Monday, July 31, 2006

Weekend dye job

Since this weekend weather was so pleasant, I decided to heat up the dye pot with some merino top.

I went all crazy with the colors because I just wanted to spin something not monochromatic for a while (my exploding stash includes things in greys, whites, browns, blacks, blues, pinks, reds, and oranges, but none mixed!). So this was the result. I kind of like it the way it is right now, don't know how I will feel after I spin it tho.

I also over dyed some merino/tencel blended top that I bought a while back and didn't like the color (it was "honey"). This looks better, and I already started spinning it into singles yarn. I will try to make a swatch to post up here soon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lots of different things going on

Since last week's post I've been sort of scattered brained, doing a bunch of different little projects. So today, I'm just going to post them up.

First off, there were the dyed blanks for the French Market Bag (FMB).

the colors are very bold but that's what I wanted because when felted, the bag really looks neat with contrasting colors.

I've been knitting this on and off, as it is kind of boring to do. My favorite part is when it's all done and ready to felt. This bag is a modified version of the FMB. I found that I like it much better with a rectangular, rather than a square, bottom. Also, I like it with long handles. When I learn how to post PDF files, I will put up the instructions for this modified FMB.

I also finally found the other half of the merino/silk top that I had begun to spin in June.

Somehow it got put away with some tool boxes and it was not until we were unpacking some more boxes (slowly but surely, we will unpack all of our stuff, even if it means a whole year after our move) that my husband found it. Anyway, there's a lonely bobbin-full of merino/silk singles waiting to be joined with another singles to make super soft and shiny 2-ply lace-weight yarn.

And lastly, I found the perfect fun little project to use up my leftover sock yarn. It's the Nautie! It's just so cute and fun. AND, you can finish it in one sitting! So I got excited about taking pictures of it:

I have a bunch more of leftover sock yarn that will probably become other Nautie strains.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Knitted blanks and some combed top

I decided to go with the knitting machine option for prepping the yarn for dyeing stripes. It just seemed so much faster than using the warping board. I knit all four skeins of Cascade in less than an hour! They are 35 stitches wide, which gave me plenty of room for dying and did not take up the whole length of my table. The yarn is now skeined and hanging to dry, will try to take some photos of it tomorrow.

In the mean time, here are some other things I did:

I combed about 75 grams (> 2.5 ounces) of the Merino x Corriedale fleece I bought a while back. I still need to comb another 40-50 grams more for the project I want to start, but this was fun. I haven't combed any wool in about a month and had almost forgotten how much fun it is! This wool will be used for my husband's Zigzag scarf, knit the long way. I made a swatch of it months ago and my husband liked it. It all started when I got the Spring issue of Spin Off magazine. I really wanted to try out the energized singles scarf idea mentioned in the magazine. My husband hates cables, or worse, lace, for himself, so the Zigzag pattern was pretty innocuous.

Oh, I also finished spinning singles of that Merino/Tencel blend from Bonkers. I think this one will be for Mrs. B. I like the color changes in it. It would also make a nice Zigzag scarf... hmm, I think I got zigzags on my mind.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dyed silk singles

At the beginning of this year I dyed some Tussah silk top and some Polypay fleece together in the same pot. I wanted a blend of silk and wool (20:80), which I accomplished by combing. I made 2-ply fingering weight yarn (~200 grams) for my friend's birthday. It came out nice with a touch of shimmer, but alas, no recorded picture of it to post here.

But anyway, I had dyed WAY more silk than I actually used for that project. So last week I spun the rest by itself. There's ~50 grams of it here and about 350 yds.

shiny variegated pink silk

I've been noticing that I dye a lot of my fibers pink... I think I should force myself to look the other way and choose a different shade. I really like pink, though I don't think it goes particularly well on me. Anyway, don't know what I want to do with this yet. I would love to weave something in silk, but that will have to wait until I get a little table loom... which means a really long wait.

On a different note, I bought some plain worsted weight wool to make another (I already made 4!) French Market Bag. My favorite bag was one I made with some Noro yarn. So I am psyching myself up for "warping" it on my board. I want to make a sort of stripey pattern with it and for that I need a very long skein. I saw in Monica's blog, Two Left Needles, that she used a knitting machine to create a fabric on which she painted the stripes. I like this idea too, and maybe I will dig out my old childhood knitting machine for this purpose. Do any of you have a preferred method?

Will post pictures of whatever happens soon.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lots of New Fibers!

My first try at spinning was at a friend's house last year in late summer. It was there that I met her mother, Mrs. B., who is a spinning and weaving instructor. Mrs. B. kindly asked if I'd like to try out her Schacht Matchless wheel. I immediately accepted the offer as I've always wanted to learn how those neat wheely-machines worked. In retrospect, my first yarn was weird looking: lumpy and uneven, with skinny and thick pieces all over. But I still loved it and boy, was I excited about it. It had a very authentic, homegrown feeling to it. I made a tiny baby hat with this yarn, which, when I find out where it is, I will post it here. Later, she lent me one of her wheels indefinitely until I either got sick of spinning or fell in love with it. Of course the outcome was the latter one and never has there been a dull moment in spinning for me. Mrs. B. has not only been my spinning teacher but also a dear friend. She's one of the kindest people I know. And here's one example (of many, many, many) of her kindness and generosity. When I got sick with shingles, Mrs. B. was at the Convergence conference in Grand Rapids, MI. There, she got me a ton of beautiful fibers to play with.

50:50 Merino:Tussah Silk fleece and 70:30 Lambswool:Alpaca fleece from Ursula's Alcove, 50:50 Tussah Silk:baby Camel Down top and 80:20 black Alpaca:Bombyx mori Silk top from Shadeyside Farm, 50:50 Merino:Tencel top in Emerald Forest and Obscure Rainbow by Bonkers, black Alpaca:Silk top, and Alpaca top in grey, brown and beige from Alpaca with a Twist.

The only condition upon receiving this wonderful gift was that I spin half of it for her--which is a most welcomed pleasure. As I said before, I love to spin, and spinning for Mrs. B. is like a learning experience and honor all at once. I am very excited! All these fibers are incredibly soft, especially the alpaca tops. I am now trying to decide what weight yarn and whether to spin singles or 2-ply for the Merino:Tencel blended top. I love those colors!

Also, believe it or not, the only drop spindle I've ever used was a CD-spindle. So Mrs. B let me try out her new Golding Ring Spindle. It was amazing! It keeps on spinning and nice! She lent me a Jonathan Bosworth spindle to play with for now. It's also very nice but I still prefer the Golding spindle, which has now been added to my wishlist.

With all these new and wonderful goodies around me I almost forgot to mention something I had forgotten to write up in last week's entry: the material I used for the placemats were linen for the warp and cotton for the weft. Here's a picture of the cut out mats with the edges tucked in and pressed, but not yet sewn (needed to go buy new heavy-duty sewing needles for my machine!).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Placemats and dyed lace yarn

A long time ago I began weaving placemats to give to our cousins as a gift. And finally, today, I finished them. Here's a picture of the mats still on the rigid heddle loom.

and here's a picture of the mats cut off from the loom:

I haven't yet sewn the edges of each mat but once that's done the mats are going into the washing machine and dryer. Hopefully they'll come out alright.

On another note, I dyed some lace-weight yarn a couple of days ago. It's a variegated light lilac color. The picture shows the yarn a little darker and less pink than it actually is.

I know I start way too many more projects than I should or have time for, but I specifically dyed this yarn for knitting the Light Up My Life Scarf by HeartStrings FiberArts . I have only knit a tiny bit of it, but here's a peak of how it's coming along.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Washing fleece is better than watching bad soccer game

07.18.06 edit: I had forgotten to mention in this post what exactly it is I do with the washing machine. I actually only use it for soaking the wool in then to spin dry, but I never agitate. If you're interested in how I wash my raw fleeces, please go to my How to Wash fleece post.

As hard as I find to believe it, I have shingles... for those who don't know, the chicken pox that most of us got as children don't all die off when we get better. Instead, they take refuge, or make themselves a comfy home, somewhere in our nervous system. Then, for some reason, maybe stress, maybe something else, they decide to get out and cause trouble all over again. The best description I've come up with for how it feels to have shingles is this: it feels like a gallon of tetanus shot vaccine is constantly being pumped into your body. There's a lot of pressure, and that horrible burning-twisting pain. Anyway, for some reason, the pain is bearable in the mornings so I am partially functional--good enough to deal with World Cup soccer and some wool, mostly they help take my mind off of the pain.

We are down at my mother's for the weekend and since it's a rare treat to have access to a non-coin-op machine, I brought down my last 2 remaining raw fleeces to be cleaned up. Plus, the weather is nice: hot and sunny and not raining.
So yesterday morning I picked through the Jacob fleece for washing in my mother's washing machine before the England vs. Portugal soccer game (which, btw, was won on penalty kicks). I really wish I had a washing machine at my place... anyway, here's a binful of dry and clean Jacob fleece:

In the afternoon, I put off picking through the Merino fleece just so I could watch the Brazil vs. France soccer game. You see, for a Brazil soccer fan, this was a very important game. Not only was it the quarter finals, but the last time Brazil played against France in a world cup, it lost miserably to France. It was a very strange game because Brazil had been playing really good soccer until that one game in 1998. So anyway, yesterday was Brazil's chance to prove themselves superior to France's soccer team. But you know what?! They really played terribly once more and lost, not even on penalty kicks or overtime, they just plain out right lost.

80 minutes into the game I just gave up watching the game all together and decided that picking through my merino fleece was time much better spent, not to mention much more satisfying. So, by the end of the day I had all of my remaining raw fleeces all washed and clean.

Moorit Merino fleece hanging under the sun to dry.

Mom and I placed the leftover wool skirting by her flower bed. I am hoping the bird living on the cherry tree by this bed finds it and uses it for her nest.

Before I got too busy to take care of them, I used to have quite a large collection of passionflower plants. These tropical flowering plants are my favorite all around. Their vining habit is great for covering entire walls or window frames and their flowers are beautiful. Here's a picture of a passion flower:

I gave this plant to my mother probably five years ago and it is huge. She puts it outside during the summer and once she even planted it in the ground, where it grew to gigantic dimensions. Now it sits, happily, in a big pot with a very sturdy wire frame to support it.

On a different topic, a few weeks ago I dyed some sock yarn for my mother and forgot to photograph it. So now that I am here at her house, I took a photo of it.

Hope yall have a happy 4th!