Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

4. April 2009 10:45
by Jobo

Strawberry Thrum Mittens...

4. April 2009 10:45 by Jobo | 1 Comments

dreaming of strawberries and sunshine? it may be summer where you are... but it's still snowstormy here!  You know what they say about little old Prince Edward Island... if you don't like the weather, its okay!  wait a minute... it's likely to change...

So even though spring has supposedly sprung, the 2 feet of snow in my yard has me still mad about mittens.

The latest pair - a Bright Strawberry Pink Thrum Mittens... with soft white merino thrums reminiscent of strawberry seeds.  

The yarn:
Belfast Mini Mills 3-ply Merino (100g skein)

this yarn is soft and lofty... perfect for something like mittens where you want to trap warm air next to the skin.  In this case, the thrums were also merino wool from the same mill, and equally as soft and lofty.  Some people like little thrums (i.e. my mom's mittens usually have a little but less thrum) but me?  Im all about the poof... maybe I go a little overboard, but seriously... if you are going to bother embedding such soft cotton-candy fluff inside... I think you need to put LOTS.  Hey, Go Big or Go Home.

This is the second skein of this yarn that I have used... the first being a heathered blue yarn I used to make some warm cozy wool socks for the Husbeast.  I like the overall texture and consistancy of this yarn, and find it pleasing to work with.  I sometimes find wool itchy on my fingers but not this stuff by a long shot.  There were some sections of the skein that were a tiny but thicker or thinner, but no knots in the whole thing.  I always like that when you have a continuous skein, with no big knits or sections you need to cut out.  I am a hater of weaving in ends.  I know I'm a big girl, and I should get over it, but I still do go to great lengths to NOT not not weave in ends.  I am a baby sometimes.

I think I'd like to try this yarn on something larger sometime... like a sweater perhaps?  It seems to make a nice smooth solid cloth in stockinette, and I think would make a nice warm fall jacket/sweater.  The ladies at the mill have great taste in colours too... I'll have to look next time I pop in.  They had some delicious Olive Green... one of my favorite clothing colors.

Rating 4/5 balls of yarn

The Pattern:

My motto these days has been "easy does it".  With a busy home life, travelling an hour each way to get to work, and trying to sell our house... I don't have a lot of extra brain cells to spare!  I have been making mittens since I was a kid myself, so I normally just improvise things, but I was careful this time to make some notes as I went so I could share things with you folks out in blog land.

I started by taking some measurements of my own hands, I usually make a med/large sized mitten if making for myself to wear.  Since I had planned on using a standard thrum pattern, I wanted to add some extra Girly interest - what better way than by adding a cabled cuff.  Normally I would make cuffs for anything in a standard K2P2 ribbing (I dislike working K1P1, and avoid it where I can) so I decided to cable every 5th row.

Also, to break the monotony, I decided to add my thrums alternating back and forth zigzag, rather than the standard grid pattern often seen.  I added my Thrums every 4 stitches, so all sections of the mittens had to be in multiples of 4 stitches to make things work out evenly. 

Pattern is in the works... will be up here and on ravelry soon, just needs test knitting now... which is kind of scary.  I'm still such a newbie when it comes to writing out patterns!  you should see my notes... more pictures than words.  Most projects I make, I try and make notes about what I have done so that all relevant parts match, i.e. sleeves, and things that are made in twos.  To combat the problem, I often make both mittens or both socks at the same time on two sets of needles, so I dont "forget" how I did something.

I'll keep ya posted!

15. March 2009 11:00
by Jobo

Dyeing Series... Wilton's Icing Colours... to dye wool?

15. March 2009 11:00 by Jobo | 1 Comments

Another installment of Jobo-learns-to-dye-wool... this time with Wilton's Icing Dyes.

I do have more plans to continue learning to dye with natural items, but happened to have icing dyes already at home, and since they are nontoxic I didn't have to worry about using my everyday cooking equipment to do some playing around.  I think I would like to try using some other kinds of dyes, but at this point, I'm not sure if I will like dyeing well enough to run out and buy pots and pans and spoons and tongs etc.  My family is on the lookout for old enamel or stainless pots for me, but until I hit the flea markets this summer I plan on sticking with food item dyes with no major mordants or with things like icing colours.  If all goes well, I might try out acid dyes later on in the year.

Using more of the merino top I have hanging around the house... I prepared an approximately 3-4 ounce rope by soaking for about 4-6 hours in a water and lemon juice solution.  (Basically a big glass mixing bowl of water with a couple of glugs of lemon juice.  I decided to use lemon juice instead of vinegar this time after the uncool odour last time (I agree with "Knitting in the Free World", wet sheep + vinegar smell really is a buzz kill) During the soaking, I prepared the kitchen table for the dyeing process:  I laid down newspaper first, then a plastic tablecloth, then 2 layers of plastic wrap.  I was afraid of ruining the oak table, so maybe that was overkill, but I think thats okay :)  I squeezed out the excess water from the wool gently, trying not to overdo it, and then laid it out in a squiggle on the plastic wrap.

Some references I looked at recommended a certain amount of dye per ounce of wool, or weighing things out.  Of course I don't have a kitchen scale yet, so I decided to just wing it and not worry too much about how dark the colours would be, just to go with it and have fun.  So added 1/4 teaspoon of the icing colour gels to approximately 1/2 cup of water in some glass containers and stirred well to dissolve.  I also let them cool to room temperature because my wool was not soaked in hot water.  I really wanted to avoid felting it by brushing on really hot water.  For my colours I chose a basic yellow, and sky blue.  I was hoping for some greens where the two colours mixed. Gotta love that colour wheel theory!  I will have to do a post sometime on colour theory :) 

** note also in the background:  Natural Dyeing, by Jackie Crook (One of the first books I bought on the subject!) **

So, when the colours cooled off I gave them one more stir and then started blobbing them on. (wear gloves!  or you will end up with coloured hands!  I used cheap children's paintbrushes from the dollar store)   It was really hard to tell what the whole thing would look like in the end.  The liquid dyes seemed to soak into the wool, kind of like painting a sponge.  I tried to alternate the blue and yellow, leaving some whiter spaces in between some segments so that the colours could remain pure, and placing them almost on top of each other in other places so that the colours could mingle and make some greenish sections.  I know that when I spin handpainted rovings, I enjoy watching the colours slide by in my hands and meld and mix before my eyes... so I wanted to have all of those wonderful surprises from my own braid.  Some spinners consider white space to be an amateurish quality in a handpainted product, but I kind of like the contrast that a "controlled quantity" of white space can add.  I guess for me the bottom line is:  the white has to look like you left it there on purpose!  not like you just missed a section with your dye. 

** next time I will buy a lighter colour plastic tablecloth... red was hard to visualize your colours on top of **

after painting the wool, which took a surprisingly long time, and 2 refills of the blue dye, I carefully nudged the wool lengths together and wrapped them up with the plastic wrap, sealing the edges as much as possible.  Then I laid out the roving carefully in a glass baking dish (9x9 inch) and then microwaved the wool on high for 2 minutes, then rested for 2 minutes.  I repeated the process about 3 cycles of heat and cooling before the wool looked like it was "steaming" inside the plastic.  I was again worried about felt.... so I let it rest for about 15 minutes and then restarted the 2 minutes heat 2 minutes cooling for 2 more cycles.  This gave me a total of about 10 minutes in the microwave, and took about 45 minutes or so.  I think my microwave might be a bit hot so maybe 1 min 30 sec would have been enough at a time for the heat setting.

I let the wool cool to room temperature (a few hours) then rinsed it in the kitchen sink.  Surprisingly, very little of the colour leeched out.  I only needed 3 rinses and the 3rd was very clear.  I gently squeezed out water from the wool and spread it out to dry on my "sweater dryer" frame... which is great for drying just about anything!

Then the hard part... waiting until the wool is dry enough to play with.  I wish it were summertime and the drying conditions were better :(

2 days later: I got this :) 

Finished braid:  Lemons, limes and blue sky

I'm not sure how lightfast or colourfast wool is after dyeing with the icing gels, but I really had fun :)  and I'm pretty sure that I will be interested in doing some more dying.  Love the vibrant colours, and the process of playing with colour.

20. December 2008 14:07
by Jobo

I Might be in love with my Strauch Petite....

20. December 2008 14:07 by Jobo | 0 Comments

So this is her!  I got a good deal on a Strauch Petite Drum Carder.... and couldn't help myself.  Besides, seriously, would Santa know where to get one of these?  really?  Merry Christmas to me!

So to warm her up, and see if I could handle it, I made a couple batts out of some natural colored brown Alpaca and Merino X I had lying around.  Both fibers are a natural chocolate brown, and carded together beautifully, as easily as I had hoped.  Now of course, blending already prepared Merino and Alpaca isn't that hard of a job.... The alpaca is fine and soft as baby hair in the first place.  Gorgeous soft locks, with no matts or tangles anyways, but someday I will get ambitious, and wash the Jacob Fleece I have in a box upstairs... and then we'll see what the little carder is made of!  I need to get to a fabric store some day soon and get my hands on some tulle... for placing between the locks in my Laungerie bags so I can try washing wool in the Washing Machine.  A bunch of sites say that if you lay layers of the mesh between layers of locks, it helps to preserve the lock formation better. 

Here's a close up of the final blended batts... smooth and sproingy from the nice Merino X lambswool.  The stuff spins up like a dream too!  So well blended, and soft.  It drafts very easily, and needs very little predrafting since it is fluffed up so well.  Can't wait to try blending other fibers now... looking at my stash thinking... hrm, can I blend that with anything else here?  lol.  I think the spinning bug is becoming more contagious after all.  Is that even possible?

The blonde Ashford is really getting a workout these days... so much spinning so little time!

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