Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Eeek how time flies

A perfect gluten free and dairy free pumpkin pie.  The crust turned out to be quite easy to work with, unlike my previous attempts at gluten free pie crust.   The pumpkin was one I processed myself and the whole pie turned out to be not overly sweet with a tender crust which wasn't soggy or gritty.    It was absolutely delicious.   It was pretty too!

 The navy and brightly coloured yarn plied together.   This is the partial bobbin that I'd spun up as a tester.  I'm still spinning the rest of the navy for the full bobbin.   It definitely subdued the bright colours, but since I was worried about muddying the colours up when they were plied, this is definitely not muddy!  I rather like this combination of colours, even though I'm not always a huge fan of marled yarns.
I had just about 100 g of superwash merino left in the bag.  I tossed it in the pot with some brown, blue and black dye.    I'm really happy with this bit of fibre.  I like the more subdued colours in this batch.  It's a bit of a change from the bright colours I often use.  I used weak acid dyes, with a low immersion technique.

It's been crazy busy here.  Some days I didn't even get a chance to practice the banjo because it felt like I was hardly home.   The grey, wet weather has been putting a damper on things too, as it's been delaying projects.

I made this hat.  I need to needle felt some decorations for it.  I made a second hat in a different style, without the brim, which is going to get some embroidery on it, if I get the time.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Colours out of my kitchen

 I've been dyeing. 

  This is a commercial white tweedy bit that was an awfully, stark shade of white.   I've not yet found a project that particular shade of white worked with, so each time, I dyed it.  I'd bought 10 or 15 balls on super sale.  The last two balls were turned into large skeins, tied with 4 ties and ceremonially dumped into a pot of grey weak acid dye.  I used a 1% dye stock with vinegar as my acid.   It's still wet here, but it turned out perfectly.

This is fibre reactive dyes on superwash Merino.   The brightness of the colours always bring me joy.  I learned to dye wool with fibre reactive dyes, using a 2% stock solution.  The last time I mixed up dyes, I'd just done new acid dyes at 1% and did the same with the fibre reactive dyes.   However, what I found was gorgeous colours on wool, that exhausted, rather than leaving excess dye to wash out.  I'll need to explore this more.

 I was using up the last of a batch of red acid dye.  I was actually hoping for a graduation of reds to purples, ending in blue, but the red seemed to strike immediately, in my blends and the result was lots of reds and pinks, and lots of purplish blues.   The colour breaking/striking fast was my fault as I'd inadvertently poured in too much vinegar and pre-heated the water I was using.  It's pretty though.  It will likely spin up to be quite purpley.

 Pumpkin coloured acid dyes on superwash Merino mill ends.   In the pot, this was gorgeous.   However, despite getting it to temperature for more than enough time, when I rinsed it,  yellow dye kept running off.  I put it back in the pot, with more vinegar, brought it up to temperature, kept it there for an hour again.  Despite the dye pot water exhausting, it still ran yellow when rinsed.   I tried one more time, dumping in a whole whack load of vinegar.   I heated it for almost 2 hours.   So far it seems okay, but it's lost those lovely variations in colour and the oranges of sort of melded into one shade.

 Speaking of orange - gratuitous photo of a lounging Phil.  He can be very vocal and pushy when he wants to be petted.   He has a much nicer coat, after a year of decent food.  When he adopted us and we let him in the house, he had almost no undercoat. I don't think he would have survived the winter outside.   He would sleep under the covers on the very cold evenings.   He still does like a cuddle on cooler days.
This is on my Minstrel right now.  It's jelly bean or ju jube coloured merino/cashmere blend.   It's spinning beautifully.  I'm trying to decide if I want to ply it with itself, or spin up some navy blue for plying...

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

End of Summer Colours

 Fall crocuses.  They are beautiful.   If I could get all the goldenrod out of the front flower beds, I'd divide up the 2 patches to make a bigger impact with that lovely pale pinky colour.
 Our property is surrounded by grazing meadows.  The horses only eat the grass.  The tall weeds take over and the farmer only seems to mow them down every couple of years.  Keeping the goldenrod under control is almost defeating.   They grow deep, huge roots that I can't get out, without help.   They are pretty, but overwhelming for sure.
I found these little pumpkins in the pumpkin raised bed.   After all the effort I put into controlling the mildew, I'd though there was no fruit for all that work.  However, there are 3 pumkins, albeit small ones.  They seem to be even smaller than pie pumpkins.  Next year, I'll order some hybrid seeds and plant a mildew resistant variety.  With the increase in hot, muggy weather, it will hopefully make a difference.  Maybe I'll just plant buttercup squash or something else though.   I've gotten complaints from the management that the pumpkin harvest isn't worth the effort I've been putting in.  When pie pumpkins go on sale in the fall, I can see his reasoning though -  more frozen pumpkin bang for the buck - literally last year as pie pumpkins were .99c a piece!

Plum jam - 8 jars
Tomatoes canned - 1 bushel - 45 jars
Corn frozen- 4 doz cobs, kernels cut off the cobs and frozen
320 yards plied of BFL

Dion, napping in a cat play tunnel, looking horribly cute.
The geese are migrating and many of them fly overhead.  Their voices are a sad sound this time of year, as it means summer is truly at an end.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Nothing on the Loom yet, BUT..........

I've been doing lots of cutting and pasting, and lots of spinning.  This is 198g of superwash merino.    I'm hoping I still have a bunch of the dark purple colour, with which to make stripey Hallowe'en socks.   I didn't get enough of the lime green, which would have been my first choice to go with the dark purple.   Then I'd have to make myself a black skirt, hat and maybe even a cape to go with the socks - just say'in ;)

The larger skein has 278 yards in it.  I didn't do the calculations for the slightly smaller skein for some reason. 

I'd been doing the good photographer thing, and I had a lovely reflective board to minimize the deep shadow when helper kitty Phil decided to help - I snapped the picture just as the board fell.  I decided not to try for another photo as Phil has been entirely too supervisory and unhelpful the last few days.
 This is some superfine hemp.  The sliver has lots of short bits and chaff in it.  Even the longest staples of this fibre are cut into much shorter lengths than I'd expected.   Hemp is a very tall plant.  It towers over tall men.  I'd anticipated that the fibres would be more flax strick like in length, rather than 3 and 4 inches long.   I should have asked questions before I bought 100 g of this stuff.  It looked so pretty on the display rack.  I found that when I put a bit too much twist into it, the thread snaps.   It holds together without a lot of twist though.   This sample still needs to be wet finished, but I need it for a display tomorrow, so that will have to wait.   I'm leaving the house at stupid early, so the samples will get packed tonight as I don't want to forget anything.
Currently on the loom is some lovely, shiny, blue bamboo.   It's just rayon - nothing special or eco wonderful or anything, but it's pretty and a nice interlude from spinning things like the hemp.  This flies off the fingers effortlessly.  It's pretty and once in a while I like to spin something pretty and interesting.  Most of the time, I don't mind natural colours and fibres, but there are always those ooh shiny moments.

I just spent somewhere between 30 and 40 hours making display backdrop boards for a guild outreach display, maybe even more hours than that.  You know, those science fair/4H club displays.   Because this is a non-selling event, I thought that just have a bunch of spinning and weaving on a table wouldn't draw people in.   This will hopefully do the trick.  In my mind, community outreach stuff should teach, explain, demonstrate or do something in addition to showing off what we do.  Our other outreach display stuff is packed away in someone's barn and not really accessible right now.

 I'm still looking for my show table cloth -  I've no idea where it is as those boxes are still not yet unpacked from - eek, I don't want to think how long, but not quite a decade at anyrate.  We didn't grab the bins of guild items that usually go to shows as not only are we not selling anything, but those of us who are lugging things for set up have smaller cars.   The guild cloths are in those bins.

We have a loom with our Fleece Festival class project on it for demonstrating and for people to try out.  Hopefully we'll fill up the last couple of spots by advertising it here.  I'm bringing my wheel, lots of spinning samples and some weaving bits and pieces.   We're displaying our new banner for the first time, with our sort of ugly new logo as well.   Pop by our booth and say hi if you're at the KW Knitter's Fair this weekend.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Solar Dyeing Experiments

 Solar Dyeing Experiments

canning sealer jars - quart or litre.  I used both sizes.
Clean wool fibre
Dyes -  Acid, Food Colours, Fibre Reactive
additives for each dye -
vinegar or citric acid
synthropol for Fibre Reactive Dyes

quantities - 
Wool enough to fit in jar allowing water to circulate

1/4 c vinegar

water to top up

dyes -  a few ml of fibre reactive or acid dyes
dabs of food colours

synthropol if using fibre reactive dyes

Method -

Soak wool fibre in water for at least an hour before starting dyeing.

Add vinegar and some water to jar.

Add water saturated fibre to jar.

Top up with water.

Add dye and sythropol if needed.

I just dabbed the food colours in various placed on the fibre.  I used a craft stir stick to add the food colour.  It only took a tiny bit to get a lot of colour.  With the Fibre reactive dye, I used a syringe to measure out a few ml of dye and added it lower down on the fibre.

Add lids to jars and set in the sun to warm up.  They need to get to about 185 degrees for an hour or so.   

This time of year, at our more northern location, the sun is too low in the sky to warm up the dyes in the jars.   I ended up steaming the jars to get the dye to exhaust.   (remove the lids first).   You could put them in a dark plastic bag, your car in the sunshine or paint the jars black to absorb more heat.

  It was fun to do but really, it's just a small amount of fibre, so not really productive here unless you have a lot of jars going.  Earlier in the summer, one could probably spray paint buckets black and do larger amounts in the sun - maybe some sort of foil reflector would help.    I also think that further south, this is likely a much more effective method of dyeing.

So fun, but not effective in late August, in my back yard or front yard, since I tried both.  Not enough fibre dyed for my projects or preference.   I generally like to dye in at least 100 g quantities.  Would I do this again?   Maybe, earlier in the year.  A few years ago I did a lot of indigo vats using the painted buckets, starting in June and it was pretty decent results.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Felting and spinning and spinning and spinning

 It was Textile Day at Westfield yesterday.  I ran an activity for making wet felted beads.   These are the samples I made up ahead of time.  I have another container full, but it's in that super safe place and really, I didn't have the energy to dig it up.  It was easier to just make new ones.  I started decorating a couple of them just because.   Most of the kids and adults who made a bead, had a great time and were very successful. We made necklaces and bracelets with a little bit of embroidery floss.   Once people started coming in, it was non-stop beadmaking.    I haven't been that tired at the end of a Westfield day in a while.   Silly me though.  I'd brought my wheel and some cotton to spin during the down times.   I probably got 4 or 5 yards of cotton spun as there was no down time during the whole afternoon. 

Just a heads up that if you come to Westfield on Sept. 2nd, I'm currently planning to churn ice cream!   Yay!   That's a good way to end the summer. 

 When I got home, we had a campfire.  I picked some of the drying Tigerlily (those orange ditch lilies) leaves and turned them into cordage.   My sweetie thought it was a lot of work, but really, I was sitting around the campfire doing nothing otherwise.  Now I have 2 metres of cordage suitable for basketry.   I'm drying some of the still green leaves to see if they make a difference in workability.   I wonder if bull rush leaves would work as well?   There are a bunch in the ditch, up the road!
 This is some ramie I dyed when I was first playing with Fibre Reactive dyes.   It is definitely a bold colour.   The ramie sliver was pretty compacted when I was done dyeing.  I tried shaking it out,  spreading the fibres manually, carding the fibres and then finally just stripping the sliver into thin bits.   The carding worked reasonably well, but of course was extra work.  The stripping into thin bits of sliver worked the best though and was quite fast.   There was a fair bit of short bits and neps in this fibre, but it looks pretty decent despite that.

This is more ramie.  The right skein I spun up in the past two days.   It was a bit of roving which was perfect.  All long staple lengths, with no short bit or neps.  It flew out of my hands and onto the wheel.  It was a joy to spin.  The skein on the left is from a previous batch of this same colourway.  What a difference in dye lots!   Just a reminder to get enough of one dye lot if you need it for a particular project.   I didn't believe they were the same colourway at first, but I'd been storing the skeins in their original packets, and sure enough - same colourway, just a different colour.   It won't really matter for what I have in mind though, so I'm happy enough with it.

I've two projects to put on the loom, which I'd planned to do over the summer.  I guess since summer is almost over, I should get started on those.   :)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

More Colour Experiments

I did a few more low immersion dyeing experiments last week. I had some fibre reactive dyes which needed using up.  Dyeing protein fibres with fibre reactive dyes is a similar process as using acid dyes.  Slightly different percentages, and a bit of synthropol added to the mix.  Heat is needed to set the dyes on wool, rather than time as on cellulose fibres.   This multi-coloured batch is a bit larger than the others as well, as I had about 130 g of the same blend fibre left in 2 bags, which I combined. My main worry with this batch was the fibres were a bit crowded.  I had to be quite careful that the bottom layers of fibre were dyed adequately.   It turned out quite spectacularly for a random blend of colours.

I had enough old dyes for two experiments.  Then I took the time to mix up new dyes.   This is fuchsia and  turquoise.  It is 100 g, which seems to be a good amount in my pan for this type of dyeing.   It turned out quite lovely, with the bright but not glaring colours and gentle colour transitions.  I lay the roving in the pan in a zig zag fashion, across the narrow end of the pan and back again.  I poured the dyes on in layers or in rows, from lighter to darkest, in the pan, keeping the same back and forth motion with the dye application as I'd used with laying the fibre in the pan.  This one was fun to see take up and set.

 Oh, the brightness of this one.  This is for spinning on a dull, grey, winter day.   I used yellow and fuchsia, in random splotches.  It made my day when I pulled that out of the dye pot. 

The one below used fuchsia, blue and black.  It was also with the end lot of the old dyes.   I left a bit of white fibre on purpose for mellowing down the colours.   This is a blend which I'm betting looks awesome when spun.  I love to see how some of the fibre colours appear to change once they are spun.  The blending of the colours makes a lot of difference sometimes.

Today's experiment is solar dyeing.   Really, our weather in July was the prime time for solar dyeing, but I'm doing this at Westfield on Sunday, so thought a few experiments to show would be nice.  These two are using fibre reactive dyes.   I've also got food colours and the Kool-Aid powder that we found when my daughter and I were out fabric hunting in July.   I've lots of bits of fibre from random fleeces which I'm using.   
 I'll do up a post with a better explanation of the solar dyes, once I've got a few more samples.  The pink jar is leftovers from the last dye session and the multi coloured jar is just splashes of 3 different colours, applied to different areas of the fibre in the jar,  with a syringe