I haven’t posted on my blog recently so I thought I’d do a catch up post on what I have been up to.
It has been so hot here in the Highlands of Scotland…not America hot but hotter than any other summer I ever remember, especially for the Highlands.
So what did I choose to practice on the hottest day of the year??? Dyeing fibre! Yep a steaming hot pan of fibre and dye on a summers day!
Despite the heat I really enjoyed the process of playing around with some of the dyes. I already had a hot pink but combined with the Opal coloured landscape dye made a lovely purple. This time rather than adding knots I made a crochet chain of fibre and plopped the dyes on randomly…when the dye was almost exhausted in the pan I undid the chain so the white parts could pick up the last traces of the turquoise.
I loved the finished fibre and wondered what it would look like spun.
Meanwhile, I went to my monthly Highland Felters meeting today and discovered they have a drum carder that you can borrow. So when I had finished my initial construction of a Highland Coo picture (more on that when it is finished) I came home and wanted to play with the drum carder. What fibre was literally hanging around? Yep, I took it down from the drying pole and fed it into the drum carder.
The results are these 2 lovely batts (plus some scraps stuck on one of the drums). I will post an update when its spun, but so far I LOVE the colours. I am going to a 3 day music festival on Thursday but for sure I will be playing around with the drum carder at the start of the week.
A quick update on yesterday’s blog post.
I have knitted up the small amount of dyed ethereal ether into this wee drinks cosy! This was an early spinning attempt so its unofficial thick’n’thin! But I LOVE the colours! I need to try to repeat this in a larger batch and make something bigger.
Also I have spun the dyed fibre; I made a 2 ply (right of pic) trying to get different colours in each single, and with what was left on one bobbin I had some practice at Navajo (chain) plying (left). This gave me a nice break from spinning the purple and gold tops. I did have a slight disaster where I had z spun my singles and then started z plying them!!! I wish I’d had a free hand to take a photo of what that looked like when I pulled it off the bobbin!! Anyhoo, I managed to rescue it.
I have decided I am definitely going to spin up the rest of the ethereal ether and dye it, I just don’t like the original colours when spun, but LOVE the colour range when dyed. Fingers crossed it will work.
On Thursday I thought I would give dyeing a go! I had the very disappointing ethereal ether yarn I had spun that I thought I could brighten up, plus I have bought 100g of White 56’s English wool top to practice. This is a blend of (56?) different breeds of English sheep, so relatively cheap wool.
I picked two colours, and as it happens two different makes. Ashford wool dye in Hot Pink and KraftKolour Landscape dye in Opal. No idea how they’d blend or work together. I didn’t measure or weigh anything, just ploughed straight in and gave it a go.
And turned this…
I loved the colours so much I then pulled off some of the wool tops and popped those in the pot too, with random knots.
Once I have spun this I will post the finished yarn, but so far I am pretty happy with it…for a first attempt.
What I have learned
- Don’t just get a pair of rubber gloves out…put them on before taking off any lids! Yep, I have a pink thumb and forefinger!!
- Dyeing is fun, but a bit smelly as I used some white vinegar
- Worst case, the ethereal ether could still be spun and then I can just dye it all with the pink and blue…unless I think of something to wet felt with it.
- Patience is a virtue that I don’t possess, I couldn’t stop checking on the fibre…once it is dry I will see if it has felted with all my checking on it and re-knotting. I need a movie or something on to distract me next time.
Whilst reading MrsMcD918’s blog posts I came across the Year of Projects. I then went onto Ravelry to read a little bit more about it and joined one of the Ravelry groups. The ‘year’ technically started at the beginning of July but I am only a few weeks late.
So, what is on my list for the year?
- A case for my craft scissors
- A picture of my dog Ylva
- A loose casual waistcoat or top
- A project bag using the plastic loop handles in my stash
- A coin purse
- Make a fancy scarf or wrap using nuno felting
- A 3D animal…probably my dog Ylva
- Make up some more bug related fairies…to go with my ladybird one
- Spin all the commercial fibre currently in my stash on Ravelry @ date of posting!
- Spin 200g of alpaca fibre currently in my stash
- Master chain ply
- Create a fractal spun yarn
- Spin some tweed yarn
- Create my own wool and silk blended spin
- Create an official (not accidental) art yarn
- Dye some of the natural fibre tops in my stash
- Dye some my own spun yarn and the undyed bought skein I have
- Finish my Chimney Fire cardigan*
- Make my husband a pair of socks
- Make my dad something for Christmas
- Make up a matching accessory set from my perpetual purple paradise homespun yarn
- Make the shawl with my Rowan Lima yarn
- Make a 2nd pair of socks for myself
- Learn brioche stitch
- Learn fair isle knitting and knit one of the small fair isle items in my queue
- Make an octopus for a preemie
- Make a jellyfish for a preemie
- Get to grips with UK -v- US terms!
I love Ravelry so much, not only does it have thousands of patterns, many of which are free, a database for your stash and projects, but it also has forums and groups. Whilst reading through the forums I found out about Tour de Fleece and joined The Corner of Knit and Tea blog’s team #CKT2018. There are lots of other teams on Ravelry as well (and lots of other themed groups too).
The idea is during the days of the Tour de France cycling race you spin! Not for the hours on end that they are on their bikes for, just for as long as you want to. When the cyclists have their rest days you do as well, and when they are having their tougher days cycling in the mountains you challenge yourself with your spinning. The level of challenge is up to you…I did consider teaching my husband to spin as a challenge!
It is such a nice idea, a great way to connect with other spinners and see what amazing yarn they are producing and you can ask questions and advice. I have found myself getting yarn envy as some of the yarns I am seeing are so beautiful and its interesting to see the different plying methods and the results you get.
Also spending time each day doing some spinning really does show your steady improvement 😁
I had some merino fibre from Gilliangladrag in the Ethereal Ether blend. I loved the look of it online and originally bought it for making some needle felted fairies, but I thought maybe it would be good for spinning. So I pre-drafted the whole 100g…this was a mistake!
I loved how the singles looked on the bobbin but when I have plied it the colours have lost their definition and almost created a greyish pink colour. I kept washing my hands thinking I was making the yarn dirty, but I think its just the colour combos when spun…or at least when spun by me!
I stopped after plying my first bobbin, so do still have lots of fibre left and I will most likely use it in wet felting instead. If I hadn’t pre-drafted it all I could have split the colours vertically and when made into a 3 ply they’d have kept their colour definition. Hey ho! (I haven’t set this yarn yet, so this isn’t a case of colours bleeding.)
Again, you’ll notice my spinning and plying are still uneven thickness.
Next I decided to use a gorgeous purple and gold blend of merino and bamboo from Kiki’s Craft Corner. The colours are really lovely and I can’t wait to see how much length I end up with so that I can search Ravelry for a pattern. Apologies for the terrible photo of the original blend.
My consistency has improved massively and I have managed to get a 3 ply that is about sport weight! I used short forward drafting again but something has just clicked and I am finally able to draft small amounts so when plied it isn’t so thick. It still is a little fluffy, I am knitting a cardigan with malabrigo yarn at the moment and I am wondering if they coat the yarn in something to stop it being fluffy (or having a halo). I love that my singles and 3 ply are still looking similar…unlike the ethereal blend.
What I have learned
- Don’t pre-draft all your fibre before you know what it is going to look like when its 2 or 3 ply!
- Ravelry is a great resource and a way to make friends from around the world
- Being part of a Team keeps you motivated
- Small amounts of spinning each day is easier on my arms and hands than a long session
- I really missed spinning on the first TDF rest day!
I thought I should make a note of my spinning progress so far, especially as I am now spinning a little everyday.
In a previous spinning post I had talked about my problems with drafting fibre and disastrous results…or should I call it art yarn!
My next post was about creating rolags and spinning from those which I definitely found easier, I made some useable 2 ply yarn in the landscape colours and went on to knit an ipad cover with the yarn. Don’t look too closely or you’ll notice some cables aren’t the same length! Oh and Judy’s Magic Cast On was a disaster as its on the inside of the bag!!! oops!
I had other attempts at spinning from rolags, I had spun a selection of peach and red toned fibre scraps and I really liked it on the bobbin…but when I set it, I massively overheated it and ended up felting the yarn and the colours ran and it ended up orange. Regardless of the quality I am determined to make something out of everything I spin, so thanks to Ravelry’s pattern search I found this wee business card holder pattern. The cabling doesn’t really stand out I think because it felted so much, plus it was 2 ply.
I also spun some purple and pink scraps, again making a 2 ply yarn. This time I made a dog poop bag holder! I crocheted it, without a pattern and it is sooo soft, it feels lovely. Again the yarn slightly felted when setting it, but not as much.
Then I took on a bigger challenge, rather than using a bag of scraps and creating rolags, I wanted to give pre-drafting a go. So with 200g of Perpetual Purple Paradise from Gilliangladrag online shop I pre-drafted and then spun all 200g. What I have ended up with is 3 ply yarn, some of which is Aran weight and some is Worsted weight. (Not intentionally different weights, just shows the improvement in my drafting.).
I am thinking I will make a hat, cowl and mitten set…depending on how I get on they may be wrist warmers and not mittens. I gave chain plying a couple of goes, but again I would call that art yarn based on the inconsistency, the lumps, the coil spinning in parts. Not sure if it is usable yet…it may end up being used to make a bobble instead.
You’ll notice it says Pre-TDF and then Tour de fleece day 1 on the image above. I will explain more about that on my next post.
What I have learned so far
- As a beginner its much easier spinning from pre-drafted tops
- Rolags make a very fluffy soft yarn
- Accidentally boiling yarn makes it felt and run! (and it loses the merino wool feel)
- It was much easier for me to rest my right arm on a small cushion and draft at exactly the same pace as my leg pressed on the treadle. This stops you spinning faster than you can draft
- Practice and preparation definitely improves the final results
- Measuring yarn on the niddy noddy is not a good judge of final length (as its under tension and shrinks slightly during setting)
- Chain plying is tricky and I need more practise at it!