Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A mid-week snack

I thought I would show off my spindling skills a little. I am sure you remember the awful yarn I was producing on the spindle early on. It is now much better yarn! I haven't finished a spindle-spun skein yet (except for some samples) but I am spinning a lot on my spindles.
Can you see the lovely, even, thin single I am spinning? A lot of the credit goes to the fiber and the dyer. The fiber is Polwarth and it drafts like butter. The dyer is Chris of Briar Rose Fibers. There is not one felted spot or nepp or anything in this fiber. I am fascinated by the color. I enjoy the variation in color as I spin, but I am curious as to how it will look when plied. I think this is definitely going to be a gorgeous lace shawl when it is done. Maybe I will even get 2-ply laceweight instead of fingering weight, which is what I am expecting.

The spindle is my very first one - a Bosworth that I bought at Rhinebeck years ago. It has taken me many years of not-spindling to get this far but I love to spindle. It is just that my attention span for it is very short. But this fiber is definitely making it last longer.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dyeing FO!

All done and drying. There is about 800-900 yds of fingering weight yarn which should be enough for almost any project.

I now return you to the regularly scheduled programming

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hot off the presses!

I'm not really printing anything but the yarn is hot! You can see the steam rising from the violet yarn which is still soaking in a vinegar bath as it cools down. Blue is very hard to set and takes a lot of vinegar and a lot of heat to get it to fix. You can see some breaking of the violet but I think it is nice and will blend with the magenta below.
The magenta has a spot of blue-violet in it. The color is light in this picture because I used a flash on it. It is darker than it appears. It is also soaking in a vinegar bath but it is a cool bath.
Lastly, there are the yellow and chartreuse. I made the chartreuse a little darker and the magenta a little lighter than my samples so that there was less of a jump between the two.

These were all dyed with Wilton's icing colors. The yellow is straight Lemon Yellow. The chartreuse is Lemon with a tiny bit of Leaf Green. The Magenta (I changed up the formula) is Christmas Red with an almost equal amount of Sky Blue and the Violet is straight up Violet.

I was very efficient with respect to energy. I boiled one pot of water and used it to start the dyeing process. I took 250 ml and dissolved the dye and added it with vinegar to the Pyrex container I used for dyeing. After that, I think I added another cup of water that was boiled on the stove. The rest was just reusing the same water. After the dye exhausted, I took some water out and dissolved the next color recipe and added more vinegar. I had to throw out some hot water at the end as the volume got too much for the dish. That was because of the vinegar. The magenta and violet took a lot of vinegar to exhaust.

I heated for 2 mins at a time at full power, let it rest for 2-5 mins and heated it up again. Tongs were great for mixing and moving the yarn around in the water.

The yarn is Henry's Attic Monty - a fingering weight yarn. I have 238 gms which I divided up into 3 60 gm skeins and 1 58 gm skein. I wanted to dye them all as one giant skein but winding mini-skeins all joined together tried my patience. I am going to splice the colors together so there are no joins.

This will become a lace shawl that transitions from the yellow to the chartreuse to the magenta and finally the violet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another color poll

I dyed the violet to a darker color - more depth of color. This is the color I want. Now, do you like Magenta #1 ?or Magenta #2?
Cast your votes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A milestone FO!

I finished the shawl that I made with my first handspun!

I fell in love with this fiber, learned to spin just so I could spin the fiber, and planned the project around the fiber because of that attraction.

This is how much yarn I have left. I might have been able to do one more row but I didn't want to undo a few hundred sts if I ran out.

How do you like all these frequent posts? I am not sure I can keep it up!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Here are the results of my sample skein dyeing. 9 really colorful skeins. From left to right, they are
Leaf green, Sky blue, Orange, Christmas Red, Magenta #1, Violet, Magenta #2, Chartreuse and Lemon Yellow.
Magenta #1 is done with Sky Blue to which I added almost an equal amount of Pink. Magenta #2 is Pink with a tiny bit of Sky Blue. Chartreuse is Lemon Yellow with a tiny bit of Leaf Green. The others are the result of adding 1/18 of a teaspoon of the color from the Wilton's set to the yarn.

I think I need a lot more Christmas Red and Violet to get the depth of color I want. But that is why I dyed these samples. The Violet also broke. You can see bits of blue in some spots. It is quite attractive but I have to see if I like it in the project I have planned.

I am visualizing dyeing a skein of yarn in yellow morphing to chartreuse. I am happy with the colors I have for this skein. The other coordinating skein needs to be Magenta and a deeper Violet.

So here's the combo with Magenta #1

And here's the combo with Magenta #2What do you think? Which looks better?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A litle dyeing, a little spinning, a little knitting

I have been doing a little bit of a lot of different things this week. I knit quite a bit during the week. Yesterday I spun for a couple of hours to get some variety and color into my fiber world. And today, I am dyeing up some yarn samples to see what I need to do to get the color I want.
This is the shawl, as of this morning. Nice, isn't it? I think it will be a big shawl. I love how the colors are getting darker as I go down. That is what I planned when I spun the yarn. I'm on the last skein., which goes into a black background soon.
Do you remember this top? That got turned into these skeins, which is what is now the shawl I am knitting. This is my first real spinning project and I am thrilled at how it is turning out.
I don't have pictures of the spinning yet but here is some of the dyeing.I am dyeing 10 gm skeins of Cascade 220, from 1 100 gm skein. I am using Wilton's food coloring. They are concentrated colors and in paste form. Today's goal is to mix up the dye and soak the yarn so I can nuke them tomorrow evening to set the dye.

Here are the first 4 jars of dye solution. Each is 250 ml of water with 1/8 tspn of the color. I want to see how deep the color is before I plan to dye the actual yarn. Hence the sampling. From left to right it is Violet, Orange, Lemon Yellow and Christmas Red. I am going also dye Sky Blue, Spring Green, and try to come up with a chartreuse and a magenta by blending these colors. I am also happily dyeing my fingers. I didn't use gloves when I mixed up the first batch. This is just from opening the jars. Since it is food coloring and India's Holi festival was last week, I figure it is OK. If anyone asks me, I celebrated Holi !

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just had to post this

I am totally in love with this shawl.. I'll post more on it over the weekend but I had to share the photo. I can't stop knitting it. I love the way the colors are blending.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Locks without keys

I've been cleaning locks (locks from sheep, of course) all week. The results are amazing. When we last left the process, I had finished washing most of them. I am now done with all the washing and most of them are ready for spinning. Be prepared for an amazing transformation!This collage is a summary of the work. The washed locks full of vegetal matter (VM) are on the left. Going clockwise around the collage, you can see the tools I used, the final fiber ready for spinning and the waste in the bin. The waste is short cuts, VM and tangles.

Looking at each in detail, this is the last bit of fiber I have to process. It is pretty typical of the fiber after washing. Lots of VM.I combed them with this dog comb (on the bottom) and also used the slicker (on the top) when the tangles were too much for the comb. I treated the locks as if they were my hair.

The end result is amazing. This is the fiber that I am ready to spin. I think I am going to spin it from the fold.And here is what was discarded. You can see the VM in the bin.

Now, on a totally different topic, I have been drinking green tea during the day since January. I have cut down my coffee consumption to one cup in the am. Up to this week, I have been finishing off tea bags that had accumulated in the house. This week I am starting on loose tea, which is what I really like. Loose tea can be a pain when you are on the go. I found this tea travel mug in Panama and it is my work mug.On the top is the tea in a little strainer that sits in the mug. The left lower picture shows the screw top on the mug. It is water tight and doesn't leak. The inside is all stainless steel so it doesn't impart a taste to the tea. On the right you can see the mug with its top on. It is sleek and keeps the tea hot for a long time. And, with the top screwed on, I can safely take it to meetings without spilling hot tea on myself or other people.