Sunday, March 31, 2013

February Fibre Club: Candygram

Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club is a fun way to experiment with fibres and colours. It's also a great way to boot you out of any kind of a fibre/spinning rut you may be in.  You sign up for three months at a time. Once a month you get a 100g bag of unspun fibre with a description of the content of the yarn along with some spinning suggestions.

The fibre for February is called Candygram. According to Felicia Lo, "All these saccharine pinks, lilacs, light lime greens and pale blues remind me of those little candy hearts that you get at Valentine's Day." And boy, she's right. These are not colours that would have every chosen for myself. But that's the fun thing about the Fibre Club. Once you have them, you have to work with them. And it ended up being really fun. I love these intense bold colours and the splash of silver glitter that ekes out one in a while. 

It is made of 63% Superwash Merino Wool, 20% Silk, 15% Nylon, 2% "Silver." And it was prepared as a pencil roving.  A sleek amount of fibre, about the thickness of a . . . pencil.  

I've been off spinning with my wheel due to a spinning injury, and since the spinning workshop last week, I've been full on with my spindles. So this is being done entirely with my lace-weight spindles for the singles, and my heavier, Henry's Dervish for plying.

I actually have crafted a detailed plan for spinning this yarn.  But I won't explain my thinking until I am sure it worked.  Why bother otherwise?  But here it is nearly done - all the fibre is spun up and I am at the plying stage now.  

From left to right you will see, a larger spindle that I am using for plying with about a third of the plying done.  Next to that you will see two sets of purple balls next to lace-weight spindles full of singles. These are waiting to be wound into two-ply balls which make plying so much easier. The wee green ball at the bottom is the left over from winding a double-ply ball.  I am sure there will be others so this one will get incorporated into the final plan.  The mini skein at the very bottom is one of the sample I did as I tried to figure out how to get the best out of all these colours.

Will post the final results.

Dyed rovings for the spinning workshop

Last Saturday, I taught two Introduction to Spinning with a Drop Spindle workshops. From 8:30am - 12:30pm and again from 1pm - 4pm. It was intense and fun. Each of the students, and there were eight in each class, were able to spin a continuous thread, and most of them made a small skein of two-ply yarn by the end of the workshop.

As a a treat I sent them home with 25g of white BLF and 25g of dyed BFL rovings. Rovings that I dyed myself.  Here's the photo essay of that process:

I soaked the rovings overnight and then applied the dye in a rainbow-ish pattern. After they dyeing, I rolled them in cellophane and let them sit for a few days. Overnight is probably enough, but things got busy with work so the steaming part was on hold.

I steamed them for a total of 45 minutes. Flipping them every ten minutes. After four flips, I turned the heat off and let them cool down in the steamer. About three hours after that, I unrolled them and let them cool even further.

Here's what they looked like after I rinsed all the dye out of them.

And here they are, all dry and ready to be rolled into nests to be tucked into their bags.

I wish I had made one of these for me, so I could see what the spun yarn looked like. Next time. . . . . better planning.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Over dyeing experiment

A friend of mine at work recently made a lovely shawl.  Well I thought it was lovely, but she wasn't all that pleased with the colours. The shawl was made from the Elowen Shawl pattern by Judy Marples of Purl Bumps. It's a two-coloured pattern. My friend knit her's in pink and grey. Pink as the main colour, grey the second. Since she wasn't happy with it, I suggested she over dye it. So then we got to talking, thinking, strategizing about what colour to over dye it. And that's when I suggested we do an experiment.

She gave me what was left of the yarn and I made them into as many mini-skeins of equal size that I could manage.  I ended up with five, see below:

Each one went into a mason jar along with a mini-skein of white wool so we'd know what the base colour was.

I added warm water to the jars and then put them into my steamer. I added enough water so the jars were surrounded by it within two inches of the top of the open jar. When the temperature of the water in the jar reached 170 degrees, I held it there for 10 minutes. Using tongs, I removed the yarn from the hot water, added carefully measured out dye (enough to make a 1% intensity) and then added the yarn back to it.

I let that simmer for about 15 minutes, then turned the heat off. After 20 minutes I emptied the water from the pot and let the jars sit for another 20 minutes. Then I let them cool some more on my windowsill.

When it was completely cooled down, I removed them from the jars, rinsed them in soapy then clear water and set them to dry.  Here's the result:

Not too inspiring. There is not a great difference between the grey and pink yarns, especially when there is already some red in the dye -- as you can see with the pink and purple samples. The most dramatic difference is the yellow, but even so, not enough to inspire you to make the change.

If I were to do it again, I would use less dye and see what kind of effect a pastel over dye would have.

That will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Skirt Update IV

I blew my right knee spinning so the skirt won't be ready for FibresWest. It's true. The story is pathetic because it was an entirely preventable injury.

In a short while, I did a marathon amount of spinning to get enough grey alpaca and blue merino/silk onto 4 bobbins. No problem, knee was fine. Then I started plying them last Thursday evening. Remember, this is a cabled yarn so this stage of plying has a lot of twist in it, which required a great deal of treadling. I got this one above started, and then realized that I had a "Wild Silk" spinning workshop on Saturday and needed the wheel, so I had to madly finish the plying on Friday night. I was sitting on the couch and it's too low so my knee was doing more of the work than usual. But in my frenzy to finish I ignored the pain and never even considered moving to a better chair or position. What's wrong with me?

And then to add to the problem, I spent the entire next day at a silk spinning workshop. And if you know anything about spinning silk, it's fine and requires a lot of twist - ergo treadling. Nothing that a couple of Advil couldn't handle. After the workshop I wanted to get back to the yarn for the skirt so I spent the evening plying the second bobbin.  My knee was aching, but I kept at it because I wanted to finish the yarn, so I could get back to knitting the skirt.

The next day I was limping around the house and couldn't go for my morning run. In fact, I haven't been able to do any running since -- well it's only been a week, but I miss it. It's on the mend, but I've learned a good lesson:

Pay attention to PAIN. It's a signal that something's not right.