Tag Archives: mohair

Purple socks

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Remember this skein of hand spun sock yarn?  Suffolk/mohair/silk, three ply.

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It made a perfectly good cake. One day I cast on, on public transport. The train, evidently.

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And then I forgot to take photos for quite some time the next thing you know, here I am ready to graft the toe of the first sock at a conference in Wellington, Aotearoa (New Zealand)!

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Did I mention the wonderful beauty of Aotearoa?

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And then… suddenly there were two. When I was part way through the second they were lost!  Then found again by security and here was a happy reunion a few days later with great relief on my part.

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And now I am preparing to make them into a nice little parcel for a friend with popsicle toes. With some hand twined silk string.

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Hand spun, hand knit socks

Remember this hand spun sock yarn?

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It had a long journey toward becoming a pair of socks.  Here we are early on, on the train…

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On my way to a meeting at work.  Five minutes early, enjoying the sunshine and shrubs… knitting down the heel.

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Visiting a friend in hospital (and past the heel flap on sock 1)…

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Here we are on our way to Newcastle to blockade a coal port–second sock started.  I got a lot of knitting done during train travel and nonviolence training (for an entire day–some climate change activists don’t muck about!) and there was another knitter in the training, too!

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Then I noticed late in the life of sock 2 that sock 1 and sock 2 were a bit different.  I made some adjustments.  Finally, I went over to my friend’s house for a try on. Turns out that the stretchy factor in knitting sorts out a multitude of small spinning and knitting crimes. It’s common ground between us that if he doesn’t care, I don’t either.  Usually he goes further than not caring and is pretty pleased about the whole woollen sock thing. Fantastic attitude.

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Here he is showing customary forbearance as a sock model.  Note hand knit sock on other foot.  Come to think of it, note hand spun, hand knit jumper in use years after being dyed with eucalypt. This is the attitude to hand knits that gets you another pair of socks in my circle of beloveds!

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Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures

An outbreak of hats

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This is an oatmeal Blue Faced Leicester dyed by The Thylacine and spun three ply by me.

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It is rather fine, but I decided to knit a hat anyway and settled on one from Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the top, which is more of a concept plan than a pattern.  Perfect for handspun.  And then it turned out I could use the DPNs a friend surprised me by giving me a while back (I had helped her out with i-cord, and it was sheer pleasure, but I think that may have triggered the gift in some way).  They are a rather unusual size, delectably pretty and perfect for the job.

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While this hat was on the needles, I decided to cast on another in grey corriedale, dyed with eucalyptus and spun three ply and about 10 ply (worsted).  I made a rolled brim hat from Knitting for Peace. Easy and fast.  My picture taking was interrupted by our house guest, who turned out to be camera shy.

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At about this point, there was a hiatus and that first hat sat on the needles until holidays rolled around.  And then, there was an absolute outbreak that continued for some time after we returned from holidays.  There were some with oddments of experimental yarns (some early corespun in this case).

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Here is some handspun natural polwarth with some Noro sock yarn for contrast. Blocking wouldn’t hurt it a bit.

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Indigo dyes, logwood exhaust dye, eucalyptus bark dyes…

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Mohair, alpaca blend… you name it!  I even used up random commercial black yarn.

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I made some doll and bear hats. What else are oddments for?

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Then came the day I cast on with some super thick, super soft eucalyptus dyed wool of mystery and stopped.  Last night I managed to finish, finally.  I lashed out and blocked this one just to show I can.

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Most of these are Jared Flood’s Turn A Square.  More or less.  That first hat–I did finish it, and it was claimed by a friend while we were on holiday.  I don’t think she would really want her photo on the interwebs, so you’ll just have to trust me about it being finished.  However, half the skein remains so there may yet be a reprise. If I can ever bear to knit another hat!  I am the person doing all these repetitive series of makes, and even I find it hard to understand…

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Quebracho and Dyer’s Chamomile

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I am on a project to create my own sock yarns this year using natural fibres.  As part of the dyeing–because I like wildly coloured socks!  I decide to dye some mohair and suffolk fleece.  I have some dyes that were gifted to–or abandoned in–the dye room at the Guild.  This time I chose Quebracho–which was not mentioned in any of my dye books but I assumed would require an alum mordant.  I organised that, and found to my surprise that the preparation of quebracho I had completely dissolved.  It’s a tree-based dye so I had rather imagined it was finely ground wood.  Wrong.  Interesting!  Then, a second surprise.  I thought it would be red, but actually, quebracho comes in a range of colours and I had quebracho yellow.

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Which was a shame, really, as my second dye pot was dyer’s chamomile.  Never mind.  Yellow fibres can be readily blended and overdyed and needless to say I have some fibre dyed with eucalyptus destined to join this blend which might blend beautifully…..

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The first dye bath from each came out rather splendidly and intensely yellow (quebracho on the right), and I was reminded that dyers’ chamomile always smells edible.  Also, that it might be the right time of year to harvest this plant again (I took secateurs to the dead flowers of a patch growing in a city park last year).  I love the smell of eucalyptus, but edible isn’t the thought that comes to mind!

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I ran exhaust baths with some of Viola’s (crossbred) fleece.  It had been in a cold alum mordant bucket for some months.  Perfect!  Ready to go at just the right moment! Another win for slow dyeing processes… and one step closer to an all natural sock yarn.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing

Unloved fibres of yesteryear and some eucalyptus dyeing

Some time ago I received a lot of fibres that even the felt group at my Guild didn’t want anymore.  I think this was because I taught a class on ‘novelty yarns’, known to online spinners as ‘art yarns’ or ‘textured spinning’.  It is true, people like Pluckyfluff have been known to spin semi-felted wool and all manner of inexplicable (yet ultimately gorgeous) things–and I’ve done some fairly inexplicable, or at least hard-to-explain, spinning,  myself.  But there are limits!  It seems some people equate artyarn with awful yarns made from awful fibres.  I wasn’t about to inflict most of this fibre on beginners.  What I felt was readily useable, I carded into batts for people to experiment on some time ago,.  Some I turned into trash batts.  Some I re-washed and turned into yarn.  But just recently I found there was still some in my stash.  Some was simply suffering from poor washing.  Sticky and unpleasant to touch.  I washed it.

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The amount of mohair the felting group handed over makes me think mohair isn’t favoured as a felting fibre.  So some was just mohair.  I carded it up and found it was neppy mohair, but still.

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Some was extremely short and rather matted. I would rate this trash batt standard, so carded it up with some longer wool to hold it together.

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Some was low quality alpaca in small quantities.  I carded that with some longer fine wool too.

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I would rate almost all the resulting yarns basically suitable for yarnbombing… or perhaps I should offer them back to the felters!

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Only the mohair really became a yarn of any quality… not too surprising given what went in to the others!

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I also had some small amounts of fibre from an exchange.  One was some kind of ruggy (coarse) wool with lots of contrasting nepps in it, and the other a quantity of a lustre longwool, something like English Leicester.  I checked my perceptions with two spinners of much experience at the Guild and we all agreed on these conclusions, which was a happy thing, suggesting I am learning about identifying wools.  I decided on eucalypt dyes.  In each case I divided the fibre in half, and dyed one half in the first dyebath and the other half in an exhaust dyebath of the same leaves, to get two different tones.  Then I spun the fibres up to retain the colours as distinct stripes.

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And now, back to spinning a large quantity of alpaca…

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Textured yarns and tea cosies

There has been quite a bit of tea cosy action around here…

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This was the leftover from a yarn with felted leaves on it.  As it turned out, there were only a couple left!  I like the pennant effect… like a ship’s mast, or perhaps a circus tent. Then there is this corespun yarn, complete with silk and sparkle.

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It went home after a film viewing at our house recently, to a happy new home.

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Corespun but with the tips of the locks left to roam free… incredibly silly…

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Oh… and there is this natural grey single with leftover silk thread from a friend’s handspinning and card weaving… and mohair and sari silk thread and suchlike…

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… and there are a few others from previous tea cosy jags lying about too…

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Silkworms: 7 week update + more wild textured spinning

Well, here are the late bloomers. Yes, only 5 left.

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Everyone else is in here now in another form…

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And meanwhile I decided to try a spinning challenge set up on Ravelry… a yarn generator based on a date system.  What genius on the part of its originator! Sounded like fun to me… I put in the date for my birthday and that meant creating a yarn that incorporated autowrapping (see that rayon thread over the white section?), metallic elements (there are strange and peculiar glitter pompoms from the op shop as well as sparkly gold fibre and gold recycled ribbon)…

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Yellow is required too, so there is some of the coreopsis dyed corriedale, some yellow preloved ribbon (there has to be fabric spinning too), and last year’s silk cocoons…

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Then there is chain plying and the ever present eucalyptus dyed merino… and one mighty strange yarn overall!

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Textured spinning and trash batts

I went on a weekend away with members of my Guild recently and had a fabulous time chatting, spinning and eating way more than made any sense.  I took some little packs I made up beforehand, each designed to create a skein of yarn. This first one began as Finn cross locks I bought pre-dyed and perhaps a little felted, with curly tips.  Perfect for this technique, I thought.

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Here they are as a lockspun yarn, with the teased-out, butt ends of the locks corespun around a crossbred grey wool core that can no longer be seen, and the curly tips on display.

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This batt of unloved green fleece that I was given includes some orange silk noil and some pre-dyed mohair locks.

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Here it is corespun over that same grey crossbred core.  I learned these two techniques from the fine writing and DVDs of Jacey Boggs.

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The trash batt experiments continue!  This is eucalyptus dyed carder waste (and nepps pulled out as I was spinning) carded with white and tan Polwarth locks.

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I used it for my first attempt at a  new textured spinning technique–a friend gave me a copy of The Wheel that contained this technique and you can also see it here.  It originates with Steph Gorin, who demonstrates here.  (The video also includes advertising for Ashford.)

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Here is the outcome of a batt made with the flick carding waste from the blue lockspun yarn above, and a eucalyptus dyed carder waste and polwarth batt.

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Finally, a gratuitous picture of what appears to me to be valerian in flower in my garden.  Which is gorgeous apart from the fact that I bought it because it was soapwort.  It doesn’t look like any soapwort I have ever seen now it is in flower, which makes me glad it wasn’t big enough to harvest until now!

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, Spinning

Further experiments in converting textile waste

I have been wondering about trying some more spinning experiments with waste from the overlocker and the carding process.  There is nothing like yarn bombing to make me consider any kind of yarn useable!  Yarn bombing is even more forgiving than teapots when it comes to the texture and qualities of the fibre concerned… and there is an argument for only using fibres that can’t be made into clothing or blankets for yarn bombing, I think.  So in a  burst of carding enthusiasm, I’ve been preparing batts.

First up, carding waste (corriedale dyed with eucalypt), overlocker waste (from bag making, mostly–silk, cotton, linen and some polyester blend) and some polwarth locks to hold it all together.  Here it is going into the drum carder:

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Carded and ready to spin.

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More fabric scraps and overlocker thread in some parts than others…

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While I was on the job, I carded some rough lavender wool of unknown origin.  It was discarded by the felting group at the Guild: say no more!   I re-washed it, which improved its texture and cleanliness somewhat…

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The felters also passed on this green fibre of unknown origin, which was improved very much by re-washing and carded out beautifully.  I have added dyed mohair locks and silk noil, and we’ll see if it can become a repectable art yarn.

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Carding waste from those two batts and some more overlocker waste…

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I’ll report back when I’ve tried turning these away from the waste stream and into something of use!

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Things I’ve done with with plant dyed yarns…

When I was preparing for the natural dyeing workshop I ran recently, I mordanted a lot of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn as well as some handspun in small skeins–25g or less.  Having all those small skeins of different colours in alpaca and wool and mohair, activated my imagination. Eventually it led to this…

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These are madder-tipped, logwood-stemmed crocheted coral thingummies, inspired by Loani Prior’s ‘coral punk’.  When I say ‘inspired by’, let me confess.  I bought her beautifully designed and entertaining book Really Wild Tea Cosies with a Christmas book voucher I was given.  So I had the pattern.  But even though only one, basic, crochet stitch was involved, my crochet skills are decidedly remedial and I don’t happen to have a crochet instructor on tap.

I turned to Maggie Righetti’s book Crocheting in Plain English (I don’t have the new revised edition, needless to say).  Apparently sometimes I just can’t believe what I am reading… or perhaps I just don’t understand on the first eight passes.  I see students I teach with the same difficulties!  By the time I had finished this tea cosy and started on the next, I’d managed to figure out that I wasn’t doing what Loani Prior must have believed was involved in the one stitch involved in her cosy.  Luckily for me crocheting badly still produces a fabric of a sort.  I also figured out that for me, improvising a knit version of the pot cover itself was going to beat freeform crocheting one as the pattern suggests with my inadequate skill set.  So that’s what I did, and Loani Prior shouldn’t be held responsible for the outcome.  I like it anyway.

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It has highly entertained people who watched me crocheting coral at parties (as one does) as well as those who have seen the finished object, many of whom thought immediately of a sea anemone.

Let it be said that at present coral punk is not alone.  Here is the present plain Jane of the tea cosy selection at our place: yellow from silky oak leaves and orange from eucalyptus–with the felted blobs spun into the yarn.  Pattern improvised.  Luckily, tea pots are just not that fussy about how you clothe them.

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I’ve been branching out and using up some particularly strange art yarn spinning experiments.  This next one is commercially dyed mohair with silk curricula cocoons spun onto it.  Scratchy for a head, perfect for a teapot!  I was surprised how many people liked the look of the ‘hat’ emerging as I knit this at a picnic, riffing off Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Cozy.  Once again, that is to say, dispensing with the pattern when it became inconvenient.  I guess the hat admirers hadn’t felt the yarn yet.

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And for anyone who is wondering, I have continued to dye with the logwood exhaust from the dyeing workshop.  I ran out of yarn for a while and dyed two, 200g lengths of merino roving.  This morning I pulled out another 100g of superwash yarn.  I think it might be just about done, and I only wish I had kept a record of the weight of fibre that has been dyed with what was a small quantity of logwood in the beginning!  This weekend, the second in a series of two natural dyeing workshops. I’d better eat my crusts and get my beauty sleep in preparation.

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Filed under Crochet, Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning, Uncategorized