Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Small accomplishments in a busy week

I decided this week was a good week to get back to the spinning wheel. It had been sitting rather forlornly in a corner for a few weeks before the Ontario Handspinners Seminar and then again after, except for a sampling of the polwarth varigated wool. I finished up the one bobbin and then a second. One has been blocked but not the other one. The fibre is quite nice to spin once it gets loosened up as the dyeing process and stuffing 500 gms in one bag must have compacted it somewhat. I'm a little concerned about how I'm spinning it as I fear it could be a tad thin for what I was planning. I don't want to ply it as it would muddle up the colours. Weaving with singles would hopefully give a random plaid effect. Yes, this is for an every day garment, not reenactment clothing :) Interesting how the colour way has shifted in the two bobbins.... sort of the same but different. This is only 2 bobbins full, with the unblocked skein measuring about 648 yds and the blocked skein about 500 yds. I guess I'd better figure out a pattern and weaving plan so I know how much yarn I need to spin.

I also tossed a small project on the loom. It's a narrow 2 inch wide warp about 5 feet long. I'm sampling different patterns using a straight twill threading. I was getting incredible bored and dissatisfied with the project until I found a straight twill, 4 shaft threading for krogbragd. Krogbragd is normally a 3 shaft twill. Now if I can figure out why the selvedges are curling under I will be a happy camper. It's a pretty weave, fast and interesting looking. I'd read that the underside was unusable and I thought it was because of long floats. However, this one is fine, just not the same at all as the good side of the fabric.

The garden is happy with all the rain. The only thing I haven't enjoyed is that everytime I head out to weed, the skies have opened up. I've gotten wet a few times this week! The dog doesn't seem to care though, unless it thunders.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Campfire Dyeing (that's with an "E")

This past weekend I got to try out my new iron dye pot! It is an incredible piece which is not only functional but so beautiful and based on an extant piece as well. It was made by Sir Edward the Red. Cenred forged a little metal ring to go around the handle so we would be easily and unobtrusively able to differentiate between the dye pot and any cooking pots which might be of similar construction. Apparently my idea to put a little piece of dyed yarn on the dyepot handle didn't go over well with the blacksmiths!

I used the dyepot twice. I've certainly used iron as a mordant before but never used whatever free iron might be absorbed just from a pot. I'd read several accounts of varying degrees of success or suitability but not enough to formulate any pre-conceived ideas. The fibre was wool yarn, pre-mordanted with Alum. The first dye was Sorrel and Dock seeds. The dye liquor itself was made up in a Stainless steel pot and transferred to the iron pot. The dye struck quickly and depth of colour depended on length of time in the vat, giving a range of colours from yellow to dark olive green.

The second dye vat was done by cooking crab apple leaves in the iron pot itself. The dye started off a pale "apple" green and got deeper as the dye liquor cooked over the fire. When I poured out the last of the dye, it was a deep, dark green. There was less variation of the colours with the apple leaves though, probably due to starting off with the iron pot. The crab apple, iron green colour is awfully pretty though. I ended up dumping a whole bunch of sample skeins into the dyepot in order to have enough of the green yarn to do a project with!

I was talking with Foote the potter about a celandine glaze he uses. The greens were in the same colour range of the Sorrel and Dock seeds with iron colour. It turns out that the glaze has iron in it. The percentage of iron used in the glaze is exactly the same as what I would use when mordanting with iron in a controlled manner. I'm pretty certain that using an iron pot is a rather uncontrolled use of iron mordant :) but in a stainless steel pot it is entirely controllable.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Romeny Icelandic Cross Fleece


The Romney Icelandic X fleece came with a tag labelled Greystones. The receipt had no contact info at all! Later I asked about it and someone said it was Gord English, who had bought someone else's flock. I might be wrong about the first name, but the last was definately English. So I've no idea who owns the flock or where they are located. I've not even found any vendor's list in the information from the seminar packet.
The fleece is very crimpy and has a fair bit of lanolin. It ranges from 4-6 inches long. So far it seems to be mainly on the longer side. There is next to no VM so far. Okay, I found one skinny bit of chaff which was about 1.5 in long. I've only check part of the fleece but there seem to be few 2nd cuts.
The tips are bleached and in a few places slightly matted. The vendor warned about this both verbally and on the tag. However from what I've seen so far, it pulls apart easily. This means that in carding or combing, it shouldn't cause any problem. The colour ranges from a soft silvery chocolate colour but mainly the silvery grey.
I washed some up yesterday to see what it was like and while the lanolin and dirt washed away easily, the colour was exactly the same! A plus in washing was that while it was dirty... I mean it is a raw fleece after all... it wasn't so bad it left the water muddy like I often find. I'm guessing that perhaps these are coated fleeces? If so, the hassle would be worth it 'cause I'm already impressed.
I'd hoped to have time to card up a bit and spin it to show the final result but I just haven't had time. Soon perhaps :)

Jody - Any other info that might be helpful? I wish I could tell you where it's from but I couldn't even find the info on-line.


Monday, 15 June 2009

I'm tired. It feels like I've been on the run and not home for a week. Oh, my, it's kind of been that way. Between house hunting and having signed up for the Ontario Handspinners Seminar, this past week has been exactly like that. The seminar was in Kingston and it was an interesting trip. I loved the smell and feel of the wind, coming off the lake. The seminar was at Queen's university, with accomodations in a rather musty smelling residence and mattresses which weren't conduicive to a good night's sleep. Yawn..

While I told myself that I wouldn't buy much at the seminar, I put far too much $ in my pocket. I came home with several things. Among them was totally modern, brightly coloured roving called Wild Berries. I spun up a little bit last night and it's somewhat more subdued now, which is kind of nice. Right now I'm planning to spin it as singles and weave it into yardage for a sweater or vest. I learned a technique for varigated threads called Serendipity plaid, which this should work well for.
I hate it when a bag of fleece screams at you "Take me home!". That's because a 2 kilo bag of raw Romeny x Icelandic fleece in an incredible silvery moorit colour, with bleached creamy white tips and what so far seems to be little if any chaff, is really hard to hide.

In between I did accomplish a few things. First, I made sourdough bread: real sourdough, not like a Herman friendship bread. It is from a culture that was first started in 1847 on the Oregon trail. It was the first time I'd trusted a bread to rise without commercial yeast. It had a different texture that the bread I normally make from a generations old family recipe. It was however delicious and will become a staple in this household.

The poppies are blooming here. First the Icelandic or Arctic poppies have started budding out. This was the first but with the number of buds and new plants I'm seeing coming up, there should be many more. They have such a fine petal structure that seems to almost glow in the sunlight. The Oriental poppies have started as well. These pink ones are my favourites and are huge this year.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Gardens, dyeing and a busy, busy week

The tree peonies in the yard are blooming. The one has gorgeous pink flowers which are almost the size of dinner plates! One day it was tiny small buds, the next it was flowering. The white tree peony blooms only lasted for a few days this year, so I snapped a photo while it still looked so pretty. I'm rather fond of pink flowers.

I've been fussing with the Oseberg loom. I warped it up with some 16/2 cotton, using cardboard cards. It took me a few inches to get back into the rhythm of tablet weaving, since it's been a few years since I've done any. However, once I got going, I found the 2 uprights made it much easier to weave on than the other tablet weaving loom I have ( 2 rollers on a flat base) The only problem I had was that the card stock started disintegrating after weaving a few feet. Eventually, I couldn't turn them anymore and had to cut off the project prematurely. Still, it was quite enjoyable to weave on this loom, once I got going.

My summer has suddenly gotten a little bit busier than it had been - with having sold a house, having to buy a house, with all the ensuing stress and hassle of moving house, my daughter's wedding, plus now I've been put on vigil for the laurelate in the Kingdom of Ealdormere. I will admit that I am rather chuffed and totally overwhelmed by that, but having a personal good thing happen in the midst of all the other, is rather nice. Mixed in there are a weekend OHS spinning seminar, a 3 day living history demo and a weekend which I'm taking off to spend with one of my kids who hasn't been home since before Easter.

However, this has meant that I'm going to need to appropriately allot time to necessary projects. First on the list was getting personal obligations done. I told a friend that I would dye her veil and cap yellow, with period plants. This morning I cut back the Yellow Bedstraw for the second time this year. I put in with it a few fronds of Dyer's Greenweed because sometimes I've found the Bedstraw, when flowering, can have a bit of a dull yellow. This was to be a soft colour but I wanted it a pretty yellow as well. It turned out quite nicely I think. The vat still seems strong enough that I could dye something else in it. I just have to find some yarn or fibre that hasn't already been set aside for a specific project. I wonder if I have anything that isn't packed away?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Dye Days

These past few days have been dyeing days. First was a class at a local guild where I taught a class on Natural Dyeing. We used Madder, Indigo and Osage Orange for some beautiful colours. The wool was one I'd not used before and it sucked up the dye pigment like no tomorrow, leaving skeins with quite an amazing depth of colour.
Sunday was a dye day up at Earendel Farm. We were working with bog willow and were supposed to dye over an open fire. Unfortunately the wind was outrageous and we ended up dyeing on the stove. We were dyeing linen. The willow was a very light green colour. It was a pretty green although very, very pale. We were going for yellow as we had one yellow request and the rest were going to be overdyed with indigo. With the very pale green, we decided that it was going to be too much effort to get enough colour to make the dye vat really worthwhile and then it would still not give us what we wanted. By then, it was too late to do the indigo 'cause the stove is just a little bit cranky.
However, my friend wanted a "purple" veil. This was fine as I wanted a bubblegum pink one and at least with wool, I'd obtained both of these colours with madder by pushing the ph to become very alkaline.
Today I did a madder vat. Well, the madder went red.. very, red. I added a tone of baking soda and it finally shifted colour to purplish. I put in a sample and it came out deep red. I added a bit more baking soda and the dye vat was definately purple coloured. Even any bubbles made were purple. I stuck in a cap of naturally coloured linen to test it. It came out red, red, red. It hardly faded or bled out at all when I washed it afterwards. After a bit more baking soda the next two colours were obtained. The bright pink one was almost fuschia when I washed it out and the pale pinky/red one was deep red when it got washed.. Interesting experiment for certain. The linen for "Odette's" veil was quite white while Tang's was just a tad yellowy once it got washed and mordanted. As well, Tang's veil rustles differently in a way which makes me wonder if it has a finish on it or could be a blend of fibres.