Congratulations to Lisa who correctly guessed exactly 24 balls! Though this seems like a lot of yarn, each ball contains only 38 yards of bulky yarn. Altogether, it's enough for a thick cardigan, knitted from the top, of course, just to be safe.
I didn't think a rich black could be achived with food color, but boy, was I wrong. I mixed 1 teaspoon of Wilton's black per 1 oz of yarn, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, and let it sit just under simmer for 30 minutes. I probably used too much dye, because the water never turned clear, so I figured the yarn was fully saturated. So I removed it, and added another ounce of fresh wool to absorb the rest. The water eventually turned clear, and I got this lovely deep periwinkle.
I swear by the Knitter's Handy Guide to Yarn Amounts! It charts the average amount of yarn needed for socks, mittens, gloves, scarves, hats, tams, sweaters, and vests, all according to size and gauge. For short sleeve tops, I use the vest chart and go up 1 size, and for strappy tanks and halters, I go down a size and use that amount. I stash a few copies of this guide in various places - purse, knitting bag, and car, for impromptu yarn shopping.
For you locals, The Handworks Gallery has 'em, and there's also a crochet version due in September!