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.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Forest Path Stole

The Forest Path Stole is composed of little blocks of lace the are patchworked together. There were three lace patterns woven through. After one square is done, you pick up stitches along the edge and start another lace square. The edging and the triangles are made of a moss stitch which helps it lay flat.

As I said in my previous post, I spent 8 months knitting this. That's the longest I had ever spent on one project. After many cups of coffee and many hours of knitting, I finish it and gave it to my friend for her 50th birthday.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Knitting and Drinking Coffee

A year ago I decided to make something special for my co-worker. My co-worker is more than just an office-mate or someone I sit next to. We have a job where we rely on each other and need to work together to provide safe care for our clients. We are midwives, caring for people in a close and intimate way. When I'm not on-call I know the moms and babies are well taken care of by Heather. When she is on a break, she can be rest assured that I will do the same.

Planning a year ahead, I took on a big project. First I bought some yarn that was so thin I couldn't work with it and I scrapped the project after a few days.  Then I got this teal wool-silk blend and even though it's lace weight, it was a little bit easier to work with.

It took 8 months to finish this project and I didn't talk about it, blog about it, or take it to work. (Since this project was all I worked on for a long time, my blog entries were sparse last year.)

Knowing that I would eventually write something about this project on my blog, I took photos along the way. When I started out I snapped a shot of the project next to the coffee I was drinking.  That's how my little photo-essay started. Every time I sat down to work on it and I was drinking a coffee, I took a photo. I ended up taking 60 photos!

This one was taken at Empire Espresso.

Outside. Summertime!

I don't remember this one, but I'm in my camping chair.
This one was taken in Canada when we stayed in Peachland.
In Peachland I got to knit everyday for 3 days.
Knitting and drinking coffee in the morning.
In front of the computer, watching Netflix
In my living room.
In my dining room.
Tomorrow is Heather's birthday and before I give it to her I will take one last photo of the finished project.  I will also post a little more information about the pattern.  To be continued...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Taking My Own Advice

In my other life, the one that isn't about yarn and knitting and dyeing, I work with pregnant women. Near the end of pregnancy many women get impatient and find themselves anxious to meet their new baby. As a midwife I readily give advice about being patient. Once people are done with work and everything is ready for baby they just sit around waiting. That's when I suggest starting a new project. Being engrossed in an elaborate or complicated project makes time go by.

We put in an offer on an short-sale house last April.  At this point our closing day is November 26th. I was patiently waiting through Spring and Summer and now Fall.  The house is quite a dump and it will take several months of hard work to get it in a liveable condition. So besides moving all of our belongings we will also be doing extensive remodel. There will be no time for knitting once the sale goes through---if the sale goes through. They are giving it an 80% success rate because of a tricky legal situation with the title. So what should I do? Start a complicated lace and beadwork project, of course!

From The Knitter's Book of Wool I've started Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole. Now I'm staying in the moment like a Tibetan monk...detached...knitting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Natural Dyes - Bug gunk and wood chips

From left to right: natural gray alpaca over-dyed with lac/alum, wool dyed with lac/alum, wool dyed with logwood/alum then dipped in ammonia bath, wool dyed with logwood/alum.

Lac is a dye made from secretions of the Lac insect. It's an imported product and I got it here:

Also an imported product, logwood generally comes from Mexico or South America or India. I had little bits of left-over logwood and lac so I dyed a few skeins of hand spun yarn that I had sitting around.