Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Looky what I did!

Playing catch-up here. This post has been unfinished since June 14th. The day after I was off to Winnipeg for the weekend and I haven't done much since. I have so much to tell and will try and blog everyday until I am caught up. Yet to come: yarn candy from Winnipeg and summer of socks progress.

I dyed the little yarn cake. I used Wilton icing colour, Delphinium Blue. I have done a lot of reading on dying and thought using something I already had in my cupboard was a good place to start. What is so cool about this is the dye colour split into different shades [as was discussed on the email group dyehappy] .

So I looked for how to do it. I don't
know why I didn't think to just ask the email group but the result probably would have been just as confusing as what I found elsewhere on the web. Seems everyone has their own idea of how it should be done. Most recipes for Koolaid dying would contain references to Wiltons saying it is used the same or similar. So which is it? There is so much info out there on Koolaid dying, with conflicting procedures and methods I actually became overwhelmed and put off doing it because I couldn't decide what I should do. After a week of letting all that knowledge rattle around in my brain I just did it. I didn't bother following anyones recipe i just went with what had collected in my memory.

My process: Soak the yarn in a mixture of 1 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar for
an hour. I had discovered on some chat board that the difference between koolaid and wiltons is you need more vinegar with wiltons because koolaid has citric acid in it. Some dyers don't even bother adding any vinegar to koolaid. Some dyers cautioned using to much vinegar because it could damage the yarn and use as little as a tablespoon to a cup of water, others said that was rubbish and used as much as a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water.

Use a toothpick to poke the Wiltons colouring into the wool in a few spots. I almost used to much colour. To encourage colour splitting using less is better.

I covered the cup with plastic wrap and microwaved the wool at 50% for 5 minutes. Raising the temperature of the wool slowly also helps with
the splitting.

Let it set for 2 minutes. Microwave for another 5 minutes. Let set for 2 minutes. letting it rest helps prevent hotspots and scorching.

Continue to microwave and rest in 2 minute intervals until the water was clear.
I was soooo impressed when the water did clear. That's when I knew it was working!

And here she is, the one, the only, Little Cake: First Wool in
Delphinium Blue!

Monday, June 11, 2007

First wool: I SPUN IT!

In this post we meet the 1st wool. learn how I did it and what I think about the information out there on processing wool-simply put: us newbies need help!

LOOK MOMMIE! I DID IT! My first little cake of homespun!

It's kinda shy, a little embarrassed. She's over spun in most places and not even spun in some. [I don't get it]. But maybe if we promise not to laugh or make fun of her she will come out of the shadows and into the light.

Come on little wool. We promise not to laugh. You look so cute, all wrapped up in your little cake. Come on.....that's right.......

There you are! aren't you sweet!

I think that is all we are going to get from her at the moment. If you click on her you will get a good close up. You will notice there is still some VM caught in there. I just couldn't get it all out with the carding and couldn't wait until I managed to get combs from who-knows-where.

I spun it on a spindle I made from a knitting needle and a CD. I got the plan for that from 'Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning' by Judith MacKenzie McCuin.
I like the book. I like pictures. What I don't like is that Judith shows you how to make a spindle but then doesn't actually show using it. There are pictures about using a spindle just not the one homemade. For some reason that really bugged me. Like the instructions weren't complete.

The other thing that bugs me is that there are no step-by-step instructions that show how to take fleece from sheep to knitting needles. The instructions are there but they are not connected. This is a complaint I have across the board. I could not find step-by-step instructions anywhere. You can find instructions on washing, combing, carding, spinning and whatever else but nothing that said what comes next. Like: step 1) wash the fleece like this...... 2) card.... 3) comb..... 4) spin..... or whatever. I had to do a lot of reading and research to find out what the different steps were and then figure out what order they go in. I am still not sure I have it right. It seems no one out there has thought that there are those of us who know literally nothing about it and need to be held by the hand and taken through the step-by-step procedure.

I had washed and carded until I was sick of it and still had VM. There must be something else. The closest I came to a step-by-step procedure was in the files of the Spin List at yahoo groups. The file is called "Fleece to Yarn". 'Hurray!' I thought, "Finally I can find out what to do after I card". I read step one about skirting - check - , step two is washing, - check - , step 3 is dying, will do that later, this fleece still has VM!, step 4: comb, card or what about them? That's it. This is the step I have all the questions about. No where can I find why you would do one over the other, what the benefits of each one are. What my next step should be.

I got an answer on youtube. Yah, no kidding. Rexenne shows how to use combs
here . She talks about how it can help remove VM and separate out the short fibers and leave you with only the long fibers. Eureka! The info I have been looking for. Because the sheep was sheered by ametures short fibers [second cuts] are an issue. OK, I need combs....and a ditz, finally saw what your supposed to do with that too. Yes, I know all this info is in the book and elsewhere but this was the 1st time i saw anything about combing helping to remove VM and that it is this process that makes those nice, big, fluffy balls of ready-to-spin fiber you see in the store AND online and IN THE BOOK! CONNECTION COMPLETE!

Maybe its because I am a visual learner I had a hard time connecting the dots or maybe this really is a short coming in the spinning community. It seems everyone who puts fiber and spinning info out there assumes their reader has at least some kind of basic knowledge to start with. Well I had none! I did A LOT of research and reading to obtain the knowledge that I have now. I just wish I could have received it in all one go from somewhere.

Now I want to test dye my little test cake. Then I'll test knit it into a swatch and keep it as a reminder of my beginnings because this is NOT the end. There will be more. I have to get better at this and put to good use all the knowledge I have.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Monkey Love Casts On!

Coming at ya.....

I asked Barry to take a picture of the Monkey sock I cast on so I had something to post to ravelry. The next thing I know he's all:
'hold the
light here'
'now this way'

After several minutes of that I changed the arrangement.

come close

get back

Several minutes later... I started getting
board so it started getting weird.

dancing monkey.

I grabbed the yarn and danced the needles like it was a marionette. Who says monkeys don't have strings?
[little inside joke for Canadians, and if you are Canadian and you don't get it.....what!....your Canadian and don't
watch Corner Gas until you can quote it? for shame]

Still it went on......

and on.....
Picture this if you dare: Two adults, on their bed, the woman is bouncing a square of sticks and string around the pillow while the man is clicking away, coming close, backing up, lying down, sitting up, adjusting the light.....please stop.

And then, about 20 minutes [in all] later.....
finally it did.....
but isn't all that jitterbug yarn candy delightful!?! yum!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My Birthday Present

That's my ball of Colinette Jitterbug in Jewel that I gave to myself being held by one of my other Jewels, Bronwyn.

Here is how I wrap it in a ball: drape the skein over my knees and start winding. [man, i really need to do some sit-ups]

This is my favourite chair. It's comfy and deep. It's in the corner with a floor lamp right behind it. The tv is in the other corner on my right. The couch is on my left so there is little reason for anyone to block the tv in case I should want to look up while knitting. That's my knitting bag [just like my grannie's!] nestled inbetween the chair and wall and you don't want to know what is going on behind the chair in the corner. It's my little world of yarn.

Here is it, glissining in the sun!

And here: in the form of two lovely yarn cakes...still attached, in case they are not even because I am about to cast on Monkey. I plan to go with the picot edging as exalted and described by Cara. Her blog is the coolest ever! No matter how many times you click 'refresh' the banner photo is always different. Love her sense of colour.

Don't be surprised if there are more lovely pics of this yarn. I love it. At $25.00 A SKEIN, yes, for one skein it will make the most expensive pair of socks I think I will ever own but....the most beautiful as well.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I'm Invited! I'm Invited! I'm Invited!

Ah, Ah, Ah! breath.
It finally came! My invite from Ravelry!!!!
I am, of course, Redplaid. I will be there for a while reveling in Ravelry.


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