Saturday, April 26, 2008

Solar Yarn Dyeing with Kool Aid

Well, I did it!
I've been wanting to use my sun room to dye yarn for a while now, but wasn't sure it was going to get hot enough to set the colors. After a few info-seeking posts on a couple web forums I finally jumped in and did it.

We started at noon when the sun room was about 83F.
Started with this...
100g undyed, aran wt BFL, pre-soaked in warm water.

The colors: Cherry, Mandarinas, & Lemonade
All Kool-Aid flavors.

The ratios:
1 packet per 1/6 of skein for Cherry & Mandarinas.
2 packets per 1/6 skein for Lemonade with...

just a DASH of Mandarinas.

Add water.

Add yarn

Watch thermometer (it's on some diapers that were "sunning" too)...I have since learned that wool needs to get to 180F in order for the color to set (170F for silk).
It only got up to 60F outside.

Exhausted yellow & red dye baths (after 7hrs)

Let it sit in some vinegar water for a bit then gave it one 2-minute zap in the microwave for good measure (I was nervous about the orange even tho it was BARELY bleeding in the rinse).

Done :) Destined to become a pair of shorties for Owen.

Things I'd do different next time:
1) Stir the dye baths sooner than 5hrs into the process (temp was already going down).
2) Cover table with black cloth & move into direct, unshaded sun (top of sun room is tinted).
3) Try to be more patient...boy that's really hard!
4) Add vinegar to the orange (see below) & red (just in case)

I also threw in some test strands of Paton's Classic Merino already dyed in the "Camel" colorway. I've got 6 skeins & big plans :)
I DID pre-mordant this with vinegar (did not with the bare yarn).

As I rinsed, the orange was faintly bleeding into the water. I thought I just needed to rinse more...but it didn't stop. I zapped it in the microwave & let it sit overnight in vinegar change. Accidently rinsed with warmer water & MORE orange came out (follicle opening?).
After getting some advice/reminder about acid + heat = set color, I piled it into a pyrex dish with orange on the bottom. Covered only the orange with vinegar water (wet the other sections just a tad) & zapped it a few more times. I think/hope/pray that it's FINALLY set.
Pic after all that with no orange in the water..YAY!! I'm myself!
I blame my inexperience.
While I was rinsing after the above pic was taken, I saw that some red & orange had contaminated my yellow!! SO UPSET!!!
So now I'm overdyeing the yellow with two more packets in the microwave.

Pic of orange-infiltration of yellow. It is not complete. About 1/2 of each segment is still plain yellow. I guess I'll have to be ok with it.

I'm sure the sun-dyeing had nothing to do with all my troubles. I'll just have to try it again to prove it.

"Firestorm" dried & reskeined

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fiber Fun Day: Part 2

After leaving BSSW, we went straight to Alpaca Fest '08 in East Peoria...I had already been planning on taking Serena after J got back from work. PLUS it was on the way home so we HAD to stop :)LOL

Very cool!
Lots of stuff for sale...all way too expensive (there's that penny pincher again). I REALLY wanted to get some yarn & may be some roving to try spinning it but my wallet was gasping at the price tags.

Got some rally cute pics of the alpacas tho.

Here's some judging going on...

A brave alpaca sniffing Serena's hand...

Here are some of my faves...

My ABSOLUTE faves...

I did find a booth (Augusta Creek Farms from Augusta, Michigan) that had some dk/sport wt yarn (just what I was looking for) at really good prices (she wanted to clear last year's inventory before this year's came in).
So I got 1 skein of fawn & 1 skein of dark brown.

I also got a 1oz bump of lavender roving that Serena liked...which I will spin AFTER I know more about what I'm doing when spinning.

There is quite a bit of veggie matter in the yarn & roving, but it'll be ok.

Fiber Fun Day: Part 1

What a day!!
I just got back from two excursions into "Fiber Wonderland"

First, I got a call this morning from Mike, the shepherd at BSSW. The shearer was coming TODAY! And he was going to be there SOON!! AAAHHH!!!

Hubby was at work (racking up the overtime) so I called him really quick to see if he could come home to watch the baby while Serena and I went on a road trip. He graciously agreed & came home as soon as he got his latest project done.

We ran out the door & got there as soon as we could...but it was too late :( The shearer (who usually works alone) brought a shearing "buddy" and they got done in half the time. Oh well. Serena finally got to see the baby lambs & pet a couple of them.

Serena's favorite...

Showing Serena sheep teeth...

EEEK! Naked sheep! :)

Oh's a pic of my first two attempts at yarn. The small, thin one is #1 and the larger thick one is #2.

My first socks...a WIP

WIP = Work In Progress

I need to catch up a bit.
I am trying my hand (and needles) at making my first pair of socks using this pattern.
I had my fingers crossed that they were going to fit considering there is no mention of gauge & I was using thinner yarn (sport instead or light worsted) & smaller needles (size 1 instead of 3 or 4) than the pattern called. But since I'm a loose knitter, I hoped it would work.

I was really surprised at how well they were fitting...considering my size 10.5-11 feet!
Then i got to the toes...

This is where the pattern calls for grafting the ends together...hmmm? Not gonna work.
So I made up my own extension on the toes then started the next one. I don't really like my extension so I will try something different with the second sock & re-knit this first one after I know it works.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I love Ewe!

I am so excited!!!
I just got back from the Black Socks Sheep & Wool farm. OMG! The owner/shepherd & his wife (Mike & Suzanne) were so great, I don't know where to start.

I got to go in the main barn to see the ewes and cute! My pics are a little blurry cuz I didn't use a flash.

They've got some variety in their flock. This is a cheviot (the clean faced-one) & a CVM (California Variegated Mutant). The coats keep the fleeces cleaner.

And something I didn't expect...a guard dog (there are roaming coyotes).
A beautiful Great Pyrenees.

They also had a Corgi for a herding dog, but he was too wiggly for a good pic.

Suzanne was so gracious and sat down with me and gave me a one-on-one spinning lesson. So many great tips! I left with 1 lb of wool roving (8oz white, 8 oz tan) and a home made spindle to practice on.
The white is from a Corriedale crossbreed named "Snowdrop" and the tan is from a CVM named "Hershey."

They said that I could come to the shearing next week if I was interested!!
If Serena behaves well at school the next few days, I will pull her out & take her with.

(squealing with glee)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's official...Fiber Snob

I went to the LYS in Morton yesterday, "Ewe-nique Yarns Etc" and spent ~1.5hrs there (a lot of it chasing my 10mo son out of the floor level yarn bins). I touched every type of 100% wool they had & only found 2...count 'em 2 that i thought were soft enough to buy...and they have a LARGE selection. Now that doesn't count the wool/synthetic blends...they were soft, but they're blends...not really interested. And that also doesn't count the non-sheep's wool...ooooo, baby alpaca :) I was disappointed that even most of the merino & merino blends were not very soft either :( not that I'd get them either (too delicate & pilly). But it makes me glad that I haven't purchased that much off the internet...I've been hesitant cuz I haven't touched it.

So what DID I buy? I'd been looking for a wool, wool/cotton blend, or cotton yarn to make some leggings for dd to wear next winter under dresses but was not happy with what I'd found. Was afraid anything merino would lose the elasticity in the ribbing, and did not want a lot of (if any) synthetic. Result? Alpaca With a Twist, Baby alpaca...SO SOFT!! The color is darker than I'd originally wanted (off-white), but it should work fine & not show so much dirt.

So now, what to do about yarn I want to use for myself & my family?
Well, the two commercial brands I liked were Aussi Wool by Oasis Yarns & Ecological Wool by Cascade Yarns.
Anything else is gonna have to be Blue Faced Leicester or hand spun by me from the Black Socks Sheep & Wool farm. Just heard from the shepherd today, they've been busying with lambing. I can stop by Friday or Saturday, YAY!!

I think I'm gonna take all that Paton's back to Michael's. Why do I waste my time there?

Bag open...Cat out...

Well, I spoiled the surprise.
I was gonna wait until after I gave Sally "the surprise" before writing a post about it. But since Owen was sick the day I would've seen & given it to her...and then I read her comment about teary eyes while seeing the sweater in pieces...I just had to tell her.
I saved one repeat of the cable pattern from the front & back sides of the sweater & made them into a stole as a keepsake for her (cuz the sweater was a gift from her grandparents).

Unraveled to the last pattern repeat.

Binding off the live stitches.

Separating the waist ribbing...boy was that easier said than done!

Bind off lower loops & repeat for back panel.

Seam together, weave in & trim ends.

Since the wool used was chosen for its durability, it is not as soft as I would like. I tried REALLY hard to soften this stole for Sally to use comfortably. I did an overnight conditioning soak with LOTS of "smoothing" hair conditioner. I did a light lanolizing soak ("light" so it wouldn't be sticky) with lavender scented baby wash & eucalyptus oil for a nice fragrance. Afterwards, I "test-wore" it around my neck for an hour or two & it wasn't horribly I think I succeeded as much as I can. Hopefully she'll like it.