Shimmy Mittens


The end result of my yarn dying experiment. I love how they turned out, all warm and cozy and colourful. My home dyed yarn was great, though I deeply regret not having spent more time rinsing the dyed yarn, especially the pink sections. Huge amount of colour transfer on to my hands while knitting those sections, and the cable on my needles even picked some up! Yeesh! None the less, love the mittens.



Click here to read more about my yarn dying experiment.


Project Notes:

  1. Used ~160g of Fishermen’s Wool divided in to four 40g balls. Two balls were dyed to be blue -> purple gradient, the other two were dyed to be yellow -> pink gradient. Each mitten used one of each colourway.
  2. Knit using size 13US needles. The yarn was held double in that I always held both colourways the whole time. It created a sort of double colour gradient that I think looks pretty cool.
  3. The mittens were 36 stitches around which was plenty. They are frankly a little wide yet, but I’m worried that if I felt them further they will become too short. I may still try anyway.
  4. I REALLY wish I had knit the cuffs longer. I made them 3.5 inches down from the thumb and I thought that would be plenty but nope. It is really irritating because I knew that felted items shrink in length more than width and I *thought* I had that accounted for but apparently not. Not the end of the world though.
  5. The thumbs were done as an afterthought thumb with seven stitches knit on to scrap yarn and picking up 1 on each corner to make 16 stitches around.

We have a loooooooooot of snow and it is cold as hell. My mittens are pretty fabulous for this weather!!

EXPERIMENT: Dying my own yarn (Part 3 – the end result)

I finished knitting up my mittens using my dyed yarn and ran them through the washer a couple times to felt them up. I am very very pleased with the results. 003The colours stayed remarkably bright despite my concerns that not enough of the dye would have bonded with the yarn. I was pretty convinced that it was going to all wash out, but it truly didn’t. I have a definite colour gradient in my mittens! Hurray! The mittens themselves, while awesome, aren’t exactly perfect. They are still a bit big, especially at the cuff. I have to really stuff them in to my coat sleeves. But man alive are they warm and pretty fabulous looking if I do say so myself. I was so excited to show them off that I created a pretty weak excuse for why my husband and I had to go in town. (I said that I needed more sugar free syrup.) A proper project post about the mittens will be coming shortly.


So, in terms of yarn dying…

  1. I will absolutely be doing this again, and on a larger scale I think. I also intend to go at this at a much more controlled scientific way as well. I have been looking online for different sources of ready-to-be-dyed yarns and proper dyes, and I have a number of different ideas circling around inside my head for what I want to do. Expect more posts about me dying yarn.
  2. Dying yarn + knitting + felting = big bang for your buck in terms of how much enjoyment you get from one project. I can see how adding in the extra step of spinning your own yarn could extend that even further, but I am not ready to cross in to that dangerous territory (despite it being on my list of things I want to do this year.)
  3. Gloves are unbelievably important. I normally am not one who minds having my hands dirty or dyed or yucked up in one way or another, but having everyone at work make “What the hell happened to you hands?!” comments gets old. I will be getting gloves.
  4. My yarn swift (a recent gift from my in-laws!) made this way way way easier as well. I think a yarn baller would also be of great help, just in terms of balling up the finished product in a pretty way, but the swift is a bit of a must have if you ask me.
  5. Dying the tweedy Fishermen’s Wool worked well and in a pinch it absolutely works, but I want to try dying pure non-tweedy wool next to be able to get a more true, unmuddled colourway.

Part one of my yarn dying experiment

Part two of my yarn dying experiment

Project notes for the completed mittens using this yarn 


EXPERIMENT: Dying my own yarn (part 2)

20150203_174022My hands are pink. Very pink. First they were green, now they are pink. So I guess that is the first point I want to make: Please god, use gloves and rinse your yarn very thoroughly to get off any unbonded dye. Ugh. I guess in terms of whether or not this experiment made my hands turn colours this has not been a big success. HOWEVER! In terms of whether or not I was able to make awesomely dyed yarn, this has been EXTREMELY successful.

After the first dye the balls looked pretty cool but due to my not balling them tightly enough and due to my having squished them repeatedly the dye ended up penetrating really far in to the balls and they became borderline solid coloured. The blue in particular really penetrated through, which would have been fine except I had been hoping for more of a colour gradient/ombre thing to happen.

Undeterred I gave the yarn a good rinse and then reballed the yarns, this time in the opposite direction so that they (slightly) lighter sections were on the outside. I gave them all a bath in some pink dye with the hopes of creating a pink – yellow gradient and a blue-purple gradient.

Mission accomplished.

The gradient turned out wonderfully, much better than I anticipated I’d be able to accomplish!

Now, before I get all excited and proud I do need to admit that the red dye hasn’t set particularly well. I tried very hard to rinse the yarn properly to get off the excess dye but clearly I didn’t do a good enough job because the dye is still coming off on my hands while I knit with it. Once I’m done knitting them I will try to give them a proper soaking and rinse, but regardless I’m expecting the dyes (especially the pink) to mellow out quite a bit when I felt them. Maybe it won’t, who knows, but I’m concerned.

I am about halfway through knitting up my project using this yarn. The first mitten is just about done and pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the colours merge and blend when they are felted. Even if the colours mute out some, the colour transition should be pretty fantastic.


Part one of my yarn dying experiment

Part three of my yarn dying experiment

EXPERIMENT: Dying my own yarn (part 1)

After making my felted slippers and a pair of felted mittens for my kid I am pretty hooked on it. I love how fast they are to knit (slippers made in one day, mittens made in one evening) and I love the texture and warmth of the felted items. Plus, tossing these extra huge items in to the washer and just hoping they turn out is thoroughly entertaining, though nerve wracking. So far I have only used the basic Lion’s Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Oak Tweed and the end result in terms of colour is a bit blah. Fine, but not exactly exciting. I have decided to turn this up to eleven and use different coloured yarns for felting. But not only that, I am dying my own yarn! SHABAM!

If you mind having your hands turn colours you may want to wear gloves when do dye. My hands are bright green at the moment because I did not.


I’m being far from scientific or exacting with this, but I did record some basic values.

  • 4 balls of Fisherman’s Wool (Oak Tweed), each ball weighing 40g
  • Blue dye (1 tsp Wilton’s blue dye, 3 cups of hot water, 1 tbsp vinegar)
  • Yellow dye (1 tsp Wilton’s yellow dye, 3 cups of hot water, 1tbsp vinegar).
Looks pretty disgusting, frankly...

Super classy and professional dye method! ha ha ha

I briefly soaked the balls in water to try to saturate them a bit and then placed them in ziplock baggies with the dye, 2 in each bag. I let them sit there in the dye for ~15 minutes, squishing them occasionally to try to get the dye to penetrate but being very careful not to agitate them too much in case they felted. I then took them out of the dye (which I have saved in jars for later) and put them new baggies (one for the yellow balls, one for the blue balls). I microwaved the wet dye soaked balls for 1:30minutes each and they are now sitting in their baggies at home cooling off and (hopefully) having the dye really take.

Everything I have read online says that dye bonds with wool at 180 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius) and that you must make sure your dye reaches that temperature.

I’m vaguely concerned over how much the blue will take, I have read a number of things that indicates that blue can be tricky. Fingers crossed though. I can’t wait to get home this evening to see what I have made!


Part two of my yarn dying experiment

Part three of my yarn dying experiment

Juno Slippers (aka. Adventures in Felting)

Juno slippers! Named after the storm that closed work and gave me the free day to knit them!

SNOW DAY! I live in the east coast of Canada and currently the big storm Juno is sailing through. The entire province (eastern seaboard?) is shut down and for once even my office was closed for the day. Pretty much closed off to the entire world, I decided to try my hand at making felted slippers. The pattern I used was the free Felt Slippers For Adults by Nita Brainard. I had never done any sort of felting before and frankly I found it a bit insane or hard to believe. The size the pre-felted item had to be was comical and I really had trouble believing felting would change the size that much.

SO HUGE pre-felting! I still can't believe how much they shrank down.

SO HUGE pre-felting! I still can’t believe how much they shrank down.

However, after reading all sorts of tutorials on felting as well as going over some other felting patterns I decided to just trust it would work out.

The slippers themselves did not take long to knit, nor were they a complicated knit. I was able to get them done while my husband and I watched movies (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Rainman, just in case you’re curious). They don’t take a huge amount of concentration, and frankly I wasn’t too worried about any mistakes. I mean, they are getting felted and that should hide most mistakes, right? Holy crap, though, were they ever huge pre-felting! Upon seeing them my husband oh so helpfully said, “You do realize you aren’t making these for Shaq, right?”. Hardy har har. But really, seeing them there, waiting to be felted, over 13 inches long (and I have size 7 feet)… doubts over what felting would be able to accomplish crept back in.


My felting setup

Enormous knit booties in hand, I sat down to begin the felting process. First of all, felting is a bit of a pain in the ass, or at least felting by hand is. I am sure I will do it again sometime, but I assure you I will be getting dishwashing gloves next time. My hands are all dry and ick feeling after all that time in the hot soapy water scrubbing away at the booties. The felting took a little longer to get going than I expected and took more physical effort than I expected as well. Worried I didn’t have the ability to felt them small enough by hand I threw them in our front loading clothes washer on the hottest cycle. This did help bring them down in size a bit but still not small enough, so I tossed them in to our dryer at the hottest setting. Again, some shrinkage (ha) but not quite small enough. I gave up at that point though. I mean, really, if they aren’t small enough after all that they are never going to be! I’m just going to line them with something fluffy (sheepskin if I can find it) and I am sure they will be perfect then. Hell, they are pretty awesome now in their too-big size!

I do think I will make them again sometime, but I will be making a smaller size, at least in terms of width. Fun project, though, and something fun to show for a snow day at home.


Project Notes:

  • I used just over half a ball of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Oak Tweed. I don’t generally like tweed yarns, and I had wanted the natural colour but for whatever reason my local Michael’s was out of every colour was of Fisherman’s Wool except this tweed colour. Oh well.
  • As per the pattern I used size 13 US needles and held the yarn double.
  • In total this took me maybe 8 hours to do (including felting) which to me is not bad.
  • I made the ladies medium size, but if/when I make these again I will be making the narrow version of these. I have really wide feet too, so I have no clue what sort of lady’s foot would fit in these things!
  • While I LOVE these slippers they did end up being a bit big despite my efforts to felt them smaller. They are lovely but I do think I am going to have to line them with some thick something (sheep skin I hope, or in a pinch polar fleece) which should be just enough to make them perfect.

    nice thick even felt

    Behold the nice thick even felt I created!

  • I would add a few more rows at the top of the slipper before you turn the heel, just to have more of a lip/edge at the top of the slipper. I (luckily?) have enough extra at the back of the slipper that I was able to sort of shape it in to a back of the heel lip, but I think it would be better if they were deliberately knit that way.
  • I felted by hand for about half an hour just in hot water with Palmolive, followed by about 10 minutes of hot water/cold water shock felting followed by a run in our front facing clothes washer, followed by about 20 minutes in the dryer. I figured if they didn’t shrink down small enough after all that they were never going to, hence my plan to line them.
  • The end result of the felting in terms of the fabric it created is really nice. I see why so many people use Fisherman’s Wool for felted projects. It just seemed to work well and felt uniformly.

You can view my Ravelry project for these felted slippers HERE.



UPDATE 2015-01-28:

So apparently I should be able to felt these smaller. According to the knowledgeable people on the Ravelry forums that as long as you can still see some stitch definition (which I can, as the above picture shows) then you can still felt further. This is encouraging! I am fed up with trying to felt by hand so I’m going to toss them in the washer again tonight and see what happens. I just really hope they don’t shrink too much…