Monday, August 31, 2015

Goodbye Summer

Summer is coming to an end. Here we are on the last day of August and I want to get one last word in about this summer. 
Record breaking hot!
(That's 3 words.)
What do you do when it's 90 degrees everyday? Solar dyeing, of course. Here's a photo of some icelandic wool that I left soaking in cutch and madder root in mason jars for half the summer.

Now the wind is picking up and the rain is starting to fall and I'll be moving inside.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hiking and Knitting...but mostly hiking

 Due to cold fingers and exhaustion, very little knitting got done. I had planned for a light weight knitting project---lace trim. Size 2 bamboo needles and a little ball of cotton string. What I didn't plan for was a hike that was way above me fitness level.

I ventured out into the North Cascades by  myself for 3 days. The first day was the most difficult. I went 8 miles in, mostly uphill.  The second day I left my pack at my campsite and hiked up to Copper Ridge Lookout.  On the 3rd day I hiked out which took 4 1/2 hours but was mostly downhill.

This hike was so exhausting that once I stopped moving all I could do was lay down.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fiber Arts and Hiking

 Heading out for a backpacking trip on the rugged Washington State coast I grabbed my lightest spindle to bring along.  My husband and I hike in about 6 miles heading north from Rialto Beach near La Push.  By nightfall we were isolated by the high tide and locked in to our camping spot.  Our tent nestled up against the cliff on one side and was about 10 feet away from the lapping waves on the other side. I had brought some natural tan merino and some natural black-gray alpaca. My idea was to spin some "sand-colored" yarn. I spun in little flecks of black and gray, giving the tan wool an appearance of sand.  Being that I was so tired from hiking over boulders and giant old-growth driftwood I didn't have much energy to spin. But at the same time I loved having a little down-time with my craft. I'm thrilled to combine my two favorite pastimes: fiber arts and hiking!

Camp site at low tide.
Spinning. Water rising.

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Project

The chaos of moving into the fix-er upper has really limited me from dying and spinning. This week I had a some time to start a new project. I had so much fun knitting an Icelandic pattern last year I decided to make another sweater. I had left over Alafosslopi yarn, 6 skeins of light gray and a skein or 2 of a couple other colors. Being that I wanted new colors for the new sweater I decided to over-dye some of the yarn.  The light gray and blue colored yarn at the top of the photo is what I started with.  I used some acid dyes I had laying around.  Now I'm excited to get on with the knitting.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rewind---spinning, not refined

After spending the last several years focusing on lace weight and plied yarn I wanted to make something lumpy and bulky.  I took some Shetland fleece that I washed with the Dirty Rotten Bastard wool shampoo and gently opened up the locks with hand carders. Then I spun a slubby single with my own version of a long draw.  It was so fun and quick! After soaking and drying under just a little tension, I started making a stocking cap.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Namaste, Dirty Rotten Bastard

I was listening to my favorite podcast, Yarnspinner's Tale, and they did an episode about a new "wool shampoo" called Dirty Rotten Bastard. They interviewed the creator of this product. She claimed it could clean even the nastiest of fleece. After I listened to this podcast:Yarnspinner's Tale Podcast about wool shampoo 
I watched this: youtube video about wool shampoo.

I was sold! I ordered a bottle of wool shampoo "Scour the Scoundrel" and a bottle of "Wash it Dye" from Namaste Farms.  This woman is from a family of shampoo makers so she hired the scientist to help her with a wool wash. It cleans the wool without using so much water. I've always been bothered by the amount of water it takes to clean a fleece so I was intrigued by the prospect of using less.  I also like the way she said that you can handle fleece---something I already knew---how to handle, yet not agitate the fiber. When I'm washing I get my hands in there yet I never felt my fleece.  With wool shampoo you need to squish it into the fiber the way you get shampoo in your hair.  It's all very different than the traditional way of scouring a fleece. You have to be open-minded.

I had the perfect fleece to put it to the test! In October of 2011 I wrote a blog post called Stinky Finian. Why on earth did I keep the nastiest smelling Shetland fleece in the world? I guess I kept it for this experiment---okay wool shampoo, work your magic!

The white wool in the photo above is Stinky Finian.  The other 2 are Shetlands that don't smell so bad. I used the Wash It Dye on Stinky Finian and then I dyed with some Acid Dyes I had laying around.  Then I washed it one more time with the wool shampoo and now it's drying on a towel.
It worked! The nasty smell is gone. The first time I tried to scour this fleece I used very hot water and Dawn. I did soak after soak and couldn't get the smell out. I even simmered it in a dye bath---heat was not helping. This time I used very little water---a little to wet the wool and squish the shampoo in, the water for the dye pot, then a bucket of water for the rinse. The water was not particularly hot, just as hot as my hands could handle.  Can you tell that I'm completely amazed?

Just as the Yarnspinner's Tale podcast recommends, I too recommend watching the youtube video since this is so very different from the traditional way to scour wool.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Settling In

Hallelujah! I'm finally settling in. I hate moving. I never want to move again. I want to live the rest of my life in this house. This whole moving and remodeling thing has really got in the way of my fiber art.  However, there should be a big pay-off in the end---my very own craft room. First we have to construct the basement apartment for my daughter, then she has to move out of my "craft room".  In the mean time I have a nice area in the living room to put my spinning wheel.  I just finished the alpaca I bought last summer on Whidbey Island.