemist) and talked this through, and here's what we came up with....

I think that by washing them in my tap water, even the colorfast ones, some dye will come out.  I have washed commercially dyed fibers before with our tap water, and some color always runs for me.  It has to be the hard water!  The calcium in the water would affect the pH level, and therefore mess with the acidity of the colors.  When dyeing with Kool Aid, the citric acid in the Kool Aid packet is the acid needed to make the color stick to the yarn.  When you add hard water (which has calcium as a base in it), it will neutralize the pH of the citric acid, making it harder for the color to absorb.  If I had added more citric acid, or even vinegar, to increase the acidity, the color probably would have exhausted completely in the tap and Pur filtered water jars.  
I'd love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or knowledge on this topic!  

This has been a very interesting experiment, and I've decided to start using distilled or reverse osmosis water when dyeing instead of our tap water or Pur filtered water.  I would like to redo the experiment sometime with a pH monitor (something I don't currently own).

Bags for projects and gift giving!

I've been crafting like a mad woman lately!  I would love to be able to show you everything I'm working on...but some of the projects are holiday gifts so I won't be able to show you those until they have been given.  

I can show you some wonderful new bags I've made for my shop!

"Who Stole Christmas?" is a Japanese knot wristlet bag.  Features the famous Grinch from Dr. Seuss's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"  You can view this shop listing by CLICKING HERE.  I also have a MADE TO ORDER option for a bag using this fabric.  You can decide what kind of pocket you would like or no pocket at all.  

I've had requests from customers for project bags that are big enough for sweater sized knitting/crochet projects.  I took those requests and came up with a few new bag creations! 

"Winter Wonderland" is a large drawstring bag that can definitely fit a sweater sized project in it!  I also love how these bags could be used not only to carry your favorite crafting project, but also as reusable, eco-friendly gift bags!  I'm all for less waste during the holidays, and I could see these bags being perfect gift bags to be used for years to come!  For more info on this bag, CLICK HERE.  

Speaking of eco-friendly, this bag is all about "Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle!"  This bag is smaller than "Winter Wonderland," but can still fit a shawl sized project in it.  For more info on "Eco Love," CLICK HERE.

"Christmas Owls" is another Japanese knot bag that I created for the holiday season.  The owls are just too cute!  CLICK HERE for more details. 

"Norwegian Birds" is a fun Japanese knot bag featuring beautifully bright and happy colors along with cute birds.  The inside fabric is teal with golden swirls that matches with the teal swirls and flowers on the outside of the bag.  For more info, CLICK HERE.  

I'm going to be shipping for the holiday season until December 20th before I put my shop on vacation mode.  Since I have no control over shipping, I can't guarantee if you order on the 20th, that your items will arrive for Christmas, but I do my best to ship out the day I receive your order, so ordering prior to Dec 20th is recommended.  

I am hoping to get a few more bags listed in the coming week if possible.  :)  I always list new items on my Facebook page first, so if you haven't liked The Purled Ewe on Facebook yet, please do so in order to see new listings first!  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

CYBER MONDAY SALE on December 2nd!

The Purled Ewe will be having a 
CYBER MONDAY sale on December 2nd!  

10% OFF any purchase of $20.00 and up.
15% OFF any purchase over $40.00

Use coupon code CYBERMON10 for 10% off and 
CYBERMON15 for 15% off at checkout to get your discount.  

Visit The Purled Ewe by clicking HERE 
or on the mini-store on the Right Hand side of this blog.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Up to my Elbows in Kool Aid Dyeing!

I spent most of last week at my dye pots!  I even bought 3 more pots so that I could do more batches in one day.  Glad I did because I had a lot of dyeing to do!

Here's what I created...

The first up is a hand dyed, super wash merino wool called "Hawaiian Tide Pool".  Dyed with Kool Aid.  400 yards of fingering weight squishy wonder awaits you in my Etsy shop.  CLICK HERE for more details.  

Picture found on

This lovely is "Deep Waters".  Hand dyed, super wash, fingering weight merino yarn.  You can find it by CLICKING HERE.  This was dyed using Kool Aid.

This one is called "Water's Edge."  I dyed it with Wilton's food coloring, then over dyed it with Kool Aid.  Very pleased with how this turned out in the end!  This one is a wool/nylon blend, 450 yards.  CLICK HERE for details.

Here is "Green Olive".  Super soft, fingering weight, super wash merino yarn dyed with Kool Aid.  Though I'm not a fan of olives, this yarn makes me smile!  CLICK HERE for details.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Can you believe this Kool Aid Dyed?

I know it has been super quiet around here since I did my giveaway in October.  November is FLYING by and I'm doing my best to work on items for my shop and for Christmas gifts.  Such a busy season for a fiber artist!  :)

Last week, I drove down to Louisville, KY to meet up with a good friend of mine, Beth.  She's a fellow knitter and dyer and now my Kool Aid dyeing mentor!  I was in total awe of the yarns she had dyed using only Kool Aid!  

Beth and I at the dye pot!  
When some people hear that you dyed something with Kool Aid, they ask, "Will it fade or bleed with washing?"  Personally, I have found even commercial grade dyes to fade and bleed given the right circumstances, but for some reason, people think food grade dyes do not equal permanence.  Beth and I talked about this, and she told me of her experiments to prove that this idea is a misconception.

Beth took one of her Kool Aid dyed yarns and had a friend of hers hang it in direct sunlight for around 4 months.  Did the colors fade?  NOPE!  Not one bit.  The Kool Aid yarn looked just as lovely as the day it was dyed.

Her next test was to see if they would fade with washing.  She used regular, everyday laundry detergent and put the yarn through the washer a few times (since it was super wash, there was no worry of it felting...DO NOT DO THIS WITH NON-SUPERWASH YARN!).  Did the colors fade?  NOPE!  They stayed strong.

Of course, some detergents are rougher on yarn than others.  I wash mine using Ecos laundry detergent and hand wash only.  I was amazed myself to find that after washing my freshly dyed yarns, the water was clear!  I don't find that to be the case with commercial dyed yarns and fibers (many of them bleed quite a bit in the wash...and sometimes even Wilton's does a little).

Water so dark with color, you can't even see the yarn in the pot!

We dyed 3 skeins of super wash BFL fingering weight yarn (438 yards each).   Using only Kool Aid packets, we got some BEAUTIFUL color ways!

This first lovely is called "Larkspur".  It is named after the birth flower of my precious sons, Liam & Colin, who were born and passed away in July 2012.  Larkspur, also known as Delphinium, is a beautiful flower made up of purples and blues.  You can view this yarn on my Etsy shop by Clicking Here.

The next color way is "Burgundy Wine".  We used one of Beth's formula recipes to create this, but mine turned out quite different from hers.  Hers was a lighter purple color than mine.  The reason the two came out so different, we believe, was from the yarn bases.  Mine was super wash BFL, and hers was super wash Merino.  Different fibers will take dye differently, so it's so fun experimenting to see what you are going to get in the end!  This color reminds of the deep, gorgeous Burgundy wines my husband and I use to drink when we lived in France.  You can view it on my Etsy shop by Clicking Here.

The last Kool Aid dyed yarn of the day was "Purple Sunset" on BFL fingering weight yarn.  

I named this after seeing this picture online.  The yarn just reminded me so much of this painting!

I keep writing "BFL".  In case you don't know, BFL stands for Bluefaced Leicester sheep wool.  It's one of my favorite fibers to spin and knit with.  They are so cute too!  

I'm so inspired by Beth's fibers, that I'm already hitting the dye pots this week to make more!  I had kind of moved away from Kool Aid and more towards Wilton's, but now, I'm stocking up on Kool Aid and seeing what color ways I can create next!  Stay tuned for more lovely color ways to be added to my shop.  :) 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Time to Announce A Winner!

It's time to announce the winner of my First Giveaway!  

The winner is....

Dena Z. Schnupp!  

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  You have won my hand sewn project bag!  Please contact me via email at your earliest convenience.

THANKS to all who entered to win.  Your comments were so sweet!  I plan to do more giveaways in the future, so be sure to stay tuned to this blog, my Facebook page, Pinterest, and my Etsy shop.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Last few days before my Giveaway!

Only a couple of days left to enter into my very first GIVEAWAY!  The contest ends in 2 days, 6 hours!  :)  

If you haven't entered yet, go to THIS BLOG POST for details.  

I also wanted to show you a few more bags that I listed in my shop today.  

The first project bag is called "Upcycled."  It was created by my mother-in-law, Carolyn.  It is created from men's dress pants and dress shirt!  I added the cute birdie buttons for embellishment.  She's so creative to have come up with this design!  

The next bag is called "Fall Blossoms."  I thought it would be fun to mix three different fabrics to create this unique bag.  Super cute way to carry your things this Fall.

For more details on these bags, just click through my Etsy Shop on the right hand side of this post.