Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Swappy McSwapperton

Recently I've been participating in Fiber of the Month Swaps via Craftster.

I cannot help it.

I can't resist the fiber!

This month my partner was maiziemama. She indicated in her questionnaire that she liked warm colors and wool, silk, and sparkle. Since I don't have access to a drum carder and wasn't dyeing yet, I sent her handcarded rolags of predyed merino, silk latte (fiber from milk protein = SUPASOFT!), camel down, bison down, and two different colors of angelina sparkle goodness. Here's a pic that she posted on Craftster (her pic, not mine):

And in return, she sent me these beauties!! BEHOLD, batts of ultragoodness!

Sweet mint and maroon batts, Blue Faced Leceister and Corriedale wools, plus a ton of angelina sparklies!

Gratuitous closeup sparkle shot:

I am such a happy camper!

Now I've got a decision to make...after work today, do I go home and spin these beauties, or do I dye up the 1 lb. of Blue Faced Leicester I've got soaking in the dyepot? Maybe both? My neighbor Keyboard Cowgirl and I usually have a "Happy Tuesday" and have some beer at Mountain Sun, but she just bought a $900 chair (yeahhhhh...what?!?!) and wants to conserve her pennies at the moment. KC just cracks me up. Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if she wants to play with dyes with me this afternoon.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My hands will never be the same.

See, I kept forgetting to wear gloves all weekend, so my hands are now an absolutely lovely shade of blackish purple. :)

I finally have begun to play with dyes! This was my first foray into the world of handpainting roving and top, and I am really loving the fact that I can do EXACTLY what I want to do with color. My nifty little collection of dyes ranges from Aztec Gold to Fire Red to Chartreause, and I had a blast mixing and concocting over the weekend.

I started off with 5 dyes I bought at Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins here in Boulder, and supplemented it with 8 Jacquard Acid Dyes I bought from Hello Yarn online. Two sets of instructions equalled perfect step-by-stepness...everything came out great!

Since I didn't really know what I was doing, I started with Falkland top...it's not quite as expensive as merino or BFL, but is still soft enough for me to want to spin it. I soaked three ~4 oz. bundles of Falkland for an hour in warm water, then went outside to set up my dyeing area on the picnic table by the creek. Mixing the dyes was dubious. I looked like a unibomber, with my facemask and rubber gloves, but seriously folks, you can't take too many precautions with the unmixed dye powder. It is scary stuff if you breathe it in. I mixed up the three primaries (fire red, brilliant blue, and yellow), jet black, hot fuschia, chartreause, and turqouise. (So did I spell those correctly? It's too early in the morning. ) Once the powder is mixed with a little hot water, all is well and the mask can come off. At that point, the sprinklers came on and I was insanely happy I'd chosen the picnic table that was on the flagstone rather than the one out in the yard, because...well...I don't want to think about the obscenities that might have echoed down the street. :)

So the dye stock was mixed and ready for further diluting. I spread out el cheapo plastic wrap and carefully unfolded one of the wet Falkland bundles so that it was neatly arranged on the wrap. I mixed about 1/4 cup of dye stock with 1/2 cup of warm water per color, then liberally applied the dyes to the (not soaking) wet wool. With my first try, I applied the dyes a little too liberally. When rolling the wool up into a little plastic bundle, a ton of dye squirted out the end. Hooray for non-toxicity! So I dyed up three bundles worth, then packed up the gear and went back upstairs. The plastic rolls went into a large stockpot with a steamer in the bottom over an inch or so of water. Covered, the wool steamed for 40 minutes. Then I let 'em cool for several hours before unrolling the wool into a sink full of water with a little squirt of Eucalan wool wash. 15 minutes of soaking, then I drained the sink and refilled with slightly cooler water. 15 more minutes of soaking. Then I squeezed the water from the wool and plopped each bundle into a salad spinner to help further extract water. Then up to dry they went! The dyed roving mostly dried overnight, and I have to say that I'm pleased with the results!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Field Shirt project continued...

Well, I was having some trouble with blogspot during the last post...I had difficulty uploading more than one image. I waited a couple o' days. Things seem to have cleared up a little.

So immediately after the shirt came in the mail, I set about cutting it up. This is when I discovered the shirt is built like a tank. I'm sure they're made to last through some pretty difficult circumstances, so this wasn't all that surprising.

First thing I decided to do was to cut off the collar and zipper areas. The collar is stiff and most likely I will not use it for my project...unless I'm confronted with a dire shortage of fabric. Zippers might be an interesting addition in crazy art yarn, but this project's ultimate goal is to have a soft-ish blanket for the kiddos, so I think I'll just discard it.
I'd also like to point out the massive use of velcro, which is visible in the pic to the right. Yikes. This might be more challenging than I realized!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Project for Jeanette

Jeanette is a friend of mine from ye olde high school days. I lost touch with her for awhile, but recently we've become myspace friends and through that medium, I've come to know a little more about her and her family. She's married to a great guy now, and has three (3!!) sweet kiddos. Her husband Billy is serving in Iraq at the moment, and naturally that puts a large amount of stress on her family. I wanted to do something, however small, to try and help them a little through this second deployment.

So...I came up with a little project.I asked Jeanette to send me one of Billy's old field shirts. My plan is to spin fabric strips from his shirt along with some superwash merino wool, then knit it into a blanket for the kids. This way, they can cuddle with it and think of their daddy.

A few weeks ago (hmm...at this point probably over a month ago) I got a package in the mail! Inside was this:

I should have put something in the frame to give you a sense of scale, but let's just say this is one nice, big jacket. It should yeild lots of tasty fabric. I planned to cut the jacket down into long fabric strips, possible ripped along the sides for texture. The ends should be frayed for easy incorporation with the wool.
I started cutting soon after it arrived in the mail. This is when I discovered that these jackets are fortified with iron and minerals! They are practically indestructible, folks. The seams are reinforced, the fabric is seriously strong, and there are about a bazillion pockets.

Hooray and Welcome!

Well, there I was, trying to update my goofy little 6-year-old livejournal blog, when I found out I couldn't post pictures there unless I paid them for the priviledge.

Ridonkulous, I say!

So I'm moving on to blogspot, at least for the spinny posts.

**stretches** Yep, I think I'll like it here.