UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

February 29, 2008

The world is flat.

Filed under: knit, lace, scarf — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:59 pm

For almost an entire year, I made projects exclusively in-the-round.

Then I started asking myself what I wanted to knit for me.  Because, really, no one else wants anything. And if I do make them something, the only thing they want to know is if they can machine wash it.

I wanted to make a leafy shawl because I thought it would be beautiful. I bought some really glorious “musk” colored undyed alpaca 3-ply [2.5] (but they call it “worsted”) yarn. I had someone in mind who would be beautiful in it. That was when I found “Dancing Leaves”. Later, as I think on this, I realize that really, no one would appreciate the effort that went into that when it takes up a king-size bed to block if it ever gets humid.

I did not want to buy a single pattern for $10. I may still, but talked myself out of it. That was when I found the Hyde book, Wrapped In Comfort. I am vastly disappointed in this book because most of the patterns are ugly and the main trick of making the yoke and body different was not worthy of a dozen repetitions. I do not think it was not worth the money because I got the 35% off price and paid $13 for it. I found three things in there that I liked, most especially the water turtles motif. Just possibly I could combine motifs and come up with something that pleases me. I admit that the semi-circular nature of the shawls in the book does entice me and I am certain I can apply that trick to the best suited motif and have something glorious.

A number of people bought Cat Bordhi’s pamphlet on using 2 circular needles instead of dpns. That cost more than this did.

I ended up with some unmatched single from the horribly-dyed superwash merino roving. It is about a [1.5] and I looked for a very lacy scarf pattern. I figured that pallid brown and gray and rust pastels would make for the kind of scarf which would make a good gift for just about anyone; lace would maximize the yardage use and make it more impressive; a scarf will not take the kind of abuse that a garment does so using a single would not be inappropriate. I found “Palette“.

The Palette pattern suggests it would be good with handspun and was originally written to use a mere ounce of fiber. That means I should have about the right amount. I am making mine a little skinnier, 27 stitches across rather than 31, to ensure that the length is still desirable. The pattern says merely “CO 31” without giving any advice whatsoever on what type of cast-on would be desirable or what caveats should be accounted for. I  Googled. Eunny Jang’s site was down but the cached copy suggests that “lace cast-on” and plain “knitted cast-on” are identical. I kept looking. I found a good explanation in another blog “Grin and Frog It” (April 2006).

[You should know that I am terrible about keeping up with the blogroll here. I add things to my Google Reader and the import process is not as smooth as I would like.]

Palette has something in its lace motif that scares away even big-name knitting people like Franklin (The Panopticon) Habit,  the wrong-side is not just straight purl. There is texture/pattern work on the purl side. What I liked about the Palette motif was that there are no rows with knit and purl stitches. All knitters seem to have an Achilles’ heel; many knitters fear the purl stitch; some knitters think cables might be too difficult; others may not want to block or divert from the written pattern— for me the thing I find most irritating is the transition between knit and purl. I find that it takes me nearly thrice as much time to do k1p1 ribbing as it does to k*. But many knitters prefer their lace motifs to have a “resting row”.

There are no pictures. I have no pictures of the spun yarn because it is unworthy of photography. I have no pictures of the in progress Palette, which I have named “Zag Lace Scarf” on Ravelry, because it looks like a couple rows of pale gray yarn next to a big yarn barf. I really need to find a better way to wind handspun yarn….

February 24, 2008

Fiber from Stitches West 2008

Filed under: fiber — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 1:14 pm

Froggy Moon Fibers “Napa Nutmeg” Superwash Merino 4oz ($13+t)

Ashford Bay- Merino in “Twillight” (4oz) and “Pinedale” (4oz) $7.50+t each (via Carolina Homespun)

But Redfish Dyeworks was the real knockout find:

Redfish Dyeworks 4oz 80/20 Superfine Merino/Tussah Silk ($22+t)

Redfish Dyeworks 4oz (50/30/20) Alpaca/Merino/Tussah ($22+t)

Redfish Dyework 8oz (50/30/20) Alpaca/Merino/Tussah ($44+t)

Second thumbnail is the zoom view so you can see how sparkly/shiny it is. All the Redfish Dyeworks fiber was like this. It is truly remarkably beautiful. For those of you who got an excited email, the middle one is my favorite.

February 22, 2008

Stitches West 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:59 pm

I did manage to attend the Stitches show in the afternoon today after nearly talking myself out of going and having some schedule conflicts. It was crowded enough today that I would not have wanted to go tomorrow. I found some fabulous fiber (there will be pictures later). I resisted the yarn, largely because the places with the huge sales were hugely crowded.

Most of the yarn places were selling the same things. There was much Malabrigo to be found, but it is a single ply yarn. I really do not understand why people are so enamored of single-ply yarns. A few years ago it was Manos del Uruguay… same thing, unplied singles. I think these yarns become popular with the “in-crowd” and other people jump on the bandwagon unthinkingly. But it is definitely popular. I spin better yarn than that with 3 months’ experience. So it was easy to avoid the yarn-selling booths.

And yes, getting back from Santa Clara was horrible even though I left the show at 3pm.

February 20, 2008

buying fiber for spinning

Filed under: fiber — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:04 am

I have been spinning. But have nothing really to show for it yet. Holidays and long weekends make it difficult to focus on more solitary pursuits.

I have one bobbin of superwash merino from Sakina Needles spun up. It spins and drafts just like the previous superwash merino from Spunky Eclectic. However the colors are less intense and the roving has lots of white patches. There were more white patches than were shown in the braid even. After spinning, I would say that the dye job on this roving is unsatisfactory because the color did not penetrate well and there is a consistent core of white throughout. With that much hidden white when the braid is undone, it looks like the buyer is being deceived by packaging. Caveat emptor. Admittedly, I have only unbraided two of the rovings. It is possible that both of those were abnormal. Perhaps I will unbraid the third and check. [ETA. The third one is actually worse.] It is also possible that other types of fiber from Sakina Needles are more intensely colored with fewer undyed swaths, since all my purchases of that brand have been superwash merino.

I realize it is impolite to negatively comment on businesses, but I have positively reviewed places that deserved it and refuse to stay silent and imply a recommendation by saying I have purchased something when I was unhappy.

I do not plan to return these, and I was very satisfied with the service from Loopy Ewe, but will not be buying Sakina Needles products in future. Hopefully the Tempted brand roving (from that same Loopy Ewe order) is better. [ETA. I wrote and complained because all the SN rovings were poor quality. Loopy Ewe was polite and grateful for the information. And they said they are looking for dyers who could provide a steady source of rovings. If you know someone good and responsible, pass on the referral please.]

Last night I placed another order with Spunky Eclectic. The product has been very satisfactory, but placing the orders is hard. I would not buy without knowing the owner because it is so much work to fight the system. I did email the owner with several suggestions and concerns, so I am not talking out of school entirely. Very very nice hand-dyed roving, but there is no space to specify which custom color you want when placing the order (I have sent email both times.) and most of the colorway thumbnails cannot be clicked for a larger view. [ETA. Once the order is in progress though, there are no problems. I got email back refining my custom color choices within the same day, even though there is a huge warning plastered all over the site saying everything is gone for the show.]

If we could combine the Loopy Ewe online store with the Spunky Eclectic products…..

I am going to be at Stitches West on Friday. I hope to find new and fabulous things there.

I am considering buying from Susan’s Spinning Bunny next. I was all set to place an order when the price went up 50% and it was on an unknown-to-me fiber, so I was a lot less enthusiastic afterward. I like that I can get a discount if I buy a pound of hand-dye in the same colorway.

I have looked at a number of places, but most of them do not specify shipping charges. Some of them say your order will be amended after they have figured the shipping charges. But all of them have cancellation fees. So you pick out what you want, give them your credit card information, then they slap you with a shipping fee, but if you protest, you forfeit the cost of your order anyway. I am not doing business with anyone like that. If I give them my zip code and they know the weight and approximate bulk of my purchase, they can figure shipping costs exactly. If they want to add in a handling fee of a couple bucks, fine, but I need to know the final costs before I will click OK if there is going to be a potential $100 penalty for changing my mind.

Is there anywhere selling pencil roving that is not corriedale, but is a reasonable price? There are days when I want to spin but not have to work at it.

February 16, 2008

steam punk’d

Filed under: spin — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:20 am

Sometimes I try something and it does not work. My Fricke wheel says the bobbins are boil-able, so I attempted to steam my completed yarn on the bobbins.

Now, this was not a catastrophic failure. The yarn is fine and the bobbins are fine.

But there are some serious problems.

  1. The smell. It reeks fiercely of sheep.
  2. Winding wet yarn off the bobbin (because there is no way it is going to dry before it mildews otherwise) is bad for the yarn and a pain to do.
  3. The completed and dried yarn is stiff and crunchy and never fluffs out like regular yarn washing and drying does for it.

I had hoped that by steam setting on the bobbin, that when skeined, it would fit on the standard size for ball-winding later. I do not see much point in winding this stuff into balls. No one would want to knit with it. Not that you can see from the picture, but…

February 14, 2008

blue skies

Filed under: dye, spin — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:44 pm

The self-dyed roving that seemed hideously felted is spinning tolerably. If I had paid for this roving, I would have complained because it is very irritating and requires a lot of extra preparation work. However, it does spin. I have one bobbin of [1] singles and a second bobbin on the flyer. I do not know that I want to ply these. They are probably over-spun for use as singles though.

The summary being that dye mistakes are not catastrophic, many times things can still be salvaged.

February 13, 2008

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies…

Filed under: dye, fiber — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:57 am

Dyeing roving did not work too well. I got an unsatisfactory amount of felting and did not get the color separation I wanted.

First, let me say that this is entirely my fault. I did not do any research before starting the roving dye process (though I did read the instructions before dyeing yarn with the new-to-me Jacquard dyes.)

The color I got is really nice. It looks like a blue sky with a few puffy white clouds. However, since I used Spruce green and Periwinkle blue, I was expecting something else.

(This is where the post title came from, just in case you were wondering where the goofy titles arise.)

Procedure-wise. I measured out some roving (13 arm-lengths is a pound, so I used about 3-ish). I braided it so it would not “float apart”. I soaked this in luke-warm acidulated water in a 3-gallon zip-top bag (with the zipper torn off because those bags are poorly manufactured).

I added a quarter-cup of boiling water to each dye pot (the 1/2 ounce jars) to make a liquid dye. This is recommended by the manufacturer. Then I put a straw-full of dye liquid on one side of the roving braid in the bag full of acid-water. I used another straw to add another dye on the other side. There was very little uptake of dye.

Eventually I drained out most of the dye water from the bag and put the bag of wet roving in the steaming pot.

There are several points at which I believe I erred.

  1. braiding the roving. This is a stupid idea. If the roving is going to come apart, dead nylon hose would have been a better choice to hold it together.
  2. I did not use soap. Soap increases dye uptake and reduces white spots.
  3. I smooshed the fiber around way too much.
  4. not using a drinking straw for the second color of dye (turns out that “straw” was blocked up)
  5. I used too much citric acid powder

I did pull the drying roving into vertical strips and it will be spinnable, though not effortless like some of the professionally dyed rovings have been. Of course even the professionally dyed rovings have had chewy sections.

My current plan, after having read all sorts of advice from other people’s blogs and websites, is to work outside, tape newspapers down, add a plastic tarp, spread plastic wrap into a long length for each roving. Additionally I plan to pre-dissolve the acid powder in hot water and to pre-soak the roving in cold water (which has had the acid and some soap mixed in). Then I will drain the soaking water off, lay the roving out along the plastic wrap, and paint the dyes on. This painted roving will sit out in the sun. When it is dry or mostly dry, I will carefully wrap it in plastic wrap and steam it. When that is cool, I will rinse it and rinse it again.

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