March 28, 2009

Spring Green Fibre

The green fibre is dry! I carded it with a drum carder to blend the colour a bit and loosen up the rovings. This is from the Golden Margeurite vat that I did the other day. I thought I had used a Dyer's Knotweed blue which was a chemical reduction and an some sort of urine vat reduction of either woad or indigo. However, the smell of the blue I'd thought was Dyer's Knotweed suggests strongly that it was a urine vat reduction of woad. Not sure how I packed the two types of rovings together, but I did. The urine vat reduced indigotin has a distinct odor, albeit faint. At anyrate, one green is lighter, with a yellowish undertone and the other is darker with a bluish undertone. Both are very pretty.

This is Little Dog, another Shetland sheep fleece from Tammy. Now, looking at the size of this fleece, I'd say that LITTLE Dog is a bit of an understatement. It is a pretty big fleece. I had to divide it into 3 pieces in order to shake it out to get rid of the second cuts and large bits of hay. It is long and fairly soft. Little Dog is black. The tips are sun bleached brown and he has a really nice mix of grey in the black. It is a really lovely colour over all. It seems to have a staple length of 5-6 inches which I find a really good length to spin. I've got part of the fleece soaking right now, just to see how it cleans up.

March 25, 2009

First flowers, Dyes and a New Project!

Spring is in the air. The ground is thawing and a few days ago I found these pretty little snowdrops heralding Spring's arrival. It is always a good sign to see them. This year, at least they aren't fighting their way through snow, which I've seen in the past. Today, I noticed that in the sheltered area near the front garden, there are crocuses growing! That is early for them, but I'm not going to complain as the cheery purple is a wonderful sight.

The house smells of chamomile - or golden margeurite to be specific - dyer's chamomile. Last summer I dutifully harvested all the flowers as soon as they were barely mature. I stuck them in my freezer, in zip lock bags so I could add flowers as long as I could. I am working on a project and thought that I might need some green, so I dumped the flowers in a pot and cooked them for several hours today. I did an dye pot alum mordant, which I don't normally do, finding pre-mordanting generally gives me much better results. However I'm still down to one dyepot, and I'd already gotten the flowers cooking before I realized that the wool wasn't mordanted. I put in 2 shades of blue from last summer. One was a urine vat reduced indigotin - couldn't tell you if it was woad or indigo as it was just a small bit that I hadn't labeled for some reason and some of the Dyer's Knotweed from last summer. They are cooling in the pot right now, so I'm not sure what shades of green I have right now.

The greens will add to this colour palette for the new project on the loom. I used some wool singles and have a 20cm wide band warped up. The warp is leftover from the Dublin cap project. The weft will be linen singles, left over from the previous linen project I did. The colour bits for the inlays - supplementary weft brocade - will be handspun, naturally dyed shetland. It's a totally new technique and I've been able to find little information about it for some reason. I've only gotten as far as tiny samples to see if what I was planning would actually work.

March 16, 2009

Nothing on the loom!

Currently there is nothing on the loom...oh no... however there are several projects planned. After the shawls however, I felt like doing something else. So I picked up a set of Addi stainless steel needles that were a gift - and started knitting. Let me tell you, those needles had the project, albeit small and simple, simply fly off the needles because they were so nice to knit with. I used some leftover wool from the shawls to knit a pair of half mitts. My hand tend to get cold in between seasons and these allow me to still do things and keep warm. Especially useful I thought for the Ontario Alpaca show in April, where several of us are doing a fleece to shawl demo.

I've been spinning as well. The black shetland that I was considering using as singles has been plied. It's a nicer wool plied, so I'm considering using it for a cloak project, once I get enough spun. It's soft but it has been really hard to spin completely evenly as the little vm bits keep breaking my spinning rhythm. Even when I pick them all out of the rovings before I spin, they seem to jump back into the wool. Plying made it just a nice yarn, so all is good. I may spin it a tad thicker though so it spins up faster and makes the cloak a bit warmer. Mainly so it spins up faster. This last skein took an awfully long time to spin, but it's really, really fine.

Tomorrow a friend is coming over and we're going to play with the pot of madder roots which have been overwintering in the garage. They are still happy but I think they should be used soon and my friend wanted to learn how to dye. It should be a fun day.

March 02, 2009

Project updates

The checky shawl is done. It is hanging to dry in this photo. It was 95 in x 24 in off the loom. I'd made it extra long, knowing that there was a lot of stretch in the yarn and it would shrink back once I was done. Well, after twisting the fringes, I let it sit overnight and tossed it in the washer on the handwash cycle this morning. It is now 84 in x 21 in. This is a good size for a shawl. I'm still not fond of twisting fringes, but it does make the ends look nice and finished. I've gotten 5 shawls when I expected 4 from this project and I'm happy about that. A blue one is already spoken for and one of the red ones will be a gift. I think I may actually keep one for myself as well.

I've also got the first bobbin of the black shetland off the wheel. I put it into a centre pull ball as I was going to ply it. However, there wasn't one break while winding it off and I wasn't horribly gentle with it. I'm thinking that this might be strong enough to weave with. I do have a small project in mind which the black shetland would work well for, but I'm not certain. Instead, I'm going to just spin it into singles and store in centre pull balls for a few weeks until I decide. The light coloured flecks are the bits of VM left in the roving that I wasn't able to get out when picking before I spun or during spinning.

Now, I'd like to introduce you to Star, a moorit shetland lamb fleece. I've started picking and washing it. It is a nice fleece, greasy but not overly so, although alot of it is a tad on the short side. It is part of the project I'm working on to make a shawl for Tammy of Kalwa Taure Shetlands. The moorit coloured sheep I've seen tend to be a lovely chocolate brown. This one is no exception, though I couldn't get the colour accurate in the photo, even with some playing around in GIMP. The difference is that this fleece has lovely sun faded tips. Some people don't like that and I've heard that people even cut them off. In this fleece though, it adds some lovely character to the fibre.

I checked the forgotten madder vat. It is lovely and dark red in colour. Leaving it in the garage for most of the winter seems to not have harmed it at all. Nothing sciencey project growing in ti either! Yay!