Recently in Dyeing Category

For the Birds

A simple project inspired by Shepherd Susie at Juniper Moon Farm. Bright yarn bits as esting materials for spring birds. (I searched for the link to her project, but couldn't find it quickly, but trust me, she is the inspiration!).

We started with a simple, natural colored wool yarn, which Z and I cut into various lengths that we thought birds could fly away with and set up little dyeing tubs of Easter egg dye.

20110331_PreparingToDye.jpgI tied the bundles with longer lengths of yarn to make it easier to dip and remove the pieces in the dye.

After letting the yarn sit in the dye bath for a while, we pulled it out, rinsed it in cold water and let it dry, after rolling it in paper towel to remove some of the water.

20110331_Dyed.jpgFun, bright colors for the birds.  We picked the brightest dyes we could find so that when we were traveling around my parents land, it would be easy to spot the colored yarn if the birds used it in their nests.

After the yarn was dry, we stuffed it into a suet feeder and set it out in my dad's bird cafe.  Hopefully when we go back we can take a walk and see where some of it has gotten to!

CVM Sampling


When the weather is dreary and a chillier than it should be, there's no better way to spend the day than spinning with a friend. On Tuesday, I got to test out my new Bag Lady wheel bag and I headed out to visit Julie for an afternoon of spinning and chatting.

In the interest of preventing my very large ball of CVM roving from becoming the largest dust bunny in my house, I decided that I would start doing a little sampling to find a yarn that I thought would be suitable for making the simple and pretty cardigan I have in my mind. I thought I would start by making a two-ply and a three-ply yarn. I wanted to start with the three-ply, but, since I only brought three bobbins out with me, I ended up starting with the two-ply instead.

2 Ply CVM Sample Skein

My African violet is helping me out with the modeling tonight since there's really still no green outside. This little skein is 42 yards of what I would estimate to be somewhere between fingering and DK weight yarn. It surprised me with it's behavior. When I spun it and plied it, it didn't feel as elastic as the chocolate brown CVM I spun. I gave it a long soak and let it hang to dry -- after which it developed that springy character that I really like. I guess that nice warm bath helped the fibers get some of their natural springy happy goodness back. A good reminder that one should always make sure that newly spun yarn should always get a beauty bath.

Warm Oatmeal

It's not a dramatically colored yarn, but I like the soft heathery color of the yarn. It reminds me of oatmeal with a bit of brown sugar laced through it. However, it's a little finer than I want it to be for my cardigan. So trying out a three ply yarn will definitely be in order. I'm kind of excited about that since I've never tried to spin a three ply yarn before.

Since we're talking about yarn, I thought I'd finish up my report on the indigo dyed skeins. The large grey skein that we over-dyed at Toni's is finally washed and dried. Initially, I was just going to show you the big skein on its own, but I thought the nicest way to evaluate the color was to put it together with the other two skeins so that you could see the range of blues.

Overdyed grey, natural wool, and silk and wool

That overdyed grey skein looks suprisingly like the color of one of my most recent denim purchases.

Matching Yarn and Trousers

Hopefully I'll have Pearl pictures tomorrow. I've been hoping for some nice weather so that I can get some nice outdoor shots. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Indigo Dyeing


If you've come looking for pictures today, I'm afraid I'm going to leave you sorely disappointed. Yes, I did remember to bring my camera. I even had a fully charged battery and a mostly empty compact flash card. But the camera didn't come out until after the rubber gloves got put away. It was too difficult for me to be involved and be a photographer at the same time.

Julie and I got there about an hour after we were supposed to as a result of the car troubles I mentioned yesterday. The dyeing experience took place in Toni's kitchen, which was filled to the brim with women ready to learn about Indigo dyeing. By that time the dye stocks had been made, the dye pots were de-oxygenizing and the fiber had been prepped for the experience. Julie and walked in the door and were given two skeins of yarn to dye. One was a natural white and the other was a natural grey yarn (I don't know what kind of sheep either of them came from); I think the point was to see how the dye went on a white wool and how it worked in a situation that was more like overdyeing.

So before learning any of the chemistry, Julie and I got to dunk our skeins into the Indigo bath and watch the magic happen.

The interesting thing about Indigo is that under the conditions where the dyeing occurs, the dye is actually a greenish color instead of the deep blue you expect it to be. It has to be a fairly basic solution (about pH 10) and for dyeing wool a temperature of about 120 degrees Farenheit is required. And the goal is to keep the dye bath from holding too much oxygen. The yarn can only become dyed when the conditions in the dyepot are reducing ones. For a really nice series of pictures that show the set up, you might want to check out this bit that was posted on the Yarn Harlot's blog last fall.

What's so amazing, even if you have studied chemistry a long time ago, is watching that skein come out of the pot a greenish yellow color (after about 4 minutes) and change to a deep blue as it hits the air (i.e. gets exposed to the oxygen). The transformation continues as it sets for the next 20 minutes or so. And then you repeat the process as many times as you want to get the depth of color you like. Pretty easy stuff. The thing that was even more amazing than the actual dyeing process was that countertops, towels, buckets and spoons that got subjected to dye did not take up the dye at all. If you've ever played with Lanaset dyes, you know that anything they touch changes color permanently. Indigo is much more forgiving. If the reducing conditions don't exist, the dye doesn't do anything you would regret later.

After you get your yarn or fiber to the color you want to get it to, you need to let it set for 24 hours to fully oxydize. Then you rinse and dry and get to sit back and enjoy the final product.

Left: Natural Wool, Right: Natural 50% Wool, 50% Silk

The skein on the left was the natural colored skein that Toni provided. The skein on the right was a skein of the silk/wool blend that I got from my mom for Christmas. It didn't get quite as many trips to the dye pot, so it's lighter than the other skein. The shiny quality comes from the silk. Initially, before the rinsing, I didn't much like the feel of the wool/silk skein, but now that it's washed up it has a much more pleasant hand and I really like the faded denim color. I like the darker color, too. But I have to be honest, if something is blue there's a good chance that I will like it, an denimy blues are my favorite.

What happened to the grey skein? It's still sitting in my bathtub drying and isn't yet suitable for photographing. It turned out a dark grey blue like the dark washes you see on a lot of jeans these days. I'll try to get it into a photo once it's finished drying.

All in all, if you want to try some natural dyeing, Indigo seems like a good and easy introduction to it. Over all, it's a pretty non-toxic process (at least compared to chemical dyes) and it isn't hard to monitor the dye bath and get some very lovely results. Beyond that, it's also pretty non-toxic to your kitchen (except for the smell, the thiourea that's used as a reducing agent has sulfur which creates a little bit of a vague rotten egg odor) which is a real plus if you wanted to try this with older children. Julie and I left with some dyestock of our own, and the chemicals for stocking the dyepot. You never know when you'll see a whole rash of Indigo dyeing breaking out around here now!

A Second Version of Fall Leaves


I'm a little late with this post this morning because I want to show off color. I find that whenever I really want to give a good impression of color, I need to take pictures in natural light. I get decent color representation under my Ott light but it just isn't the same as what my camera likes to do under true sunlight. As it turns out, waiting wasn't a bad thing, because it's a blue skies and sun sort of day here in Chicago. And it isn't even all that cold, so it was no problem to step out on my balcony and let my camera get a good look at my latest small spinning project.

Fall Leaves v. 2 in 2 Ply

Unfortunately, I didn't remember to take a picture of this roving before I spun it up, but if you want to see what it looked like, you can click here and scroll down to the last picture. It's the roving on the left where the browns and yellows are emphasized instead of the red. Not surprisingly, this yarn has a very different character from the version with the strong red presence (if you want to see the first version spun up, you can click here). And it does remind me more of the idea I was trying to go for, which was autum leaves after they have fallen from a tree (if you've ever seen the leaves from a non-red maple tree after they've fallen, then you know what I was trying to capture).

A Close Up View of the Fall Leaves Colors Together

I really like the way that the brown in this colorway softened up the other colors without making them just look muddy. In fact, it's almost hard to see the brown areas for me because my eye wants to re-evaluate them as an earthy purple

Now I am finally finished with all the rovings I dyed up with Julie. I'm not sure I really have a favorite, but I am definitely going to be playing with all three color sets (Blue Hawaiian, Sunset and Fall Leaves) some more to find ways to avoid the constant striping action. I originally thought that it would be easy to take a couple of different color ideas and get what I wanted and then move onto another batch. This experience makes me realize that it is not so hard to pick colors that go together well, but it is challenging to get them to result in a yarn or a yarn concept that you really like.

Another Sunset


A million years ago, in August, Julie and I did our last dyeing experiment. We were hoping to do some more dyeing, but it's a bit more challenging to do it on a larger scale without being able to open windows to help deal with vinegar vapors. Between that and both of us being on the busy side, it's been tough to get back to it. However, I realized this afternoon that I haven't even finished spinning up the roving we dyed then.

The whole point of that session was to start to establish some colorways that made us happy. We actually recorded the colors we used, the percentages and the saturation so that we would have some hope of repeating them. Then we were each going to take what we dyed and spin them up to see whether what was lovely in the fleece turned out to be equally lovely or appaling when spun. I tried painting the roving in a couple of different ways. The ones I've spun up to this point (all on my drop spindle!) all had horizontal bars of color. What I discovered with that, given the way that I spun it up, was that the long stretches of color give you stripey yarn. In fact, none of my hand-dyed rovings have yielded anything but stripey yarn. And while I like stripes as well as the next knitter, a girl cannot live by stripes alone. I also wanted something that was a little more sophisticated.

In the course of dyeing, I decided to try an experiment. Instead of horizontal stripes I would try vertical striping. Well, striping probably isn't the right word for it. But I would try to distribute the color more randomly in a vertical rather than horizontal orientation.

BFL with a Vertical Arrangement of Sunset Colors

I used my "sunset" colour pallette, which is composed of a rosy purple red, a rich gold and a lightened purple with a bit of a reddish cast to dye this roving. Today, looking for a little project to play with on my new wheel, I pulled it out, pre-drafted it and spun it up. Then I created a two ply yarn from the singles. It wasn't the most fun thing to spin up (even with the pre-drafting, there were a few areas where the fibers really didn't want to let go of each other), although it did go better when I realized that the staple length in BFL is quite a bit longer than the merino/silk blend I just finished spinning. And it's really hard to complain about spinning up a half an ounce of fiber in an hour or so instead of the two days it would have taken me on the drop spindle. Did I mention that I like the process but am really ultimately about product?

Vertical Sunset Two Ply

I am pleased with the final result, and will definitely be playing with this color set more (I spun up another Sunset roving with horizontal stripes earlier, and you can see the result here). There's plenty of color in this little skein, but it's much more subtle than the previous roving I spun, I suspect because of the predominance of purple red base. Also, I think these colors were much more similar in terms of the depth of their hue, and as a result, nothing stands out quite as sharply, creating a softer effect. I think it will be interesting to try the dyeing again, using each of the three colors as the dominant color with smaller blotches of the other two. I'm thinking that I will get three very different yarns, each with a character I like. I've got to soak and set the twist in this skein and do a little swatching, but I am almost positive that the striping effect is going to be much less prominent in this little skein.

I know I promised a little spinning wheel poll summary today, but that will have to wait until Monday, I think. Believe it or not, there's still a Christmas tree to take down in our house...

Autumn Leaves Version 2 Plied

Autumn Leaves Version 2, 2 Ply

Dying, spinning and plying are still mystical events for me. The single ply of this yarn felt much more gold to me. The two-ply version feels much more red and deep orange. Goes to show that the sum can be very different from the parts.

On the statistics side of the equation, I got 65 wraps around my niddy, and at 54"/wrap that gets me to almost 98 yards of fall red. I'm sure there's going to be some striping action going on here but I have a feeling that it may turn out to be a bit more subtle than the striping in the Blue Hawaiian colorway. Now I just need to find a pattern to try out. I'll be heading back to my Barbara Walker books to look for things with fire or leaf motifs, I think. I think it might turn out to be a nice project to take to Hawaii with me.

The response people have to crochet always interests me. It seems to be one of those needle arts that inspires rather visceral responses. I, too, have issues with texture under some circumstances. However, I also have several sweater/top items (not handmade) that I love to wear. I like the fact that it is possible to create a more rigid fabric, which is why creating a handbag appeals to me. So we shall see.

Now I'm off to get myself into trouble with computer games again. I just downloaded the demo for Myst V... the last in the Myst series. Last in a very final way since Cyan Worlds, the maker of Myst has shut it's doors and laid off its staff. It always makes me sad in a small little place in my soul when a small company that took good care of it's people and made a big impact on the gaming universe passes out of this world. I can remember back to graduate school when I first saw Myst and got hooked by the simple magic it created. Good-bye for now, Cyan. The adventure gaming world is a poorer place for your departure.

More Falling Leaves

Fall Leaves Relaxing Before Plying

With a little bit of help from Photoshop Elements I have a better color representation of my Falling Leaves colorway. My camera appears to have issues with orange. Apparently it needs to have a long conversation with Claudia's camera to see how orange and red are done.

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Interweave Knits Crochet issue. My personal exposure to crochet has really only been to put decorative or solid edgings on my knitted garments. I have to admit that when I think of crochet, I automatically think of granny-square afghans in bright colored acrylics. But I'm trying to branch out and give crochet a better hearing. This issue has a nice basic introduction to how to read crochet charts, and, at least by my reckoning, quite a few cute projects. I like Norah Gaughn's Hemp Flowers Necklace and the kind of modern, kind of folksy Felted Folk Rug & Chair Pad. I'm intrigued by the shaping and the solid look of the Textured Tweed Clutch (though I am not sure about the bobbly looking things) and I could totally see myself wearing Annie Modesitt's South of the Border Jacket and I think I need to find someone to make the Granddaughter Socks for (you can download this pattern for free even if you didn't buy the magazine, along with several other designs). And how could you not want to crochet a Hyperbolic Plane? (Unfortunately there is no picture of this project on their website. But you can see it and more here).

So, overall, I consider it to have been a good purchase. And now I've got better things to remind me of crochet than '70's granny square afghans!

Autumn Leaves, Version 2

Fall Leaves Version 2 on the Spindle

My camera refuses to let you see the lovely browns that are mixed into this fall-colored concoction, but here's the proof that I finished spinning that second Fall Leaves colorway. It's a fairly rich collection of reds, browns, golds and oranges (the orange comes in more or less as a result of the mixing of different reds and golds) with a touch of burgandy. If you've been through a fall season in the midwest (and probably elsewhere...but I've spent most of my alls in the midwest), you'll know these colors as the ones you see on the maple trees as they invite the winter in. It's still quite warm here in Chicago, but as we were driving back from Ann Arbor, it was clear that many of the trees in our region are fairly convinced that the end of the summer season is nigh. Soon the incredible display of color will begin.

Hopefully tonight I'll get better light for taking pictures and I'll be able to show off a good picture of the single after a little dunk in a warm bath. I used my Niddy Noddy to determine roughly how much yardage I had...

To wit: 130 wraps x 54 inches/wrap = 195 yards Autum Leaves single ply

This is pretty consistant with what I got from the Blue Hawaiian single. So it appears that Julie is very good at measuring out 0.5 ounces of undyed roving and my spinning is relatively consistant.

P.S. to everyone who left me comments about good things to do in Maui.... thank you very much! It's very helpful. We're sooooo looking forward to this trip and I'm really psyched because I think we've found some very nice places to stay. I can't wait to take a car up the road to Hana.

P.P.S to everyone who asked about the computer games....I haven't forgotten about you, I just haven't had time to sit down and answer your email. I will very soon!

Finally, A Finished Knitted Item!


Now I have real proof that I am actually still doing some knitting.

The Blue Hawaiian Chinese Lace Scarf Completed

This scarf, which was knit from a roughly fingering weight two ply yarn made from 0.5 ounces of hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester, is about 29 inches long and about 3-3/4 inches wide. It was knit on US size 6 needles (4.0 mm). The final dimensions (after blocking) surprised me, because I wasn't thinking that I would get anything of useful length out 1/2 an ounce of of this weight yarn. But, in fact, it is enough to drape around my neck and hold in place with a pretty pin. So it may turn out to be a nice neck warmer in the winter.

I didn't really want this yarn to stripe. I've now learned that it is a lot easier to get a striped yarn than an unstriped one given the way I have dyed things so far. I need to do the dying process with much shorter color intervals so that the runs of one solid color are shorter. But I'm happy with the colors and the way they look together. Now I just need to perfect my dying process to get to what I want. I am now beginning to realize that I could probably create one set of four or five colors and just spend a whole afternoon doing variations on one color theme, looking for rovings that created looks that I really liked when spun and knit. This dying experiment is turning into a very interesting adventure for me!

Chinese Lace in Detail

I like the way that this lace behaves almost like a cable. It has a lot more relief and texture than I was expecting it too. The gentle curvature along the edges is a nice touch, too. Because of the striping effect, this yarn and this pattern are not an ideal match. My hope is to come back to this pattern with a yarn with much more subtle color variations. Perhaps Blue Hawaiian version 2!

Almost Nothing

Meager Showings

I have almost no crafty output to show for the weekend. I did make a little progress on both spinning up the Fall Leaves roving and knitting a bit more on the Chinese Lace scarf. But certainly not enough to account for -er- 4 days. Saturday started well enough -- a good shopping trip and my first ever spinning wheel experience with Julie. Julie, brought her Ashford Joy along for me to try out. I learned enough to realize that I need to get my own wheel set up. I can tell it will take me a little while before I can co-ordinate both hands and feet, and it's probably not fair to make any good friend sit through that painful process. I can learn co-ordination, but it's usually not something I like to expose anyone else to!

The rest of the weekend was an exercise in getting side tracked. Amazing how the process of getting organized often leads me to new levels of chaos. Usually this happens because as I clean and sort I come across things that I abandoned by accident. When I find these things again, I immediately want to engage with them. This weekend the sorting process involved a closet full of old and not-so-old computer games. I was able to part with most of this treasure trove (looking for a PC computer game? let me know... if I have the one you're looking for, and it's in the pile that is due to be re-located to somewhere else I'll send it to you for the cost of shipping) but I did come across one that I always meant to play through... Railroad Tycoon III ....

Yes, sadly, this game is almost 2 years old and I am just now getting around to playing it. Lucky for me these simulation type games don't age too badly. Did I tell you I had a thing for trains? Oh yes, I have a thing for trains....

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of cargo to haul between Philadelphia and New York to support the war effort in WWII

P.S. to my Mom -- Happy Birthday!!!



I'm not sure if what I am doing today is so basic as to be unnecessary or if it will be helpful. But I thought I'd use the spinning of my Blue Hawaiian roving as an opportunity to describe how I prepare a hand-dyed roving for spinning. If you can do this in your sleep, just skip down to the bottom few photos which show the Blue Hawaiian colorway in all its spun up and ready to knit glory.

Step 1: Trim off the ends

I find that after dyeing, the ends can be a little matted and hard to deal with, so I just snip the ends off with scissors.

Step 2: Tease the roving

After getting rid of the ends, I spend a reasonable amount of time teasing and fluffing the roving in preparation for dividing it into strips that I will spin from. This helps me get rid of tangles and understand the construction of the roving aand identify the natural dividing lines.

Step 3: Divide The Roving In Half

I try to split the roving into two roughly equal parts as I start the dividing process.

Step 4: Dividing up A Half into Strips to Be Spun From

Then I try to divide the halves into roughly equal width pieces that have an amount of fiber that I am comfortable spinning from. Usually this involves dividing each piece into two until I reach a minimal width.

Step 5: Splitting Complete

I'm almost ready to start working on it at this point. I like to use this stage to see how the different pieces play against each other. Are some more dark or light than others? I've gotten better random color distribution when I don't just work from one side of the roving to the other.

Step 6: Pre Drafting

I take each piece and tug all the way up and down to pre-draft the fibers. I do this by holding my hands about 6" apart and just gently tugging to loosen up the fibers. Obviously it's not good to pull too hard or you separate the fibers. This makes the roving pieces nice and fluffy and easy to spin from. It's also a good way to figure out which end of the roving is easier to spin from. It seems like there's always one direction that works better than the other. I'm not sure if this is because of the scales on the wool, static electricity or some other wooly property that I don't understand.

Step 7: Spinning the Single

Spinning up the stuff on a drop spindle is the subject of an entire post on it's own. If you want a good intro, check out this quarter's Spin Off for a nice intro (there are also a lot of good resources on the web... just google for drop spindle instructions). Here's the Blue Hawaiian yarn as a single. Lots of nice luminous blue and green. You just gotta know, given my color preferences, taht this colorway makes me happy.

Step 8: Setting the Twist and Admiring the Single

After spinning th single, I wind it off onto my niiddy noddy, tie it in 4 places and dump it into a warm water bath with some Eucalan to help set the twist. I don't actually have to do this step, but I find it helps me get better control of the yarn when I'm plying. I was able to wind this single around my niddy noddy 126 times and it's about 54" around one time, so the total yardage is about 190 yards! That's a lot of yarn from .5 ounce. Amazing to think that I have spun enough from this little piece of wool to go up and down a football field almost twice.

Step 9: Two Ply

After setting the twist for the single, I create a center pull ball with the help of my ball winder and swift and create a two ply yarn by spinning from both ends of the center pull ball. I've found that I like plying better when I use my Bosworth spindles which are heavier weight than my Charis spindle. This is a shot of the two-ply yarn after another dunk in some hot water to let it relax and let the twist set. This yarn is happy, soft and balanced. After plying, I've got about 93 yards. It's very similar in diameter to the Sunset roving after plying, but I haven't calculated wpi to confirm.

Blue Hawaiian, The Close Up

Here's a close up of my favorite hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn to date. This yarn is really quite close to what i had in my mind's eye when I started thinking about the color way. I wanted something that would have a tweedy quality when knit up, but would be closer to a solid color. Engaging, but not gaudy. The color in this picture isn't perfect (I think the colors are a tad richer in real life), but close enough to give you a very good sense for what kind of personality this yarn has. Makes me want to grab my knitting needles and dive into the water.

After the Sunset


I'm spinning like a fiend right now -- all my drop spindles are whirling as fast as I can make them go. If I could make two spindles go at once, you know I would be. Dyeing wool is painting on an empty canvas, but it isn't a finished product, at least not to me. The real magic doesn't start to happen until the wool becomes yarn, and until the yarn becomes a fabric.

This weekend, my goal was to get the first of the Sunset rovings to a two-ply yarn and to get my Hawaiin Shore roving (which I have taken to calling "Blue Hawaiian" in my head) spun into a single. I accomplished both goals. Each is it's own story, however. And since the Blue Hawaiian remains to be plied, the Sunset gets to the blog first.

Sunset BFL Single

Unlike the spindle shot from Friday, this image shows off all the colors in this single. Truth be told, I wasn't really looking to have all that pinky stuff in the yarn. I also wasn't intending to concentrate it all in one place. I wanted a more random color distribution, but this happened because of the way I split pieces off the roving as I spun. I split the roving in half, width-wise and didn't realize that the sides weren't balanced very well. As a result, most of the deep gold ended up on one side and most of the pinky stuff ended up on the other. Lesson learned. I will now prepare the whole roving for spinning before starting and randomize the pieces a bit better in the future. I'll probably also stick to horizontal instead of vertical stripes. I dyed this roving this way as a learning experience, and i can definitely say that I learned something from it!

Sunset BFL Single as Center Pull Ball

This is just another gratuitous pretty yarn shot. I thought it looks so nice and happy in that center pull ball. It also gives a better idea of where the individual stretches of color are concentrated.

Sunset BFL Two Ply

Here's the yarn after being two-plied. I like the colors in this a great deal, but would like a little more gold, a little less pink. I did a wraps-per-inch measurement and get about 23 wpi , which makes it a fingering weight yarn. It doesn't really seem that fine to me, but I can see it knitting up nicely on US size 3 needles. Ninaclock asked on Friday what I was going to do with a mere .5 ounces. Well, intially I wasn't really planning to do much with it at all besides see if I liked the result. But this stuff calls out to be knit into something, I think. I'm wondering if I have enough for a small scarf/lacy neck warmer....

Makes me glad I took notes and know how to reproduce the colors!

So now I have to think about what I might knit up with it.

Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow


While there hasn't been a lot of knitting around here lately, there has been a little bit. Look what finally got to be blocked this weekend?

5 Foot of Rainbow Scarf

This scarf is about .8 ounces of hand dyed BFL roving spun into a lace weight single. It ended up about 5 foot long and a little over 8" wide the way I blocked it. Pretty respectable length for a small amount of wool.

Color Progression and Slightly Random Non-random Striping

Stretched out and basking in the sunshine, it occured to me that this scarf would also make a nice table or dresser runner. I am pleased by the fact that the garter stitch bars still stand out a bit after blocking. I am even more pleased by the fact that while the striping is not random in terms of color order, that the widths of the stripes are quite random. This is due to both my spinning and to the fact that I did not spin from exactly equal pieces of roving. I do like the effect.

Scarf in the Breeze

A more classic, if slightly skewed, shot of the scarf just being a scarf. After blocking, the lace holds its shape quite well. No picture of me wearing this thing because, well, it's an 80 degree day here in Chicago. Not really wool scarf weather. Plus, the husband was out doing some yardwork.

Closeup of the Blocked Lace. Nice Points.

No "look what I made" post would be complete without a closeup of the lace pattern after the project was blocked. I cast off the project in the loosest and sloppiest way that I could. Made a big difference in terms of being able to get nice shaping on the cast-off edge. I am not as pleased with the edges of the scarf. I should have added a few selvedge stitches to the edge. As the scarf gets worn, I doubt that will be something I notice much. So it doesn't really bother me too much.

Back and Front of the Lace

The thing that turned out to be a pleasant surprise is that both the back and front of this scarf are attractive to look at. And actually don't look that different from each other unless you are quite close to the scarf. Another little benefit of blocking the bejeezus out of lace -- the difference between stockinette and reverse stocknette becomes somewhat blurred.

So now I can say that I have actually turned some of my handspun into something! How cool is that?

Experimental Results


So what did all those lovely little balls of wool turn into?

Experimental Results

Julie and I started with about 12 1/2 ounce pieces of Blue Faced Leicester. Why BFL? First, both of us like spinning with it. Second, it's not so hard to get a lot at a reasonable price. The results of our dying experiments surprised us a little bit. Reds, yellows, browns and greens dominated our dyeing process. Pretty strange coming from the original blue undertone girl. Yet I found it almost impossible to put down the warm fall tones.

In the end, I played with three sets of colors.


This is a blend of yellow gold and some varying shades of red violet and red violet mixed with red and red violet mixed with scarlet. It reminded me of the colors that you see at sunset as the sun hits the horizon. Both pieces were dyed with the same set of colors. The upper piece has less yellow and a bit of undyed area (on purpose) while the lower piece has a more saturated bit of red-violet in the corners.

Hawaiian Shore

This set of colors are all diluted directly from regular stock dye colors. The intent was to use different depth of shades and see how that played out. The end result is something that reminds me of the color of the ocean when I was in Hawaii. I wish now that I'd tried another piece with these colors -- one where I used the lightest color as a solid background with splotches of the others. Fortunately, it's not hard to get to these colors, so I should be able to try them again the next time I dye.

Autumn Leaves

If you can believe it, both of these pieces are dyed with the exact same set of colors (the palette I featured yesterday). Pretty amazing the different effects that can result. I'm quite fond of both of them. I find myself amazed and surprised by my love of the brown. Normally I have no interest in brown at all. But, in this case, it brought the whole set of colors together for me.

One thing we were more careful about this time was not oversaturating the fiber with the dye and then cooking them longer than we did last time. After letting them cool, we found that when we rinsed them, almost no dye was released. On our last dyeing adventure, our pieces hemorrhaged dye after the setting process. Getting those bottles with the squirt tops really made a difference because we were able to control the amount of dye that we added to the fiber a lot better than before.

Now the adventure will be in spinning them up to see what happens when the roving becomes yarn. I actually like all three of these colorways, but the proof is really in getting some yarn spun up. The last batch surprised me a lot and some of the rovings I loved in the just dyed form made up only so-so yarn in my book. Do you have a favorite? One you can't abide? I'd love to know.

Rainbow in a Bottle


Today I got to spend a wonderful day with a good friend and surrounded by color. What were we up to?

Always Practice Safe Dyeing: Gloves, A Particle Mask and a Plastic Apron

This picture is for Claudia, my dyeing safety guardian angel. I had similar gear and was even wearing my face mask when I took the picture. We both used all this stuff for the whole time we were preparing our stock dye solutions. Dye is not good stuff to wear or to breathe, friends and neighbors.

A Whole Set of Lanaset Dye Stock Solutions

In order to start a more scientific approach to this process we started out by creating a set of 2% stock solutions. Why 2% instead of 1%? Mostly because that is what would fit best into our 16 ounce bottles given the amount of dye we had to start with. These bottles are pretty handy with their capped spouts. They also can withstand high temperature liquids and can be used to store dyes. Dharma Trading Company is the place to go if you need some of your own. Their products are affordable and their shipping is very speedy.

It didn't take us long to start playing with some color...

Caution: Women with Dye Bottles At Work

Paper towels are a handy way to test dyes. These will be the first entries into our "Dyeing Diary". We also discovered that syringes are a handy way to measure dye solutions out. We did get some strange looks from the people in the medical supply store when we asked for them, however...

My Favorite Colorway of the Evening

What can I say? We get a little cool weather in Chicago and I start thinking about fall. This was my attempt to try to get close to the colors in fall leaves. This is probably the color composition that I am most pleased with from the day. The scary thing is, it's completely unusual for me to like colors like this at all. There's not a dash of blue in sight...

Awaiting A Vinegar Bath

You can probably imagine what these are headed for. More on what they became tomorrow when I have some good outdoor light for color photos.

post edited to correct the spelling of the word 'dyeing'... thanks Quirkybook, for the correction... I need to find a spell checker for Movable Type

Gone Spinning


You'll all be happy to know that the TapWave Zodiac adoption process is going well. I am seriously in love with the little guy and I haven't even gotten the WiFi stuff set up yet so that I can browse the web on it. Probably the nicest screen I've seen yet on a handheld. And stereo sound. Suddenly my Kyocers 7135 Palm OS-based phone doesn't seem as nifty as it once did!

After another long week, I'm about to set off on a little bit of a long weekend, that will hopefully involve both knitting and spinning. As I was digging through my photo archives, I realized I never got to show off the cool things that I dyed with Julie not too long ago.

Candy for the Fiber Lover's Soul

There's not too much better in the world than having a good friend to do creative things with. I am always inspired by Julie who just jumps into things and tries what feels good without worrying too much about the rules. I wasn't really sure if I would like the whole dying thing, but I left her house completely inspired to spin my first Blue Faced Leicester roving into yarn. I can't wait to see how these colors work together when they get spun up and plied.

The rainbow-overdyed skein of Cascade 220 is meant to go into an experiment. Perhaps you all remember that Pooling scarf from Interweave Knits about a year ago? Well, I could never get my Schaefer Anne to do what it was supposed to do because the colors in the skein weren't quite aligned correctly. The Cascade 220 is a much larger gauge yarn than the Anne, but I'm looking forward to see if I'll be able to get it to pool using the same general method.


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