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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Onion Skin Dyeing

The merino/silk skein I spun during Spinzilla and then dyed with mushrooms from the garden, blogged about here, was crying out to be over-dyed.  During the month of October, we're having a dye-along using onion skins in our Ravelry group DIY and Dye and this seemed the perfect subject.

I gathered up all the onion skins I'd been saving for the occasion (just over 100g) and boiled them up for about an hour, then sieved out the skins once it had cooled.

I put the skein (previously tin-mordanted, because I'd read that the mushrooms I dyed with first gave a good orange when mordanted with tin - must have mis-identified the mushrooms!) into the dye bath, which was quite dark and promised some good colour.

This was after about 20 minutes of being in the dye bath and was looking quite good, so I put it back in and heated for maybe another 30 or 40 minutes.

After removing that skein, there was still lots of colour in the dye bath, so I quickly spun some more merino/silk (unmordanted this time) and dyed that.  A bit paler, but still pretty good.  I spun another skein and tried that, which gave a slightly paler result again.

Anyway, here are the 3 skeins with the tin-mordanted one on the left.

There's still colour in the dye, but I don't think I'll manage another skein before it starts to go off.  We're going on holiday on Thursday (Switzerland and Germany to visit family and friends) and I have quite a lot to do before then.  The dye might end up on the compost heap.  No worries - there are always more onion skins!!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Mushroom Dyeing

We get some of these mushrooms growing in our garden every year, and I've often wondered if they'd give colour.  I looked them up in one of my dye books "The Rainbow Beneath My Feet, A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide" and couldn't decide exactly which they were.  The ones most similar though are reported to give orange when the yarn is mordanted with tin.  I haven't used tin for years, but thought I probably had some somewhere.  Sure enough I found a tiny bit in a jar so used it to mordant the skein I'd picked out.

This is the yarn I chose to dye - it's the merino/silk I spun in Spinzilla.  I have no idea of the weight of the mushrooms because I forgot to weigh them, but the yarn weighs 35g so I thought I was in with a chance of getting something.

There wasn't a lot of dye stuff, but I chopped them up anyway and heated them in some water to extract the colour.

The dye looked quite promising :-

And here's the finished yarn.  It's subtle, very subtle.  In real life it's very pale yellowish, probably a bit too pale for me.  I think this one might be going into the dye pot again.

At least I now know not to pick those mushrooms and just leave them for the mice.  They were obviously not the ones I thought they were!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Spinzilla 2017

Spinzilla 2017 started on 2nd October and ran until midnight on the 8th October.  I've often followed this event, but have never joined in - until now!  I'd been umming and aahing over whether to do this or not, when another member of the DIY and Dye group on Ravelry said, "Oh go on, I will if you will!"  That did it really, I couldn't say no.  I joined a group "DM Fibers Old School Spinners" which was being captained by our DIY and Dye leading lady - it felt like home.

Before the competition began I started preparing fibres.  I bought some merino fleece at Le Lot et La Laine festival in July, so started carding that about 6 weeks ago.  By the time the event arrived, I'd only made about 60 rolags.  By this time though, I decided I needed to spin "easy", so got out all my commercially prepared fibres and pre-drafted some of them.  I was ready when 12:01 Monday morning arrived and I was able to start spinning.

My goals were clear before we started : I would be happy to spin a mile, and ecstatic if I managed more than that.  This was based on my view that I'm not a fast spinner.  I always seem to spin less than anyone else during the Tour de Fleece each year, so knew I really had to try harder for Spinzilla.

This is what I started with :-

I knew I wouldn't be able to finish all of it, so decided to start with the most important.  The white fleece at the back right is 520g of super wash Falkland.  This is going to be a baby blanket for our friend Nico's first baby which is due in March.  So, just after midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning I started spinning that.  I finally finished on Wednesday after 2.5 days spinning.

Next up, I needed some colour, so chose this pink :-

This was a mix of kid mohair, suri alpaca, Teeswater and Tussah silk.  It was only 75g so a very quick spin.  This was finished by the end of Wednesday too.

On Thursday I started to spin some Tussah silk to ply with the pink, and on Friday I decided I'd better start plying before I had too much of a build up.  It took me over six hours (!) to ply the white Falkland, especially as I had a ginormous tangle to contend with when my final plying ball decided not to play nice.  I wasted about 2 hours trying to sort it out.  Eventually though, it was all done and I could carry on spinning the silk.

Saturday morning I plied the pink and silk

and then got started spinning this green mix of Blue Faced Leicester, Merino, Polwarth, glitz (whatever that is!), baby alpaca, Tussah silk and gold Angelina.

There were two batts, amounting to 115g, which had been hand-painted with the dyes - an interesting way of applying them.

It doesn't really show on this photo, but this was very sparkly.  I'm always surprised at how these batts turn out once they're spun because they almost never look the way I'd anticipated, and this one was no exception.  I've no idea what happened to those pinks and blues - they just sort of became absorbed.  This was made into a plying ball and plied from both ends, which behaved perfectly this time!

This brought me to 8:45 p.m. on Sunday evening.  Just enough time to spin some of my merino rolags in the grease.

I had some of the silk left from the pink yarn, so, when it got to 11:30 p.m. I started plying. At 11:40 I ran out of silk, so spent the next 10 minutes spinning some more.  At 11:50 I carried on plying and finally ran out of silk again with 3 minutes to go until midnight. Seemed like a good place to end!

This morning (Monday) I finished calculating how much I'd spun.  By 6 p.m. on Sunday, I'd managed 3.75 miles, so there was only the merino/silk to add.  Would it add up to another quarter of a mile?  I really didn't think it would.

So, my final mileage after spinning for 46.5 hours, was . . . 4.078 miles!!!  You could say I'm ecstatic!

It's been a busy week, especially as we had visitors on Thursday who stayed for lunch and dinner, and then left just before midday on Friday, and then our group played at a charity concert on Saturday which meant we had to leave home at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  Not as much spinning on those days.  So, would I do it all again next year?  Bring it on!!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Pre-Spinzilla Spin - A Case of Mistaken Identity?

I'm a bit late posting this, but haven't had much time this week with Spinzilla going on.

I've never enrolled for Spinzilla before, but realised I had a lot of preparation to do, plus, just as important, there were bobbins to be emptied in readiness.  Most were just wound off and set aside, but I found one bobbin half filled with some black alpaca that I'd started spinning for my friend Sarah, months ago!  Seemed like a good opportunity to get it finished and delivered.

This is what I was faced with!!  But it didn't take too long to pick out all the bits and fluff up the fibre.

Then hubby decided to get involved and help (not)!!

I didn't card this, just spun from the cloud so it was pretty quick to do.  Finished skein :-

Mission accomplished!

Errr, except I then found this half bobbin of what looks suspiciously like Sarah's black alpaca!  Ooops!

This is a clear case of tripping myself up by not labelling my bobbins.  I have no idea what the other half bobbin was, but I imagine it could have been alpaca, just not Sarah's alpaca. I'll just have to spin the rest of this bobbin and give her both skeins!