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Blast from the Past: Dye Notes for Cosmopolitan!

November 19, 2013

In a recent poll, many of you voted that you'd like to see the dye notes that were included in the yarn club packages. You speak, and I listen! So here you go, the first ever Tipsy Sheep Dye Notes: Cosmopolitan!

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Let's set the scene a bit, shall we? You've just come home, exhausted, from a long day at the office. That one coworker - you know which one - has completely screwed up that same simple task he always screws up, and you were once again forced to pick up the slack or else let the whole project fall to pieces. You really don't know why that guy hasn't been fired yet, but you're probably going to do a private happy-dance the day it finally happens.  Then your train was late, and there was a freak summer rain storm so of course you didn't have your umbrella, and now your hair (that you spent so much time on this morning) has just gone completely flat. You can't wait to curl up on your couch with your good friends Ben and Jerry and veg out with a Supernatural Marathon. 

But wait, what's this? By your door, in a little box? Who's it that adorable sheep on the return label? OH YES! It's that yarn you ordered weeks ago and had totally forgotten about! You remember seeing a shipping notification in your inbox earlier this week, but Stupid Coworker Sucks-at-Life's repeated failures had pushed all thoughts of yarn and knitting out of your head. Until this moment. This glorious moment.  

You push open your door and fumble with your keys to slit open the packing tape on the little box. A few mini boxes of Nerds lie nestled in the warm woolly folds of a skein of beautiful magenta yarn. And tucked inside that box, folded the way you remember passing notes in middle school, are two little pieces of paper. The first is instructions for a new knitting technique - the i-cord bind-off, which you promptly memorize and vow to use on every stretchy edge for the rest of your life. The second is a note from the dyer herself...

Dear Awesome Human Being,

Thank you so much for signing up for a Tipsy Sheep subscription, whether it was just for this month or you’re along for the whole ride.  This is the maiden voyage of Tipsy Sheep, and it has been more fun (and more difficult) than I could have imagined.

This month’s colorway was inspired by the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail.  It’s been several years since I had one, and that was at my sister’s bachelorette party… Let’s just say it was a very long, rather scarring weekend!  But I decided to put my negative associations aside for the sake of you wonderful knitters and give this drink another shot.  Here’s the recipe I used:

1 ½ oz vodka
½ oz Cointreau
1 tsp lime juice
1 ½ oz cranberry juice – NOT cranberry juice cocktail

Pour everything into a shaker with ice (or if you’re not fancy like I am, a glass with your hand held over it) and shake it up, baby.  Then pour it into a cold cocktail glass (or a wine glass, whatever you have), and garnish with a wedge of lime or a twist of lime or orange skin.

It’s surprisingly hard to find straight cranberry juice at the grocery store these days.  I saw tons of bottles of cranberry juice mixed with apple, blueberry, grape, pomegranate, raspberry, cherry… everything but straight cranberry juice without added sugar.  The pure stuff was on the very bottom shelf in a tiny bottle, but it’s definitely worth it for this drink to get the pure 100% cranberry juice rather than something that’s been sweetened to within an inch of its life.

I must confess that I have a weakness for flavored vodkas, so when it came to mixing my Cosmo, I went with a blood orange flavor from Skyy that is absolutely delicious.  I also used Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice instead of fresh because (1) I had it already and (2) it helps to offset the tartness of the pure cranberry juice.  Also, I don’t know if you know this, but Cointreau is just a brand name of triple sec (orange liqueur) so you don’t have to spring for the fancy stuff to achieve the same taste.  Cointreau is the International Bartender Association’s listed liqueur for the Cosmo, though, so if you want to be all official about it, go with the one in the snazzy bottle.

Hubby was out of town for drink night, so I had a total old-lady-alcoholic night and drank alone with my cats.  I spent the night marathoning the only proper show to watch while drinking a Cosmo… that one show about a 30-something successful Manhattan woman trying to have it all, stumbling through the misadventures of life, love, and career with the support and advice of her mismatched but awesome friends… by which of course I mean Liz Lemon on 30 Rock.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen that show, check it out. Pretty sure it’s on Netflix, and the DVDs are available for all but the latest (and sadly, last) season. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are hilarious in it, and I laughed my ass off… and not just because I accidentally mixed myself a double Cosmo due to a lack of normal-sized shot glasses in my house.

I was surprised when I mixed the drink at what a gorgeous, jewel-like magenta pink it was.  That color became the main inspiration for the yarn, as did the lush purple-y burgundy of the cranberry juice.  Because there was barely a hint of lime taste in the cocktail, I kept the lime in the yarn to a minimum, just a small bright pop nestled between sections of orange.  I tested a few different orange dyes before finding one that was just right – not so bright as to overwhelm the magenta, but rich enough to hold its own in the colorway.  During the sample runs, I noticed how easily the lime and the orange would muddy each other, so I decided to fade them out nearly to white as they approached each other, creating some nice pale areas in the yarn that help break up the otherwise very saturated colors.  I created some variegation in the magenta and cranberry sections as well, producing some pretty, paler pinks and reddish purples to keep the yarn (and the final knitted piece) from getting too color blocked.

Dyeing two whole kilos of yarn is a very different experience than dyeing a few small sample skeins, I’ll tell you what.  I ran out of dye three times and had to remix, and all told it took nearly three hours to achieve the effects I wanted.  Then I couldn’t get the bundles into the steamer pot because they were so big, so I ran to the grocery store to buy the biggest pot I have ever seen. The dyed skeins wound up being super heavy, as they were saturated with a whole bunch of water and dye, so my hubby had to help me wrestle them into the steamer pot.  There was also a rather large puddle of vaguely pinkish water all over the garage floor by the time I was done, but it cleaned up easily enough.  My shoes took a good soaking, too, but they’re the same shoes I wear when painting so it just gave them more character.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with how this colorway came out. It’s as bright and fun as the cocktail itself, with vibrant jewel tones and darker berries.  I’m in love with those little sections of brilliant lime, and the lush orange is just gorgeous.  There is nothing boring or tame about this colorway, and I suspect it would look awesome in a lacy shawl or pair of socks.

I hope you have as much fun knitting with this yarn as I did making it, and thank you again for your support of this venture.  Hopefully I’ll see you again next month!

Happy knitting,

P.S.  I’m sorry the shipping boxes for this month were so crammed.  Office Depot has been completely sold out of the right size for a few weeks now, so I ordered them from another supplier and they hadn’t arrived in time for shipping.  Next month the yarn should have more room to breathe. :)

You clutch the note to your chest as you peer more closely at the yarn, flicking on the kitchen light to get a better look. Yes, you see it now - the subtle variations within each color, fading from pale to bold and back again. Visions of socks and shawls dance in your head as you inhale the warm, fuzzy scent of wool - with just a faint aroma of flowers, leftover from the dyer's soap. This is going to be a good night.

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