Monday, April 30, 2007

Color my world...

Red, blue, purple, yellow, green...pick a color, any color! I had fun tonight mixing and preparing dyes! These are acid dyes that I purchased from The Woolery last year. My blue and yellow are close to the outermost ring of color on the colorwheel (from Deb Menz's "Color in Spinning"). My red is more of a magenta.

I started with three stock solutions--red, blue, & yellow. All the other colors are combinations of two stock solutions in 1:3, 1:1, or 3:1 ratios. I made a big table in my notebook to help keep things straight. This way I could make up each stock solution, pour it into the bottles, and rinse the container.

It's a bit scary to dye in my new kitchen. I don't want to make a mess! I kept a bucket of bleach water in the sink and worked hard to wipe up drips as they occured.

Here are my dyes in their bottles posing for a colorwheel shot. I have yet to test the colors (I didn't remember to do it until mid-clean up!), but they look pretty in the bottles!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

K'nex wheel

One of the reasons why my loom is only partially warpped is this find at a garage sale. I got a tub of k'nex for a dollar. As soon as they had been washed my son and I started to play. He made spaceships and I made a spinning wheel.

Hmm. Let's rephrase that: He made spaceships and I attempted to make a spinning wheel. I was trying to do an accelerated quill wheel (ala walking wheel with miner's head). I was not successful.

This picture is attempt #2, made with help from my husband. It is also non-functional. I don't know why I'm set on making a functional spinning wheel, but I keep trying. I am learning lots and lots (much of the learning is discovering how much I don't know!). Maybe one of my next iterations will bring success!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Experiment with Natural Dyes

This experiment started early last week as my youngest walked around the front yard with a cute little bucket. She needed something to put in the bucket. Dandelions were plentiful, so we decided to pick dandilions. The older kids got into the fun too and we soon had a bucket of dandelion flowers.

I cooked them in a crock pot, poured the dye into a bucket to cool...and then left it for a few days. I wasn't sure of what to do next and after enough days I tossed the whole mess.

I then borrowed a natural dyeing book from my weaving guild's library (I LOVE libraries!) and when my neighbor showed up with a bag of dandelions that her kids had picked for me, I was ready to dye wool!

~5oz of dandelion flowers and stems cooked for 1/2 hour in ~1 gallon of water. I fished out all the plant matter, added more water and my presoaked wool (4 oz), and simmered the wool for 1 hour.

And this is what I got:

If you look really closely at that picture you will see that the wool at the bottom is browner that then wool at the top. However, if you don't have the undyed wool for reference it looks mostly like undyed wool. This is obviously not the right way to dye with dandelions! My guess is that this would work a lot better with a mordanted wool (I didn't do any sort of mordant!).

I took a ball of the dyed roving out for artsy photos this afternoon anyway!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fun Lessons on the Knitting Front

These are my baby's new mittens. Yep. I know. It's spring. Winter is months away.

However, I wanted to tackle some color work mittens. My mother-in-law is wonderful about handing me knitting books. Over Easter she gave me a sock book that had lots of patterns she liked, but would never knit. (It's "Socks, Socks, Socks" edited by Elaine Rowley.) A year ago she gave me a mitten pattern book with all sorts of wonderful color work patterns ("The Mitten Book" by Inger & Ingrid Gottfridsson).

When I first got "The Mitten Book" I was spinning a pale blue roving and paused long enough to knit a sample. I was amazed that I could do two color knitting. I'm much more comfortable with one color and cables. I was also impressed that my singles worked for this kind of knitting.

Time passed. Babies were born. Houses were bought and sold. More yarn was spun. I chose this triangle pattern (called "Night and Day") because it has a small repeat--only 6 stitches--and it has no long floats. And it worked! Look at me! I can do two color knitting!! I am excited!

And I now have an entire book of mitten patterns, and many, many sock patterns to use while I improve and perfect my colorwork techniques!

The best part about this knitting story is that a year or two ago I looked at the Socks book and thought, "I'll never be able to knit those. Look at all the different colors they use." Never say never.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Off the Cuff

My great-aunt is here visiting. Last night we needed a project. I asked a few questions, we dug around in my stash of yarn, did a few calculations, and lo and behold: a scarf to take home with her!

The sett is 10 epi. The brown is a fine polyester single--somewhat prone to fraying! The gold is somewhat thicker with regular slubs in it.

I'm working on improving my photos with a "light box". The basic idea is that diffuse light makes for a better picture. This picture is nice (I took it at night with a flash). I did some color correction using Paint Shop Pro, and am pretty pleased with the outcome.

Just for fun, here are my calculations for the scarf. I have a white board in my workroom which gets used for all sorts of lists. It's a good place to write when I want to be able to see it while I weave.