Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I like lac

My friend Chandra generously gave me some sock yarn and natural dyeing ingredients to try.  I have never used natural dyes so this nudge gave me a chance to play with lac.

Chandra had included some plastic to use if I wanted to wrap the yarn tightly in places that would resist the dye, a method known as ikat so I did that before starting.  Then I premordanted the yarn with alum a couple of days before I dyed it, let it cool, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge.  I followed Chandra's directions for dyeing but used the crock pot so I'd have better control over keeping it from boiling.  (I have a dedicated crock pot for dyeing - I don't use any of the same tools for dyeing that I use for food.)  After dyeing it, I put the yarn into a vinegar/water bath for an hour or so, then washed and rinsed it.  And rinsed it, and rinsed it, and rinsed it.  There was a lot of residual dye.  Once the water was finally clear, I hung the skein to dry.

Here is the finished skein.

I like it a lot!  I think the best description for the final color is faded raspberry with the undyed yarn giving it the same casual look as well-worn denim.  Thanks, Chandra!  I bought some pre-reduced indigo and will try it sometime in the near future as well.  Honestly, I won't be abandoning my Jacquard dyes to switch over to natural ones.  While I like the result very much, there was a lot more clean up from the lac than there is from acid dyes.  Everything that the lac touched needed to be scrubbed.  However the resultant soft color provides enough motivation to use natural dyes some of the time too.

I've also been very fortunate to get an amazingly beautiful alpaca fleece from my LYS owner (Golden Willow Natural Fiber - Rav link) and friend Sharon's own alpacas.

I knew that I wanted to spin some samples before deciding how to prepare it.  I like sampling; it gives me so much information.  First I used my cotton cards to prepare a sample for woolen spinning.  I then combed some on my new Valkyrie Super Fine combs.  They are so newly developed that they aren't on the website yet; I heard about them on Ravelry and contacted Chris that way.  They have three rows of very closely set tines.  I am a fan of all the different Valkyrie combs and these are perfect for super-soft alpaca!
I spun this bit worsted short forward draw.

Here are the two samples before wet finishing.  It was dark already when I took the next pic so it's not wonderful.

I fulled the woolen skein with agitation and hot water/cold water baths then I whacked it against the counter.  The worsted skein just had a warm bath before I hung both to dry from my kitchen cupboards.  They are so light that they twisted in the plying direction when wet so that's kleenex on them to provide a slight bit of weight while drying.

Here they are after drying.

The verdict?  I like them both depending on how they'll be used for knitting.  The fleece is plenty big enough for more than one project so I'll prepare some each way.

I finally finished the first Watermelon Sock for Katie.
After having to restart this sock because it was turning out too small, I kind of lost enthusiasm for it.  Hopefully sock number two will be finished a lot more quickly.

Friday, September 16, 2011

another baby throw

I finished another (acrylic!) woven baby throw similar to this one.  My physiotherapist is having a baby boy this fall so the latest is blue and white.

I can't believe how much fun weaving with texture is, even with acrylic! washable novelty yarn.  It weaves up quickly too.  In fact warping takes longer than weaving.  I like the effect using the bunny-tail baby yarn but weaving the ends were a bear.

I had trouble getting the warp even on the last acrylic! baby throw so I thought I would try measuring the warp this time rather than direct warping it.  I don't have a good place for attaching the warping board to a wall and wasn't comfortable doing it with the board in my lap leaning against the table.  Putting it on the kitchen counter was the right height so I put cupboard liner non-stick stuff under and behind it to anchor it.  It worked really well.
Yes, I know the experienced weavers will notice that I goofed at the top there.  I didn't notice it until I had enough wrapped that I didn't feel like starting over and it wasn't a problem because the acrylic! yarn has a bit of stretch.  I'll know to make the two sides after the warp cross even next time.

It takes a bit longer to tie the warp on both front and back but I was pleased with how evenly taut I could make the threads.  I used the shelf liner instead of paper for winding on and it worked great for that too.  Shelf liner is my new best friend.  I'm finding all kinds of uses for it, none of which include lining my cupboards though.

The shuttle in the above picture is new and very cleverly designed by Weaving Weft 2 Wright on Etsy for using with a rigid heddle loom.  It fits into the shed well and is long enough to be able to pass it back and forth.  I tried a regular shuttle once and it just kept falling through the warp.  The new one works great!  This one is for the 25" Flip loom and it came with a long bobbin but I found that three regular LeClerc ones fit fine too.  I also bought one of these shuttles for my 15" Flip.  It will be really nice for winding on a lot of fine weft yarn for plain weaving.

I have been creating batts of Malamute/Romney for a custom spinning order.  I have the batts finished and have starting spinning.  It's nice to make progress on a couple of tasks around here.

dianna left a comment on my last blog post asking how the Cascade spindle spins.  It is a little heavier spindle than I usually use but it spins well.  All three of the new spindles work well - being center weighted they don't spin as long as rim-weighted ones like IST or Goldings but they are fast.  I found that the low-whorl, spiral shaft one is a little fussy about how it is spun or the yarn pops out of the top of the shaft but it is a very light spindle for a low-whorl so that might be part of it.  I'm willing to forgive its quirks because it is so beautiful and unusual.

Friday, September 09, 2011

mojo a go-go

I know that I have been missing in action and I have no good reason for it.  I just haven't felt like blogging.  So there you go.  Anyway, it's not that I haven't been doing anything.  I've been puttering around on various projects but not finishing any of them so nothing seems too exciting yet. 

I splurged on some new spindles since I last blogged.  These first two are from Malcolm Fielding and I think that they are stunningly beautiful! 

Olivewood/Bowyakka/Kingwood top whorl, 25g.

and Pink Ivory/Purpleheart/Horizontal Scrub spiral flute low whorl, 20g.
 The yarn fits into the spiral groove on the shaft as you wind on.

And from Ask The Bellwether, I got a Cascade Mt. Rainier, 35g

and a little Akha spindle, which I have yet to master with my attempts to spin cotton on it.

We have been in a very unseasonable September heat wave this week after last week of cool, rainy days.  Whether it's hot or cool, this is the usual behavior of the dogs.

Austin and Robbie snooze somewhere near me.

Bentley hangs out on the sofa in the sunroom, as usual, unless the air conditioning is working in which case the door is closed to the sunroom and he has to find in indoor perch.

 Cooper likes to be outside in the back yard regardless of the weather.  He has decided that he is Dan's dog and ignores me when I call him in.  When Dan calls him, he trots in obediently.  This is what I see when I call him in.
 What a dog!