Experimentation

For the last couple of months, I’ve been engaging in a little experiment. At the end of August, I challenged myself to avoid purchasing any yarn until my birthday (at the end of January). When I decided to go to Stitches West, I moved the goal posts to the first day of Stitches.

And then Jenny of Stash and Burn talked about Cold Sheeping, a great term for Not Buying Yarn. This was prompted by a Cold Sheep thread on the Ravelry group, which I finally got around to reading right after buying a sock kit at a farm in October. Technically, K bought it for me, and I wasn’t even trying to weasel out of my own challenge! (Also, I’m knitting the socks for K’s classroom, anyway.)

I made two exceptions to the No Buying Yarn rule: (1) the Loopy Ewe Sock Club packages, which bill for each shipment rather than up front, and which I committed to back in the Spring, and (2) a possible extension of the Tempted @ 3AM club, which did take an upfront payment, and I can’t tell you how nifty it is to get yarn in the mail that you paid for so long ago it’s like the yarn is coming for free.

Other than that, I’ve been knitting out of my stash. Meanwhile, people have been confessing their falls off the Cold Sheep Wagon. So, I wanted to share a Cold Sheep Success Story.

It started out with me wanting to knit up a Jackalope for K. It was supposed to be a surprise, but that’s another tale. The stumbling block was a lack of rabbit-colored yarn. I have several single skeins of Cascade 220 in red, orange, green, and blue, but no brown or gray. But I do have something: several skeins of white (which I didn’t want to use for the body, because I want to use white for the horns; also, a jackalope is a desert animal, not a snow animal!) and a whole lot of tea.

I brewed a really big pot of tea:

Giant Pot o'Tea

That’s an 8-quart pot (not quite full) and 12 bags of Tetley’s British Blend.

Meanwhile, I soaked a hank of white Cascade 220 in my favorite pasta pot:

Soaking

Once the tea boiled (over, in fact, which is why I ended up scrubbing the stovetop, which might have made K happier than the finished jackalope will), I pulled out the teabags and very gently added the wet yarn:

In the Pot

And then I waited. I waited about half an hour, but it was still steaming, so I left it until steam stopped coming off of it, then very carefully poured off some of the tea into the sink until I could even more carefully take out the yarn and rinse it under the faucet. I rinsed with warm water until it ran clear, gently squeezed out some of the water, wrapped it in my old Swim Team towel (it’s old, and also dark blue, effectively hiding any tea stains), and finally hung it up to dry in my backyard:

Hanging Up to Dry

I left it there all day, then brought the nearly dry yarn inside to hang over a chair back overnight. The next morning, I took a comparison photo with some white yarn exactly like the original:

Before and After

It came out a very nice desert rabbit brown, I think. And I didn’t even need a separate set of pots.

I’ve been alternating working on the jackalope with working on my third second Zig-Zag Diamonds sock. Progress on the sock is slow, but I’ve turned the heel and picked up the pattern for the foot in the right place this time. At this point, I really just want to be done with it.

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