Sunday, May 31, 2009

Taking that first step

This weekend I have been torn between going out and about to the Maker Faire and staying home and playing with my fiber. Having read the reviews of the Maker Faire (fun but a madhouse) I think I'll stay home and continue playing here. I'm having such fun!

I finished spinning up all the Ashes of Roses color way I created a couple of weeks ago, and I am tickled pinkish-purple by it. It came out to about 130 yards of worsted-weight yarn, and I think it's just crying out to be made in to a hat or some mitts or something. I posted it on my shiny new store, but if it doesn't sell I'm totally ok with that. It will be MY future hat is what it will be!
Having finished that I'm now spinning up the onion-dyed Finn roving. I'm thinking of a super fine yarn that someone will want for a summer weight lace shawl. It's such a cheery yellow, and the Finn is a pleasure to spin. I'll post pictures when I'm done with the spinning. The rest of the Finn I dyed a lovely peach and also posted on the store.
Next weekend I'm going up to the Spinning Day at the Retzlaff Winery. I'm meeting some friends there, and I've got a fleece or two being held for me by a local shepherd. Num num! I shall take pictures and post back here when I'm back.

Now, it's on to coffee and then finishing up the Sunshine Day lace yarn!

Monday, May 25, 2009

And one other thing...

Have you ever seen such a fabulous peachy color before in your life? OK, maybe you have, but I haven't! This is what happens when you let almost-exhausted brazilwood soak for a few hours with some alum-mordanted BFL and Finn. Does it get any better than this?

I'll find out in about a month whether it does or not as I'm taking a dyeing class with the famous indie dyer Kristine of A Verb For Keeping Warm!

A gorgeous day for dyeing

The sky was blue, the wind was soft, and the kettles were heating on the stove for another adventure in dyeing today. I finished off the dyebath of brazilwood, did a bit of onion-skin dyeing with some skins I'd been saving in the freezer, and I went ahead and got some other wool soaked in an alum mordant bath so I can dye it at my leisure sometime later.

For the brazilwood, I first used some slubby singles I had on hand just for dyeing. The larger of the two skeins was actually my first halfway decent attempt at spinning back in November, at which time I decided couldn't possibly be good for anything except for learning how to dye. The second, smaller skein was made a few weeks ago to make sure I kept the knack of how to do slubby singles 'cause I realize now they can be quite fun yarn.

I also have some roving (cream BFL and some Finn) still in the pot soaking up the very last of it. I'll let that go for another hour or so before I put the Cornish Game Hens in the oven for dinner. That should come out a very pale pink. I think I shall save it and overdye it with something - that's next on my list of things to do. I hear indigo is a great over-dye for some very rich colors.

The lovely yellow up there is some more Finn sheep roving I had on hand that I decided to be brave and daring with and isn't that color just awesome? Onion skins are so darn easy to dye with! You take that dryed up yellow skin you would normally throw away, keep it in a bag in the freezer until you've collected 25 grams or more, then you throw it in a pot with enough water to cover, let it simmer for about an hour, then let it cool for another hour, then throw some mordanted wool in there for as many hours as you have patience for, and then you're done! Technically you don't even need the mordant for this one, but it does enrich the color (or so I've read) so why not?

And speaking of awesome colors, my last post showed the blend of light and dark BFL that had been dyed with brazilwood and then blended on my carder. I spun up a sample of that, and I'm still smiling over there results.

I'm so glad I've got about 4oz. or so of this colorway, now officially named "Ashes of Roses" thanks to a friend on Ravelry who came up with that awesome name.

Next weekend I'll focus on spinning, spinning, and more spinning. I like dyeing, but I'm going to reserve dyeing to when I have 3-day weekends. It takes quite a bit of time, but oooooh the results are so yummy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Long ago, I practiced aikido. One of the most important things I learned from that art was the importance of blending. Little did I know it would apply to my fiber creations! Last weekend, I did my first dyeing experiments. We'll ignore the fact that some of my friends said the resulting fiber, based on the photos, looked like raw meat. They are obviously barbarians who should not have been shown those photos before lunch. This weekend, I took some of the light and dark fiber and blended it together. I think I like the results better than the original colors.
As always, a cat was on hand to help with the photographic evidence...
One of the things I learned from this whole exercise actually had little to do with color and more to do with what it takes to get a lovely, soft batt from a carder. The fiber that went in to the dyepot was BFL top. Top is the cream of the fiber crop - everything is the same length, is the strongest of the fibers, and it's just plain lovely stuff. Once you dye it, it's not actually officially top any more (unless you re-comb it) but it's still high quality fiber that is just wonderful for blending. Mmm-mmm, good! I'll see about spinning that up this weekend.

My other significant spinning project has been with some Alpaca/Bamboo from AMIA. It's turning in to lace weight yarn, and I've already spun up 2.5 oz of the stuff. I'm working on the second bobbin now so I can ply it together, and when I'm done I'll still have about 3 oz. of the blend to either make more lace weight, or maybe some fingering, or... It's all lovely and soft to me! I guess if I'm spinning lace weight, I'll have to learn how to knit lace...

And of course, Kipling really had to help with this photo, too. What would I do without my wee beasties to keep me challenged?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We will call today Carnival Dyeing Day!

Today I conducted my very first attempt at dyeing. Since I had all the parts on hand for some natural dyes I have, I went with a brazilwood extract from Griffin Dyeworks. And I have to say, I am just tickled with the results! I wish I'd dyed more! I dyed a small sample, 67 grams each, of ecru BFL top and brown BFL top.
I was curious how the darker natural fiber would take the dye, and it's just perfect. The brown now has this lovely red tint to it, giving it an interesting depth of color. I'm going to see what happens when I blend a bit of the ecru-dyed-red with the brown-dyed-red to see what kind of color I end up with that way.

Here is a more detailed shot of the colors:

One has to be pretty careful when dyeing, perhaps especially with natural dyes. Some of the dyes and mordants are pretty darn toxic. That said, I had my gloves on, very good ventilation, and was careful to use only the equipment purchased for dyeing - no using equipment intended for re-use with food! Next weekend I'm going to do even more dyeing, which means I need a few more pots to work with. I had one pot of just hot water, and one pot for mordanting and dyeing, and it was a bit difficult. This is going to be the start of a beautiful summer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The evolution of a craft room

As I've mentioned a time or two, I'm setting up a craft room for all my fiber fun. It's the sole room at the top of the spiral staircase.

It is not a big room, but I like how it's shaping up.
There is room for both my wheels, my various and sundry fiber books, as well as a chair for someone to keep me company, or for me to knit in if I feel so inclined.
There are also various places to store fiber, and walls on which to (eventually) hang some of my finished items.
I particularly like my find yesterday of the three-tiered basket thingie for yarn or fiber with immediate potential for spinning.
My loom will hopefully make its way up there next weekend, and that is probably all I'll put in there for now. There are just a couple of non-fiber related boxes still hanging out in the room - if they go, that'll be just enough for me to bring my table with the carder and bobbin winder up there with me. All my goodies, all in one place! It's a little slice of heaven.

Awww, my very first personal domain name

Having been in the field of IT since 1995, one would think I would have registered a domain name for myself by now. But, for various reasons, I never have - until this weekend! Welcome to! I've got the domain name, an email address, an app space, and who knows what will come next. It was pretty easy to do, too; I was a bit worried in that I know how to do this from the server side of things, but I wasn't sure how it would go as a user who can't fiddle with the files. Next, I'm actually going to set up an shop to sell some of my excess fiber that I like, but don't like too much. It's just for fun, of course. No quitting the day job for me.

I didn't spend all weekend at the computer. I spent most of yesterday out and about the Bay area picking up some furniture at huge discount at Pier One (it was cosmetically damaged, but that damage got me $70 off!) to better organize my craft room and getting to meet a fellow Raveller over in Berkeley. We met up at a lovely little fiber shop, A Verb For Keeping Warm, and as usual I bought more than I should have, but we had a great time. We then went back to her place to drool over her ENORMOUS fiber and yarn stash - her apartment is a fiber explosion. I want to be her when I grow up. :-) Though maybe with more storage space for all the stuff.

Today I'm going to work some more on my craft room, perhaps (finally) taking some pictures of it, and doing a lot more spinning. I really want to do some weaving, but I have hopes we'll get the loom upstairs soon and that will be easier to do if there is no project on it. We'll see how it all goes.

And, since it's that day - Happy Mother's Day, Mother!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The first hit is free

OK, no pictures in this post, but I do have some fiber-related fun stuff to share. Pictures may come later.

About a week ago, a complete stranger posted on a Ravelry group I watch that she was doing a summer class for kids about fiber and wondered if there were any shepherds out there that could spare a bit of wool for the kids to look at. Well, I'm not a shepherd but boy, do I have fiber at home! So I responded back and asked if I could help out by sending some stuff her way. What followed was a whole lot of fun for me, and hopefully she'll find it useful for her class as well.

I put together a little care package of Tunis wool that included some raw fleece, some scoured fleece, some spun yarn, and a photo of the sheep (Lizzie) the fleece came from. Kids can touch and smell and see how it all comes together. And since we're talking about where fabric comes from, I threw in a few extra goodies as well: some silk cocoons (dried caterpillars still inside - boys will love it), a bit of yak down ('cause really, what kid won't love the idea of yak down?), some alpaca (soooooo soft), and some gotland ('cause we've got a movie tie-in there to the cloaks in the Lord of the Rings).

The idea is that the kids are going to really have fun with this, and all become fiber addicts when they grow up! BWAHAHAHAAA! I am a fiber dealer, and the first hit, it was free. :-D