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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In the works.

I started to spin up some white soysilk this morning. That should get finished tonight, possibly tomorrow. Once the wools I dyed last night are dry, I'll start on them. I think I will just sell the watermelon yarn, and the crimson I plan to make into a scarf [EDIT]. Hopefully the crimson romney will be soft enough without being fuzzy. I think I'll knit it with vertical ribs, like I did with the multicolored fuzzy scarf in my store. Maybe on size 10 needles? I need to go to Inua, even though I hate that store, so I can get some circular 7s and 10s. I am also going to make a pastelly yarn, with sky, cotton candy, mint, and butter colored rovings. Pictures to come soon.

Kool-aid Dyeing.

I don't have any kind of setup for dyeing with commercial dyes, so I always have to resort to kool-aid and food coloring. I also use the microwave method of dyeing, because I don't like doing dishes!

Well, I picked up some roving for that dyeing project I think I mentioned in the last post. I got some white superfine merino, which I intended to dye blue and green (but ended up doing green, yellow, and pink), and some gray romney, which I dyed red.

I was disappointed that there weren't any blue kool-aids at the store, but I went with what I could find (pink lemonade, lemonade, lemon-lime). I used quite a bit of yellow, but it got eaten up by the green dye (since I worked in my bathtub, the slant caused the excess dyes to run all over the place). I'm not too upset, though, because it looks like watermelon. It's not what I was looking for, and I'm probably going to have to find something else to ply it with. I had plans for this soon-to-be yarn!

And the red:
I used cherry and tropical punch kool-aid and strawberry off-brand drink powder. The tropical punch and the strawberry worked fine, but the cherry didn't take as well. This is probably because it was at the end near the bottom of the slant, and some of the dye that should have been in the saran wrap ran down the drain. I also could have microwaved it longer...and the wool should have been more wet when I started to dye. Hopefully this will produce a slight variegation that looks nice. There are a few spots of gray that I can't decide on. Should I pick them out, or work the yarn with them in? We'll see once I get started. The watermelon is going to get spun up first.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A summary of recent projects.

A fiber blog sounded like a good idea. Even if no one else reads it, I can keep track of the things I have done and the things I wanted to do when I'm stuck in a rut later.

I was very deprived of free time last semester, with 20 credits, a job, and volunteer work. Needless to say, my spinning was quite neglected. The semester ended, and I've been a flurry of activity since then. I didn't realize I missed spinning so much until I found time to do it again.

The first thing I did was work on the lace-weight qiviut I set aside for my schoolwork. That went fine, until I started moving my hands faster than my feet and too little twist went into the yarn. Now it's drifting apart every time I try to restart, and I am backtracking to the point at which I was spinning the yarn properly. So I set that aside once again, and I will go back to it one I've exhausted all the other exciting things I've started doing.

I was given my wheel (an Ashford Kiwi) for my birthday almost two years ago. It's a double treadle, and previously, I had only spun on a single treadle. Needless to say, I'm still adjusting. 8 years of single treadle habits are hard to break, especially when spinning regularly becomes a challenge.

So, I made a run to the local fiber store and got some of the new 80/20 merino/silk blend from Ashford in Pomegranate and some brown welsh top. I spun up a spindle of each and worked a one-skein scarf without plying the two strands. I don't like how overpowering the pink is, and I wish I had spun the welsh more thickly, but it's done now, and this scarf actually sold recently!

Next, I picked up some roving for a custom yarn. The demand was for a chunky yarn, something I hadn't tried to do on purpose in quite some time. So I tackled the challenge head-on, combining pink and blue corridale pastels with white superfine merino to produce a yarn slightly more patriotic than I had intended. I shipped it yesterday, so hopefully I hear back in a few days.
Then I set the twist in several yarns I had laying around, since I discovered the process. I am surprised that I hadn't heard of it before, except that the only spinners I interact with on a semi-regular basis are my grandma and my aunt, both of whom are not necessarily the most experienced spinners. Before setting the twist, the yarns were kinky and overspun. After, most of the kinks shared their twist with the rest of the yarn and lay flat. There are still a few small kinks in these yarns, but nothing that would get in the way of a project.

Then we went on vacation. I brought along a couple of yarns. One is thick, fuzzy, and 2-ply. The other is thin, scratchy, mohair, and single-ply. I had two skeins of the first (a total of about 240 yards) and one of the second (a total of around 980 yards [yeah, it was a big skein!]). Both were gifted to me at some point, and although I had started a scarf with the first yarn, I had no pattern, and I set the scarf down after less than a foot of knitting. I took it along with us, restarted with a pattern in mind, and produced a beautiful 6-foot scarf.
I was looking around on the internet a couple of weeks before and I saw a blog in which a partially finished entrelac scarf was pictured. I immediately thought of the mohair yarn, and after I finished the scarf above, I started the entrelac. So far, it's not working out quite the way I intended for it to. One, the yarn is much thinner than is intended when working an entrelac scarf. Two, I bought the "correct" size needles right as we were leaving town, and of course I picked up a pair of ridiculously long, metal needles. I prefer to work on circular bamboo needles, partially because the needles are less slippery, and partially because the work-in-progress is less likely to slip off of circular needles. I love using the cable in the middle for stopping in the middle of a row, because all you have to do is slide the needles toward one another and let the work slip toward the center. The needles are generally large enough that the ends won't slip back over without help. Anyway, no pictures of this scarf yet, as I haven't completed much of it. I'm waiting until I get needles I like more. I also might restart, since the edge is loose and sloppy.

Before we left, I started spinning a yarn from roving I handpainted with kool-aid dyes. I finished this yarn after we got back, and here's the result:

I've been trying to spin all the roving I have laying around or put away in totes before I go purchase more, but there are always so many fun things at the fiber store (and I recently got a gift certificate!). I'm currently spinning up another batch of wool that I handpainted in green, orange, and a really murky purple. I really like the brightness of the orange and green, but the purple kind of ruins it for me. I might pull the purple parts out and save them for a yarn made of scraps. Next in my plans is handpainting some white superfine merino and something gray with kool-aid dyes. The white will get greens and blues, and the gray will get reds. For some reason, I really like crimson yarns. I'll take pictures and post them when I get around to the dying.

Thanks for reading this oversized first post! :)