Friday, 25 May 2012

Nearly Instantaneous Sock Colours

 On Tuesday night we had a play day at the guild.  A few of us got together for a protein fibre/acid dye painting workshop.  We could bring either wound warps or yarns.  I brought 200 grams of sock yarn, enough for 2 pair of socks.   I had fun learning to paint skeins, which is more dabbing than actually painting, but did have fun making self striping sock yarn.

It was more of an experimental evening rather than leader led program.   The first skein I tried, I really wanted a bright green for bright green and black stripes.  I got a nice green, although it wasn't nearly as bright as I'd wanted.  I realized that I wasn't quite as prepared as I should have been.  Although I did swatch, I didn't have my stripe calculations worked out and as the workshop leader used certain numbers as examples, in the rush , those numbers stuck in my head.  As soon as I realized this, combined with my not quite bright enough green, my project changed to a colour wheel, which a single tertiary colour between the primaries.  The stripes won't be quite wide enough for my liking, but they'll be fun and colourful socks none the less.

The second skein of sock yarn I did was horribly rushed as people were cleaning up around me as I was painting.  It was a tad disconcerting although I understand that others were done and wanted to go home.   I'd wanted to lighten up the fuchsia dye but the water jug disappeared when I set it down for a second.  I went with the flow and my pink and black striped socks turned into red, burgandy and black striped socks.    While I steamed the sock packets for 40 minutes, longer than the 20 that was suggested, there was still a lot of dye run off.  In the end, I did a quick rinse and recooked each skein in a hot water/vinegar bath, which did the trick of absorbing the rest of the dye.

Painting the skeins was a lot of work.  First winding the ridiculously long skein, which I did using my warping board and then laying it out on plastic wrap.  Then applying the dye, wrapping it up, steaming it, letting it cool, unwrapping the skein,  rinsing it and in my case cooking it as second time to finish the dye setting process.   After all this is done, you have to put the long skein back on the warping board and wind it into regular skeins for aging (like fine wines some sock yarns are) or straight into cakes to use immediately.  That winding took a long time as I had to unwind a few yards and then wind them up.  In the end, my sweetie helped me which saved a lot of time. Note that the colourwheel skein is still in it's absurdly long state and not yet a normal skein.

A couple of hours in the evening for a project like this, when you haven't done it before isn't quite enough time and it really felt rushed toward the end of the evening.  I've got a whole slew of ideas for future projects though, which is exciting and so totally what I don't need in the project queue.  However the nice thing about dyeing is when other projects seem to weigh or bog down due to length, dyeing is pretty much an instantaneous gratification project and we all need those once in a while.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Colours of May

I was away for the weekend and came home to amazing colours in the garden.  These beautiful Irises were hidden in the garden.  I'd meant to dig them up last year and replant them, as they were originally planted a little too deep and rarely bloomed.  Obviously some chicken scratching and dustbathing has helped a lot this year.

 These Irises are in the pond, so are obviously water loving plants.  They are very pretty.  My only wish would be that the flowers lasted a little longer and they had a longer blooming period.   I sat outside for a bit, with my tea, enjoying them yesterday.
 Dames Rocket... It's taking over half the flower beds.  Every year I tell myself that I should dig some of it up and thin it out.  Then every spring it bursts forth into flower and there is a wall of pink along the back flower bed.  It's so pretty, I just leave it for next years bounty.
 The white Lilacs haven't really bloomed this year.  There are a few scant blossoms but the early spring heat and ensuing frosts may have damaged this years flowers.  This pink Lilac flowers much later though and has more gorgeous flowers than ever.   The scent is heavy and sweet.

Another flower which needs thinning are the Poppies.  There are now scads of orange Poppies.  I'd really like some other types and colours.  There are some pink and varigated pink Oriental Poppies which would make a nice addition.   The Icelandic Poppies I planted last year don't seem to have made it through the winter, nor have several other plants.  Whether that's due to the lack of snow cover or the chickens, I don't know.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Spring Beauty

 Today I found this Bachelor's Button hiding amidst the Spurge and newly blooming Dame's Rocket.   There are lots of flower buds, that I'm sure will open over the next few weeks but this one is the first.  I love the deep, rich colour of Bachelor's Buttons and the rather avant-garde appearance of the blooms.  It's survived the onslaught of chicken dust baths, so it's definitely a hardy plant. 
 The Bleeding Hearts are blooming strongly as well.  There is a white one tucked away in the back of the garden, but it's not quite as spectacular as this large pink specimen.  Yesterday the blooms were just starting to open and today, it's bright pink and white look so nice contrasted with the green foliage.  By the pond, it makes a lovely place to have a cup of tea.
 The superwash Merino/nylon grey blend is plied, skeined and washed.  All together there is 430 yards of 2 ply sock yarn.  It took a while to spin, but it's turned out so nicely that I don't mind having taken the extra time.  I love the blended grey.  I made up 8 batts on the drum carder, with 19 grams of white and 2 grams of black.  That's approximately 9.5% black and 90.5% white. 

When loading up the truck for a dump run, I found this old door.  It's still sturdy, although it certainly needs to be cleaned up.  I've been doodling on graph paper, trying to design a cupboard to fit around the door.  In the process, I came up with 2 other cupboards which would fit in places around the house.  Now to draft something more concrete and get materials lists for one of them.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Round and Round (as in spinning)

 Indigo dyed Blue Faced Leicester with nylon.  There is only 230 yards of this.  It dawned on me that it would have been a good time to try toe up socks, but after swatching, knitting, frogging  4 times.. okay, I only swatched twice, once when I was supposed to before I started knitting and it gave me one set of info..  After three false starts, I swatched again, checked the WPI and realized that my swatch gauge and wpi were telling me different things and that my issues were that this was handspun, not commercial sock yarn, I cast on what I thought it should be and it looks like it should work.  I've a bit of extra yarn from bobbin ends, in both the same blue and a blue/white barber pole which should work for heels and toes, to extend the yarn.  Since I am knitting a sock with few stitches less than I would with commercial yarn at a slightly heavier gauge, I'm hoping I can weasle through with the yardage.

The lovely grey is more Blue Faced Leicester and Merino, both with a bit of nylon, mixed with some black merino.    I really bought the first superwash fibres on a whim.  However I've rather enjoyed spinning them as they draft nicely and are easy to re-card into batts.   I'm on the second bobbin now, so if I can actually get myself to card up the last two batts, sit down and spin, I'll be plying in no time.   The problem is that I sat down one day to play with the little support spindle .   It's certainly not fast, but it is very enjoyable.  Now of course, I'll probably have to unlearn all the mistakes I've picked up in teaching myself to use it.   Darned if I was going to let a spinning device sit unused and untried, lest it spend it's days taunting me!  I can see now that a slightly shorter spindle might be nice and even a little heavier would work as well.  However I do like the tip for spinning off of this one and it's beautifully finished, so has a lovely hand feel when using it.