This post has been a long time coming. The yarn was plied months ago on the Lendrum as I mentioned, but all was not happy. I decided to use the jumbo flyer and plying head. It was sooooooo slow and my plying was less than even. On the bobbin, it looked like I had a several sections of really underplied yarn mixed in with “normal” looking yarn.

I was so disgusted I left the yarn on the bobbin for months, trying decide my next steps.

I finally decided to wind the yarn off and see what I had. I thought that I could put it on the squirrel cage reel and see if a few turns on that might help even out the twist a bit.

merino silk

Guess what? It looked pretty good in skein form! There were no obvious underplied sections. Some sections might have been a little overplied. No matter. I think it will even out a bit more once it hits it’s bath. It’s not my best work, but it’s not horrible either.

Here’s a tip that I learned from Stephenie Gaustad a few years ago…

  • Tie the beginning and the end of your yarn to each other so that the skein is essentially a giant single loop of yarn (but wound in skein form).
  • If the beginning and end are not close to each other on the skein winder, tie on a piece of scrap yarn as extender.

This allows the twist to flow freely throughout the length of the yarn.

Next, tie lots and lots of loose figure eights around your skein to keep them under control. The key here is loose. You don’t want to bind the skein in anyway — remember you want the twist to move freely throughout.

Yarn Stats:

  • 8 oz of Merino/Silk from RedFish Dyeworks
  • 1,662 yards of 2 ply yarn (approx. 3,300 ypp)

The yarn in fiber form and as singles. What was disappointing is that it lost the fresh out of indigo bath look (chartreuse, green, and blue) and is mostly green. I’ll have to see what to pair the yarn with to bring that original impression back.

Natural Dye Workshop

We had a Natural Dye Workshop with Anni Redding in September. It’s taken me this long to blog about it because I was really disappointed with the results. It didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped.

Anni was great, but there were other issues that came up that resulted in less my vision of what I would end up with. Darned expectations!

Anni showed us some of the colors she was able to create using natural dyes.

naturaldyecolorwheelstick

Gorgeous color wheel and color sticks. It was really inspiring to see the range of colors that she was able to get.

Our guild worked extensively with our indigo dye pot and were happy with the range of blues we were able to get out of it. It is a vigorous and very forgiving pot that has been going on for years and years. Phyllis also had a madder patch that we harvest annually and play with.

We wanted to focus on a strong yellow and a blue red to round out our color pallette. After talking with Anni, we settled on Osage Orange and Cochineal. We will have 3 dye baths of each color in light, medium, and dark.

We spent August preparing our fiber by simmering them in a 10% solution of alum. (10% by weight of fiber – WOF) We tagged the fiber by the dye bath we wanted them in.

osageorange

My first disappointment came with the Osage Orange bath. One person in the class went off the reservation and wanted to play with other mordants — specifically tin on some cotton handkerchiefs. When that went into the pot, it immediately dulled the dye bath. Instead of a bright yellow, it greyed out the bath when the tin leached out of the cotton into the dye bath.

Lesson learned. If you use different mordants, use different dye baths for each mordant. This may not be an issue if you are a solo dyer since you will likely only do one mordant at a time. In a class environment, keep it controlled and follow the instructor’s plans exactly. If you want to play, play with the after bath.

cochineal

After we finished with the cochineal, Anni showed us Saxon Blue — a different way of using indigo than the way we had been using it. Saxon Blue can be dyed like regular chemical dyes. The indigo is already in a pre-reduced form. You can just add the concentrate into a pot of hot water and it is immediately ready to use.

And here comes my second disappointment. I had squares that I had planned to overdye with our indigo bath at a future date. They were grouped with the primary color groups that I had planned for Osage Orange and Cochineal.

If I had proceeded as I originally planned, I would have washed the samples and retagged them for the indigo pot. Since I didn’t have tags and string during the workshop, I just dipped a square from each bundle into the Saxon Blue baths. I wasn’t careful enough and accidentally splashed color onto other squares.

Nevertheless, I continued. It would just add character to the finished squares.

Now, for the last disappointment. It was the Saxon Blue again. The blue took forever to rinse. I mean forever!

Someone rinsed at the workshop…and rinsed…and rinsed…

So I decided to let the squares cure for several weeks before washing them. Even 2-3 weeks later, the blue still bled. I washed the squares in about 4-5 lukewarm baths with synthropol. It was still bleeding when I finally gave up. And because the were still bundled together, the blue attached themselves to my gorgeous reds and yellows that were in the same bath.

Again, my fault. I should have taken the time to separate the bundles into specific dye groups to prevent just this type of problem. But I was lazy.

natdyesquares

In the post workshop euphoria, I purchased the nasty chemicals and safety equipment to make my on Saxon Blue stock. However, I am now so discouraged, I don’t know when/if I will make up the stock.

Fractal Danger

fractaldanger1

After seeing Mel’s handspun Fractal Danger, I immediately dove into my stash for suitable yarn. I came up with the 2 ply Rainbow Farms Pygora yarn I spun up over a year ago. (Top skein of the bottom photo) I have to say, this yarn is really really yummy. I had to rip out the first few inches of the scarf several times until I found the right needle size for a fabric I liked. This yarn just got better and better as if bloomed. Needless to say, it handled the ripping very well. You can see the area that I re-knit several times in the small elongated triangle to the above right of the yarn ball.

Tennis Socks

Remember when I was on a kick to knit my own tennis socks and fine tune the sock recipe? Yeah, it was fun. They wore really well. This summer, I wanted to make more.

Guess what? What I wrote on the blog was the extent of my notes on the recipes. Seriously. That’s it. At least I had the blog to refer back to, I guess, or I’d have nothing. Nothing.

tennissocks

This time, I’m making notes. There was a lot of ripping as I reconstructed the rolled rims. Hopefully, I won’t lose these notes.

These socks are slightly different from the first set because I’m using fishy lips heels. That has become my favorite short row heel construction method.

More on Indigo

If you go back and look at the color chart I posted yesterday, my favorite green is the indigo overdyed with osage orange. The result is a very clear green (left stripe, second square from the bottom in each strip) compared to the osage orange overdyed with indigo (top left square in each strip).

Now, this next bit is hearsay … I’ve heard it in some natural dye classes but have not been able to confirm this from internet nor book research (from my personal natural dye library of 4-5 books). Please take this with a grain of salt and drop me a note with references if you have more information one way or the other.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to apply the indigo first, osage orange second at this weekend’s workshop. Indigo doesn’t bond to the fiber the same way that typical natural dye does. The indigo pigment actually nestles into the fiber rather than chemically bonds to the fiber. This is why your jeans, if truly indigo dyed, will fade in creases. That is where the pigment rubs off.

Anyway, what this means is that indigo can be released again in another dye pot, thus alter the dye pot for everyone else in the class. We were advised not to try this unless it is at the very end of the workshop. However, that means the dye may be exhausted and I wouldn’t be able to get accurate medium on medium dye strength.

I might try this myself at home to see what the color variations might be with indigo last vs. indigo first.