September KAL (Knit Along)

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For those knitters and fibre enthusiasts out there, you know the feeling of completing a KAL with a great bunch of like minded folk. For those that aren’t into fibre-arts, you are missing out!

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For the month of September,  I signed up to knit a shawl for a KAL group on Ravelry, which by the way, if you are not a part of and you are a fibre geek, then I suggest you head over pronto to sign up (its free) and you will then have access to oodles of patterns from mitts to socks to hats to sweaters and blankets in every style,  for every age, and most are free patterns!

Anyway, back to the KAL.

The group I am a part of is called the DIY & DYE, where we spin, dye and knit our creations from raw fleece.  I joined in with some alpaca that I had spun and hand-painted and included a commercial skein of yarn in a contrasting neon peach colour.

The pattern was somewhat simple, but it still took some concentration after making a….design element, yes we call mistakes “design elements”.  Aside from the impromptu changes to the pattern, I finished the project just one day outside of September, even with life getting in the way.

The pattern, called “Metalouse” by Stephen West (a well known knit designer in the knitting world) features a striking pattern created by slipped stitches in a contrasting colour that melds beautifully with the variegated handspun alpaca.

I simply love how this turned out and have another one planned very soon.  Have you been a part of a KAL or CAL (crochet along) or even a WAL (weave along)? If so, I would love to see your creations, feel free to tell me all about them or link your projects below!

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Fuerig The Baby Alpaca

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I really wish I could have met Fuerig in person.  With his glossy black locks and cool demeanor, I could envision him strutting around the paddock like a camelid version of Fabio, beckoning to the ladies housed in the next pasture over with a “hello gorgeous, come here often?” line.

Since the owner sold him for breeding stock before I arrived at the ranch, the next best thing was to acquire 2 of his fleeces.  The first fleece being his ”cria” fleece (cria is what a baby alpaca is called) with a 4 1/2″ long staple length and slight crimp, the lustrous jet black locks are incredibly soft and as fine as angora bunny fur.  Unfortunately it is full of VM (vegetable matter) and the processing mill had sent it back as they didn’t want to deal with all that VM.  I figure I have plenty of time to painstakingly pick out bits of hay knowing full well that the end product will be well worth the effort.

DSC05876The second fleece was from his next (2nd) shearing, it still needs a light skirting as well as a bath but it is currently housed in an airtight tote bin while I finish processing his baby fleece. I have big plans for both fleeces, but first I was itching to spin some of the baby fleece as its reputation of being an exceptionally soft fiber is prized by knitters the world over.

For those that have yet to spin alpaca (or other camelid) fibers, the weight and feel of alpaca yarns are nothing like that of yarn made with sheep’s wool.  Wool fiber ranges from rough to ultra soft, depending on the breed, they have somewhat denser locks but with a distinct bouncy feel.  Alpacas don’t bounce, they just lay flat out on the ground and snooze and their fiber feels exactly the same, heavy and with great draping qualities.

10351730_10152717633959054_2321268615927224487_nAfter a week of picking, washing and drying, the silky black locks were ready for further processing.  I automatically chose to use my hand cards for this one over the drum carder for two reasons.  First being the drum carder was up north at the cottage and I and the fleece were not and two, the fineness and length of the staples called for a delicate hand while carding so as not to damage or break the fibers.  Combing could have been another option for processing, if I had a pair of hand combs that is, but I don’t, so hand cards are the weapon of choice.

I spent a wet and dreary Saturday afternoon picking and carding 2 ounces of fiber to spin for a test skein.  Once prepped into rolags, I divided the batch in half and eagerly sat down with my antique Nova Scotian wheel and got to work.  Wow, this fiber spun with ease.  So soft and silky and at times a little slippery, but it was a real pleasure to spin, with the exception of stopping to pick VM out occasionally.

I wanted the finished yarn to feel as close to commercially spun baby alpaca yarn as possible.  Once your fingers touch one of those soft, squooshy and smooshy hanks of yarn, it’s impossible to put it back down and next thing you know it’s in your shopping bag and your wallet is noticeably lighter.  So the trick to getting that baby soft feel is to keep as little twist to the yarn as possible.  Only add enough twist to hold the single together if you are keeping it as a single.  If you are plying with 2 or more singles, then add a tich more twist, being careful not to add too much though or you will end up with a skein of kitchen twine.  Desirable only if you have a turkey to truss.

After I spun a few meters, I pulled a length of the single back off the bobbin and plied it against itself for a sample.  Perfect.  It was turning out exactly as I envisioned.  It was about a light fingering weight for the 2-ply, but that will most likely change with wet finishing, so for now I cut that off and added it to my control card and then spent the next day spinning up a couple bobbins, each holding an ounce of fiber.  I let the bobbins rest for a day, and then plied them together into a gorgeous hank of jet black, shiny yarn.

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I ended up with 177 yards out of the 2 ounces of fiber and after a wash and set at the salon, the yarn bloomed to 12 wpi, about a DK weight yarn.  I was aiming for Fingering weight, but overall was happy with it as the intended project is a shawl and gauge isn’t terribly important in shawls.

With the test skein of Fuerig’s cria fleece complete, I need to finalize what shawl pattern to use.  Normally I spin for an already chosen project, like my Fert & Palladin Alpaca Throw Blanket (http://www.ournorthernhomestead.com/meet-fert-and-palladin), but acquiring this fleece at the last minute left me with no time to search for the right pattern beforehand.  I was also somewhat affected by the ‘oooo shiny’ syndrome of wanting to play with the fleece immediately after obtaining it.  I am sure a lot of fiber enthusiasts out there can relate or attest to the reality of the ‘oooo shiny’ syndrome, it often afflicts even the most disciplined fiber-holic.

Now it’s time to cruise the internet halls of Ravelry, window shopping for shawls from the comfort of my arm chair with a cup of tea in hand, then back to finish spinning up the rest of Fuerig’s fleece…… unless the ‘oooo shiny’ syndrome strikes again.

Deborah

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Spring has Sprung!

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Thank goodness the cold and snow is now behind us and we can look forward to (in my opinion) the shortest and BEST season we have ~ SUMMER!

I have been so busy this past 6-8 weeks, not just with work (my busiest time of year) but also ramping up my gardening chores.  The raised  beds have had their plastic rolled down to thaw the frozen earth and 2 weeks ago I was lucky enough to get some radishes, chard, beets and lettuce seeds sown.  These are cool weather veggies and have a much better appreciation of early Spring cold spells than the summer loving tomatoes and peppers.

Speaking of peppers, I am gobsmacked with how well they are growing now that we downsized our southern home to a condo.  It is so blasted hot in here that it is the perfect nursery for my plant babies.  Have a look see for yourself! DSC06002Some of the pepper varieties are now over a foot tall!  I started them a month earlier than normal too, mainly because I have the plastic on the raised beds, I can extend the growing season on both ends. DSC06008The tomatoes were started mid-March, and will quickly catch up and surpass the peppers, they grow like weeds once the seeds sprout.  I do give them a very weak fertilizer solution every 2 weeks though to get them in optimum green leafiness before planting.  I have also been saving up eggshells for the tomatoes.  Whenever I use eggs, I wash the shells and keep them in a baggie in the freezer, more on that in the next post though.

Aside from gardening, I have been up to my eyeballs in Alpaca fleece.  I lucked out on getting about 15 lbs of raw alpaca fiber from a nearby ranch (aren’t they the most adorable looking creatures below?)DSC05863 DSC05860 In the process, I scored my first “baby” alpaca fleece.  Just to be clear, they don’t shear the babies after they are born, “Baby Alpaca” fleece is considered the animals first shearing, which is usually when they are a year old.  It is much finer than adult fleece, so very soft and silky, and I managed to get a jet black one that spun up like silk in my test sample, which is so lusciously smooshy and soft (I have a special project in mind for this very special fibre) and is much darker than the photo shows.  It is very hard to photograph black!

DSC06000Along with the bags of alpaca fleece, I have also been weaving, finishing up a couple projects that were started at the beginning of the year.  My piñata fabric is done, and I have one of two straps left to weave on the little inkle loom, then I can start my big sewing project (saving that for another post too…most likely in the summer). DSC05829 I also gave my rear end some reprieve with a woven cushion for my loom bench.  Sitting on a board was getting old real quick! DSC05840 Not to leave any other fibre related items out, I have been knitting up a storm in the evenings (my down time while watching Jeopardy) as I had a request from my Aunt for a cowl and some more socks.  Cowl and one pair of socks done, 2 more pairs to go.

So when do I have time for myself you say? Well, when the gardens are mostly looking after themselves in a month or so, and work has slowed for the summer, I will be on the deck looking at the pristine view of the lake listening to the loons and sipping my tea and either spinning or knitting for the next project.  I can never sit still.  A rolling stone gathers no moss so the saying goes…and that is me to a tee ;)

DSC04767Deborah

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Washing Up In Style ~ Take II

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This is a blog update for my original post back in January of 2013 to which I have modified the pattern slightly to give a symmetrical border to the washcloths as well as to account for the weight (thickness of yarn) difference from Bernat’s Handi-Crafter cotton to KnitPick’s Dishie.  With KP Dishie being slightly thinner, I have added extra stitches and pattern rows to get the same size washcloth as when knitted with Bernat’s yarn.

I have actually become a cotton yarn snob, KnitPick’s Dishie has won me over and aside from the Christmas speckled washcloths I am making for gifts this year, moving forward I will be treating myself to working exclusively with Dishie yarn.  It is actually cheaper and has more yardage per ball than Bernat’s.  PLUS, it is a tighter spun fibre, smoother and knits without splitting. (Gee, I should maybe get some free yarn out of this plug?) ;)

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A quick, easy to memorize pattern transforms cotton yarn into brightly coloured squares worthy of anyone’s cocina.

Materials Needed:

Bernat Handicrafter Cotton – 42.5 g / 1.5 oz. (1 Ball per square, if using different colours, allow a half ball per square)

OR

KnitPick’s Dishie – 80 g / 2 oz. (1 Ball will make 2 washcloths and you will still have some leftover!)
4.5 mm (U.S. # 7) Straight knitting needles

Gauge: It isn’t important with this project.

Directions if using Bernat’s Handi-Crafter Cotton:

Cast on 38 Stitches using the Thumb Method (sometimes called ‘e-loop’ method) or the Long-Tail Method, either of these give a nice, stretchy cast on edge.  Perfect for beginners, it is very easy to do and you only need one needle to do it.

Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch – see note below before starting)

*Note; if using the Long tail cast on method, once you cast on, Knit 5 rows (garter stitch), THEN proceed to pattern below

Slipped Stitch Waffle Pattern:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *P2, S1 (slip next stitch knit-ways, keeping the yarn at back of work, but do not knit the stitch, just pass it to the right needle), after slipping the stitch, bring yarn to the front for the purl stitches, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, *K2, P1, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

These four rows make one pattern set.  Work 14 pattern sets for each dishcloth.

Ending Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)

Bind off stitches loosely and weave in ends.

Directions for KnitPick’s Dishie Yarn:

Cast on 41 Stitches using the Thumb Method (sometimes called ‘e-loop’ method) or the Long-Tail Method, either of these give a nice, stretchy cast on edge.  Perfect for beginners, it is very easy to do and you only need one needle to do it.

Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch – see note below before starting)

*Note; if using the Long tail cast on method, once you cast on, Knit 5 rows (garter stitch), THEN proceed to pattern below.

Slipped Stitch Waffle Pattern:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *P2, S1 (slip next stitch knit-ways, keeping the yarn at back of work, but do not knit the stitch, just pass it to the right needle), after slipping the stitch, bring yarn to the front for the purl stitches, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, *K2, P1, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

These four rows make one pattern set.  Work 15 pattern sets for each dishcloth.

Ending Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)

Bind off stitches loosely and weave in ends.

Be creative in your colour choices, as here is an opportunity to make a bold colour statement in your kitchen without using paint.  Bright pops of colour are mandatory in my kitchen.  On  the plus side, if you have bits and bobs of leftover cotton yarn, use them up for additional washcloths that can be delegated to laundry room duty.  Heck, use them in the kitchen or bathroom, no matter the colours as long as they work, and work hard they will.

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Meet Fert and Palladin

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10351730_10152717633959054_2321268615927224487_nFert & Palladin are Alpacas living on a farm just outside Niagara Falls, ON.  In October 2014, my daughter and her hubby went to go visit the farm on one of their very few days of the year that they allow visitors.  Unfortunately I couldn’t go with them that day (boo), but they did bring me back a piece of the farm.  In the form of 2 alpaca fleeces.  Not just a part of the fleece, but the-whole-fleece of 2 animals, which weighed about 3.5 lbs each.

Fert is a lovely brown fleece with highlights of red on the tips from the sun’s bleaching rays.  Palladin is as white as snow, after a good bath that is as both fleeces were pretty darn dusty but with minimal VM (vegetable matter, i.e. bits of hay & grass).1966716_10152717634219054_389215263030384962_nMy mind spun (get it) as to what I could make out of all this lovely, soft fibre.  An idea formed and it was time to get to work.  Once the fleeces were clean (which took me close to a month between other commitments), it was time to start carding and spinning.DSC02308_medium2

I first started with Palladin, whose newly washed fleece was brilliant white and as soft and silky as bunny fur.  With an idea in mind, I needed to figure out how much yardage required for the whole project and then back track.  Lots of math involved.   I hate math, hated it in school and always said to myself, “just where I am going to use all this darn stuff? No one can possibly use all this math stuff in the future”, well, here I am today doing tons of math not only in spinning, but weaving and knitting too.  Bah, anyway, back to math calculations and sampling, yes, sampling, not only do you have to do your math, you also have to make a small amount of yarn and then sample with it to make sure what you have in mind as gauge will work out for the intended project.  Like knitting instructions always say at the start of every pattern “To save Time, Take Time to check Gauge” (who me? guilty of NOT doing this? I won’t answer that)…..

Not wanting to waste 2 alpaca fleeces, checking my math and sett/gauge were even more important.

So I carded and spun up a small amount of fleece, then warped up my small Cricket loom to check how dense/open a fabric I wanted.  I started out at 12 epi (ends per inch) but the resulting fabric felt too stiff/dense.  I rethreaded the loom using my 8 epi heddle and while it appeared far too open, I knew that ‘wet finishing’ would tighten up the weave.  So I washed/dryed the sample and the resulting fabric was in the ballpark of what I wanted.  Time to finish the calculations now that I knew what sett (loom speak for warp thread spacing) to use.  The pic below shows fleece to finished fabric, yes, the two items on the right are gray as I was playing with natural dyes when I spun this last summer so took the opportunity to experiment at the same time.

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All that math behind me, it was now time to get into the groove of carding and spinning up all the alpaca, which took me almost a year between other projects/life.

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Once I had the last project off the loom, a blanket for a baby whose due date was looming (ha! another fibre pun!) it was time to finally get Fert & Palladin’s soft and luscious yarns wound and onto Bob the loom.

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After that, it wove up pretty quickly, a heck of a lot more time spent in prep than in actual weaving, but hey, that is the nature of the beast (another pun! I am firing on all cylinders this morning) when creating something from animal to finished product.

13260244_10156880387985291_875112006034015639_n_medium2This has been a great challenge in taking a raw material, applying newly learned skills and being self-sufficient.  I do believe I now qualify for being ready for a post-apocalyptic world, but sincerely hope that it doesn’t come to fruition.

So without further ado, here is the long-in-the-works alpaca throw blanket. Woven in a 2-2 Herringbone Twill pattern, it is soft, (seriously fuzzy, you should have seen the fuzzy dust-bunnies galloping around the condo while it was on the loom) and it has a beautiful drape and feel,  not too heavy, but with just enough weight to ‘feel’ like a blanket.  Incredibly warm too, although the temps outside this past week have been in the 30′s (Celsius), it will be put to good use come this Fall/Winter at the Homestead.

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Bob has been cleaned up and de-fuzzed but will most likely sit empty for the summer while I concentrate on my vegetable gardens and the next spinning project ~ a sweater currently being spun and knit from a whole Icelandic sheep fleece, then come Fall a couple of scarves are to be woven from gorgeous handspun and hand-dyed yarns that I have been working on.

Yes, I am busy, busy, busy, and I love it.

Deborah

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Beach Buddy Bag

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Everyone needs a beach buddy.

Meet my Beach Buddy.

DSC04515Pretty much 95% of the time I am lugging my humongous purse around town on various errands. I love my large purse as it has oodles of space for all of my needs as well as space for my ever present sock knitting projects. But sometimes you just need to run out on a quick errand and don’t need to take the large suitcase over the shoulder, OR, you are planning a beach or cruise vacation and only need a small satchel to house your room key, small bills and a sunblock stick. Enter Beach Buddy!

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At a modest 5″ x 4″ (not including strap), you can tuck this into your beach bag or shorts pocket or let it hang from your wrist as you wander the beach sipping a margarita while hunting sea shells. It is the perfect accessory for any family/friend BBQ event as well. They are fully lined and come with a snap closure on one end and a carrying strap on the other. $20CDN.

Do you want a Beach Buddy?   I have loads of fabric options available to cover everyone’s taste.  Leave a comment below and I will be in touch.

Deborah

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Cake Dyeing Experiment

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Sounds yummy doesn’t it?  Cake Dyeing….  Unfortunately no yummy cakes were baked, dyed or consumed for this project.

Cake dyeing is taking a skein of yarn and winding it into a “cake” with a ball winder and then dyeing it.  The word “cake” came about due to the resemblance of the wound yarn to a stacked layer cake.  This creates a centre-pull “ball” of yarn to knit from.

Ok, enough of word origins, on to the experiment!  I found 3 balls of sad looking yarn in the “free bin” in our condo craft room.  2 were an ugly golden-yellow colour, the third was a really ugly greenish-gray ball of what surely came out of a swamp.  No wonder they were cast off from whoever put them in the bin.  Nobody wants butt-ugly wool.  So I rescued them a few weeks ago with the intention of brightening them up in a dye experiment.

Enter cake dyeing.  The process where you wind yarn into the cake shape and submerse it up to half its height in a dye liquid, flip and do another colour and you come out with a wonderfully colour-patterned yarn.

DSC04434First off was to soak the 2 gold ones in water and citric acid (or vinegar) to prep the wool to accept the dye.  I then took a roasting tray with a rack and placed enough water in it to come up to halfway up the cake of yarn.  I then added my dye stock which was 1/2 tsp of Wilton’s Icing Gel red food colouring to half a cup of boiling water, stir to dissolve and dump in.  I also added another 3-4 tbsp of vinegar too.

DSC04439Add your yarn and bring the temp up to 170F and simmer for about an hour.  I carefully flipped the cakes over and let the second side soak for another hour.  Turn off the heat and left them to cool.  Once cool, rinse under the same temperature water, wind back into a skein and let dry.

The results are 2 very bright skeins of yarn now worthy of knitting.  I call these 2 skeins “Orange Sherbert”.

DSC04461Now with the other skein of butt-ugly greenish-gray yarn, I omitted the pre-soak to try and get the colour absorption to slow down.  Which worked a little too well as the colour didn’t penetrate as far into the cake of yarn as I would have liked.   The other steps were the same except for not pre-soaking.

DSC04453I added 1/2 tsp of cornflower blue Wiltons Icing Gel to one half, after an hour, flipped and added 1/2 tsp of violet.

The result?

DSC04468Burple ~ which is a combination of Butt Ugly and Purple.

I will re-dye this one solid purple as I really don’t like how it came out.  But heck, that is why they are called experiments as you never know exactly what you are going to get!

Deborah

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I’m Not A Deer Hat & Scarf

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I thought I made a post last Fall about the hat that I knit for deer hunting season….but upon close inspection of past articles, nope, found nothing.

To back track a wee smidgeon, last Fall I went for a walk, around the first week of November, or whenever deer hunting season (with guns) starts in Ontario.  As I am walking down the road (my daily ritual), hunters in full gear on ATV’s whizzed by me with their guns strapped to the backracks.

Hmmm I thought, not a good place to be out walking with all these hunters around with nothing to differentiate me from the woodsy surroundings.  So when I got back to the Homestead, I opened my laptop and promptly placed an order from Knitpicks for their Swish yarn (super durable and excellent for hats/scarves and mittens) in their “Hot Tamale” colourway.  This ought to make my head a beacon as I walk in the wooded areas I thought.

After a week, my hat was done and I was safely able to continue my walks without fear of being mistaken for a deer in the bush.

20151113_074908_medium2Pretty bright there eh?

I had ordered 3 balls of the yarn with the intention of making either mitts or scarf out of the rest, but once hunting season ended and winter set in, the hat was set aside for a less toned down version and the remaining yarn set aside until the right project came along.

Enter my last post (Atomic Sunrise), after experimenting with food colouring and turning out a vibrant skein of yarn, the project leaped to the forefront of what to do with both the handspun/hand dyed yarn and the leftover hat yarn.

I scoured the Ravelry website for a pattern that would utilize the amount of yardage I had on hand as  I didn’t have enough for a full blown winter scarf, but plenty for a shorter, narrower “Fall” scarf that would be enough to cover the neck from chilly Fall air.

It took some time to locate one I liked out of literally hundreds and hundreds of patterns, and settled on one called “Dragon Skin“, because the pattern looks…well, like dragon skin!

I started with the part ball of leftovers, which was really about 85% of a ball, then used the handspun, followed up by the last full ball of the Hot Tamale and voila!

DSC04277 DSC04274A scarf that matches the colour intensity of the hat, albiet with a strong textural difference.  Sure, it may not be matching and symmetrical, but heck, I like to live dangerously.

I am looking forward to this coming Fall to be able to flaunt my hat and scarf to the hunters like a matador waving a red cape to a bull!

Deborah

 

 

 

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Atomic Sunrise & Goosebumps

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I tried something new on the weekend and ended up with an Atomic Sunrise and Goosebumps.  No, those are not new cocktail ideas…although they could be, I will have to think on those a spell.

Anyway, back to my new adventures.  I have oodles of Wilton’s Food colouring gels in the kitchen not being used up since I don’t bake as much as I used to (lots of reasons, and hubby being one of them).  With closing the Northern Homestead for the winter, all my natural dye supplies are up there waiting for Spring to arrive and me with it.  So instead I went looking for another way to flex my creative muscle on two freshly spun skeins of yarn.

Food colouring and Kool-Aid are 2 very good mediums to use on animal fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc.) but they do not work on plant based fibers (cotton/linen/hemp) so skip those.  The added bonus of using food based dyes is that it isn’t harmful to ones health as some of the natural dyes and mordants (or acid dyes) can be and you can use the same cooking equipment as you use for your home cooking.  For the natural dyes, I have a whole set of pots/utensils just for them.

For the making of my food colour dyes, I employed the use of my crockpot.  A great heat source that you don’t have to coddle like a pot on the stove.

First up was to soak the yarn in an acidic solution to help bond the food colouring to the yarn.  I let the 2 skeins soak overnight in a pail of water mixed with 2 Tbsp of Citric Acid (Fruit Fresh) or plain White Vinegar or Lemon Juice would also work.  The Citric Acid I had on hand to use up along with the food colouring.

Studio_20160222_093344Next was to plop the yarns (processed one at a time) in the crockpot with just enough water to cover the wool along with 1/2 cup of white vinegar or lemon juice.  Let it heat up on high for about an hour and a half or until the temp reads 150F.

Studio_20160222_093508While the yarn is coming up to temp, take 3 glass jars (or however many you need for each colour) and using wooden popsicle sticks, scoop out about an 1/8th of a tsp of gel colouring and smear it all around the insides of the jar.  Pour in half a cup of boiling water and stir to dissolve.

Studio_20160222_093412When the yarn has come up to temp, pour the dye in whatever colour pattern you like.  Try to keep to the same colour families (like red/orange/yellow or blue/green/purple) or you’ll end up with an unpleasant brown (unless that is what you are going for).

Studio_20160222_093435Do not stir, just place the lid on the crockpot and let it sit for an hour or until the water in the pot has turned clear.  This means the colouring has been exhausted and sucked up by the wool.  Remove the lid, turn the crockpot off and let it sit until the yarn returns to room temp.

Remove from the crockpot, squeezing the water as you go and rinse in the sink in the same temperature water as what it was sitting in (or you risk felting the wool with a shock in water temperature).  Hang to dry and voila!

Atomic Sunrise and Goosebumps.

Studio_20160222_093546Studio_20160223_093107 I named the blue/green/purple Goosebumps as it reminded me of a cover of a Goosebumps Series (R.L. Stein) book that my son read long ago.  As soon as the skein came out of the crockpot, that is what I though of.

The Atomic Sunrise is self-explanatory and is actually a lot more vibrant (think neon) in person.  I have a ball and half of bright orange wool left from my “I’m Not a Deer” hat that I knit last fall for my daily walks during deer hunting season so I will combine them into a matching scarf.

So now I must get back to the spinning wheel(s) to make some more yarn to dye with in this newest creative outlet.  If you want to try this at home but don’t want to spin yarn, you can over-dye commercial yarns (wool/alpaca/silk, etc only – do not try on acrylic as the colours won’t take) or you can buy ‘bare’ yarns from various yarn companies to play with.

Enjoy and let your fun side out!

Deborah

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The Great Avocado Dye Experiment!

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Yesterday I posted a recipe using avocados, and in that recipe I said to save the pits and skins for later use.  I guess I *should* have been more specific, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many people would be wracking their brains wondering what the heck would you use them for.  I mean, they are inedible after all, and unless you are wanting to grow an avocado tree, why save the pit?

So here is what I do with them….

To one 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado pits. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

To another 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado skins. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

I screwed the bands down snugly on the jars and the heat/steam from the boiling water  sealed the jars after about 15 minutes.

DSC04087Here on Day 1, the colour starts almost immediately, but it is necessary to let the jars sit for a minimum of 30 days for the colour to develop, if you tried it now, you would not get any colour to stick to the fibers, it would mostly rinse away.

Here they are on Day 3 they are darker, but they still need to sit.

20151202_091140_medium2I put these jars up on November 30th and left them until after Christmas.  Close to one month later while we were up at the cottage, I finally cracked the jars and dyed 2 skeins of yarn.  The larger skein went into the skin dye, which looked purple/green, the smaller one went into the dye made from the pits, which looked rosy-red.

Here are the results…

Studio_20151229_110736_medium2The skein on the left was in the skin dye bath and it came out a gorgeous, soft beige colour.  The pinky-rosy one on the right was in the pit dye bath.  The colouring on the skein from the skins was much more even, but the pit dye bath took up the dye very unevenly, so it was a more rosy/tan mottled look.

I really liked the colour of the skein from the skins and have another batch fermenting now, but will let the jars sit much longer this time to deepen the colours.

** Tip if you are going to try this ~ when you first get the pit out of the avocado, chop it up into small pieces immediately, if you wait, the air gets at it and it turns rock hard and you will be unable to chop it.  I store pits and skins (washed) in ziploc bags in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch with.

There, aren’t you glad you asked? If you want to dye yarn (or fabric), this is what you can save your avocado skins and pits for. ;)

Deborah

 

 

 

 

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