Bunnies In The Backyard

Originally published  Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It’s almost mid-July. The baby bunnies in our backyard are big enough to start venturing out of the nest. There are five of them. Aren’t they cute?

Check out the white blaze on the top of their heads.

July means that August is on the horizon. I used to dread August. It marked the end of an all-too-short summer break and the beginning of another school year. Don’t get me wrong. I liked teaching, and I looked forward to seeing my students again, and meeting new ones. But the start of school also brought nearly ten months of 60-hour work weeks and all the aggravation that comes with working in public education.

I’m retired from teaching now, so I look on August from an entirely different perspective. August marks the start of a new season of college football, and August is sock-knitting month. No, it’s not some sort of National Sock-Knitting Month or anything like that. It’s just my sock-knitting month. I like to get some gift socks done by the end of August so that I don’t feel rushed when Xmas rolls around. Since my sisters told me the year before last that they had enough socks already–who the hell ever has enough handknit socks??????–and since my mother is now gone–she knew that one can never have enough handknit socks–I’m now knitting socks exclusively for cousin Vickie and for myself.

I recently bought a new sock book, More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. I was hoping I would find in its pages some inspiration to help me use up some of the yarn in my immense stash of sock yarn. Instead, I was inspired to buy more sock yarn. Yes, you heard right. I bought more sock yarn. Why? you might ask.

Well, I saw these socks and immediately I thought, How wonderful they would look knitted in team colors. Scarlet and gray for Vickie’s beloved Ohio State Buckeyes, old gold and blue for my beloved WVU Mountaineers, and black and gold for everyone’s beloved Pittsburgh Stillers.

Unfortunately, my stash doesn’t include sock yarn in those colors, except for the red. I could have shopped around to find yarn in just the right colors, but sometimes mixing different brands of sock yarn doesn’t produce a good result. I wanted the yarns to be as similar as possible, so I just bought undyed sock yarn from Knit Picks and dyed it myself. You might think, dear reader, that dyeing yarn is a difficult and cumbersome task. But you would be wrong. Dyeing yarn is really quite easy. You just need a container, such as an enameled stock pot, some white vinegar, a few simple tools for stirring and lifting, such as bamboo chopsticks, a colander, and some dye. I’ve dyed yarn before using Kool-Aid and Wilton icing dyes. It’s really easy to do. Piece of cake. LOL

Here’s the undyed yarn soaking in the sink before being put in the dyepot. The water is hot because the yarn will be dropped into simmering water. Sudden changes in temperature can cause wool to felt. And although this is superwash wool, and superwash wool is felt-resistent, I didn’t want to take any chances. It’s very important to get the yarn thoroughly wet. If you don’t, there will be places where the dye won’t penetrate the yarn. Pay special attention to the places where the skein is tied. That’s where you are most likely to have problems.

Here’s the skein of yarn being dyed bright yellow. The water in the stock pot is at a simmer. I added a glug or two of white vinegar to the water, then added the dye and stirred to dissolve it. Then I took the wet yarn from the sink, dropped it into the dyepot, and stirred it. I set the timer for 30 minutes and stirred occasionally so that the dye would be absorbed evenly.

This time, though, I didn’t use Kool-Aid or Wilton icing dyes. I bought Jacquard dyes from Knit Picks. They had just the right colors, so I didn’t have to play around mixing Kool-Aid flavors or icing dyes trying to get the right shade. I’m very pleased with the results. What do you think?



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