Sunday, May 30, 2010

"In about 5 min, we'll drop some acid."

Yeah….acid. For my spring break this year I had a friend of mine, Peggy, show me how to dye fiber. Normally when I’m at a wool festival, I looked at all of the “crazy people” carrying around plastic bags full of raw fleece and just cringe. It’s just so much fiber that is dirty and gross feeling. I understand why it’s dirty and gross, but just the thought of having to wash and card it didn’t sound like fun to me. It sounded like too much work. That was until I saw the fiber called Wensleydale and Teeswater. I’ve worked with mohair, but didn’t know about these fibers. Even when they were raw, the curls of the fiber were awesome! So thanks to Peggy showing off her trash bags full of curly locks, I had to get a fleece of my own. The one I wanted was gorgeous and very expensive, but there was a smaller Teeswater fleece.

The nite before I began washing the fleece. I did a few cold baths that nite. The water was dirty as all get out. The smell wasn’t too bad, which I was grateful for since I live in an apartment complex. Since the weather had been warm in the days before I decided to get up early to do the hot water. I really thought that the washing process would be hard, but it really wasn’t. It was nice being able to see the water go from dark brown to clear. What was even better was pulling the fleece out of the water after the rinsing and seeing that gorgeous sheen on those curly locks! It was at that point that I decided that buying raw fleeces wasn’t so bad. I would just keep my options open to fiber like Wensleydale and Teeswater. Definitely something I will have to save up for on my next trip to Taos’ Wool Festival.

Since I had missed the dye day last summer, I had asked Peggy if we could do a separate dye day, and she agreed. So we planned for a day during my spring break. The thing about Colorado is that even for the middle of March (spring time), we still get snow. So a few days before I was supposed to go up, I was invited up the nite before because we were supposed to get a blizzard storm. A little over 8pm the nite before, we got it. Snow every where!

So while it was snowing and Peggy and Jeff were at church, I got to use their drum carder. A little over a year ago I bought a few ounces of sage green alpaca at the Taos Wool Festival and angelina from Colorado Fiber Arts. I thought that the combination of the two colors would be awesome, so I carded the two together. It looks really nice! When I finished that batch that was when I noticed it was snowing.

The one reason I wanted to use the carder was the combination of fiber that I had collected since last winter. While at Lambspun in Fort Collins, I bought a bamboo/wool blend and then some silk. The colors were pink and a pinkish-purple. While at Rock Day in Colorado Springs, I bought 2 ounces of alpaca from Allie (Eye Dazzlers) in both purple and orange. Since our carding day at the spinning group at Green Valley, I wanted to try carding different fibers and different colors together. The combination of the 4 fibers and colors were better than I thought they’d be. It became what I call a Tropical Sunset.

The next morning, Peggy and I went through her dye books to pick out colors. I had magenta and teal in mind. She had so many awesome colors! I picked out 2 colors that were very similar to what I wanted; a mulberry and dark teal. We measured and separated my fiber. I then was given the job of calculating how much of the dye to use for each batch. Peggy said she liked working with someone who understood the math behind the calculations of ratio and proportions. I don’t doubt my math skills, it was keeping up with how many graduated cylinders full of dye I had already put in the pot. If I messed up, I would not be getting the color I wanted. Once the two colors for each pot were mixed, I was happy to see a color that I liked. I no longer was worried I had messed up.

So with 2 big boiling pots of dye, water, and fiber, Peggy and I spent time down stairs watching spinning videos and doing some spinning of our own. She was working on a black fiber for an order she had received and I started on my angora/merino blend that I had gotten from Sharon at Rock Day. While waiting, Peggy mentioned something like “In 5 minutes, we can drop some acid.” We both giggled. She explained that the acid allows for the dye molecules to combine with the fiber or something like that. In a couple hours the dyeing was done and placed outside to cool off…which would be easy since the snow was still a foot or so tall outside. Once it had cooled off, it was rinse, spun in the washer machine, and placed by the fireplace on a rack to dry off. The colors were amazing, along with the sheen that was still on the fiber. I was so pleased by the turn out.

While there, I was able to finish spinning all 5 ounces of the angora/merino blend. I think that was the most I’d gotten done in one sitting. My bobbin was completely full. Since the colors remind me of the ocean, I plan on plying it with a cream white colored merino/bamboo blend. It will act as the foam of the waves. Once I have those bobbins full, I plan on plying them on my new jumbo flyer for my Ashford Traditional. It was a birthday present to my self. I would really like to have my wheel finished off, but I want to find a Celtic design that I can have burned on to the wood. I guess that’s something I could do over the summer break.

I still have a bobbin of merino locks that I worked on about a year ago and haven’t finished yet. The locks are blue and purple if I remember right. (Can you tell how long it’s been since I’ve seen it? Lol) I bought pink dyed purls to ply with the merino. I want to ply it, but I want to do it while Peggy is around. That way I know that I’m securing the beads correctly when I do ply it all. It’s just another unfinished project to add to the list.

Knitting wise, I finished another fish hat during CSAP. All of the kids didn’t understand how it was going to turn into a fish hat, but in the end they really liked it. I made it for a friend’s son who is 2 I think. He looked so cute in it!

I also finished some felted Easter bunnies. I made one for my niece and kids of two of my friends. They turned out really cute. I would like to make some more for next year. Make them a little bigger and possibly different colors and types. The ladies in the shop have had more time to do that and I’ve liked the outcomes.

I’m still working on my Hemlock Ring lap blanket. I’ve already put about 600 yds on it, and just recently started another 300 yd skein. I would like for it to be big enough for a small lap blanket or to put on my bed. Without it being blocked I’m really not sure how big it is now. I know that I have another 300 yds or so, but in a grey. Not sure how the two colors will work out together if what I have in the main color isn’t enough. I’ll have to get my knit pick cables and get a better idea of the diameter.

I also started the Clessidra (Knitty) sock pattern on size 2 needles and they’re knee highs. The last time I did knee high socks on a size 2, it took me over a year to finish them. They were for my sister. They were just a 1x1 rib. This pattern that I’m working on now has 2x2 cables, seed stitch, and an intermediate hourglass cable going up the back of the leg. I’m thinking it may take 2 yrs. I just had a craving to do socks again. I can’t wait to get them done…although I don’t spend a lot of time on them right now since I started my masters.

The woman who does my hair was pregnant. I had plans on making some baby hats and such. Thought I had all this time to work on them, but she went into labor at 26 weeks. She named him Oliver and it doing ok out of town. I found a really cute puppy dog (Mr. “Morpheus” Mutt) pattern online that required no sewing. It’s completely seamless, which I absolutely love since I hate sewing! (Not done with the face yet.) I want to make one for my niece, but my mom tells me I shouldn’t. That she has too many stuffed animals already. I think it’s my job as an aunt to spoil her anyways. So that will be a X-Mas present.

So…for right now I have 2-3 spinning projects that are unfinished and 4 knitting projects that are unfinished. I just got some fingering yarn for another project in mind. It’s called Sweet Jazz and it’s a long skinny shawl. It’s light enough to probably wear now and later in the fall. I know I shouldn’t have bought it, but it looked nice. Lol

Well one more day with the kids for work. I got to get all of my stuff packed up at work. I was pink slipped about 3 weeks ago. The district is making choices based on both the economy and the state. 80 teachers or more are either being pink slipped or transferred. I’ve applied a few places, but nothing yet. I just don’t like the idea of spending my summer not knowing whether or not I have a job for next year. I also don’t like packing. I’ve had to move either classrooms or schools every year I’ve taught. It’s not fun.

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

You and Peggy are some wild women! Thanks so much for the photos - excellent! Great post.