Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fiber Dyed, But No Wheel Yet!

My new spinning wheel will be arriving next Tuesday - I can hardly wait!  And, its lengthy delivery time from Canada has allowed me to be super prepared for it to get here.

First, my WooLeeWinder and bobbin set have arrived.  Now I can spin pretty, even bobbins full of singles and plied yarn without having to stop and adjust the feed loop.  I have to admit, my Midwest value system has been whispering to me that this was a bit of a luxury purchase ($359 for the spindle and four bobbins).  Fortunately, the "you work hard so you deserve a treat" and the "it's a one-time purchase so you should start out with the best equipment" voices in my head (and heart) have been speaking much more loudly!

Second, I took a shot at dying some fiber to spin.  I ordered some bare 70% merino/30% silk from KnitPicks.  It's quite a deal at $6.19 for 3.5 oz.  They have a couple of other wool blends, too, but the shiny silk sold me.  It's the equivalent of their Gloss yarn, which I used to make some gloves several years ago and liked. 

Eggplant and Vermillion - forgot to soak first!
My inspiration for this dye job is the poster at the top of this post.  I bought this several years ago when Mr Wendy and I went to Italy.  We were staying in a Tuscan farmhouse just a few miles from this city, and it always has comforting memories for me.  I caught a bad case of sinusitis/bronchitis on this trip, and of course hadn't studied the Italian words for "exhausted", "head drainage", or "hacking up nasty goo."  This was making it difficult for me to purchase medicine, in a country where they tend to sell fewer multi-symptom cold products - and you have to buy them from a pharmacist.  In San Gimignano, I found a kind pharmacist who was able to translate my hand waving into a product called Solvi-Flu which was a miracle drug.  The box he sold me should have lasted for two weeks, but I was back again 4 days later for more.  If we ever go to Italy again, I'm going to buy a case of the stuff!

Now some green...
My concept for this project was to split the fiber in half.  One piece will be dyed eggplant.  The other piece will be dyed in four colors from the poster - first the vermillion, then the smoky pink, then a smoky green, and then eggplant.  My idea is to spin the two pieces separately, and then ply them together so that I get a gradient through the entire skein that goes from vermillion/eggplant through to eggplant/eggplant. 

I probably should have done some reading online about how people go about dying fiber, but instead I just pretended like I was dying yarn and jumped right in.  I mixed up bowls of dye, and then, being so excited to see what happens, I put the fiber in without soaking it first!  What a blonde!  How many thousand skeins have I dyed without making this error?  It wasn't a fatal error, but I did have to do some squeezy squeezy action on the fiber to get it to absorb the liquid quickly and stop floating on top the dye.

Because I was using acid dye, the silk did not take the color as vibrantly as silk can be dyed.  It's OK for this project though.  Since I was making smoky colors, I like the fact that the overall affect is muted.

Test nukage
The dye requires steam to set the colors.  The fastest way to get steam is to microwave the fiber in a plastic container.  I've never nuked silk before, however, so I did a little test to make sure it didn't melt down first.  This was Kelie's idea.  She's such a voice of logic during these times of creative frenzy.  The test came out fine, and even put a little curl back into the wool.  Had it not worked, I could have steamed the yarn over boiling water on the stove, but fortunately, I didn't have to resort to that.  (My mind is wondering what would happen if I used the pressure cooker... future experiment!)  I nuked my two halves of dyed fiber, and let them cool - trying not to handle them hot to avoid felting.  Then after a little rinsing I hung them to dry.  Done!

The finished photo shows the two pieces twisted together to give a hint of what this will look like when it is plied.  Is it Tuesday yet?!!!

In other news:
-  We launched Mystery Sock Clue 3 this week and the resulting feet are looking great!
-  I have 10 rows left to knit on my Ethereal Shawl, but will have extra yarn, so I'm going to do more rows.
-  I worked on another pair of travelling socks for AMoschel.  I used a textured stitch pattern on these, but the dark yarn doesn't show it off very well.  Actually got to start the gusset on these!  This pair, along with the previous pair I posted, are now winging their way to Pennala in Canada.

Cheers -

1 comment:

  1. The dye shop was a success girl it looks like... How very pretty..... I would love to watch you and your new wheel when it arrives.... Maybe that is a video for Marc so we can see.... Have tons of fun... I will be happy to knit your sock aholic yarn and watch you do this....
    thanks for sharing with us.

    knitrsue

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