Kool

This summer, we did our first ever family vacation, and it was awesome. We packed up the car and the kids and headed for a secluded housekeeping cottage on PEI. At 5 and 7, our girls were just at the right age to fall in love with Anne of Green Gables, and fall they did.

Our best day was spent at Avonlea Village. Costumed characters roam the village, between presenting staged highlights from the book. So our girls ate ice cream (Cows, obviously) while chatting with Josie Pye about their day at the beach.

We never did find Matthew, who was turning pens somewhere. But Mrs. Rachel Lynde was staffing the artisan shop, and teaching some handcrafts. As we approached, there were colourful bits of yarn drying on a rack, and a mason jar full of turquoise blue liquid and yarn.

She told us she had started using a fancy new chemical dye she’d bought in Charlottetown called “Kool-aid”, and we were there as she took out the hank that had been soaking in colour in the sun all day, and rinsed it out, and hung it with its companions on the tree. Then the girls tried some loom knitting. And then it was time for the County Fair (which holds the place that the Sunday School Picnic held in the book) and the sack races, so we said goodbye to Mrs. Rachel Lynde.

On my way home, I bought 4 skeins of Briggs & Little Atlantic in washed white.

A few weeks after our return, we pulled out the “yarn babies” and stocked up on the limited flavours of dye available at our local grocery store. And we started to play.

First was straight up Raspberry Blue Lemonade. And since we didn’t have a mason jar large enough for full skein, we used the directions from Knitty and the microwave.

Kool. I had read that we would know we were finished when the bath was clear, and the colour was all in the wool. But it still surprised me when it happened. Especially with the lemonade, because the water was milky rather than clear. We rinsed it and hung the lovely robins-egg-blue skein in the shower to dry.

A few nights later, we played some more. One skein in 4 packets of grape.

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And, because we are terrible scientists, we changed multiple variables. On our 3rd skein we mixed orange with lemon-lime (2:2) and also added some green food colouring. The colour guide we found suggested this would result in a darkish green. But the resulting shade was definitely brown- thus the addition of food colouring. It was an occasion to talk about colour theory, and how we should have known that mixing blue-and-yellow with red-and-yellow would make blue+red+yellow=brown.

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(Pretty sure that the green bathwater means food colouring just doesn’t get taken up into the fibre the way whatever the heck they use in Koolaid does)

Out of the bath, though, our “brown” seems more gold to me, with tinges of green. It wasn’t what we were expecting (or hoping for) but it is beautiful.

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People told me that knitting would be a gateway craft. This summer, I watched as members of my favourite Ravelry community went crazy at indigodragonfly’s Stained Fingers Dye Camp. And now I get it. I get that impulse to say “but wht happens if we do this. Already, I want to figure out how to get that favourite shade of green for my eldest. If we ever find more of that elusive lemon-lime we’ll stock up.

And having started knitting with our first skein, I’m already convinced we want to do more of this, with better bases. Playing with yarn, and colour, and turning string into 3-D objects. And then felting it!! (I hope it works, but if not there is more wool, and more Blue Raspberry Lemonade). This is fun. We’re taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy. And my daughters are peeking through the door into this world that I love.

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Best. Vacation. Ever.

I hope grandparents can muster some enthusiasm about loom-knitted scarves for Christmas. They will come in awesome colours.

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One Response

  1. Ah, this is wonderful! The experiments – the what-ifs – the wonder. Good momming, there.

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