Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cozy Winter Socks

Now that fall has arrived with it's crispy cool days and breezy drafts, I seem to be in the mood for making warm snugly things. During the winter I always have cold feet. It just occured to me the other day, that, as a knitter, there is no reason I should go around the house with freezing feet! I have the capability to make socks, so why haven't I? Well, without further ado I jumped on ravelry and looked for a short sock pattern that uses medium weight yarn. I wanted them to be thick. The reason being, the thicker they are the warmer they will be.
The pattern I found was "Worsted Anklet Socks" by Joanne Turcotte.
They are the easiest socks I have ever knit. I tried to keep an accurate track of my time while knitting the second one. It took me about 2hrs. and 40 min. from start to finish. That is a rough average. Some people can probably do it even faster. But I was in no hurry. I worked on it a couple different times while watching a video. I did shorten the ankle ribbing by one inch. That was purely accidental. I glanced at the pattern and saw the smallest child's size and thought it was for the adult size. But I like my one inch ribbing very well. I have never been too keen on long socks. I love short socks and ankle socks though.

The nice thing about this pattern is that it comes in children's sizes as well. I plan on knitting up a pair of these for all the gals in the family. I just need to buy some more yarn. Oh, the yarn I used is Patons Classic yarn.

I did a bit of spinning today too. After spinning up the angora that I previously showed, I found some more of the same roving in amongst my stuff. So I am going to spin it up and see what my total yardage comes to. I need to purchase some more roving because now that I have been spinning regularly I want to keep on.
I find that I love spinning by hand, it is very relaxing and rewarding.

That is it for now!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spinning Update

Not much today. Just a quick post about some of the spinning I have on one of my spindles. My Aunt gave me some raw angora fiber that she purchased at a fiber festival this summer. When Debi was over awhile back I combed some of it up with her combs.
This is at a roadside park that my brother and I stopped at a couple weeks ago. There are 234 step down to the river. The view is lovely, especially in the fall when the colors have changed!

There was all manner of places to take nice pictures. I thought I would include a few of them here.

I find the angora rather difficult to spin. I keep getting little blobby pieces that don't want to draft. The reason might be because I didn't comb it well enough. Or maybe I just don't know how to draft off a rolag. I have only ever drafted off of roving before.
It is a very soft and lovely yarn though. I am not sure what I will make out of it, but whatever it is, it will be quite elegant and warm!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Angora Yarn

I know I already posted about this yarn, but I wanted to put some more pictures of it off the spindle.

I still have not decided what to make with it. The yarn is so luxurious and there is so much of it! A whole 258 yards! Plus it took me quite awhile to spin and I feel that I need to find the perfect project.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How To Dye Naturally

Where to start? I have so much to say! This past Tuesday my cousin, Debi, came to visit us for a couple of days. We had all manner of things to chat about and all sorts of things we were excited to share with one another. But I won't get into all of that right now. This post is about the plant dyeing we did on Wednesday. I have been interested in plant dyeing for awhile now but I don't think I would have done anything with it quite yet if Debi hadn't nudged me into the dyeing process this week.
Now I am very excited about it. I am going to use the winter months to plan my herb and flower gardens. Right now I plan on the main focus of my garden being geared toward dyeing naturally.

This here is our wool soaking. We had 4oz. that we used to make four different colors. The book that is visible in the back of the photo is where we got most of our information. It is call "Craft of the Dyer: colour from plants and lichens" by Karen Leigh Casselman.
I have looked at a couple books on dyeing and noticed that a lot of the plants they describe are not even ones I have ever heard about. I wouldn't know where to find them. What really struck me about this book was the vast array of plants described and all the detailed information. Pretty much anyone could go out into their yard with this book and find things with which to dye fiber.As you will see, a few pictures down, we found several things out in our backyard, and there were several more that we could have used but didn't.
Debi had brought along some black eyed Susan from her house so we threw those in a pot to boil and added a mordant. A mordant is a substance used to set the dye in the fiber by forming a coordination complex which then attaches to the fiber. It is also used to intensify the colours.
Based on the type of mordant used you can determine (to some extent) the color your fiber will be. There are chemical mordants, which we preferred to stay away from, and there are natural mordants. Some of the natural mordants include, iron, copper, tin, and baking soda.
Our mordant of choice was iron, because that is all we had on hand at the time. We used a rail road spike. For one batch we did use copper.

Basketful of dyeing material.
Marigolds, pine cones, and pine bark. I put the maple leaves in for color, although you can use fresh maple leaf to dye. We also used parsley but we didn't think of adding that to the list until later on.

Here is the bark simmering. We added pennies to make our copper mordant. We figured we probably didn't have nearly enough bark because the dye bath was not getting very dark. So we threw in the pine cones for good measure.
This is the batch that we used the copper mordant on.

They marigolds are from my little garden on the south wall of the garage. I planted it late in June, and to my delight it flourished and is still producing flowers. However I think the weather has turned cold for good so this is probably the last of the marigolds.

Pot of Parsley.
When I planted my herb garden I never imagined I would be using it to dye wool!

Here are the four finished batches. From left to right: #1 Parsley. #2 Black-eyed Susan. #3Pine. #4 Marigold.

The marigold turned out different than we expected. The book never mentioned using iron as a mordant, and it describe the colours as yellows and golds. The colour we ended up with was more of an olive green. When we first put the wool in the dye it quickly turned a minty sort of green which we loved. Our mistake was not taking it out then and there. Instead we left it in and it turned this colour. We both like this colour, but we were a little disappointed that we didn't whisk it out when it was minty.

This colour is not showing up as to what it truly looks like. It is more of a lemony-yellow colour. Once I took it outside I was amazed by how it seemed to glow, almost to create it's own light.

Black-eyed Susan.
This actually is not dyed with just black-eyed Susan. We found that we did not have enough leaves/petals to make a very strong dye. So later we dipped it in the pine bath to darken it up a bit. It came out this lovely linen colour and I am quite pleased with it.

I don't have much to say about this one, other then I like it! But I think next time I'll add more pine bark and cones.

The sun was out by turns and the wind was blowing so I left the roving out to dry for awhile.
We learned quite a bit, at least I know I did! It was a lot of trial and error. We were not too precise as to the measuring of our water and ingredients. But I do believe we discovered some things about the plants we were working with and also the mordants. We'll have to keep notes each time we dye and we'll learn as we go. There are some other books I would like to check out concerning plant dyeing.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!