Tag Archives: kool-aid

Neck stretches and why I’m not an archaeologist

waneka-no face detI can now reveal my Waneka cowl by the fabulous and fun designer Annie Watts (aka Wattsolak).  I used my recent Kool-Aid dyed yarn for a super bulky version and totally love its gargantuan squooshiness.  The pattern is easily and brainlessly adaptable to any weight of yarn – thinner yarn = more coils, thicker = fewer.  And it looks great with gradient dyed yarn – a perfect one-skein project especially for the thousands of beautiful indie dyed hanks out there at wool shows and in webworld.  I also made a  worsted weight version out of the maligned Lion Brand Amazing, and though I love the colors and the pattern, I still hate the feel of the yarn.

Waneka-with lamb

And I actually prefer my obnoxious-hued, still slightly noxious-smelling version.

waneka-no face

I can even wear it on my head.  Aging old-time Hollywood actress turban-chic.

This has had me remembering my youth (yet again – I guess I’m doing some mid-life thing) and the countless hours I spent traveling via National Geographic magazine.  I couldn’t stop thinking about neck rings worn by Kayan and Ndebele* women while I was knitting.

 400px-Kayan_woman_with_neck_rings ndebele1

Of course Waneka won’t ruin your collarbones or require marriage…

But as a child, I was utterly fascinated about the rest of the world – especially cultures that seemed unchanged or little changed for thousands of years.   When not reading or playing with animals, my other favorite pastime was digging up old sh*t – fossils in the creek, arrowheads in the field, or broken saucers, rusted scissor halves, and bottles in buried trash heaps in the woods.  By the age of nine, I was quite certain I wanted to be an archaeologist.  Luckily around that time, we had a class assignment of interviewing someone who was what we wanted to be when we grew up.  We lived in the sticks; I have no idea how most people were employed around there apart from service and functional jobs – teachers, undertakers, auto repair persons, farmers, and the like.  I don’t remember what my classmates wanted to be (and most girls were destined for early motherhood and possibly marriage anyway).  But my parents actually found a relatively local archaeologist at a university in the closest thing resembling a city 40 minutes away.  I was nervous about interviewing this professor – it was like meeting Indiana Jones or glimpsing into my certain glamorous and fulfilling future.

At first glance, his office was full of books and sunlight was streaming down on piles of Very Important Documents about Very Intriguing Finds.  He was (and yes, I could be making this up) cloaked in a brown corduroy blazer with worn elbow patches, mussed with unclean hair and a lack of a shave, and sporting a timeworn look of fascinating experience and adventure.

Then he opened his mouth.

I don’t know much about children, but I know that up to a certain age you should deceive them into thinking that life is ok.  If you study and work hard you can achieve whatever you want within reason.  Money should matter less than happiness.  It’s best to do something you love and the world will embrace you and appreciate your effort.

But instead of encouraging my little sh*t self, he launched into an epic and exceedingly bitter rant about the profession.  It boiled down to: don’t do it because the pay is sh*t, the days are long, hot, and tedious to the point of self-immolation, your projects won’t be funded or so severely underfunded that you will pay out of your own pocket, you will have to resort to teaching and you will not be respected at the university and will have to sell your soul to campus politics, tenure games, and administrative delirium, you will loose your marriage, your kids will despise you, your dog will run away and you’ll die stinking in the streets.

So today, though I work somewhat in the history business, I am not an archaeologist.

Trash from woods

I still occasionally dig up old broken sh*t in the woods though… (when not knitting of course).

* Pictures (that aren’t mine) yanked off the web from here and here.

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Cutter please come home

I bought a shiny new rotary cutter a year or two ago.  I’m pretty sure I even bought extra replacement blades.  It was during one of those mega-sales at the big box store and back when I had a bit more cash to burn.  I cannot find it now.  I have an old tiny one with a dull blade that sits unused in my sewing box, so I went to purchase new blades for it.  But then I didn’t because they are so inexplicably and maddeningly expensive.

So I continue to search for my lost one.

I have several boxes marked “art supplies.” So far, it has not been in any of them.  Instead I’ve found some other useful things.

Found-birds

A box of faux cardinals.  I have some bright red roving [red rover, red rover… ] in my stash that I got unenthusiastically in a grab bag.  I think I was thinking of making cardinal-themed art yarn out of it.  I don’t think it’s a great idea.  I still might make it one day.

Found-dyeDyestuff.  I just knew I bought Kool-Aid a few years ago for yarn dying purposes, but hadn’t been able to find it until now.  And yay, I have greens, blues, and darker red now!  And the henna – why not try it on wool?

Found-teeth

Yeah, I had a couple of wisdom teeth extracted (and one quite violently) and had to keep a souvenir.

Found-bath

And since I don’t have a new real bathroom, I can play with this vintage/antique? dollhouse set.  I forgot I found it at an antique store just a couple of years ago as well.

The box should have been labeled sh*t from a couple of years ago but not including your rotary cutter.

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Gradually getting kooler…

I’ve been wanting to start dying yarn for quite some time, but we currently lack the space, ventilation, and decommissioned cookware.  So I finally got around to dying with the stuff you can’t technically die from, but I certainly wouldn’t want to ingest, though millions do.

Kooldye

Yep, good old Kool-Aid – and I stand by my opinion that the stuff really is truly horrid, but I’ve been wanting to try gradient dying with this tutorial and it’s cheap and I thought readily available.*  A [not so] brief aside about my relationship to the beverage – the only positive thing I can associate with it is its endearing camp name of “bug juice.”  We always had bug juice at summer camp, though I don’t remember drinking it.  Why?  Because I barfed fruit punch flavored Hi-C** as a small child and have always carried the world’s worst aversion to the scent/smell/taste/whiff/hint of fruit punch (and bright red beverages to a lesser degree) into present day.  In fact, that is partly the reason that my only fear in life is anything to do with vomit – both my own and others’, and the pile on the sidewalk, or the remnants in the bowl in a public restroom, or boats, or amusement rides, or pregnant women, or drunks, or babies, or children, or hospitals and doctors offices, or even the offhand comment by someone that her/his stomach feels a little funny, can send me into a tailspin of fear and trembling.  The other reason is my second grade teacher had me clean another student’s puke off some wooden puzzles.  I was above average for my redneck school, so I was off quietly reading to myself – an Encyclopedia Brown book in fact – when the teacher was conducting a reading lesson to the rest of the class.  I was absorbed in my book, and didn’t notice what happened in the back and the subsequent sudden shuffle of students and a teary girl running out of the room.  Then my teacher sweetly asked if I could help her, and being a generally obedient child, I did.  Usually the teachers wanted to rub their excess hand lotion onto you (which seems mildly horrifying now), or help watering the plants, or straightening the [outdated] books.  No, I was presented with a stack of puzzles covered in chunky upchuck and told to take them to the restroom (or maybe she called it washroom) and clean them off.  I did.  I think I cried.  I think my mom raised holy hell at the school afterwards.  But all I remember is the spilled stomach contents and it haunts me to this day.

But back to the dye job.

kool-sweater

I started unraveling this thrift store sweater around the time we moved a year ago so I never finished it and have only recently found the box in which it was shoved.  I hate to unravel something hand-knit even from a big company that most likely exploited the labor (though I have no proof of that so don’t sue me) but this was a late 1980s, early 1990s monstrosity with gaping drop shoulders that reached the naval.  Maybe I killed something really important to fashion history – I killed it for its pelt.

kool-yarn

The wool is good – very sheepy.  It was knit with two strands held together to make for a bulky weight – unplied you’ve got twice the yardage at a still generous worsted weight.  I wanted at least 150 yards, so I wound off 100 thinking I’d go the worsted option and then have 200.

kool-dye

I bought several packets of the evil drink mix, though I was disappointed that there was no green or blue – what about lime or blue raspberry (even though there isn’t such a thing as a blue raspberry on this good green earth)?

What follows are notes to myself that I’m sharing so use the tutorial or check out the What a Kool Way to Dye group on Ravelry for technical details.

kool-little ball

First bath was two packets of lemonade, and one of watermelon.  The lemonade was basically useless as yellow, but it helped turn the pink slightly more coral.  My ball was pretty dense and I was sure the dye didn’t get very far so I wound off all of the first color.

kool-balls&pot

Then I left it out of the pot and stuck the bigger remaining ball in.  Second bath was a packet of tropical punch and one of orange.  This is where I nearly lost it, and unfortunately only later found out that cherry is basically the same color and I never had to endure the fruit punch in the first place.  I can’t even begin to describe the odor – artificial flavor and scent, wet wool, the sh*t that was stuck to the burner and burning, and the remnants of eau de thrift store. (The sweater had already been washed once but the yarn hadn’t had its second bath yet).  I couldn’t take it for very long, so before the liquid had gone clear, I rinsed and wound this around the little pink ball so the last undyed layer was on the top.

kool-mold

Then added one grape packet to the pot and sprinkled on another directly to the ball.  It looks like mold.  It smelled like hell.  But the grape covered up the worst of the fruit punch stink.

kool-soak

Then I soaked it a couple of times in cold water and vinegar.  I hoped that the vinegar would help with the stink, and it did to a degree, but I’m still picking up a whiff I’d rather not.

KOOL-SKEINED

I don’t know the color fastness of the final product, and it’s faded a bit after drying, but I don’t mind if it fades a bit more.  I suspected that the plies would felt and they did, so I’ll probably end up using this as 100 yards of bulky weight yarn.

And yeah, wear gloves.  I did except for the one time I really should have been (see top pic).

*The fancy grocery stores that we as food snobs frequent do not stock the stuff, so I had to visit a grocery on the other side of the tracks to find it.  But it is one that I will return to as I found lower prices on a few things I buy, and smaller sized things – though that is a crime – the smallest portion is always the most expensive in terms of the price per serving and the poor gets screwed with that, but for some things, I only want a little bit since I end up having to throw larger portions out.

**Never give a child with a stomach ache anything that contains food coloring.

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