29 March 2013

Spin spin spin :)

Hello everyone! I hope you are having a relaxing Good Friday.  I'm having a really lazy day, a much wanted lie-in in the morning, hot cross buns for breakfast (ok, brunch then!) followed by a nice long walk around the lake, then some spinning... I like lazy days :)

First a quick update with what's happening with my crafts. Remember Tricky Tricsi the little cardigan I was making for my goddaughter? Well it's proved to be tricky alright, I've got to almost finishing the yoke and sleeve caps then realised that it might be too small, after checking with my friend for measurements it was apparent that I had to frog and restart again. It was my fault really that I didn't do a proper swatch, also I was using a fingering weight yarn rather than the recommended DK weight by the pattern, plus maths was never my forte, etc., etc., ... anyway I will have to start it again, maybe with 2 strands held together rather than trying to re-calculate, we shall see.

At least I was more successful on the spinning front, and managed to finish a few skeins that I was quite pleased about.
This is from a dyed merino top I recently bought, I love the colours but they came off and stained my hands while I was spinning, so I soaked the skein in a white vinegar solution and steamed it to set the dye, hopefully the colours won't run again in later washes. I actually just finished another skein from the same top, it's soaking right now.

This is made from a hot pink merino top that I blended with some pure finn and alpaca that I dyed a pale pink myself. I made rolags and spun semi worsted, I still can't spin pure woollen but I shall persevere. The merino top came from the same source as above, the colour also came off and I had pink hands after spinning, and I now also have a pair of pink hand carders! The skein had the same vinegar treatment as above.

But I am most proud of these skeins of a wool/alpaca blend, I bought the slivers from the backroom of Bendigo Woollen Mills when I went to Bendigo for a job - couldn't resist the opportunity and I'm so glad I did ;-)  The slivers are so easy to spin and so smooth, now I know what it means when someone says "it spins like butter", it's pure bliss!

It's been a while since I talked about my work, so today I will finish with a little anecdote. If you've been reading my blog for a while you will know that my work takes me to all sorts of places, here's another example.... in the last couple of weeks I haven't been able to take Elliot to his piano lessons and this is what he told his teacher: "My mum went to court last week and this week she's in prison!" - well that seems to follow the natural order of things ;-)

Happy Easter to you all!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

p.s. Our big trip has been confirmed, it's called "around the world in 40 days", more details later :)

22 March 2013

Breaking Black: An Experiment (and what all those colours mean!)

When I wrote my last week's post I wondered if any of you would pick up on the hint of my possible travel plan, and sure enough some of you did ;-)  Yes, we are planning a trip, a big one, around Christmas/New Year time. As we are still finalising the details I won't say more until we have a definite itinerary, won't be long now (fingers crossed!) :)

This week I would like to share with you with some experiment I did on using black food dye. There is an interesting article on Breaking Black at DyeYourYarn.com. I've been wanting to try it for sometime, then I saw someone's wonderful result on Raverly and decided to have a go myself.

First I put some dry wool lap (leftovers from Bendigo Woollen Mills) in the crockpot and dropped some black food dye in small dots:
Then I started pouring diluted vinegar onto the wool, you can see the colours started to break already:
I set the crockpot to low just before we went to J's martial arts class, and by the time we got back (about 1.5 hours) the water in the pot was clear and here's the result:
Now the reason for the colours to break is because there is no true black dye, all blacks are a combination of other colours. For my experiment I used Queen food colour black. The label lists colours 123, 102, 133. A little research turns up the following findings:

Colour 123: also known as Amaranth, FD&C red 2 or E123, it's a dark red to purple colour. Traditionally it was made from Coal Tar, the modern ones are more likely to be derived from petroleum byproduct. It is banned in the USA but still legal in many other countries - evidently it is legal in Australia!

Colour 102: also known as Tartrazine, FD&C yellow 5 or E102, it is a common yellow food colour and it's derived from petroleum. You can find this in many food items such as ice cream, candies, soft drinks, snacks and cereals, etc. There are some findings linking certain allergic reactions to this colour, in some cases children with asthma could have a bad reaction, it's also been linked to hyperactivity in children.

Colour 133: also known as Brilliant Blue FCF (blue 1) or E133, it is derived from... surprise surprise! petroleum. This colour was previously banned in many European countries but now has been ruled as legal by the EU. It also has been linked to causing a reaction with asthma.

If you are interested to learn more about these colours you can click on each name which will take you to the Wikipedia site (ok Wiki is not the authority on sciences but it's good enough for a layperson like me), or you can conduct your own research. Frankly it does not make cheerful reading, I don't know about you but I think the best use for these colours is on fibre and yarn. Smarties anyone?

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

15 March 2013

Tricky Tricsi, and some other stuff...

Hello there! Hope you're having a relaxing Friday winding down for the weekend. I had a a rather hectic week so not much was done in the crafting department, but I haven't been entirely idle with my hands so lets take a look...

Tricsi is a cute cardigan design by the talented Asa Tricosa, all of her designs are lovely and I have a few queued up. But I was particularly interested in the construction of Tricsi, it starts from the mid of the back collar, and you knit one half of the back collar plus a bit of the back on one side; then you knit the other half of the collar and the other side of the back, like this:
... then all are joined, and you're instructed to CO/pick up for the sleeves and fronts... sounds confusing? a bit lost? well, when I read the instructions I couldn't make the head and tail of it, but I was so intrigued by the idea that you could knit a cardigan top-down with build-in collar and sleeves and that it is totally seamless and self finishing, I forged on anyway...
Can you see the cardigan taking shape now? It certainly is a challenging project, one that demands your full attention as well as taking careful notes or marking off sections one by one as you complete them. Having come this far I think the trickiest parts are almost over, hopefully the rest would be plain sailing! I'm making this little cardi for my goddaughter Ericka whom I'm hoping to see at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. I'm also making an adult version for her mum, so in theory by then I will be an old hand at this "tricky" design ;-)

The annual Australian Sheep & Wool Show is going to be in July this year, a spinning friend of mine is taking part in a Co-op that will occupy a booth at the show. In a moment of madness (?) I asked to join her and contribute to her stock. The idea of making some pocket money from spinning has been brewing for quite some time, I thought this would be a good opportunity to test the waters. It's quite a challenge consider I've got three assignments to hand in before that as well as fit in work (shame!), but this is much more fun so I'm going to give it a go, wish me luck!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

08 March 2013

The Name's Beans, Black Beans.

I've been reading about dyeing with black beans on Ravelry and after seeing other people's wonderful results I was itching to have a go. I bought some black beans from the Asian grocery store:
I then put some beans in a large container and covered with plenty of water to soak in a dark cupboard, the water turned a murky muddy reddish brown after a few days. Not sure what to expect I filled a glass jar with some murky bean water and dunked a skein of pre-mordanted (alum) white wool in there and left it to cook in the sun:
See how murky the water is? Not very inviting is it? So imagine my surprise when I took the skein out and saw the result:
A beautiful soft denim, bingo! ...  I love this kind of dyeing, not much fuss,  some basic preparation and then just let time and the sun do all the work, like magic ;-)

I also managed to finish the Cookies & Cream Baby Blanket I was making for a friend.
Now a few words about motif projects:
Pros: Portable - worked one at a time so you can take it anywhere and use any spare moment; Modular - you can easily adapt the pattern to suit your needs.
Cons: Ends, ends, millions of ends! If you don't like weaving in ends, like me, then you should think carefully before embarking on a project made with motifs. This blanket is made up with 66 motifs, that's 132 ends to weave in. At least I did "join as you go" so there was no sewing.
The verdict? You won't be seeing me starting another motif project anytime soon ;-)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

01 March 2013

Back to the dye pot...

I apologise for those folks who came to visit last week and found the house empty, there was nothing wrong with me except being extremely disorganised. In fact I seem to have scattered my brain in the last couple weeks... I turned up at my spinning group Wednesday evening only to realise that it wasn't on (I'd seen the notice on Facebook but didn't really register), burnt the pot dry while cooking some yarn on the stove (dyeing in coffee), planned to catch some rainwater to soak eucalyptus barks but forgot to put the bucket out... It's just one of those silly phases I tell myself, it'll pass and I shall have my full faculty back sharp as a tack, surely!

So I did some dyeing and here are the results:

This is the skein cooked in leftover coffee (from the percolator not my cup!) and the pot burnt dry, luckily I caught it just in time that the yarn was not ruined. The colour is much lighter than I imagined - I'd seen other people's results that's a real rich coffee brown, maybe my coffee was not strong, a bit like latte ;-)
The next one was solar dyed in the eucalyptus dye stock from a few weeks ago, last time the colour was a very light lemony yellow. I'd let the dye stock brewing in the sun for a bit, and you can see the result is much darker. So definitely no red, the search for red dye producing eucalyptus continues.
Both yarns came from a white wool base, it was first soaked in a vinegar and washing liquid solution and mordanted with potassium alum plus COT or creme of tartar. I am pleased with the results yet can't help feeling a tad disappointed, I had hoped that by brewing the eucalyptus it would produce a richer still shade but it was not to be. But that's part of the fun of natural dyeing, it's all about experimenting and keeping records. I'll have a post on record keeping another time, it's an art in itself which I am still learning.

For DH's jumper I have spun up 11 skeins of yarn, but they are of a variety of shades and thickness, as you can see from the photo below. It's going to be interesting to see how it turns out ;-)
I'm not sure if I have enough but I do have another brown/black fleece, naturally it will be a different shade...

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!