Category: dyeing

Dye Day

This morning was the day I had set aside this week for dyeing some wool batts. Most of them are 100% Corriedale, but there were a few mixed breed rovings I had made that I threw in different pots just to see what might happen. 

Small batch, hand processed and hand dyed Corriedale batts

I had learned a lot about dyeing here at my house today. Previously, I had thought I was just really bad at it. My colors were always muddy, or too pale.  I figured out today I just need more acid than normally called for in dyeing instructions.  1/2 tsp of citric acid does not get me the bright sharp colors im looking for; however, bump the citric acid up to 1 tsp and Wow! I am much happier, and looking forward to dyeing many more batts in the future. 

Love this Spicy Red and Amethyst rovings.


Fiber Christmas was good to me!  I had a wonderful time, my classes were fantastic, and Sean spoiled me the entire weekend!  The only down side was I was just getting over a mild case of pnuemonia and Friday after my class I was exhausted. I had to skip the dinner and the guest speaker, go back to the hotel and sleep. 

My first class Friday afternoon was Fiber Blending with Judy Crouch. She did a fantastic job teaching us why we might want to make a fiber blend, and how to get good results. We were encouraged to use all the fiber tools available to experiment with our own fiber blends. I used 5 pitch combs to blend teeswater (I think) with angelina, hand cards to blend wool top with silk noil, and my drum carder to make an art batt out of wool, silk roving, and other things. I don’t remember what all was in there. I learned a lot and can’t wait to start blending some of the angora I have from my rabbits with other things. The knowledge I gained from that class will surely serve me a long time.

 My second class was Solar Dyeing, taught by Dawn Riden.  It was meticulously taught. Her mastery and instruction of the subject extended to regular dyeing as well, I think it will really help me get better results in all of my dyeing. We got to prepare three dye jars with fiber to take home. 

All the jars made by students of the Solar Dyeing class. Pic by Dawn Riden

Then of course it was cloudy and cool for the next several days and I could not get the dye to strike until yesterday.  Finally, though, results! 

From left to right, Cherry Red, a combo of Honey Mustard and Saffron Spice, and Hot Fuschia

Sean bought me way too much stuff while I was in class. The first day, we got back to the hotel and I found these two batts waiting for me, on top of the spindle he’d already bought me while we were perusing the vendors.

Then the next day, we came upon a wool picker. It was practically brand new, and the price was reasonable. However, when we went back to look at it after class, it had been sold. Oh well, there were lots of plans for pickers on the internet, and we were sure we could build one ourselves, given enough time.

Then I went to get my stuff out of the back of the van, and there was the picker! Sean really likes to pull off surprises and he really succeeded that time!  Look at the beautiful cloud of fiber ready for carding! 

This picker does not have a makers mark that I can see, but looks exactly like a Fancy Kitty swing picker. They haven’t made this model in 7 years, but this one looks brand new.  

I had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back next year! 

Feather and Fan Shawl

Well I finally finished this shawl last night, after some marathon knitting, now that the air conditioning is on and it is too hot to venture outside except in the morning and evening.  I was afraid that this shawl was going to look like a semi-circular ugly couch afghan, but I have been pleasantly surprised, I love it!

This is the Marialis Shawl  from  Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves. the dark part at the top of the shawl was from a recycled sweater, as was the grey at the bottom of the shawl, but all of the different colors in the stripes is my own hand dyed,  handspun yarn.  I have no idea what yardage is in this, but it’s a lot, towards the end, I could go all the way across one row and back in the time it took to watch a movie.  I can’t wait until this fall and winter, when it is cool enough to wear this shawl!


Small Goals

I haven’t spoken about Weight Watchers recently. I’m still doing the program, but things have slowed down a lot in the weight loss department.  I haven’t given up though, and Tuesday, on my one year Weight Watchers anniversary, I met a goal that is a step to me finally meeting my entire goal.  At this point, I have lost 76 lbs, according to their scale. ( my scale has dropped a little more since Tuesday. According to my scale, I now weight 190! Woot!)  And I got my 75 lb star and a new reward, a 75 lb medal that goes on my 10% key chain.


So, I guess in celebration of that, I am going to do something I don’t think I  have ever done on this blog.  Always before, I was too embaressed by how awful I looked to post a picture of myself. Although I still have a long way to go, I am proud of how far I’ve come. 

So, me, in the finished Mobius Shawl. Chad took the pictures, I was just the director.


Moebius Shawl pattern from Drops Studio, knit from my handspun, handyed yarn.  I modified the pattern by knitting it in garter stitch. I knit five ridges of garter stitch, a row of yo, K2together, a row knit plain, and then another row of YO, K2 together.


I love this shawl. I need to find a top to wear with it, none of the tops I have is quite right. It has a beautiful drape, beautiful color, and it is fuzzy and soft. I can loop it twice around my neck and wear it as a hood/scarf, or around my shoulders. I just love everything about it, and I think it was the perfect pattern to showcase this yarn.  I seriously can not think of a single other thing I have ever knit that I love as much as this shawl.  And I have knit a LOT of things, things more complicated and costly than this project. I think it is just because it all came together so perfectly.

Well, I finished the mitts for my weight watchers leader. I really like the way they came out.  I like them layered, and I like both sets of fingerless mitts on their own, but I’m really glad they are done.


The yarn for the turqoise mitts is something I spun myself, and dyed with a mixture of turqoise, and bronze Cushings dyes.  While I was spinning it I kept thinking I wanted it to be a thicker yarn, but sometimes the roving has a mind of it’s own, and I ended up knitting them on size 1 needles, over 64 stitches.  They are fairly thin, and very decorative, but I don’t think they would be overly warm.  Which is why I ended up knitting the second pair out of Lion Brand Fishermens yarn to layer under them if Jean needed more warmth. Of course both pairs can be worn on their own, and look pretty good on their own as well.

Next on the list is to finish some spinning before we go on vacation, and then I think I am starting a pair of socks. I think I am going to knit them from the top down instead of from the toe up though, because I am having a lot of problems getting toe up socks to fit lately. And I am going to need a couple of pairs of socks before fall and winter get here.  And as sick as I am of knitting fingerless mittens, I am going to need a pair of those before fall gets here as well.  Plus I owe mom a cardigan. I have so much to do! Thankfully my Ravelry invite arrived last week, and I don’t think I am ever again be at a loss for inspiration!

On the Bobbins

I love spinning. It is so relaxing, and I really like the accomplished feeling that it gives me when I finish a spinning project and have enough yarn for an item that I made myself. That being said, I have about three different fiber combinations in various stages of completion, and I don’t really have enough of any of them spun up right now for a project.turqoise-tootles-yarn-resized.jpg

I have been spinning some of the fiber from shearing Tootles in various bits and peices.  A little plain, a little combed, a little dyed. I dyed it with some kind of “southwestern” shades: turqouise, rusty orange, various shades of greeny greens. My intent was to comb the various shades, and make a hackle and ditz off the combed fiber to get a streaky kind of top.  I got the dyeing done, and a little combing, spun a little of the original fiber and then ran out of energy on that endeavor.


Then I had some of Tootles fiber just plain, and I have been combing that in bits and spurts. It spins up so nicely, and is so much fun, but this is a big job (Tootles had a lot of wool!) and it’s going to take a while, so I’m pacing myself on this job.


Then I had a combination of alpaca, Ivy’s first shearing and some mohair that I decided to spin, since it was just taking up space in my “fiber drawer”. This is just one drum batt of fiber left over after carding another project that I just threw together. It spins very very fine, and since I had such a small amount, I decided that I would spin it as fine as I could, just to see how much yardage I could get from that amount of fiber. I haven’t decided whether to ply the resulting singles or not, if I have quite a bit of singles, I may just set the twist and then knit some lace with it.  But again, it takes a long time to spin yarn that fine, and I get bored with it quickly and then have to go knit a while. (more on that later)

So I need a major battery jump. Something exciting to spin. I want lots of color in a fiber that is easy and quick to spin. I guess I need to start browsing the fiber lists and see what I can find.

Next fiber post, what’s on the needles!

Amazing Lace

Baby hat and booties

I wanted to make a watermelon themed set of hat and booties. I used a permanent marker to draw on the seeds, and I really don’t like how it looks. I’ll have to come up with a different solution if I make another set of these. I like them other than that, though.
silk singles

I also managed to get a tiny bit of spinning done last week. Not much, but at least I got the wheel out. My wheel really needs a good cleaning, but everytime I clean it it takes me a while to get it back to the settings where it spins well. I also struggle with what material to use for the drive band, nothing seems to work as well as the stuff that came with it, which broke a long time ago. Right now I have one of those clear, elasitic gelly bands on it,  and it just doesn’t feel right.  At least I got so spin some.
lace smoke ring

Finally, I finished the lace smoke ring/cowl.  After I finished the second row of Old Spanish lace, I tried a couple of lace edgings, and just didn’t like any of them. They didn’t flow right, or they were too big. This thing already set on my shoulders like a small poncho (it turned out bigger than I expected, I just kind of cast on and knit), so too big of a lace edging wasn’t going to work.  So i decided instead to modify the edging from the Flower Basket Shawl (Interweave Knits Fall 2004) so that it fit in between the points on the Old Spanish Lace, and then finished it off. 

After I wove in the ends, I soaked it for about 20 minutes, and then dyed it using Cushings dye in the shade of Cardinal.  After blocking, I think it really turned out nice, even if it is a little big. The part that is too big will be under my coat, anyway, and will add extra warmth, right?

The next pattern I am going to be starting is the Pirate Mittens from Hello Yarns. Sean’s graduation is coming up in May, and I am knitting these for his advisor and teacher. I’m knitting them in Sooner colors,  red and white, in Dale of Norway Hauk. They look like a fun knit and I can’t wait to get started.

Well, it’s been a bumpy week. My small gain at Weight Watchers really threw me for a loop. It upset me, and I just couldn’t get over it. I went back and looked at my weight charts, and realized I have been trying to lose these same 5 pounds for a month! I guess I just expect the weight to come off faster than that, since I am not only dieting, but I have really stepped it up on the excercise front as well. So I decided to revisit my measurements.  In the past month I have lost 1 inch off my chest measurement (none from my bust, thank goodness, since I don’t have much there to begin with), 2 and 1/2 inches from my waist and 3 inches from my hips.  I think those are pretty good numbers, but I really don’t have anything to compare them too.  I just know I’m doing what I’m supposed to, and hopefully (soon!) I will get down below 230 and feel better about all this.  Weigh in is tommorrow, and for the first time, I am actually dreading going.  I’ve really been weighing and measureing everything, and trying to eat more Core foods and less processed things, so I’ve done everything I can. 

I’m waiting on my new camera to be delievered, and then hopefully I’ll have some good pictures to share!

Recycling sweaters…
If you check the inside of a sweater, you can tell if it has been cut from a big peice of knitted material and the edges serged to keep it from unraveling, or if it was first knit as peices and then sewn together. If it was knit as peices, it is a candidate for unraveling. My other requirement is that it be made from natural fibers, although I probably wouldn’t unravel a cotton sweater. I just don’t like knitting with cotton that much.
So, I found four sweaters: the one I felted and three others…

The “picture” sweater was knit from two strands of shetland wool yarn held together. You can’t see it in this picture, but it has blue and red and other fibers blended together in the dark yarn. So far, I have unraveled both sleeves. Just from the sleeves I got 80 yards of double stranded white, and 240 yards of the dark. This sweater is very slow going because before it can be unraveled, you have to pick out all the embroidery that was done on top of the knitting. I probably will not be unraveling the front, which has so much embroidery I would probably lose my mind trying to get it all off. Plans right now are to cut it into a square, back it with blue jean material, and make a holiday pillow out of the front and to unravel the back.

The cream colored yarn on the right is a combination of 55% silk, 33% nylon, 10%angora and 3% lambswool. It is absolutely the softest yarn! It has a lovely nubbly texture, the angora halo, and I am pretty sure if I decide to dye it, it will take dye beautifully. I have no idea how many yards I have, but I got over 200 yards on the first sleeve alone. I think this is what I am going to knit that smoke ring that I have been wanting to knit out of.

The red yarn has no sweater with it because I completely unraveled it on Wednesday night. It was just a plain knit pullover sweater, made from lambswool and angora. I got roughly 110 yards from each sleeve, and I forget how much from the back and front, I’ll have to check later. This is probably going to be over dyed, the red is a little much for me. All in all, a good haul for sweaters that cost me 2 dollars each. It was really a lot of fun to “unknit” something for a change.

In other news, I finished the fronts for the aran cardigan last night!! Yeah! Then, after laying out the fronts, I discovered that I had made a huge mistake. I shaped the wrong sides of the fronts, so the cables were not going to meet up at the shoulders. For a moment, I debated cutting up the whole sweater into teeny tiny peices of fluff. Then I decided that instead, I will just knit saddles for the top of each arm, and hopefully the break at the top of the arm will trick the eye into not noticing the mistake. I am just too sick of this sweater to consider ripping the fronts back and starting again. Besides, I’ve always wanted to knit a sweater with saddles at the top of the shoulder, it’ll be fun, right?

After receiving the latest issure of SpinOff in the mail, I had to drag out the knitting machine and try my hand at knitting up blanks and dyeing them. Let me tell you, it is much easier to dye a knitted blank than to wind yarn into a huge skein and then dye it for self striping yarn. I was really pleased with the colors in this, but I need a much bigger workspace to really get into this. A large peice of foam insulation would be great, I think. Anyway, I am planning on doing more of this in the future, in better colors, and hope to have some for sale, as soon as the programmer extroidenaire finishes her website or I figure out Etsy, whichever comes first, LOL.

I have been trying to get this post right since Thursday, but blogger and I were having a slight power struggle. For the most part, blogger kicked my heiny. Anyway, here it is now, in a greatly modified and shortened version.

After being less than pleased with my first attempt at the color way I have been working on, I went back to the drawing board this morning. I started by laying out all the colors I plan on using. I want the apple green to dominate, so I used more of that. I am also using a small amount of an alpaca/mohair mix that I dyed at the same time as I dyed the wool. The Mohair/Alpace will give the finished yarn some texture.

Striping the riving on the carder didn’t work, so I went for a different approach. First I carded on the small amount of contrast colors I had. Then the apple green, bronze green and golden nugget. Last, I carded on the mohair blend. I stripped the batt in half and placed the two pieces together, the sides with the mohair blend sandwiched in the middle. Then I put the whole thing through the carder again

Pleased with how the batt had turned out I split it into a long w, predrafted it a little and then wound it up into a ball. You can see here how different this predrafted roving (the one in the back) is from the one that was just stripes on the drumcarder.(The small ball in the front)

I spun the roving using the point of contact method of spinning I have been practicing for the last week. I am getting better at it. There are still times when I don’t get enough twist in the yarn before it pulls onto the bobbin and falls apart, but for the most part, I’m getting more consistant. As irritating as it is sometimes, I really like how fast this is, and how soft the plyed yarn is. I am having much less of a problem with overtwisting, and most of the skeins hang in a circle instead of twisting back on themselves now.

Now I like this yarn. I hope to have a swatch done to show you tommorrow, but let me know what you think. I’d like to know.

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