spinning fiber


These yarns were all spun on a Louet Julia – not my wheel, but one of the wheels at my work.  I wish it were my wheel, I’m kind of in love with it!

handspun yarn

I’ve been playing a lot with the drum carder (also at work, also in love with it) and I love the variety of effects I’ve been able to get through blending different colours and types of fibres.

handspun yarn

Handspun yarn,100g, white and blue with green flecks, worsted/chunky weight single ply carded Merino and Corriedale wool.

This next skein will produce a beautiful striping effect when I knit it up. I think it’s really pretty but it’s just a small amount of yarn and I’m really not sure what to make with it. Any ideas? I’m not sure whether to use it by itself or to mix it with a commercial yarn.

handspun yarn

This yarn was the result of carding together all of the left-over fibre “scraps” from previous carding sessions. I have a few secret hiding spots where I tuck away little bits of fibre that don’t get used for whatever reason. The resulting “grab bag” batts and yarns I get from these treasure troves are really cool surprises.

handspun yarn

Handspun yarn, small tweedy skein, Many colours but mainly green, blue, purple and pink,  dk weight single ply carded Merino and Corriedale wool.

I really enjoy blending on the carder, but prepping wool fleece on a drum carder is also really fun, although it takes a lot of work to get the nice, smooth preparation that I prefer.  Once the fleece has been washed and dried, I pick out locks of wool and flick both the butt and tip with a hand-carder.  This fluffs and opens up the wool, releasing more dirt that may have gotten stuck in the fibres and makes it the perfect preparation to feed into the drum carder and get a nice batt.

Luckily, a friend has been visiting the store recently and scouring a ton of fleece!  Ana of Art-by-Ana is a super-sweet fiber lover who I really like to chat about carding and spinning with.  Thanks to her, I have access to piles of washed wool to play with!

handspun yarn

This was my first time preparing and spinning Jacob wool and I really like the breed. The sheep are spotted so their fleeces contain a mix of white and brown patches. For this yarn, I picked out mostly white wool and am looking forward to using the brown sometime soon.

handspun yarn

Handspun yarn, small (maybe 1 oz. -ish) skein, natural white with some grey-brown flecks, sport weight 2-ply flicked and carded Jacob wool fleece locks.

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A while back I bought two similarly dyed merino wool slivers by fleece artist. They were pretty much the same except one had more red and the other had more tan. I thought it would be interesting to spin each one in a different style.

hand-spun yarn

I spun the first top into a heavy worsted slubby thick and thin single. To prepare the wool, I separated it by stripping off sections lengthwise which were about five times thicker than my final yarn. This yarn’s colours change every few yards or so. Next time I strip the top like that I will try making my lengths of fiber thinner so that the colours change more frequently.

handspun

The second style I spun was a self-striping 2-ply worsted-weight yarn.

handspun yarn

My method was to divide the wool lengthwise into two equal halves. It worked really well! The colours lined up nicely and the singles were almost the exact same length, one was maybe six inches longer than the other. It’s always so nice when that happens.

handspun yarn

There you have it! Two very different looking handspun yarns from two very similar wool tops.

I’ll leave you with a photo of these really cool flowers, if you recognize them please let me know what they’re called. They start as pink balls that look like lanterns and then bloom into an explosion of purple and pink petals.

flowers

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!

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