Suri alpaca cross. I could not resist these when they came into the Guild with a local grower.
I dyed them… and carding was quite a challenge. Some went to a friend at the Guild who showed up with wheel but no fibre one night when I was there with fibre and combs and carder but no wheel!
I also dyed some local gift sheep fleece from a sheep called ‘Lentil’. I had been taken in by Lentil’s lowly status as a lawnmower and the filth of the fleece. Actually, Lentil’s is a long and lustrous fleece with a burden of burrs.
The first batts look great–
And perhaps they are destined to become slippers–because I am trying to spin for the things I knit this year. Really, I knit slippers and socks. So. Here we go!
Lentil in berry colours on the left, and suri cross in pale greens on the right.
Lentil in shades of blue. It might be almost time for slipper knitting…
I think it is Grackle and Sun who put this expression into my vocabulary. I have been looking at the chemical dyes I still have in my possession and wondering about them. I think it’s best I don’t make any commitments for all future time… but it seems right that I try not to acquire any more. It also seems right that I use up those I already own, given that nothing I do with them will mean that they were never made.
Finally, I had a thought. The thing I love most about the Earth Palette cold pad batch dyes (locally made and allegedly low toxic)–is that you can dye greasy wool with them, rather than washing first and dyeing later. A friend from my guild called to ask for advice about these dyes (she is an acid dyer usually) and I suddenly saw it: I could dye these amazing greasy English Leicester cross locks from a local grower. Without prior washing. I still have a lot of this dye mixed up and ready to use (in fact, this is almost my entire stash: just one bag of sky blue dye left unmixed). The weather was perfect: hot days expected.
It doesn’t look good when applied to greasy, dirty wool. Two days in the hot sun and the bag smelled of ammonia from that raw fleece being in the heat.
The mud that ran out of it when I rinsed was unbelievable. And then out came clean dyed fleece. Yes, these are before and after pictures of the same locks! I made three different ‘dyelots’ in all.
The lustre of this longwool is amazing! Now all I have to do is figure out what to make with it. I believe I acquired it thinking about dyed English Leicester locks I had incorporated into art yarn batts. I don’t currently feel motivated to do that kind of spinning–but could make batts and gift them to the Guild. Or spin EL yarn. Or let them sit quietly until the perfect idea comes to mind. What do you think?
I have been preparing for a spinning workshop at the Guild, and the time came to dye materials for the class. I weighed and measured my merino braids and soaked them overnight.
I used a cold pad batch dye made in my state for this process, so I mixed up dye the night before and then put damp braids into plastic bags ready to be dyed… and poured on the colours.
Then–silk hankies and silk noil got the treatment.
My many bags of fibre and dye went into the sun for a 44C day or two before being rinsed. My stash of plastic bags unsuitable for other re-uses (and ditto for rubber bands and all kinds of saved-up stuff)–came into handy at last, along with virtually every bucket I possess! The silk hankies and noil came out rather pastel shades, which was a real surprise.
Some of my own silk cocoons got a dip in the dye too…
And the braids came out wonderfully well. Certainly more than enough fibre here for my workshop participants to be able to revel in playing with colour, texture and technique.
It has been a time of preparation, lately. I’ve been on a fleece washing project. After months of thinking I should wash while it is still warm but feeling quite unable to begin, apparently the change in the weather (toward autumn) brought on the sense that fleece washing would be possible. I have washed all that remained of over 3 kg of grey corriedale and some white alpaca for good measure. My motley collection of drying apparatus have all been in use. I still have a lot of high-grease polwarth and a filthy corriedale to wash.
A bunch of friends got together to make passata and I was too sick to go and join in the fun. However, my partner went along and I put the results up in these jars preparing for the winter. The Fowlers Vacola outfit is steaming on the stove as I type.
Our freezer is full of pesto from all the basil of this summer.
I have some Lincoln locks sitting waiting for cold dyes to fix . And I had better get ready to use the drum carder!
I loved running workshops over summer, but it has also been a treat to return to my spinning wheel. This skein began as grey corriedale fleece. I dyed it in the grease with Earth Palette dyes, carded, and pulled a roving directly from the drum carder through a diz. I have seen this technique demonstrated on YouTube, but I was only prepared to try it after someone from my Guild (who is a fabulous spinner) showed a group of us how she does it.
I like the colour, and enjoyed the process of producing roving. Being able to dye in the grease is one of the things that has me returning to Earth Palette dyes. It improves my pleasure in scouring, and makes me content with scouring small quantities. Does my impatience show?
One of the workshops I ran over summer was on ‘fancy yarns’–artyarns to the inhabitants of the internet–and it has been good to come back to spinning the kind of yarns I prefer to knit. I love the challenge of artyarn spinning, and the results, but I am a plain spinner in my heart, apparently. This is relaxing spinning for me and I’m enjoying relaxing a little. The yellow/green/blue corriedale that I dyed at the same time has already become a beanie for a dear friend’s birthday, even though there will be no call for him to wear it for some months yet!
Dyeing over a grey base has pleased me so much that I want to return to trying it with eucalypts. I guess I’d better get over myself about scouring…