Dye Week

I’ve been continuing on with my dye week. I throw some fiber in the dye pot if I’ve got an evening “off.” It’s been an effective way to continue. My current method continues to work well.

First up is 4 oz of BFL. I dyed this on Monday actually, but I didn’t think it had enough color, so I threw it in the dye pot again last evening and added the purple. It’s still going to be on the lighter end of the spectrum when it is done, but I like the addition of the purple quite a bit.

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And then I tried another. This one turned out far better than I could even imagine. I absolutely LOVE it. All the colors here, and the combination of them, totally trip my trigger. Plus, perfecting my method has added to my happiness with the fiber overall.

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I plan to continue this trend since it seems to be working so well. And I keep having ideas. So, that’s refreshing!

 

 

Grey CVM Romeldale Experiments

So, this past fall I purchased a grey CVM Romeldale fleece. Coated and beautiful, it really is one of those fleeces that makes you love the fleece washing process. This fleece was the first one I washed in my basket to keep the integrity of the locks, and it is such a smashing success, I am sold completely on the basket for finer fleece. It takes a bit more time on the outset, sorting all the fleece and pulling it apart into separate locks, then setting it up in the basket and making sure it stays that way. On the other hand, it saves so much time and energy on the flip side!

When I first washed this fleece, I was slightly concerned about the yellowed tips. I stressed over them a bit, but then decided I’d be blending the fiber anyhow, and how much could it really show? Once I flick carded the locks, it seemed even more apparent that the yellowed tips weren’t a big deal.

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(Washed locks shown with flick carded locks)

I then decided to see what this fleece and a set of hand cards would produce. And it produced some lovely rolags of fluffy beautiful grey wool. No yellowing apparent at all. So much for worrying over the yellowed tips! As an aside, I used to think owning a drum carder would make my life so much easier and make processing fleece so much faster. I can tell you now that it doesn’t. It is a useful fiber tool, especially for blending and so on, but a pair of hand cards are just as effective and quick, or more so.

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Then I decided it would be fun (and wise) to sample some of the grey CVM, so I set about to make a cabled yarn sample. I’d like to make this into a cabled yarn, but I’ve never created a cabled yarn before and didn’t want to mess it all up. I used this knitty article as well as instructions from a good friend of mine to wrap my head around it all. I concentrated hard on getting a ton of twist in the 2 ply sections. And then I did send it back through for extra twist just to be sure. Upon finishing the yarn I realized I probably didn’t need to send it back through a second time in the 2 ply stage. Though it would be a very effective tool if I hadn’t concentrated so very hard on making the 2 ply overplied. Despite all this, I LOVE the look of the cabled yarn. And I think it will be very effective for this fleece, as it is somewhat variegated in color. I did spin the singles on my spindle, but did all the plying work on my wheel.

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Now, I’ve heard a lot lately about spinning the waste fiber from the flick carding process. It used to be that I’d just throw all that outside for the birds to enjoy in their nests, or add it to my soil for compost. However, lately I’ve been saving it for things like stuffing. You know, stuffing for owls I hate knitting. I’d basically been told that I could spin the waste fiber, but to expect my resulting yarn to be a different quality than what I’d have when I spun the best parts of the fleece. I decided to see just how bad a quality I’d get! I spun a sample of waste yarn on my spindle. It is interesting because it seems that the lightest and darkest parts of the fleece are what comes out of the locks when I flick card. This sample is not plied very well at all. I think it was getting late and I’d done a ton of work in the evening and I did it as a plying bracelet which seems to make my plying a bit off in the first place. However, I think I can get an idea of what the yarn would look like if I spun up all my waste. That being said, I don’t think it is all that wonderful and feel pretty certain it is ok to leave the waste for stuffing.

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And now for variation on the theme. I’ve got this small, unscheduled fiber club going on right now. I mean, my fleece obsessions won’t be ending any time soon, and the only way I can deal with the amount of fiber in my house is for some of it to flow back out. I have found that there are plenty of spinners who want to experiment with natural fibers but don’t particularly care to purchase an entire fleece, nor do they care to do the washing of it. So, Shells Fiber Club (Which is not much of a fiber club at all) sells 4 oz. samples of quite a few of the fleece you see regularly on this blog. (Do feel free to contact me if you see something you want to get your hands on, as while I am not interested in offering such fiber in an official way, I am fairly open to making a deal.) 4 oz. of this grey CVM Romeldale went to my friend Corrie last month. She, too, worried a bit about the yellow tips, and this is what she (and her little one) came up with. Locks drizzled with dye and then flick carded. Looks like a fun spin to me!

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Wrapping up

As I wrap up this year in crafting and assess how the year has gone, I realize that my focus has changed majorly this year. While past years saw me knitting miles and miles of yarn, for instance 2011 saw over 18 miles of yarn knit, this year I didn’t even manage to average a mile a month. My total came in at 11.5. However, my spinning totals are up a bit. 5.04 miles spun rather than less than 4 in the past. But if I look at it overall, my focus has shifted considerably to fiber prep and experimentation, rather than knitting with commercial yarns. My spinning focus has shifted to learning to spindle spin. While I do still spin on my wheel, the wheel has become just another tool, rather than the be all end all of spinning it once was. Support spindling has me spinning in a far more relaxed setting and way than I have ever achieved on a wheel, and so I get more accomplished and enjoy it more.

In the upcoming year, there will be weaving. I have decided that it is time to learn, and I am eager for a way to use my handspun yarns differently than just knitting them into simple shawls. I intend to keep experimenting with different wools and fibers, stuff I’ve never tried before. I want to keep spindling, and I want to make thicker consistent yarns. I am hoping to knit a colorwork sweater out of handspun wool fleece undyed paired with handspun dyed wool top. In the upcoming year I will track pounds spun rather than miles spun, as I’d like to get an idea of just how much wool I go through in a year. Tracking the miles of finished yarn doesn’t really give a good indication of that.

And so, the theme for next year is continued learning and experimentation. Appropriately for that, I am again going to talk about the Rambouillet cram pot dyed wool. I finished flick carding it all last night. I also used what I had already spun to start plying it to get an idea of how it would look when it was done. Now, this is the sproingiest most elastic wool I’ve ever knit, and actually getting something resembling neat and tidy has been a challenge. I plied VERY slowly, yanking off any nepps I could as I plied. Then I gave it a warm water soak and thwacked it really really hard against concrete. This was to make the yarn bloom as much as possible, covering the majority of the inconsistencies. I took a picture this morning of the yarn hanging next to another skein I plied yesterday. Both skeins were skeined on my 80 inch niddy noddy, and hanging, you can see just what a difference in elasticity there is. I lost about 12 inches overall on the skein of rambo. This means that rather than the 131 yards I THOUGHT I had, I will have to recount later.

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Clapotis Part Three

Way back during our last dye day, OrangeKathy dyed up some yarn that I just fell in love with. I’d been wishing to knit another clapotis, and I figured the heavily variegated yarn would work well with that. As I knit, I realized that the colors were probably more Bug appropriate than they were appropriate for me. So, this has become her winter scarf. I must say, I still love the bright colors, and have asked Bug if I could borrow it from time to time, but it is this little girl’s dream scarf.

 

Guess what? The white sweater is also complete except for buttons. Pictures forthcoming!

Handpainted shawl

As you may know, I’ve been talking about doing this for a good long while. Thankfully, I was able to complete the project over the weekend.

I knit my handspun shawl, which is a blend of alpaca, cormo, and silk. Pattern is Melusine.

Once I finished my swatch dyeing project, I soaked my shawl. Then I put it out on three black plastic trash bags on my porch.

My dyes are landscape dyes, and I used sodium alginate as a thickener. I used small foam brushes to do the actual painting.

  

I took a few in progress photos, but after the last one, it was too dark to continue to use the camera. Additionally, I had no idea it would take hours to do this. It was a very time intensive project. It was also a great deal of fun. I am such a pattern follower that it was difficult to just think out of the box and do whatever I liked with the painting, but I am pleased with the result. Even more so, I am pleased I completed the project, since I was dreaming about it over and over and over.

Once I was done, I wrapped up the black trash bags, added another over the top, and secured the entire thing with large rocks and porch furniture. Once the day got hot, the trash bags also heated up, providing the heat necessary to solar dye the entire thing. I blocked on Saturday, and this is what I was left with.

 

Plans within plans within plans

I may not be blogging overly much right now, but plans are being made, have no fear.

I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to hand paint a shawl, and I’ve now knit that shawl out of handspun. I did get some thickener and am all prepared to do the painting, but I thought I’d try a small swatch first. Initially to test the color on, and then additionally to see if my porch gets hot enough to set the dye if the item is in a black garbage bag.

Oddly, for the first time in awhile now, it rained and is cooler. The bag tried to walk off the porch during the night. I’ve rescued it but I am not sure I’ll know until tomorrow morning if the dye will set properly this way.

There are other plans, plans to work on long abandoned projects rather than casting on new projects. Those seem like very good plans. Plans that make sense for my project page. I am eager to work on those plans.