Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dyeing to meet you

I've been spinning yarn for a couple of custom orders, and since I'm not the fastest at spinning, it's taken me a while to get this yarn spun. This yarn started out white, but that wasn't the color requested so it was "Time to dye". Cue the sinister voice because it is almost halloween.
While I've been knitting since 4th grade, and spinning for about 6 years now, I don't often dye yarn or fiber, so I was a little scared. I wasn't sure I would get the red-violet that I needed. I'm not sure if I got exactly the right color, but hopefully, I'm close.
I think you could call this yarn the undead, because it has actually "Dyed" twice. The first dyeing, with Easter egg dyes, left it a lovely violet, but it needed to be more red. I over dyed the violet with a red dye to push the color more towards the red side. I some how managed to do this without felting the yarn, which was a great relief. I used the methods in the book "I Dyed Laughing", for casserole dying. This method is great! I presoaked the yarn in a vinegar solution, then put the yarn in the dye solution in a disposable aluminium roaster. I covered the roaster with tinfoil, then put the roaster in a 350 degree oven for 15 mins. I then added some boiling water to the pan so that the yarn wouldn't burn. I took the roaster out of the oven after 15 more minutes and left the yarn to cool in the roaster. The first time, with the Easter egg dyes, the water was clear when I finished, but the second time, with a Rit dye, the water was still red. I think it didn't exhaust because of the type of dye I used. I'm going to try this again with some real acid dyes in the future. With the right dyes and careful calculation I probably wouldn't have to dye the yarn twice to get the color I want.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just right?

This is why I have such an insane amount of stash in my attic. I bought the neutrals awhile ago (probably 2-3 years ago) because they were on sale. They are just your basic wool worsted weight yarn, and I thought I'd make a striped outdoor fall sweater for me.The neutrals work well together, but they are a little boring. Kind of guy colors, not really what I wanted. So to add a little zip (and enough yarn for a sweater for me) I thought I'd add a fourth color.
I bought the blue yarn first. It looked good with the other yarns in skeins, but when I knit it in stripes it just wasn't right. I'm not sure why I didn't like it, but I think the cool blue didn't look right against the neutral browns. Too cool!
The next yarn I bought was the bright red in the middle. I didn't even need to knit a sample with this color. Too bright! Just looking at the quartet of yarns was enough.
So I recently bought three skeins of the last red--the color name is rich red. I think this might just work, giving the combo just enough zip for a sweater for me. Just right! ( sounds kind of Goldilocks and the three bears, doesn't it) I haven't tried this in a sample yet though, so who knows.
That's one of the things I like about having projects in the back of my mind, and back of my attic. Whenever I've had a bad day, a mean red kind of a day, its nice to pull out some yarn and start a project. Starting new projects is my therapy, it just soothes my mind. So these yarns are just waiting around for their turn on the needles. Unfortunately there is a couple problems with my therapy. One is all the started projects laying around my house. The other is now that I found the right yarn for the neutrals, I have to find projects for the rejected yarns. Till then, though they have a cozy home in my attic.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fiber photographs

Along with starting a blog, my daughter also talked me into trying to sell my knitted stuff on ETSY. Hence the little pictures along the side. So far, I haven't had any buyers for my hats and scarfs, but I haven't had the website up long.

Ever since I started to knit, people have told me that I should try to sell my knitted stuff. For those counting, I started knitting back in the fourth grade, nearly 35 years ago now. (Man, I am old) I have tried a couple times to sell my work, once at a consignment place which did not work, and once wholesale to a hat shop. The hat shop bought three hats from me, but never got back to me. Just a little discouraging, huh? Selling, or in my case attempting to sell through the ETSY website does have some advantages. For one thing, I'm not selling wholesale, I'm selling at retail. The ETSY site itself is pretty inexpensive. And unlike the consignment shop, I control how my items are displayed. Which brings me to this problem. How do you photograph a gray scarf, and have it look like anything?

This picture was probably the best of the 10 I took, and it still looks like it was photographed in black and white. None of the texture of the yarn shows up in the picture, and the gray color itself looks really blah and flat. I guess I just need to work on my photography. Maybe a light box for better lighting, or a colored back drop for contrast against the gray would help.

The yarn this scarf is made of is from some shetland sheep roving I bought from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival last year. I bought the pound of roving thinking I was going to make a vest for myself. I loved the color of this roving, it was a clear gray with a mix of darker fibers. So many gray rovings have more of a brown tone to them than this one did. When I started to spin the roving though, I had a lot of problems. I think the roving might have been from a shetland sheep with a double coat, because most of the fiber was about 4 to 5 inches long, but there was a lot of short neps all balled up in the roving. This made it hard for me to draft the fiber evenly. I tried long draw and short draw, and neither draw was easy. The spun yarn has a very interesting tweedy nature, but I got very irritated trying to spin this yarn. I gritted my teeth though, and finished the two bobbins I needed for a 2 ply yarn, but I couldn't see finishing the whole bag of roving. So the vest wasn't going to happen, but I did have enough yarn for a scarf. The yarn works really well for the lace rib scarf , with the tweedy nature of the yarn adding interest, but not obscuring the pattern.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the roving. Right now I'm trying to comb the roving on my minicombs, which should separate out most of the little neps, and align the remaining fiber for smoother spinning. This is a really slow process for me, so it might be quite a while before I have enough fiber to spin. I kept a little bit of the first yarn to compare with the combed fiber whenever it gets spun. Maybe in a couple years. I'm so aggravated at this roving that it is pretty much at the back of my to-do list right now.

Now on another subject, I have to be the proud parent and talk about my daughter. She makes the most beautiful enameled jewelry, with flowers, birds, leaves, and houses as her themes. You have to see them! Her jewelry designs are like nothing else I have ever seen. The colors are exquisite, and her subject matter is a different take on common themes. She sells at the ETSY shop Copperheart. Go check out her work! If you live near Oshkosh Wisconsin you can see her work live and in person at the Oshkosh Art Walk held tomorrow October 6th. Her work is shown at Thompson Photography, just down the street from the Grand Opera house.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Sad Yarn

A couple days ago, I had to go to Fond du Lac for my dentist appt. Since I was in Fond du Lac I had to include a little side trip to Joann's fabrics. Not that I need anything, mind you, I go just to look and fondle fabric and yarn and get grand ideas about projects. Anyway, no fabric caught my eye, (or hands) so I headed to the back of the store where the yarn is kept. Most of the yarn at Joann's is pretty basic, but I was just checking to see what might be on sale. You never know when sale yarn will come in handy, especially with the gift giving season coming.
In the far corner of the store I found some yarn on clearance for half price. (I can't remember the name). This yarn is an import from Italy, 100% wool and so so soft. They had some pink and white left, a lot of purple left and enough aqua left for a sweater. I swear that this yarn was sadly calling to me, telling me that it wanted out of the clearance bin. The yarn bands were falling off, and the yarn was starting to tangle. The clearance bin was no place for a soft, sweetly colored Italian yarn. I put the purple yarn in my basket, thinking about how much my daughter would like a sweater. Then my willpower grew strong, and I put all the purple back. I walked around the rack and looked at the other yarn for sale, but I didn't see anything else I wanted on the other side. I picked up the aqua and held it up to my wrist and thought about a sweater for me. I put all the aqua yarn in my basket. But how much yarn would I need? I looked at the yardage and did a little figuring. Each soft beautiful little skein only had 73 yards. I would need at least 15 or so for a sweater. Even on sale, not quite enough of a bargain for my checking balance. So no yarn for me on this day at least. The aqua yarn went back to its cage in the clearance bin.
I felt so guilty leaving the yarn in the store. It was almost like going to the animal shelter, and leaving that little kitten behind. So if anyone would like to save some yarn from a sad tangled fate in the clearance bin, I know where you can find some. That is, if you get there before me, because I'm not sure I'll have enough willpower next time I get to Joann's.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Every fall, me and my husband drive out to Horicon Marsh--just 1/2 hour away, and take a walk on the trails on the federal half of the marsh. When we weren't empty nesters, we would take the kids. It was kind of a family tradition. We would call it The Goose Walk. The year my son was in kindergarten, we skipped him out of school one day and went to the marsh instead. Today, it was a little drizzly it but still a nice walk. We saw quite a few ducks, some cool marsh grasses, and even a butterfly posing for me on some asters.

Just part of fall in Wisconsin. Of course, we had to stop on the way home for a caramel apple and some apple cider.

Spinning Sunday

I got some spinning done yesterday, in fact I filled this bobbin-- which was only this full the night before. I've been plying this as a 2ply, and hope to have enough for a sweater for me when I'm done. It's really a little more blue and less gray than it shows in the picture. I spin on an Ashford Traveller, which is one of my dearest possessions. Don't set stuff on my wheel if you want to be invited back to my house!