drop spindle


I love taking pictures of the moon but they rarely turn out nicely; the contrast between the white moon and black sky is difficult to capture in a photo. I’d say the moon and the sky are two of my very favourite photography subjects. A few days ago, I took this picture of the moon in the daytime:

daytime moon

I must admit, my photo wasn’t quite this dramatic until I gave it a few digital touch-ups 🙂 I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Onto the yarn! I spun this fleece artist roving into a really plump super-bulky thick and thin yarn.

handspun yarn

This was one of my first successful bulky singles spun on my spinning wheel. I usually prefer my spindle for these types of yarn as it gives me so much more precision and control.

handspun yarn

I’m gearing up for a weekend trip and what better knitting project to bring than hand-spun socks. This is the bobbin I will be bringing with me for the ride, Pleasurecraft hand-dyed wool/mohair blend from this top. I spun a fine single with a lot of twist in hopes that it will hold up to heavy wear. It is a self-striping yarn featuring yellow, blue, green, and orange.

hand-spun yarn on the bobbin

In the next post I will show you two different styles of yarn spun from two very similar wool tops.

A short while ago, I won this amazingly beautiful BFL wool spinning kit for taking part in a contest on Cosy’s blog. Thanks again, Cosy!

I highly recommend Cosy’s spinning kits (available at her shop on etsy) to any spinners or people looking for a gift for a spinner. The dye colours were beautiful individually and in combination and the wool was soft, shiny and a pleasure to spin.

The basic idea is to spin the largest 2 oz braid into a single on one bobbin, then spin the 4 1/2 oz multi-coloured braids onto another bobbin and finally ply them together.

Although it was my intention to follow those instructions, thing’s didn’t exactly turn out as planned!

When it came time to ply my two different coloured singles together, they just wouldn’t ply and I realized that the singles were each spun in a different direction, making it impossible for them to twist together. I had managed to make this basic spinning mistake because one single had been spun on my spinning wheel, and one was spun on my drop spindle. I had never tried plying from both at the same time before which is where the confusion arose. So, I changed my strategy and spun each bobbin into it’s own 3-ply navajo yarn which kept the striping colour changes intact.

I now have one light blue skein and one green, white, brown and blue striping skein.

As I ended up with a 3-ply yarn instead of a 2-ply as I had intended in the first place, it is definitely bulkier than I had planned (about 8-10 wpi, bulky to super-bulky weight). I wanted to knit a baby sweater, possibly a BSJ but am now reconsidering because this yarn may be too thick.

My first time knitting with my own hand-dyed hand-spun yarn! This is the kind of thing that makes me feel very self-satisfied 🙂

hand-dyed handspun yarn

BFL wool dyed with Kool aid and food colouring drops, spun on my drop spindle, knit on 10mm needles.

It came from this spinning fiber, dyed once with cherry kool aid, then over-dyed with a tiny bit of blue and yellow food colouring:

dyed bfl wool

This is another over-dyed BFL wool top, originally cherry and orange kool aid, then immersed in a dye bath with blue food colouring:

dyed bfl wool

Both of those started as something similar to this one but with more separated and splotchy colours:

dyed bfl wool

I have many of these pink/red bundles of fiber. And to be honest, I feel really ambiguous about a lot of them. Lesson learned: when trying out dyes for the first time, limit myself to small test batches of fiber! A lot of the blue over-dyeing I did recently still hasn’t turned out “dark enough” for me. I keep drying the wool, seeing how much it lightens compared to when it is wet and wanting it to be darker! How many times can I dye this stuff before felting it, I wonder? 😛 I still haven’t tried Wilton’s icing dyes which I have read give a really nice saturated dye. I also want to try applying the dye when the fiber is hotter (like in a crockpot) so that the wool accepts the dye faster and the colours come out more distinct and less muddled.

geranium in a pot

Have a great weekend!

Cool colours of dyed wool, used lemon-lime kool aid and yellow and blue food colouring with vinegar.

kool aid dyed wool

Warm colours of dyed wool (the purple does not show up so well in this photo), used cherry, grape, and orange kool aid.

kool aid dyed wool

Well, I got that basic spectrum of colour down and am now busy playing with the subtleties of the colours. The results of yesterday’s dyeing session were disappointing – a lot of greyish purple and medium pink and orange. This afternoon, I over-dyed pretty much everything with blue and that seems to be the magic solution! Everything is now in the process of becoming teal and blue and green and purple – yay! I will post before and after pics when those are dry.

Last night, I spun up some of the pink BFL wool I had accumulated so much of –

kool aid dyed wool on drop spindle

I have very confused feelings about this shade of pink. I love a really subtle, super-light blush of pink. I also like really vibrant magenta. But, in between is something I’m not sure of. Bubblegum and pepto bismol come to mind. And internal organs!

Speaking of magenta, here is the fleece artist hand-dyed kid mohair single from last post plyed using my drop spindle. It is so soft and shiny and really fun to spin.

kid mohair handspun

On a walk through my neighbourhood this morning I came across this beautiful tulip. I love flowers that have more than one colour on them, especially if they are split down this middle like this one:

half pink tulip

I had a lot of fun with my kool-aid dyeing yesterday, even though I had that limited palette. Most of the yarns I dyed yesterday are still wet, and I think I may re-dye them. SO, here are some of the spinning fibers I dyed.

Milk protein fiber takes the dye really well, it is splotchy here because I didn’t pre-soak the fiber. I used lemon-lime and tropical punch for these:

kool-aid dyed milk fiber

I also dyed BFL roving, and ended up with a lot of this shade of pink. This is BFL wool dyed with cherry and grape:

bfl wool dyed with kool aid

I read a lot about how hard grape Kool Aid is to dye with and it’s true – I got very splotchy results with it. Next time I want purple I think I will dye red and then over-dye blue.

As much fun as the kool-aid was, I needed BLUE. So, I purchased some food-colouring drops. They contain no acid, so to dye with them, you need to add vinegar or citric acid. It was my hope that I could use the leftover K.A. dye water if it had enough acid left in it for these other dyes. In the end, I did have to add vinegar to the blue dye.

Dye Baths of wool with Kool Aid and Food-colouring:

dye baths

That generally worked pretty well. I find blue a very difficult colour to exhaust from the dye baths. The red K.A. also has trouble completely exhausting.

A combination of Kool Aid and food-colouring on wool:

I finally took the fleece artist hand-dyed kid mohair out of my stash and started spinning it on my drop spindle (super shiny!!):

drop spindle kid mohair

For more information on food-safe dyeing knitty.com has some great articles and ravelry.com (ravelry ID required) has a whole group dedicated to Kool-Aid – What a kool way to dye, as well as some groups for dyeing in general – Colour by hand, and Love to dye.

I’m looking forward to sharing the fibers I dyed this afternoon very soon!

Well, I finally dyed some yarn and spinning fiber and I love it!

I could only find these colours of Kool Aid at my supermarket so obviously I had a limited pallette to work with, no yellow or blue. Cherry, orange, lemon-lime, tropical punch, grape.

The tropical punch is not blue at all as the package would suggest, but a dark orange-red.

I used two methods to dye: double-boiling mason jars in a canning pot, and cooking pans of water and yarn in the oven. These are the yarns I am most proud of so far, they were dyed once and then over-dyed with more pink and red:

kool-aid dyed yarn

That pale pink is the best! I just added yarn to a jar of red dye that wouldn’t exhaust and re-heated it. The only trouble is that I can’t yet re-create that shade, I have tried and the yarn didn’t accept the dye for some reason. Oh well, I will try again.

Solar dyeing is something I played around with and it did work to exhaust some of the dyes. More research is definitely needed (and a solar oven!)

I have also spun some tiny sample skeins of the wool-mohair fiber from the last post.

Crab Apple blossoms outside my apartment:

Pictures of dry yarn and fiber tomorrow!

As I said in the last post, I was super-excited to meet a fellow spinner at the Ladyfest craft fair – Kristyn from Pleasurecraft.

I made my big purchase of the day at her booth – braids of her hand-dyed wool mohair blend spinning fiber.

I had never spun a blended spinning fiber before and am enjoying it as I spin some samples of this beautiful stuff with my drop spindle.

I have heard that mohair blends are good for sock yarns, does anyone have thoughts or experiences with this?

I love this wool and am looking forward to experimenting with it.

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