Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fiber Prep, Day 2

It's been quite some time since I started getting my mohair cleaned up and ready to spin (See Fiber Prep, Day 1) since then it has been tied up in two bags in my trunk.

Today the weather was perfect, warm, sunny, low humidity, and very little breeze. So, I pulled out all the mohair and went back to work. My workspace for sorting/picking the fiber is not very comfortable, and after a very draining week I didn't last long. I still have almost 2 pounds to be picked through.

When I bought the fleece, I was told it was approximately 2Lbs. I have since bought a scale for measuring my fibers, and found it to be close to 4Lbs. I knew it felt a lot heavier than 2Lbs!

This is the first 1 1/2 pounds of fiber being washed.
I filled the kitchen sink with [scalding] hot water, added a couple squirts of dish soap, and set the mohair on top. I let it soak until the water had cooled to room temperature. A sink full of wet mohair cools much more slowly than a sink full of plain water.
Word of caution here: Do not do this in your kitchen unless you don't plan on preparing food for quite some time. Besides the obvious bacterial issues, as soon as this stuff hit the hot water my kitchen smelled like there were several goats residing in it.
Here's what the water looked like when I took the mohair out!
The first rinse was almost as bad, but the second was nearly clear.
After rinsing I put all the fiber in a pillow case, bound it shut with a rubber band, and put it in the spin cycle of the washing machine.
Now it is out on my front porch drying.
I wish I had more time to spin recently, because I would really love to spin some of this up tomorrow. However, I still have quite a way to go spinning the Gotland for my mother's shawl. I think I have only used the spinning wheel once since I last posted about it.
In other news, My first pattern for sale is now available. This is a pattern for a crocheted kitchen set with placemats, napkin rings, potholders, and a couple other fun things. It is being sold as a kit, including the patterns and yarn to complete the projects. Check it out.
The biggest reason why I haven't posted much lately is because all of my available time has been spent working on new designs for Peaches & Creme. Most of which are crochet designs. There should be more free patterns posted later in the week, with more kits, and free patterns coming soon. All of the crochet designs in the works right now are pretty easy projects, most of them are beginner friendly.
Hopefully I will finish spinning the gotland and start my mother's shawl soon. I want to have it done by the end of the summer. Although, her birthday is in October, and it would be a nice birthday gift, but I do prefer to give hand knitted items as no-occasion gifts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Not Again!

So, I was tagged by Lynne.

For those of you who have been followed my blog since I was on Yahoo! 360 you know that I now will always answers questions, but I will not tag anyone else.

Here goes:

What was I doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago this month I moved to Braintree, MA. It was my second of 3 apartments with Aly, my room mate of 10 years. I was working for UNO's, and enjoying being in my early 20's.

What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
  1. Call Flo at Peaches & Creme
  2. Get several packages packed and shipped out
  3. laundry
  4. clean my car (this is on my list everyday, I don't know why I don't just do it)
  5. work on Gerry's Birthday gift, so it will actually be ready in August.

Snacks I enjoy:

Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits

Ice cream


Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Make sure my parents got to do everything they want to in their retirement

Have a house custome made with a very large art studio

Take up all of those hobbies I wish I had time to explore

Travel a lot

Shop a lot

Places I have lived:

Lowell, Ma

Seminole, Fl

Amherst, MA

Northampton, MA

Braintree, MA

Quincy, MA

Belmont, NH

Jobs I have had

Nursing home "dietary Aide" and Cook

Telephone Interviewer for a Market research firm

Nutrition Care Coordinator



Restaraunt Manager

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting Organized

So, for months I have been thinking that my needle/hook collection has greatly outgrown the storage system I had in place for it.

Two days ago I spent half an hour looking for my 6" size 4 DPN's before I finally decided to just pull the 8" size 4's out of another project. Three hours later I found the 6" needles while looking for something else.

So, I decided it was finally time for a new needle organizer. I spent several hours this afternoon working on a new one. It has about 80% of my needles in it in the photo.

The front has (from the bottom up) a row of 4" pockets for crochet hooks, a row of 5" pockets for short DPN's, a row of 8" pockets for long DPN's, a row of 9" pockets for straight needles (I rarely use straights, and no longer than 10"), and a row of 4" pockets for extra items, like my 4" Addi DPN's, and cable needles.

The back has a row of slots for circulars, several small pockets for notions, and a row of pockets for jumbo needles, and afghan hooks.

It is so nice to have everything fit finally! I have marked the pockets, so I know what size the needles are. Now all I need is the discipline to put things back where they belong when I am done with them!

If I could only make one of these to hold all that yarn....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Washed and (Almost) Dried

This morning the silk yarn was still very wet, so I took it out in the sun, where even by 9 am it was so humid I could tell it would take most of the day for it to finish drying.

The first picture is the yarn still fairly damp.

The second picture is one of the original hanks on top, slightly twisted, and another hank that I rewound in a different length to see how the colours would play together.

The red did not come out as strong as I had originally hoped, but I am very pleased with the over all results.

Since Sophia has some of the exact same yarn, and expressed interest in what I have done with mine I'm going to give more a more detailed account.

I started by soaking the silk in HOT water in the sink, a drop or two of dish soap should be used in this step (I forgot). When the yarn is thoroughly saturated-takes about 1/2 hour- it can be moved into the dye bath.

For the Dye bath I mixed Cushing's acid dyes, Egyptian Red-1/2 packet, and Terracotta- small amount left over, with 12oz boiling water, and 2 oz white vinegar. I then added enough hot water to bring the level of the liquid up high enough to cover the desired amount of yarn.

I then draped the yarn over the sides of the bucket that held the dye bath. One end of each hank was in the dye, the other end was low enough that it would continue to syphon liquid out of the bucket, drawing dye up through the fiber. I let this soak until almost all of the dye came out of the water- over an hour since my dye bath was not being heated. Then I steamed the yarn for 1/2 hour, and allowed it to cool before rinsing.

With La Luz being an unplied silk there was a small amount of surface fuzzing that occurred during this process, but it is still beautiful, and very shiny.

The Gotland only needed about an hour in the sun to be completely dry. I was very pleased when I saw it this morning. Not only did it not fluff up more in the wash, it really was finer than I thought it was while plying. It's about 21 WPI. You can see several strands crossing over the dime beneath it. This will make a wonderful delicate shawl for my mother!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Gotland Singles, and More Dying

I had some unexpected fiber time this afternoon, and the sun was shining. So, I finally got some photos of the gotland I have been spinning.

This wool is amazingly soft, and I love the fuzzy halo the singles have. I was a bit surprised that it actually seemed to fluff up as I plied it. I think it will end up being a rather plump fingering weight as a two ply. I will know tomorrow, when the yarn I plied and washed tonight is dry. Fingering weight is probably perfect for the shawl I have in mind. The very fine lace weight I made for my sister's shawl would be a bit too light for this one.

Yesterday I managed to catch my friend Kim off guard and convince her to go up to the Patternworks tent sale with me. Last year I got an amazing amount of wonderful yarns for very little money. It seemed to me that there was a much smaller selection this year. It also seemed that the markdowns were not as good as last year. They were great markdowns, but last year's sale was crazy.

The big deal I got this year was on 4 hanks of Fiesta yarns La Luz. This is a beautiful 100% silk yarn that I have always wanted to try, but have avoided because of the price-over $25 a hank. Well, I paid $4 a piece for it yesterday! The down side was that it was the brilliant colours that I loved about the yarn, and I really wasn't crazy about the 2 colours that were available. I did find a solution to that, though....

I bought 4 balls of "golden rod", a yellow-orange colour. Today I dipped them in a deep red dye, and allowed the dye to travel up the yarn, to get a fiery red to bright orange ombre. This is also drying now, and I will try to have pictures of the dry yarn tomorrow.

Last, but not least for today, I had mentioned in a recent post that I had been late sending out my bookmark exchange package, because at the last minute I had located some materials I had been hunting for. I promised to share the project after it had been received.

Terri, my exchange partner, collects wizards and dragons. I figured with the popularity of Harry Potter, and other youthful fantasy fiction these days a wizard fabric would be as easy to come by as water. Well, not at all. Dragon fabric wasn't readily available. I did finally have a wonderfully helpful sales rep at Keepsake Quilting locate 2 different dragon fabrics. I went in to see them, and finally, I had a collection appropriate needle case for Terri.

While there were no actual wizard fabrics, I did find a "Camelot" fabric with references to Merlin. You can actually see "Merlin's Maze" in the photo.

I was very pleased to be able to get this in Terri's package, and she seemed to really enjoy it.

So, tomorrow, plied Gotland, and Ombred silk!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another Dye Day

On Sunday Lynne and I got together at her studio for another day of fiber dying.

The first picture is 1/2 pound of Tussah silk that I split into two batches. The top one was dyed with a variety of reds and burgundy, eith a touch of verde green. The Lower one was bases on the colour scheme I made up during our last dye day. Once again I used terracotta and taupe, but this time I left out the brown and added Egyptian red, which is really just one shade off from the terracotta. I really loved the way it turned out, and I can't wait to spin it up. I also dyed up the 10oz of local mohair roving I bought at the NH sheep and Wool festival. Once again I split it into two batches.

This one is a blend of Egyptian red, verde green, plum, and burgundy.

This one is green, purple, and burgundy. If you look closely you can see that green and purple blended into a wonderful shade of blue. That was an unexpected surprise.
All of this will sadly be packed away in the stash for a while, as my spinning time is currently being taken up by Mom's shawl. I purchased some beautiful grey Gotland roving from Coppermoose. I've ordered from them several times now, and I am always pleased with what I get.

I had read about the Gotland fleece, and when I saw it for sale I had to get some. This wool is so soft and smooth, and it spins like a dream! I am thrilled with the way my singles are turning out, but due to a lack of sun there will be no photos today.