Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Owls are Emerging

It's been deathly quiet here in my abode. My Mom came and got the kids yesterday and they couldn't wait to be away from Mommy and off with their Nanny and PawPaw.

Whoopee! I've managed to pick up the house a tiny bit, go out to dinner, relax, pack, knit, card, and sleep in. Who could ask for more?

The owls are emerging on the sweater.

Since this pic, I've gotten the beginnings of their wee little heads started. My hands are aching a bit. The combination of cables and two yarns held together are really tight and my hands have been working overtime to get the cables completed.

Well, I'm off to the folks to face the little heathens again. Wish me luck. :)

Have a Wonderful Easter Holiday!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Solution!

A while back a very nice lady that I met through Ravelry gave me some lovely Corriedale fleece. I cleaned it carefully and then dyed it with some Lanaset dyes aiming for a deep brown (came close, but was more a deep plum instead.) Unfortunately, things didn't work out quite well and I despaired of ever getting the chance to have usable fleece. The d*mn fleece had been overprocessed and when I tried hand carding and spinning it, it felt like dry rope in the hand. I tried hand carding some bombyx silk in with it, but it didn't help. So I set it aside a while in disgust until I could decide what to do with it.

After I received my drum carder, I ordered some fiber from Sheep Shed Studio. I got some top that was a deep black and dark brown with a touch of mohair mixed in with it. I picked out as much of the mohair as possible, but it was impossible to remove it all.

I was then hit by an idea. I have some dark brown and some black alpaca in storage. What if I mix it all up? What if I mix the brown/black, the corriedale and the alpaca? I'd then have a sweater's worth of the dark brown that I was looking for.

I wanted to make sure that I have the same amount of all the fibers in each of the batts that I would make. I've been going all scientific-y lately and so, to make life more interesting, I decided to card together the fibers that I have seperately first. Then, it would be easier to divide by weight and would be smoother when fed through the carder with the other fibers.

I spent all of last night carding up the black and brown domestic wool from SSS. Then tackled the dreaded Corriedale. I got three lovely batts of the Corriedale before I quit.

I couldn't wait to see what it would all feel like together and went ahead (before tackling the alpaca batts) and carded up a batt. I really wanted to see if the Corriedale was going to hurt the mix. I had so little faith in that Corriedale, but wow, was the completed batt gorgeous:

Left: black/brown batt, Middle: Corriedale, Right: Both combined w/ alpaca
It feels so soft and silky and is the perfect chestnut brown that has just a touch of sheen thanks to the tiny percentage of mohair. Lovely stuff and it's going to be so drapey.

I still need to finish carding the Corriedale and then start on the alpaca. It won't be finished in the next couple of days due to me going out of town on Thursday evening, but I'll get this at least partially finished next week.

I found time today to attach the sleeves to the Owls sweater and begin on the yoke:

I'm taking this with me this weekend and I'm hoping I'll have time to work on it then.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I can see to blog now!

I had an interesting new experience yesterday. My monitor decided to bug out on me. It would stay on for about 10 minutes and then turn off. Then, when turned back on, would stay on for a total of 1 second (literally) and turn back off again. Repeat the 1 second thing ad nauseaum. Do you know how incredibly difficult it is to write in your blog with this happening?

Today, The whole mess has been rendered moot with a new monitor. Yay! Much less frustrating. Cool thing? Cost me about $30 bucks for an 18.5" widescreen lcd thanks to a nice $75 gift certificate the hubby has been squirreling away from Fry's. Cool huh?

I have been knitting, some. I am almost finished with the second sleeve on the Owls sweater. I fully expected to be finished with this thing weeks ago, but life loves to interrupt our best laid plans. From here, I've got another inch or two on the sleeve and can then begin work on the cool Owl cable on the yoke of the sweater. We'll be heading to the folks again on Thursday evening and I'll take it, but probably won't get much done on it. For some reason, I have the hardest time getting a lot of knitting accomplished there. Of course, I'm taking my carder with me and all my beads, so the knit may get put on the back burner. We'll see.

Why should the kid always get the comfy seat?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Dyeing versus Dying

Children should come with signs from the womb that say: Warning! This cute tiny little apple of your eye will grow to be a not quite as cute, but still cute apple of your eye that carries infectious diseases. You do not even want to know how sick I became on Thursday night. The sick continued up until yesterday evening. It was not fun. It should have come with a warning.

Very late yesterday, I was bit with another bug. While I had gotten past the point of wanting to die, I suddenly wanted to dye. So I did.

I was using Kool-aid and a tiny bit of Wilton's paste for the dyeing and I wanted to try and do things a bit differently than last time.

1. I wanted to be a little more scientific so that I could re-produce the colors later instead of the fly by the seat of my pants method that I usually employ.
2. I also wanted colors that weren't quite so in-your-face clown barfy. I didn't want all neon primary colors, so that took a little thought.

Here's what I did:

I have a whole bag of lumps and bumps of fiber. I got out my digital postal scale and started weighing. Most of the lumps were .2 ounces in weight. One of the lumps was .8 oz and another was 2oz.

I ignored the total amount of water used. I went with the fiber weight versus ounce of dye route.

I heated water in pots on the stove to boiling. If you are using just the kool-aid, you do not need to add citric acid or vinegar to make it color fast. However, if you are using just food coloring, you're going to want to add them. I do not measure this out usually, and I probably use way too much of either because of it. I did put 1 tablespoon in the pot that was going to be used with the Wiltons.

I used Mason jars and glasses for the smaller lumps and the pots for the bigger ones.
Once the water was boiling, I turned if off, filled up my containers about half way, added the dye and walked away until the dye exhausted (the water was clear, the fiber colored.) Then rinsed and dried the fiber. Easy peasy.

I actually took notes! Can't believe it. It's just not like me.

I'm going to show you a pic and then give you my mix of kool-aid and Wilton's so that if you want to produce some of these you can. You'll have to do your own maths to get the ratios correct for the weight of your fiber.

Starting from the right and going clockwise:

Rust - For two ounces of fiber: 2 packetss yellow KoolAid, 1 packet BerryBlue Twist KA, 1.5 tsp Cherry KA, 1/4 tsp Orange Wilton's Food Coloring (paste)

Melon Orange - For .2 oz fiber: 1 tsp Orange Koolaid, 1 3/4 tsp Yellow Koolaid, 1/4 tsp Cherry Koolaid

Mossy Green - For .2 oz fiber: 1 tsp Orange Koolaid, 1/2 tsp Berry Blue Twist Koolaid

Purple - For .8 oz fiber: 1 packet Grape Koolaid

Red: For 1 oz. fiber: 1 packet Fruit Punch Koolaid

Dark Mossy Green: For .2 oz. fiber: 1.5 tsp Orange Koolaid, 1 tsp Berry Blue Twist, 1 tsp Lemonaid Koolaid

(I'm skipping to the almost black here, so bear with me.)

Black: For .2oz fiber: 1/4 tsp. Wilton's Black Paste Food Coloring. let fiber sit in glass jar for 1/2 hour. Put in microwave and cook for 30 sec. Repeat the microwaving every half hour for about 4 times. Then let it sit over night to let it fully exhaust.

Warning: The Black does not give consistent results. It "Breaks". Usually the fiber absorbs the reds first, then the blue. If I had let it sit all night, it would have probably made a truer black. But I couldn't leave well enough alone and added another small bump (about .1 oz) of fiber to it and left it all over night. That small bump ended up being that beautiful blue.

So there ya go. Your mileage may very. For me this was very scientific. For any real scientific and anal-retentive folks, my method may very well send you to the crazy house. :)