fiber

Skadi

skadi jacob 2

Just for something different, I actually ran a poll online to name this yarn.

Skadi was the winner. Skadi is a Norse giantess and goddess associated with skiing, winter, mountains and hunting.

I have a tendency to let myself buy undyed fiber. It tends to be cheaper per ounce (quality and breed dependent) and I can then dye it, spin it, and knit with it-I get more ‘usage’ out of it than pre-dyed fiber. Though I can’t resist good sock fiber.

I don’t however own a good white, work appropriate sweater anymore and all of my sweater projects for the last few years have ended up hibernating somewhere.

skadi jacob 1

With any luck, Skadi will eventually end up a mixed breed, white, slightly textured and maybe cabled sweater. Probably a men’s pattern, so I don’t have to worry about fit over other clothes and wearing my sweater tighter than comfort at work.

This is the first ball of the Jacob fiber I bought at Rhinebeck. I still have half the Jacob left to spin so I don’t have yardage or WPI yet. This handsome fellow is a Jacob ram-

photo by David Merrett

photo by David Merrett

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends (Friday)  and  Fall into the Holidays (Tuesdays)

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Shuffling Off to Rhinebeck-Part 2

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So I’m back home, complete with the spoils of war.

There will, however, be no photos. Gasp! My phone spent so much time looking for a signal on the way down there that it just gave up and died. I didn’t want to lug [Mid’s] Nikon around in that crowd.

That might as well be the place to start-yes, Rhinebeck gets terribly, terribly crowded. It was like the entire population of Kenmore was in the line for the fried artichokes. There are reasons I have yet to actually get the fried artichokes. However, I feel like the crowds this year were actually not horrible. I don’t know if it was because I was expecting entire population of Utica to show up this year, if I’ve finally developed something like crowd patience, or if the general attitude of the crowd was more live and let live than in years past [I’ve gone with people who have had stuff yanked out of their hands because oh my god dye lot. Calm yourselves, people, there are plenty of sheep in the world].

However- the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival [what people mean when they say ‘going to Rhinebeck’] is the largest fiber event in the state, and it’s rapidly gaining ground in terms of size against national events. You have to go expecting massive crowds. It’s just a given. There are truly lovely smaller events to go to if you don’t like crowds. My only request in light of that is please be aware that you’re going into a huge amount of people so please try to be aware of your general footprint. This might not be the place for your cutesy, giant, handwoven basket you use for the farmer’s market.

I’ve been doing Rhinebeck since I was in high school so while I’m not quite at the ‘nothing new under the sun’ level, I’m past the big-eyed wonder stage so these are my general observations for this year, in no particular order:

1. Cosplaying. I would not have thought that Rhinebeck would be the place to attract cosplayers. I was wrong.

2. The general age of the population has veered heavily towards my age and younger. From things I was overhearing when I lost my mom [see point 3 forthcoming], this apparently was a point of angst for some of the older patrons. I have my feelings on that matter, but that may be a later entry.

3. I lost my mom. For two hours. That whole ‘thousands of people on the fairground’ thing. I was actually proud of myself for not freaking out, because if nothing else, eventually the event would close and we’d both end up back at the car.

4. So many veiled knitters (if you’re new to the blog, I cover my hair full time in public). So many veiled knitters. Did my heart good to see it.

5. So many men. That too made me happy, we could use a gender balance in the subculture.

6. Not so many wheels or spindles-I saw one vendor selling orifice hooks which was the one item I actually needed from this event. A ton of loose fiber, which was great, not so much on the hardware.

7. What happened to all the Icelandic? That was the one fiber I really wanted and I think I found three vendors that were actually selling it. That may be related to point 8, though.

8. Rhinebeck is a lot easier if you’re willing to work with the crowds and skip vendors.  Either go back to them or just keep walking. I’m sure Dragonfly and Loop have lovely stuff. I’m not standing in a line 25 people deep to see it when there’s 10 buildings full of lovely stuff to look at.

9. True to trend, it snowed at my parent’s house this weekend. It can’t be Rhinebeck weekend if it doesn’t.

Overall though I got some lovely fiber, stayed within my price per ounce caps and my personal rules (no spun yarn, no dyed fiber, and don’t come home without an orifice hook), and actually had a good time.

Loosing my mom for two hours notwithstanding.

*A potentially unnecessary apology-there were a fair number of people who acted as though they knew me but didn’t approach me. If you were waiting for me to do it and I didn’t, I’m face blind and there’s a strong possibility that I didn’t recognize you. If that ever happens again just walk up to me and say something.

Tour De Fleece 2014

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I haven’t signed up for a formal team listing for this year’s Tour De Fleece. I’m going on vacation in a week, and as much as I would love to say that I’ll be able to follow through on goals, I know that at the very least check ins are going to be hard while I’m out of town.

So this year my goal is to simply work with fiber at least five minutes a day, every day. Preferably spinning since that’s the point of the Tour, but at least dye or prep something every day. And five minutes isn’t excessive-at least, I hope it doesn’t work out to be excessive.

My first project up is some black baby doll/alpaca roving that I’m spinning to go with a yarn I already have finished for a scarf I want to knit while I’m gone. I think I got about 2 ounces done last night when I got home. I’m home alone for a week, which means I should be doing my spring cleaning, but this is my detox/cool down night. Everyone needs one every once in awhile.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends!

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DIY: Dyeing Yarn with Koolaide (Part 2) {Spring Through Your Stash}

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Part 2: Color Theory

…And not just the ‘normal’ color theory.

There are certain things to consider with Koolaide dyeing when thinking about color choice:

1. A solid or semi-solid dye is going to be easier to start out with, and see if you even want to continue with this. You may find you really hate the way that hot Koolaide smells.

2. While there are some tips and tricks to working with Koolaide and other food dyes, there are some limitations to what you can do with it.

3. It’s a fairly volatile process, so make sure you’re willing to either re-dye or be satisfied with ‘odd’ results. Some of my favorite yarns came from weird results.

4. Dye in big batches, because you may find it hard to replicate a yarn. Even skeins in the same pot will shift slightly, as a general rule.

Tips with working with color:

Koolaide, and even cake dye to a point, are generally pretty saturated, bright colors. Wilton’s and liquid dyes will have a wider color range, and liquid and gel have the added benefit of a black. If you only get one jar of a liquid dye, make it a black.

Blacks have a tendency of doing what’s called ‘breaking’, which is when your color seperates out and dyes into its component colors. Some people really hate breaking and will either overdye or dye another batch in hopes that that one won’t break. I actually love breaking; I want my yarns to look like they’re not machine dyed.

Getting familiar with a color wheel will help adjust the range of colors that you get. Adding a drop or two of green to a red batch will take it from Elmo red to something closer to blood, for example. But don’t overload with contrasting colors or your colors may go rusty or too brown-leaning muted. Which may work out too.

One of the easiest ways of toning down a bright dye pot is by overdying something other than plain white. I rarely dye stark white. You can successfully overdye any color with another color if you keep two things in mind: you have to be dyeing darker, and you have to be willing to take your results.

Finally, for this part of color theory: saturation point. There will come a point where you just have to live with the yarn as it is. You can generally almost always overdye a dark yarn darker, but eventually the yarn will take all the dye it can handle and you’re not going to get anymore color into the fiber.

spring through your stashThis year’s spring Knit-a-long is actually a Craft-a-long. Whatever your favorite craft is, it’s welcome!

The only requirement is that we’re trying to work down stashed materials. Every project that you work on for the CAL should incorporate stashed materials, the more the better. You can purchase materials as necessary, but the majority of your project(s) should use materials you already own. Beyond that, have fun! Knit, spin, crochet, paper craft, sew…whatever moves you! You can follow along in the comments or link up on the Spring Through Your Stash posts up every week. The Craft-a-long will run through the first day of summer.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends!

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DIY: Dyeing Yarn with Koolaide (Part 1) {Spring Through Your Stash}

I’m not sure how it managed to get past me that in the last four years, I’ve never once actually given a tutorial on how to dye yarn with Koolaide or other food dyes.

I’m going to address that oversight now. This will be a multi-part tutorial, only because I don’t have a recent project to show you and I want to be able to show you in photos how to go through the process.

The good news is that Koolaide dyeing is both fast and easy. This tutorial series will center on just stove top or crock pot dyeing as an introduction.

doyle

Doyle is completely kool aide dyed.

Part 1: Materials

One of the beautiful things about dyeing fiber with food dye is that almost by definition, everything is food safe. What that means is that unlike more traditional forms of fiber dyeing, you will not need a separate set of everything (and I do mean everything, I know of people who have a special microwave for the task).

In order to dye yarn with food dye, you’ll need three basic items: fiber, dye, and a heat source.

1. Fiber

The largest thing to remember with dyeing this matter is that the yarn has to be protein based. The easiest way to remember is that it has to come from an animal, meaning no cotton or acrylic. You can’t get a solid set on either though you can get some interesting effects with mixed fiber yarn. If you’re not familiar with this process, start with a light colored wool like cream, off white, very pale gray, or white.

You don’t need a terribly expensive wool. If you are just starting out, see if you have something in your stash or find some wool on sale.

Sturdier wools will have less of a chance of felting.

2. Dye

You know those Koolaide packets that everyone hates because of the amount of fake coloring? Those are going to be your best friends. One of the wonderful things about them is that they’re full of the acid needed to get the dye to set on the wool, so you don’t have to worry about a mordant.

They do however have fairly limited range of colors, they come in primarily neon colors (though we’ll cover working with colors in a later entry) and they smell like fruit when you actually dye. It’s not as pleasant as it sounds. The packets are however cheap and they’re everywhere.

To get a wider range of colors and avoid the hot fruit smell, find either liquid food dyes like you would use on an Easter egg or Wilton’s frosting dye. Both are much more concentrated, but they don’t have an acid pre-packaged. You’ll need to use a glug of vinegar (a scientific term, just a splash will work) or citric acid. The trade off is that you’ll have a house that smells like hot wool and vinegar, or have to find citric acid. It’ll be in the canning section.

3. A heat source

You have a few options for how to set your wool, including solar heat. The photo for this entry comes from a project a couple of years ago involving both solar and stove top dyeing.

You need to get your wool to at least 180 degrees to get your dye to strike and set. Striking just means the wool actually takes up the dye; set means that it won’t run when it gets wet. If it runs once wetted, add more vinegar to your wash water.

You can use a large stockpot which will let you watch to see when all of the dye has struck or your wool has reached the color you desire.

You can also use a crockpot, which is what I normally do for my wools. You can place the yarn into the pot, let it reach temperature, and let it sit until the wool takes up the dye or the dye exhausts. The upside is that you don’t have to watch it. The downside is that you’re limited to the amount of wool that can fit in the pot.

If you would like, you can also use solar heat to dye wool. I wrote a tutorial on how do dye this way here.

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The greens from Doyle-same process, different effects.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends!

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Sometimes the Wait is Worth It

freya

Pardon the overexcited Instagram photo. And the messy couch.

This is Freya.

Freya is a Kromski Sonata castle style double treadle scotch tension travel wheel.

I’ve wanted a wheel for literally fifteen years. The first year that we went to Rhinebeck there was a vendor selling a used wheel for $75 and I have regretted not getting that wheel ever since that trip. I knew on the ride home that I would eventually get a wheel, that this was not a passing interest, and I should have purchased that wheel.

I was right on all three counts.

After ten years of spindling I’m actually making the jump pretty smoothly. The only issue I’m having is the ratios; I know what the ratios do in terms of spinning I just don’t know when to transition to a faster speed (you spin faster for finer wools like Merino).

So far I’ve spun a Merino, a BFL, some left over purple (the same wool from my Barleycorn project) and I’m working on a green nubby set of batts from my stash. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to chain ply on this wheel-and it turns out that I’ve been spinning so much over the past few days that I was wearing through the brake cord. Luckily I have cording in the house.

Cross learning to wheel spin off of my 2014 list.

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