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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

My First Try at Hand Painted Yarn!


On Saturday I attempted hand painting a 50% alpaca/50% wool bulky yarn for the first time!

It turned out great! I used Jaquard acid dyes for this project. First I soaked the yarn in cold water with about 2 T of white vinegar, and covered the counter with a garbage bag while it soaked (it’s works nicely and we didn’t have any plastic wrap, which is what you’re supposed to use.) I then mixed my dyes with hot water, but they cooled down over the time I was dying. Probably not a big deal. Then it occured to me that the yarn might need to be hot, so I microwaved it for about 2 minutes, but that cooled down too. It’s the vinegar acid and the steaming afterward that sets the dye.

I spread out the yarn on the garbage bag and painted that dye on! I used a cheapie foam brush for the dye. I wasn’t too happy with the way it looked after I painted it, but the steaming was yet to come. I wrapped it in the garbage bag the long way, coiled it up like a cinnamon bun, and than put it in a steaming basket over boiling water. Once the water boiled, I turned the stove down to low for a half hour and let it steam.
I was a bit concerned about the garbage bag melting, but thankfully it didn’t. When I unwrapped the yarn it looked great! The steaming mellowed and blended the colors wonderfully!

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the yarn I used

dyed yarn

my set up for dying

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soaking the yarn in cold water after steaming

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the lovely finished yarn!

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