Heathered Pink Angora Yarn

My friend gave me about 4 oz of grey English Angora fiber to spin that she had been saving from her rabbits. She doesn’t spin, but is an avid knitter, so she was looking forward to knitting with her own fiber.

I hackled the fiber to sort out all the short bits, neps, and hay, and was left with about 1.7 oz of prime fiber. She asked for pink in the batts, so I used 2 different shades of pink Tussah silk, and dyed some merino/silk blend top to layer in the batts.

1

2

I spun and 2-plied the batts into about 180 yards.Although I love the softness, I don’t care for Angora’s tendency to bloom and shed, so I spun the singles with a very high twist so that the loose ends have a harder time escaping the yarn.

4

5

Thanks for reading!

Prisma Loop Scarf – Naturally Dyed Yarn

Remember the Wensleydale wool I dyed with pokeberries and cochineal back in the fall?

batts

Once I carded it I then spun it into a 153 yd Navajo ply yarn.

 

But then I had to decide what to make with the yarn! I knew I wanted a pattern that would really highlight the gradient, so after trawling the Ravelry in search of a pattern I settled on the Prisma Loop, an Infinity scarf pattern. I got sidetracked a few times to knit last-minute gifts, so it took a while to finish but I finally did!

 

1

 

It turned out the perfect length to wrap around my neck twice. I did a crochet provisional cast-on, so when I finished knitting I unraveled the cast-on and grafted the stitches together to make a loop. And the coolest part was that when I made the batts, the last one ends in the same deep plum color that it begins in, so when the loop is formed the colors line up seamlessly.

2

Thanks for reading!

Golden Pear Hat

I’ve just finished up a cute little hat for a friend’s baby.

hat 1

It was a bit difficult to get started – I ripped it out and started over about 4 times, but once I got going it went pretty quickly. I love doing stranded colorwork – I want to try doing some more complex patterns in my next project.

hat 2

The pattern is Golden Pear by Melissa Thomson.

Thanks for reading!

How To Dye With Pokeberries

This summer one of my goals was to start doing natural dyes. I am quite comfortable with synthetic dyes, but have never really done natural dyeing – I felt intimidated by the “long and unpredictable process.” Well this summer I finally tried it, and I am finding it so much more satistfying than synthetic acid dyes! The process is somewhat unpredictable, but it is not long, and I am finding that the unpredictability is the fun part.

I was looking forward to when the pokeberries ripened so I could get some nice bright colors to dye with. We have an untamed section in the backyard that many pokeberries grow in, so I had a readily available source of dyestuff. The Pokeweed plant is very common here in Connecticut.

poke berry, poke weed, pokeweed plant, pokeweed bush, poke berry plant for dyeing
The dye recipies that I found called for a 25:1 ratio of pokeberries to fiber! I didn’t even come close to that but my dyes turned out well –  I’ll have to see how lightfast they are though.

My very inexcact recipie is this:

  • 2 – 3 Ibs pokeberries, without stems
  • 3 or so quarts of vinegar
  • I used about 2.5 ounces of wool

The first step is to collect the pokeberries – and you’ll want to wear gloves. I didn’t, and got purple juice all over my hands that wouldn’t wash off. (isn’t that the point of a dye?) I froze the berries in between gathering sessions until I had enough. Next you will need to pluck all the ripe berries off the stems – it’s tedious, but the resulting dye is worth it.

Now you that you have enough berries, you can start mordanting your fiber – if you want to be technical you can weigh your berries and use a 25:1 ratio of berries to fiber to find out how much fiber to mordant. I just threw in as much fiber as I wanted to risk in an unknown dye, and my risk level was about 2.5 ounces of wool.

wensleydale wool, wool for dyeing, natural dyeing, how to dye naturally, how to dye with pokeberries, wool to dye with, fiber to dye with, what kind of fiber to dye with

The mordant is a half and half ratio of white vinegar to water. It took about 6 quarts of liquid to cover my wool in the pot, so I used 3 quarts of vinegar and 3 quarts of water. I heated it on low heat for roughly 4 hours. You could use a Crock-Pot for a nice long mordant. (a Crock-Pot is also useful for a long dyebath; I have a dedicated crock to use in my pot.)

After the mordanting was done, I thawed my berries and had the bright idea to mash them up in a seive so I could lift them right out of the pot without having to strain it. Not so bright… I had to pour water though the packed down berries to get as much dye out of them as I could. And I ended up straining it twice anyway. There wasn’t very much juice, so I used the mordant water to have enough. Make sure to use the mordant water unless you want to waste another 2 quarts of vinegar.

dyebath, poke berry dyebath, pokeberry dye, natural dyeing, natural dyeing with pokeberries, pokeweed
Now I added the wool to the dyebath and heated it at medium high heat, but not simmering or boiling, for about an hour and a half. I let it sit overnight with no heat and took the wool out to dry and drain in the morning.

Make sure you rinse it really well after you take it out. A lot of dye rinsed out when I did, but the color of the wool didn’t really change. It must be residual dye hanging on to the fibers, but not absorbed into them.

Here is the dyed roving… I spun some of the darkest roving into a 100 yard 2-ply. I carded the roving into batts to be able to spin it because it had felted slightly in the dyebath or mordant.

pokeberry, natural dye, naturally dyed fiber, roving, wensleydale wool, natural dyeing pokeberries

pokeberry, dyed yarn, naturally dyed yarn, handspun yarn, handmade yarn

hand dyed yarn, hand spun yarn, how to dye with pokeberries

Here is some batts I carded out of the pokeberry fiber and some other roving I dyed with cochineal. I want to spin a gradient yarn with them.

batts

Tour de Fleece

I’ve been doing some spinning lately… here are the last few skeins I spun.

yarn, handspun yarn, handmade yarn, pink, green, pink yarn, green yarn, textured yarn, art yarn
coral, pink, yarn, textured yarn, handspun, hand made yarn, hand spun yarn,  In the spinning community there is a spinning competition during the month of July called the Tour de Fleece. It happens during the Tour de France bike race, hence the name. It was started in 2006, on a website called the Ravelry. So my personal challenge during the Tour was to spin a textured art yarn called Supercoil.

This is a plying technique that uses up a ton of yardage – the 20 or so yards of single yarn I spun shrank to about 6 yards after plying! To create any real yardage of Supercoil would use a lot of singles.

textured art yarn, supercoil yarn, plyed yarn, handspun, yarn, hand made, hand made yarn, yarn, rainbow

Batt Launch

I have launched a new line of batts, made with my new drum carder, on Etsy. Batts are a way of preparing fiber for spinning or felting, and it is possible to create some gorgeous gradients using the drum carder.

My shop is here: FeltSculpture; please check it out! I also have a new page on my menu bar that leads directly to my shop; the link is called My Shop.

Launch Rav Pic aligned

First yarn from rolags

Back in October I was at an antique store and was inspired to make a lemon yellow and robin egg blue yarn from some enamel pots.  yellow rolags, blue rolags, merino, batts, fiber batts

I made some beautiful rolags from merino, tussah silk, and some wool locks. il_570xN.116869084

It was the first time that I
used my blending board
correctly! I didn’t research
how to use the blending
board before I used it earlier
this year, so I didn’t know that
I’m supposed to draft the
rolags while I’m rolling them off.

closeup rolags 2closeup rolags
The rolags were fun to spin. The locks were beautiful when spun. Here are the 2 bobbins before they are plied together.

spun 1
close up spun I spun the yellow single a little thicker than the blue, so the effect is that when I plied, the thinner blue single is wrapped slightly around the yellow single.

lemon enamel closeup
hand spun yarn

The Results of 1 lb of Merino!… and the Escapee

All the way back in September I was given a huge ball of green Merino wool to spin. It’s taken me 2 months to finish it, but it was a good learning experience.

tweed yarn, hand spun tweed yarn, green tweed, merino yarn, merino wool
Tweed Merino 3-Ply HangingI did 3 skeins of true 3-ply, (my first) using my new Lazy Kate. I learned that to create a nice defined 3-ply I should hold each single at an angle from all the others. I did 2 skeins of Navajo Plied yarn, (also my first) and figured out that I either over-spun or over-plied it, because while all 3 skeins of 3-ply were balanced, both of my Navajo plied skeins were unbalanced.

I also did my second attempt at corespinning with this wool. This time my corespinning turned out much better than the first attempt.  I tried this time to spin it thinner, so therefore it wouldn’t be as chunky and get caught in the orifice.

I got around 550 – 600 yards out of this, not counting the 30 or so yards of corespun.

corespun yarn, hand made corespun yarn

Free Range Bunnies

 Steffy (Stefano) has escaped from his cage three times and has been found wandering around the yard! At first I thought I had left his cage door open by accident, but the third time he escaped I had just groomed him and put him back in his cage, so I knew I had fastened the latch right!  I watched him for a minute and figured out that the little bugger had been biting the wire of the cage door and shaking it as hard as he could. If he did it for long enough the latch would come unhooked, and then, bunny freedom! I soon fixed that!

Well, thanks for reading! God Bless, Rebekah

DIY Hackle

Have you ever heard of a cake breaker? Me neither. A few weeks ago I was walking down the kitchenware aisle at our local thrift store, and a giant fork happened to catch my eye. I picked it up because I originally thought that I could make a wool comb out of it.

cake breaker

No one quite knew what it was intended for. (we thought it was for holding meat down while its being cut) After some time on Replacements.com, we found out that this utensil is specifically used for angel food cake. Its supposed to be really good at cutting the cake without squishing it. Who knew?

I decided to make a hackle out of it, so I ordered another off of Amazon to make a 2 pitch hackle.
The other cake breaker is here:http://www.amazon.com/Animewild-R-M-Cake-Breaker/dp/B000FRUNXM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408905724&sr=8-1&keywords=cake+breaker

The supplies I used are here:

supplies

  • Mahogany Wood, or any hard wood
  • Cake Breaker
  • Liquid Epoxy
  • Chisels
  • Wipe-on Polyurethane
  • Power Sander

I measured a groove about half an inch wide and a little less than that deep. I used a chisel to cut the groove.

I used a saw to cut off the heads of my 2 cake breakers (one was sterling silver!)

Than we used liquid epoxy to set the metal heads in the groove. It got a little messy, but sanded off nicely after it dried.
We used a bulk epoxy that we had originally used for another project, but I think a small tube of 2-part liquid epoxy would work. Those small epoxy packs can be found at hardware stores or auto parts stores.

Here’s the epoxy I’m talking about: http://www.amazon.com/Gorilla-Glue-4200101-Epoxy/dp/B001Z3C3AG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_indust_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=13KRHAC7D1Y4XZ13RM7M

epoxy unsanded
epoxy sanded

Then I applied 2 coats of a wipe on polyurethane finish, and taadaa! A hackle!

finished outdoor  top white
finished white

I am going to make another one, 12 inches long. The tines on this one are about 4 inches wide, and while it works, I really need more room to make roving that is long enough to be useful for spinning. My experiment cost under $10 to make as I had most of the supplies on hand and I got the satisfaction and enjoyment out of coming up with idea to make something and having it work!

Let the spinning begin!!

  Because…. I now have a spinning wheel!
It’s great. My first ever wheel is an Ashford Kiwi, a very nice beginners wheel. I love how fast it is! This afternoon I spun an entire bobbin full of yarn. That same amount of yarn would have taken me days to do on the drop spindle. We bought this wheel at half price at a tiny yarn shop the next town over, an excellent deal. While we were there we picked up a beautiful braid of Blue Faced Liecester fiber, which the lady at the shop recommended for a beginning spinner.

spinning wheel, ashfordIt’s a double treadle wheel, which I like because it feels more balanced than a single treadle. It’s also in the upright “castle” style I like.

yarn I love this fiber, it’s a joy to spin.

I’m excited to try different styles of spinning and plying with this wheel, and later on if I want to spin bulky art yarn, Ashford makes a jumbo bobbin and flyer attachment.
I’m off to go spin yarn for hours and hours!! 🙂

God bless, Rebekah.