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.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Natural Dyes and Linen

 Would you believe that my family is planning on moving again? It would be my 5th move since I started this blog in 2008. If I'm lucky the future will hold a "craft room" for me...fingers crossed. I've been thinning out my possessions in preparation for moving.  I had little bottles of dye-stuff from Maiwa, the natural dye store in Vancouver BC. I figured a good use for these little bits would be to experiment dyeing something other than wool. I went with my second favorite textile---linen.

I cut little squares and began experimenting. Dying fabric and cellulose fiber is new to me. It was so much fun  using these little squares because there was no harm done if I screwed it up. It's not as risky as dying a yarn that took 2 weeks to spin, right?

Normally I don't like cutch but on fabric it looked nice. I added iron to cutch and got a totally cool dark taupe.  Marigold made a nice orange-yellow. I added tartaric acid to marigold and got a pale yellow.

I tried black tea and got a dull color. I used marigolds and back tea and it looked a little more interesting.

 The logwood experiment was interesting. When I added tartaric acid I got an orange instead of the standard purple that usually comes from logwood.

The house that we are trying to buy was built in 1912. I've looked at paint swatches of color palettes from that time period. Of course they only had natural pigments back then. Inspired by the old-timey colors and the linen swatches I was dying, I decided to make a color palette: cutch, marigold, cutch with iron, logwood with tartaric acid, and marigold with black tea! I showed the palette to my Hubby and he was not impressed. That's okay.  I'll just keep day-dreaming of remodeling my future home.

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:

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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Blue Heron Ranch Alpaca Fiber

A friend of mine from High School recently started selling Alpaca fibers to spinners.
I obtained 2 oz and spun it in to a two-ply lace weight yarn.

Now I get to look for a pattern...what will it be? Mitts? A beret? We will see...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2 FOs

This reminds me of a mitt for washing cars. However, when turned right side out, it becomes a thrummed mitten. As long as I have been working with fleece I've wanted to make some of these mittens. This pair took me almost a year to complete. First I ran out of the main color of yarn and had to order a skain. Then I made one too short and and to rip part of it out. In the end they sat in a basket of unfinished projects through the summer and fall until I finally finished them.  Whew.
I used the pattern call Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer L Appleby from Interweave Knits Winter 2006.
Another FO to cross off the list! I finally sewed the side seems. This pattern is called Leafy Glen Shell by Liga Leja. I found it in The Knitter's Book of Wool. But this is not made with wool.  It's made with Seasilk from my stash. Done!