Monday, October 27, 2014

Shelf Mushroom Dye for Autumn

While I was out on a hike in the Snoqualmie National Forest last week I found this clump of shelf mushrooms.  Unfortunately I'm not very talented at identifying mushrooms so I can't tell you which kind it is.  I did know it would make a good dye because it was very similar to the one I had used before.  It's was dark reddish-brown on all parts.
 I popped off a few pieces and took them home. I chopped them up on a cutting board and simmered them for about an hour. I added ammonia and some tin as a mordant. After straining off the dye and tossing out the mushroom pieces, I added some roving to the dye-bath and simmered it for a half hour or so. I let the wool sit in the dye-bath overnight to cool.
 In the morning I rinsed it out.  It smelled pretty bad so I soaked it in my favorite wool wash-- "Soak" in the scent called "Celebration". Yum.

I spun it up as a 3-ply worsted yarn. It's a perfect Autumn color.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Icelandic Sweater on the Most Beautiful Girl in the World


My lovely daughter got her senior pictures taken recently. I brought along my most recent knitted project and she agreed to model it for me.  This is something she would not normally wear. In fact I made it for myself and I'm much taller than her. It's a little big for her but she looks as cute as can be. She's the most beautiful model ever!

The design came from a pattern call Afmaeli that I found for free on Ravelry. It's a basic Icelandic pattern that I modified into a long sweater that buttons up. The pattern was in the round so I had to do some math to get it right. I added a button band and big black buttons.


The photographer can  be found here: http://www.naissancestudios.com/

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Backcountry Knitting


Packing as light as possible, I took a little knitting project on my backcountry trip. Size 2 bamboo needles are very light as is the alpaca/silk blend that I just spun.  Although it was not raining, the foliage was so wet I was soaked by the time I got off  the Huckleberry Creek Trail.  My knitting stayed dry in a plastic bag. After hiking for 6 hours up hill we reached our camping spot at Forest Lake in Mount Rainier National Park. By this time it was late and we set up camp. I was cold and sore and had a horrible night's sleep.

The sun was out in the morning so we dried out our wet clothes. I sat in the sun and knitted for a few hours before hiking back down the hill. It took 5 hours to get back to the car.

This was a "test-run" since I'm new to backcountry camping. Lessons learned: pack more rain gear and polar fleece. Next time I'm planning an easier hike with more time for knitting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Stumbling upon Alpaca

My husband and I had a little time away from work and the kids. We went to Whidbey Island to a B&B that we had been to before. He brought books; I brought my spinning wheel.  I had the Bison to spin, but as I mentioned in a prior post, it wasn't exactly working out.

We went on a walk down by the water at Penn Cove and came across a little alpaca farm. My husband is the talkative one and insisted that we march up the gravel drive way and talk to the folks that live there. The woman who lived there had a little store where she sold her alpaca fiber among other things. Jackpot!

I bought two different kinds of roving, one being this "Ceno with Silk" blend. (My understanding is Ceno is the alpaca's name.) It was a delight to spin.

Frosen Acres Alpacas on Penn Cove Road saved the day.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spinning Alpaca From Three Different Preparations

 I'm feeling the love for Alpaca right now. The brown one is made from my friend's batts. I wrote about before on this blog. The middle gray one is some random unwashed raw alpaca that someone gifted me. I hand carded that one. The light gray was made from roving that is an alpaca/silk blend.  I washed all these skeins today and noticed all the difference regarding the prep. The raw fleece that I carded (middle, dark grey) was really dirty. The batt was pretty dirty too. The roving was clean and just needed a soak. All were made into a lace-weight 2 ply yarn. All are natural colors.

brown = batt
dark grey = raw
light grey = roving

Friday, August 8, 2014

Spinning Bison

 I had never spun bison before and finally got the chance. I bought 9oz of blended bison and kid mohair from a lady who owns a spinning shop in Tonasket, Washington. She had pick up the fiber from a local bison. She had decided to card it with her neighbor's kid mohair.

Sadly, I couldn't make a nice yarn. From the bottom up: the fiber as I bought it, spun straight from the batt, hand carded and pick, hand carded and pick out as much VM and little lumps of bison as possible.


The best I could do was to pick it really well and blend it with alpaca. This one is alpaca, bison, and kid mohair in equal parts. Still the lumpy bison fluff makes the yarn look scrappy so I'm not going to spin rest.  Lesson learned.



Friday, August 1, 2014

Wool in August


Working on an Icelandic sweater in August seems crazy. It's in the upper 80s and I have to have a fan blowing on me while I knit. I know I should have some kind of "summer project" but I've been obsessive about getting this sweater coat made.                                                                                                     
I've been keeping busy these last few months with some major knitting projects (to be unveiled later), but I've done very little spinning and absolutely zero blogging about fleece. I feel change a comin'. I feel like getting back in the saddle. I feel like giving some attention to my blog again. More to come.