I completely missed the inauguration, but oh well. Apparently there was talk of climate change being real and gay people who should be able to get married, but, well... talk's cheap :-) We'll see how that goes.

I did, on the other hand, actually attend the volunteer shift I signed up for, despite the fact that it randomly started snowing this morning, and the temperature dropped so much that I could tell before ever leaving the apartment. But I did go paint at one of the homeless shelters in town for two hours, which as a team got us a painted locker room and a half, so success! Then I cam home and baked cupcakes, which were delicious. Trader Joe's vanilla cake mix, which smells exactly like my grandma's vanilla pudding - which came out of a pouch, so... great brand of vanilla pudding in a pouch :-) I think they have it at World Market.

I also sort of tracked down the Christmas present my mum sent me... which they apparently tried to deliver on the 22nd of December, but they neither told me about it nor did they make another delivery attempt. Yes, I did register a complaint with USPS :-) Now I just need to pick up the actual package tomorrow before work.

In the meantime, have some dyed yarn! I got bored yesterday and dyed some sock yarn I had wound after my eye appointment earlier this week. I also finished some socks in time for a birthday gift.

IMG_0812 IMG_0813 IMG_0814 IMG_0810
No really. Look at the pretty yarn. It's all I've got today.

Dyeing 9a

Dyeing 9b

Dyeing 9c

Dyeing 9d
In an attempt to graduate from fruit-scented powders, I bought a little tub of Wilton's food coloring. This is the stuff people make fancy cakes with, so it comes in a variety of colors and reacts well to being mixed for more colors, while still being food-safe and therefore crockpot-friendly.

I'll let you take a guess what color that tub was. Go on, I'll wait.



Black. Yes, really. It broke beautifully right when I poured it on the yarn. Although I think all of the blues went down the drain with the rest of the water. I totally used too much dye, so they had no chance before the reds took over :-)

I'm now thinking this property could be used two-fold: one, a wicking experiment where I suspend the yarn above a dyepot with just the end of it dipping into the color (without staining my bathtub in various components of black dye). Two, other Wilton's colors that are a blend of multiple colors - you know how very little food coloring is just Red 40 or whatever, but mostly Red 40 with a little bit of blue, or a little bit of yellow, for example? I wonder if that fact can be exploited if I treat the dye roughly enough. The little tubs are only about $2 each, so the yarn will still be the biggest investment in those experiments.
I promised you content, didn't I...

TV Show
Started watching Game of Thrones (as in, I gave in and got the Netflix DVD plan as well). I'm really liking it, from an artistic and visual standpoint, and I think I'd get into the story more if I didn't know what was going to happen already :-) I guess that's the problem with reading the book first. But the casting and realization of the characters is still amazing - Sean Bean is obviously great, I'm liking Kit Harrington as Jon Snow, and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is a stroke of genius. So sarcastic, so witty, so awesome.

Movie
Went to see Hunger Games with Jess yesterday, as a thank you for babysitting me on Saturday. I'm still not sure how I feel about the movie... it's like I should have had more of an emotional connection with it. Visually, again, awesome, most of the actors are excellent (was that Parker Posey, by the way?), but it just didn't hit me quite as much as it should have. I wonder if I'm missing too much background I would have gotten from the books - I spent much of the first third wondering how the Games originated, why the Districts rebelled, etc. I'll have to figure out Overdrive for my Kindle and actually download the books, I think. Or just get the paperbacks from B&N down the street.

Stuff
Survived my sedated dentist appointment - more than survived, actually. I barely remember a thing :-) Which is exactly what I wanted - thank you Valium and whatever else they use for these things. I still have to go back and get the permanent crown put on, but I can deal with that on just nitrous oxide. Of course, I still was tense as hell the day before, and spent most of Saturday either in bed or on the couch, so my neck and back are a mess, but I found a massage place for Wednesday, which should at least take care of the worst of that.

Book
Finished A Feast for Crows. Desperately want to run out and buy the next book, but I have two Dresden Files and the book Ben gave me for Christmas to read first. Plus, I have no idea if the next book is even out in paperback yet. I'll look into that when the time comes.

Happy
Riding lesson this weekend! Finally... it's been too long. The disadvantage of having spent a year in decent physical shape is that I can tell how awful a desk job is in that respect :-) So hopefully between the lessons and some other stuff, I can at least stay in somewhat decent shape. The zoo membership is likely to help too, give me an excuse to do more walking.

Picture
Why yes, I am kind of obsessed.

Fill crockpot with water, soak yarn for half an hour, remove yarn, add powder, stir, add yarn back in, done :-) Well, heat for half an hour, fix with some vinegar, let dry. But that's basically it.



This is one large pack of blue with four regular packs of green. I used another pack of blue for the speckles/splotches you can sort of see in the water, but the end result was very subtle.



You can kind of see it at the top there, but the other areas aren't much more vivid. I like it though, it should make a nice cabled hat or mittens or something.
It's been one of those weekends where nothing really worked out... tried to buy dress pants: failed. Tried to do French homework: mostly failed due to loss of brain. Tried to cook some dinners for the next few days: failed. Guess I'll have to make spaghetti sauce tomorrow or something. I seriously need to expand my recipe range some more.

TV Show
Finished the US version of Being Human. Figured out why I was on the fence about it - it lacks half of the emotional impact because half the scenes, I've seen before. It doesn't really matter how Aidan gets stabbed when I know he will get stabbed and Sally will miss her door because of that. Sorry, spoilers? Not really, since we've probably all seen it before. I really like the characters, and I like it when they go off Toby Whithouse's original script, which I think they'll be doing more of in this next season.

Craft Stuff
More dyeing.



I love the concept of kool-aid dyeing, but it's too fast... it only takes an evening, so the outlay of money per time feels larger. (I know, I then get to knit with the stuff. But that's a different activity.) The new goal is to focus on stashbusting - I want to do some larger projects, but don't feel like I should be getting materials for that while I have perfectly good yarn sitting around. Have we heard this before? Yes. Re-stating my goals for this year is a good reminder, no? :-)

Plans
IKEA sometime in early March. I'm sick of not having a desk and bed, so with the influx of some surprise cash, I'm going to spend some of it on furniture. I'm very excited about it, even though it'll be an exhausting weekend loading and unloading a cargo van and putting everything together. But I'm actually looking forward to organizing :-)
This is what happens when I try to replicate dyeing results, apparently: it's a bit of a WTF moment :-)

You would think this would end up similar to the green and blue yarn from a little while ago, no? Same setup, same rules, just a little less powder.



But no. No dark spots, just a kind of interesting "darkened Americana" sort of look.



I have no idea. I still like it, it's just entirely not what I expected. Kind of like the stuff I pulled out of the crockpot an hour ago - but that will have to wait until it's dry. So you'll see it about this weekend, if temperatures stay as they are :-)
Today, we're going to end up with some more blended colors, compared to yesterday's distinct colors. It's likely this works best with colors in the same color family (all reds, all blues, etc), but I'm sure there's some cool opportunities for blending contrast colors as well. Remember, you want to look at some basic kool-aid dyeing articles to make sure somebody with more sense than me reminds you about wearing gloves. Admittedly, all the dye came off my hands during a nice hot shower - but your mileage may vary, and blue hands are likely to be frowned upon at work :-)

We start again with skeined yarn, either from a previously existing hank or by skeining yarn that comes in other forms. Then there's the "heating up water" step. Pro-tip repeated: start with hot water, without the vinegar this time. Set the crockpot to high and let everything sit for about half an hour.



Then add your kool-aid powder. I went with three colors this time (two packs of each). It's probably a good idea to stick to a lightest-to-darkest progression, to prevent dark colors from completely obliterating your lights. As it was, the orange still overdyed most of the yellow, but enough of the lighter color peeks through for a nice accent.



Again, don't stir. Put the lid on, set the crockpot to warm, walk away. I gave it about half an hour, then came back and sloshed a tiny little bit to dissolve the rest of the powder (as little as there was left). By that time, the water was mostly clear, so I gently poured white vinegar over the whole surface (again, a good glug or two will do it). I decided to let everything soak for another half an hour to let the dye set - I have no idea if that's necessary, but it seemed like a good idea.

Then take out the skein, rinse, and hang to dry.



You can't really tell from that picture, but the colors bled into each other a lot more, while still being distinct shades. There's no truly dark spots like in yesterday's yarn though.



That's what I've dubbed blended kool-aid dyeing. I still have to decide what to do with the last color combination I bought on this trip (I'm thinking spattered), and then I'll look at a kettle-dye technique after the next grocery run.
I don't know why, but I felt the random need to dye some yarn this week. I tried two different ways of working with kool-aid, and I thought the three of you who read this blog for the crafting may appreciate it. The rest (all four of you) can just look at the funny pictures and the pretty colors :-)

To start, you want to google "knitty kool aid dyeing" and read their instructions on how hot your water needs to be, and how to make sure not to felt your yarn or roving by rapidly changing its temperature (as in, rinsing hot yarn with cold water) or stirring vigorously. They also have excellent pictures of what kool aid flavors give you what colors.

Then, you want to skein your yarn. Unless you already have yarn that comes in a hank, use a niddy-noddy or swift to make one. I have not taken a picture of my setup because it's somewhat pathetic. Just know you want to end with a hank that's safely tied in at least two places. Kool-aid and similar food safe dyes only work on protein fibers, so wool or mostly wool is your best bet. I used superwash wool here because it's what I had - didn't seem to be a problem.

Fill your crockpot with water, about half full. Pro tip: use hot tap water. It takes my crockpot almost an hour to heat water to anything close to "dye pot hot," so give it a head start. For this particular dye result, add a generous glug of white vinegar before putting in the yarn.



Soak your skeined yarn for about half an hour (or longer). You want it to be pretty saturated, and you also don't really want it to float, as much as you can get yarn to not float. At the same time, set your crockpot to high and let it warm up. This is where you want to pay attention a bit, because if the water starts boiling, your yarn will felt.



Now it's time for the fun. I used two colors of kool-aid, but you could probably go with three if you wanted to. For the 100g of worsted weight superwash I used here, I ended up with a grand total of six packets (three blue, three green). To be fair, it seemed I ended up with supersized packets of blue, so really it was two blue, three green, but with regular packets, it's three and three.

Anyways... sprinkle the kool-aid on top of your yarn.



Do. Not. Stir. Just put on the lid, set your crockpot to low or the warm setting, and walk away for at least another half hour. When you come back, you can lightly slosh the liquid around to make sure all the powder has dissolved. If that is the case, and your water is mostly clear, it means the yarn has absorbed all the dye, and you can rinse.

This is where I remember to put on gloves... when it shouldn't really be necessary anymore. Oh well.

Rinse your yarn carefully, both to avoid felting and to avoid tangles. Then hang the skein to dry (this can take a while). I constructed an excellent setup to avoid having water drip on my carpets...



Yes, that's my shower. I was able to also close the shower curtain and take a shower without messing with the setup. Your mileage may vary.

Once the skein is dry, twist it into a pretty skein and enjoy!



I love how spattered and textured the colors turned out. Because you add the vinegar at the beginning, the dye sticks to the yarn pretty much as soon as it hits it in some spots, which is where the dark colors come from. Then the rest of the dye slowly absorbs irregularly, giving you the lighter areas. Because you've kept the two powders separate as much as possible, you'll have distinct areas of color on different parts of the skein.

I'm excited about seeing how this knits up - if I remember, I'll add a picture here in addition to the new blog post. And I have another skein of dyed yarn still drying - that one came out quite differently though :-)

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