Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Small project progress

The first twill and basketweave scarf is off the loom.  The fringes were twisted, and I tossed it in the washing machine to wet finish.  After it came out, I gave it a good hard press to make it nice and flat and it brought back the shine from the silk.
I really disliked the pattern or the colour or both.  The scarf is soft and drapes nicely, but it is boring.   I knew this when I cut it off, having decided to re-thread in a pattern that I think I will enjoy more.

 I am almost finished spinning the second bobbin of the sage green cotton.  The funny thing is that no one believes that the icky beige colour is actually green.   So I tossed the first skein in a pot of water and simmered it for about an hour.    What an amazing colour change.   It seems that it really is sage green! 

I tossed a few more handfuls of alpaca fibre into the wash basin yesterday.   It is dry enough to put away, but it feels so nice that I'm leaving it out for a bit so that I can run my hands through it everytime I walk past it.

Other than that, I've been working on my cloak project.  There is nothing to show though because I made a mistake and had to undo it all - so I'm right back where I was.   I hate when that happens.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Kevin update, crafty stuff and beer

I used some of the remaining lathe from the kitchen walls to make rustic stars.  I had to look far and wide to find a little bag of rafia in the shops.  It seems it isn't in decor favour right now.    If the snow melts, like they say it will, I may dig up a few more pieces of lathe from the scrap pile and make some stars to keep undecorated.

I was tired of this warp before I'd even started weaving.  I did all the math, checked it twice, wound the warp, dressed the loom and had too many threads.  I counted the threads and there were the right amount on the first half of the heddles, so I checked the second half several times and couldn't find the error - so removed the offending threads, thinking I'd miscounted while I wound.   Except that in all the math errors I could have made, it was the simplest one that was wrong... there weren't half the threads on the first half of the threading.   And I missed that stupid error.   When I realized it, I fixed it - added the missing 4 threads, but because they were in one spot, near the edge, I couldn't get the tension right with them hanging off the back.  Argh, I wound off the warp, retied the choke ties so that Kevin could do no harm and then tied the new threads on the back beam and rewound the whole darned thing.  It added an extra day to the process :( and was a pain.  However, it worked and the weaving is going smoothly.

I came in the other day, to find Kevin had pulled down the cloak project and made himself a warm, soft, little bed.  He doesn't look horribly comfortable, but considering the amount of time he was snuggled up there, I think he must have been comfy.  Either that or he was just being obstinate and hogging the fabric so that I couldn't work on the cloak :)

Last year my sweetie received one of those Mr. Brew kits for a gift.   With the kitchen project, he kept putting off trying it out.  Finally I read the directions and a short time later, I had the first batch sitting in the only area warm enough for fermentation -  hello new living room ornament.   It was really easy and online reviews suggest that you get relatively drinkable if uninspiring beer.   Since I don't really drink and don't like beer at all, I'll never know if it is any good or not - but there are 2 more tins of that concentrate, so there will be at least another couple of batches in the future. 

I have a large, clear glass jug.  If I get an airlock for it, can I brew a second batch in that or does the container have to be dark?  I will have to do some research.

  I'd been hoping to have this ready for the holidays, but totally misunderstood the timing.  2-3 weeks for fermentation, 1-2 weeks for carbonation and 1-4 weeks for aging, does not fit into the 3 weeks left before Christmas.  Whoops.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Cotton, Cloaks and more Cotton

The first 2 bobbins of the sage cotton have been plied.   The yarn looks amazing considering how different it was to spin, than the cinnamon cotton.  Cotton sliver and punis usually have a grain, so it spins smoothly from one end and a bit lumpy and roughly from the other.  Well, this seemed to have a few issues from either end.  Not only that but the slubs wouldn't pull out with a gently tug, nor would they necessarily rub out with a simple twist between the thumb and forefinger.  Nope, I had to pull each stupid slub out individually, or so it seemed.  Still, it spun pretty quickly.  Bobbin 3 was filled during the Grey Cup game.  OMG - what a suspenseful game that was.   I didn't take enough breaks during the spinning time and went to bed with sore shoulders - but really, that was a lot of cotton spun.  I don't think it will look as nice as this skein though. 

I decided to stick the cloak yardage in the washer and full it up a bit more.  Unfortunately I got a little bit side tracked because my sweetie was home and remembered about it, when the washer started to spin.   It is a bit more fulled than I wanted, but still drapes decently.  It is pretty easy to piece together now.  

I've been butting the two selvedges together and running a thread though the loops made when the shuttle switches direction.   It is like running an extra warp thread though and a great technique for joining pieces for blankets or to make wider yardage as in this case.  If I'd been thinking, I might have used a blue thread to make that blue stripe on the selvedge the same size as the rest.  Still it looks pretty good.   This picture is of course of the best part and what it should look like.  Not all of the seams look quite that invisible.

My sweetie surprised me with a road trip to Camilla Valley Farm, which is a well stocked weaving supply store.  I came home with this little bag of goodies.  I wouldn't let him pay for them because then they would have been Christmas presents and I figured I'd likely want to play with them sooner than that.   They offer great mail order service, but I'd never pass up a road trip there.
   So I know what my sweetie is giving me for Christmas, and I can't touch it now for weeks.... argh.....

Thursday, 24 November 2016

More cotton spinning

It's been a busy week.  I finished up the cinnamon brown cotton.  I simmered it, although it did boil a bit in there when I got distracted making lunch, for about an hour.  The water was a golden brown, but nicely clear, so free of any nasty gunk.   It took a bit to dry, in this cold, dreary weather though.
I love that feeling when you take your sad looking wet skein and snap it between your hands, and everything comes together.  The threads align.  The twist seems to even out.  The whole skein suddenly looks glorious.   This is 100 g, 490 yards of 2 ply cotton.  It is so pretty and was so enjoyable to spin.

I've started on some sage green cotton now.  There is a little less than 100 g here because I used a bit for some of my master spinner homework or homework practice.   I'm working on the second bobbin.   I know this will go greener after it is wet finished.  Right now it is a rather sad, pale beige/greenish colour.   

I'm just going to spin up cotton as I find it in my stash and hopefully I will have enough for a decent project.   I'm thinking maybe yardage for a shirt, just because I can :)

Look!  Look!  The floor is down and I love, love, love it.  What a pain though.   In order to put it down, the guys had to move everything out of the kitchen.   It took a couple of days, which was really quite a nuisance.   However, they got the floor laid and the appliances moved back in on Sunday night.  On Monday, my oldest son visited, so my man had help for moving the base cupboards back in.   They  have most of them permanently installed.  The sink cupboard is only half made.  It still needs the face frame and the doors.  The old sink and counter has been set on top, so really, the kitchen is useable at the moment.  I certainly can't complain about that.  Since we are still trying to decide on what to do for the counter tops, having at least the old ones to use, gives me lots of work space.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

yardage done and some spinning started

The wool yardage for the cloak project is off the loom and drying.   It was 9.4 yds and 24 inches wide off the loom.  I tossed it in the washing machine with a bit of laundry detergent and let it agitate until I was happy with the finishing, and then rinsed it twice.   It is now 8.8 yards long and 22 inches wide.     I'm not certain that I don't want to full it up a little bit more, after all a cloak should be warm and windproof.  I'm not sure it's quite fulled enough for that.   I'll see when it's dry, whether or not I'll wet finish it a second time.   It will be lined though, so that will help.
I have to admit that I pretty much love how the blue checks feel a bit like a shadow of the brown.  So far I've found only one weaving error, which thankfully is very near the beginning of the yardage.  How I missed it, I have no idea!  I still have time to fix it I think - maybe a good thing I am not sure the fabric is fulled enough.

 I've been spinning up some naturally coloured cotton sliver.  I have 100 g of this lovely cinnamon brown colour.  It is just freshly spun and plied.  It hasn't been wet finished yet.  If I simmer it in some water, it will likely darken and redden up the colour. There was almost 250 yards, after plying on this bobbin, plus another 32 yards which were on a bobbin that I'd forgotton I'd had, which tricks me every time I use it.   There is something which binds inside and stops the bobbin from taking up properly.  I've run a round file through it, cleaned it, oiled it etc and still it doesn't work right.   I should mark it in some way, to differentiate it from all my other bobbins which work spectacularly.

The kitchen sub-floor is down and the vinyl flooring is about to go down.  I'm currently washing dishes in the laundry tub and cooking in a crock pot, which is sitting on the dryer.   Hopefully this will all be back to normal very soon.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

ziplock baggie DOS dyeing - weak acid dyes

DOS -  depth of shade
weak acid dyes - use citric acid or vinegar as the acid agent
 ziplocks - because you can dye multiple colours or shades of smaller amounts of fibre or wool in one pot, saving time and energy.

I need to make another pair of guy mittens before Christmas.  I was spinning up some fleece, I think from the stuff I picked up from the Ontario Wool Growers this summer.   It is white.   I really didn't want to knit white mittens, especially for one of my guys.  I didn't think it would work for any of them and be a bit boring for me.   So I decided to dye up the yarn today.   I had 69 g spun, into a worsted weight woollen - gosh I love the long draw - I added another 38 g of a grey woollenish yarn.  My idea was that I would do the cuffs in a dark colour and work my way to the finger tips in lighter shades.  I didn't want a ton of shading to make it totally ombre, but just colour blocks.   Since I still have a whole whack of that 2% solution of Navy Blue dye, that is what I used.  Because I was dyeing 3 skeins, 3 different colours, I also decided to dye in ziplock baggies so I could do it all in one pot.

Step 1 - weigh and soak fibre, then do the math

First thing is to weigh the skeins and write the numbers down!   You need a work sheet for this and it is a pain when you forget to record the original skein weights.
I soaked with just a couple of drops of dawn dish liquid to help the water absorb quickly.

The math is easy stuff.   You want to figure out the amounts of water, acid and salt.   Water is important for ziplock bag dyeing, to make sure you have enough to cover the fibre.
write quantities of additions on bags

The numbers are 40 x water, 20% salt and 33% vinegar.  Write this down on your worksheet and then take a sharpie type marker - indelible and write it down on the ziplock baggies..   As long as it is a decent quality plastic bag, the brand name doesn't matter.   These are just the most economical around here when there isn't a sale, so I keep them in the fibre room..

These notes make it easier to set up each individual bag.  Note the vinegar has x2 because you split the amount and add half at the beginning and the rest half way through the process.

Bags of fibre, salt and vinegar heating up

You need to use something to keep the bags from touching the bottom of the pot.  This can be a stick across the top with the bags pegged to it, or I just use a dedicated vegetable steamer thingy.   Use a thermometer.  Add a couple of inches of water, set the bags in.  The water level may rise dramatically, depending on the quantity of water in your bags.  Turn the burner on and let the temperature rise slowly.   This is wool, so somewhere around 180° F, carefully open up the bag and add the vinegar.   In a perfect world, you would remove the skein, but with larger amounts, I just spurt the vinegar down the side of the bag and squish well to mix.   Once the temperature gets to just below boiling - let it hold there for about an hour.   Squish, mix, wiggle the bags once in a while to keep the fibre/yarn dyeing evenly.
dye is exhausted after processing

Check the bags.  The dye should exhaust, leaving the water clear.  The dye could exhaust earlier - splitting the vinegar helps the colours absorb evenly, but you still need the full hour of cooking time to make sure processing is completely done, making the yarn as colourfast as possible.  

Once the hour is done, turn off the stove.   You should let the bags cool naturally.  However - if your fibre isn't really delicate, and you are in a hurry, you can transfer the bags to a sink or basin.  If you open them carefully - use gloves please, the water and steam are hot, you can dump out a bit of the water, helping them cool down a bit more quickly.

Once they are cool enough, rinse them in water to make sure there is no unattached dye and hang or lay flat to dry.

This is my dye pot after the bags of wool came out.   Nothing leaked into the water - the bags held tight.   I only used a tiny bit more water than this for the whole process.

Three shades of blue yarn.  I used a 2% dye stock at dos (depth of shade) .5, 1 and 2.

I love the denim blues I got.  Soooo pretty, but I won't tell my guys that the colours are pretty unless I want the mittens for myself.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Project updates

I'm still weaving the yardage.  I think I'm over half way done.   I stopped tracking  and just kept weaving.   One repeat is 6 inches, so 3 are half a yard, which is my minimum weaving goal each day.  I'm trying for a yard, but some days it seems harder to do such a minimal amount, especially with lovely sunny days and rush on to get the kitchen usable before Christmas.

It's sort of usable now, at least for this week.  The top cupboards are in, save for the 2 new ones which need to be built.   The bottom bases are made and the cupboards have been fitted on them for the moment.   This is because the flooring goes in next weekend and as soon as it's done, the base cupboards will be totally ready to install.   Right now, the old, chopped up counter top is just sitting on top, so that there is a work space.   Amazingly, in the new kitchen, with light, clean walls and cupboards, it looks great.   It's made me feel that I need to rethink my counter choices when it's time for the real one.  I was going to go with a darker granite looking laminate but I think I now need to check lighter coloured samples. 

I was running around doing errands on Saturday and stopped in at a couple of thrift stores.  The one, with the habit of mis sizing the sheets, had a bunch in.   I bought a double set for $7, but it turned out to be a twin size but the $5 king size duvet cover has an awful lot of fabric in it.    Then I popped into the Sally Ann.   Apparently they have these special days when you pay only $5 for a bag of specific coloured tagged items.  I ended up with 6 pair of jeans to chop up for rugs (yes, I know I don't like weaving with denim, but it makes lovely rugs) for only $5.  You can't really go wrong with them at that price.  I left the trendy ones with artfully placed rips and holes in them and the ones with fancy brand names, or in really good shape.   It won't  make any difference for my use and might for someone who really needs those jeans.

It's rather nice though that the weather has gotten unseasonably nice.  Yesterday I washed and hung out all those sheets for future rugs.  Today most of the jeans got washed.   Gotta love these lingering autumn days!