Jobo Designs

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

25. April 2009 20:47
by Jobo
1 Comments

Natural Dyeing Series... Black Tea

25. April 2009 20:47 by Jobo | 1 Comments

and you say it's only available in Atlantic Canada?  Pity Ma'am...

The next colourful substance in my series on Natural Dying is Black Tea.

 

I had some older Red Rose teabags in the back of the Cupboard (since I prefer Earl Grey, the plain stuff seems to sit for quite a while) so I decided to grab some more wool, and give it a try.



For my dye bath I took a stainless steel pot (the same one I use to brew my tea for homemade Iced Tea actually... but thats another story)  and added 2 cups of boiling water to 5 regular sized tea bags.  Keeping the temperature hovering around boiling, I left the bags to steep for about an hour.  Resulting liquid - very dark brown tea.

For the wool - I used some polwarth top I had laying around... I had bought a pound of the stuff, and then played with a bunch of it and then forgot about it.  Well, time to enjoy it again!

I soaked the wool in lukewarm water for about 1 hour (while the tea steeped) and added in some lemon juice.  I don't know if tea needs acidity to dye or not, but I figured that since I had a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, it really couldn't hurt anything could it?  For this experiment I did not mordant the wool... mostly since I did not have anything mordant-able in the house.

 

I laid out the wool in a single layer in a glass pyrex baking dish, after squeezing out most of the water first.  Then I carefully poured the now cooled extra strong tea over the wool.  My goal was a semi solid dye, so I added the dye in a blotchy pattern and then swirled the dish to distribute.  Then I covered the dish with plastic wrap and chucked the whole thing in the microwave and nuked on high for 2 minutes.  I followed the same method as my last dyeing attempt - cycles of 2 minutes cooking, 2 minutes resting, and of course waiting for a longer interval when it looked like the water around the wool was boiling.  I continued in this manner for several cycles, and unfortunately lost count after 5.  Basically I kept the wool hot enough to almost boil for around an hour.

Then I left the wool to soak in the dye overnight.  (it was bedtime, so I hit the pillow instead!)

The next day after work (soaking approximately 20 hours or so) I removed the wool from the dye solution and rinsed carefully in cool water in the sink.  After 3-4 rinses the wool no longer released dye when squeezed.  Of course all the rinsing and swishing were done carefully so as to avoid felting, though since this was all done at a cool temperature, I wasn't really all that worried :)

Next, the soggy wool was drained, squeezed out and rolled in an old towel to absorb as much liquid as possible.  I learned my lesson last time:  if you don't *really* try and get out as much liquid as you can... the Wool takes like THREE whole days to dry.  This means you won't be able to play with it for three days.  totally uncool!.  This time the wool dried on the mesh sweater dryer in a day.  Much much faster.  Point for me!  (wool 0 ; Jobo 1)

The colour?  kind of a brownish caramel gold.  My technique of pouring and swirling (very technical huh?) resulted in a varied semi-solid colouring, which looks like it will have a nice depth when spun up.  I am actually thinking of blending this with some other wool I dyed... which I'm sure will be another blogging project at some point.

The finished braid (set against a nice blue faux suede pillow off my couch!) is a warm comfy beige colour.  I think I would wear a sweater in that colour, since it would probably be complimentary next to my freckles!



Another view of the Braid showing some more dark/light sections of the wool

5. April 2009 17:52
by Jobo
2 Comments

Captain Corriedale... Part 2 - Spun, Washed, Skeined!

5. April 2009 17:52 by Jobo | 2 Comments

So I finished my singles... plied and Voila!  

I think my extra twist paid off, because the resulting yarn plied quite nicely... giving more tightly wound yarn than I would normally get.  Which of course is exactly what you want with sock yarn in the first place.  Also, the long staples of the corriedale gave a nice smooth single, combined with the extra twist, resulting in a smooth strong strand.

The original roving had very distinct locations of colour, so I was surprised at how much the colours muddied here.  I suppose since it was 3-plied, the colours were able to spread out... giving longer gradations of shades, as opposed to discrete sections of colour.  I will remember this as I continue dying roving to spin... adjacent colours tend to mix into each other.  For example, Yellow next to blue gives some greenish tones.  Note to self, Purple next to Yellow gives brownish greenish mud. While the resulting muted tones aren't completely undesirable, I found the beige-ey light brownish areas kindof boring.  It would have been nice to keep the pretty purples and yellows distinct more.



Overall, very pleased with the way this yarn turned out.  Now I just need to finish a few of the current sock marathons so I can start a new one :) 

Either that... or I need to go and get another couple sets of DPNs... hmmm sounds tempting

21. March 2009 12:28
by Jobo
2 Comments

Captain Corriedale... and The Quest for Perfect Hand-Spun Sock Yarn

21. March 2009 12:28 by Jobo | 2 Comments

I have been sitting on a bunch of Superwash Corriedale handpainted rovings I bought about a year ago... when I was just starting to spin.  I have 2 braids of 4 oz each "Sun Ray", and a Navy blue Coordinating BFL roving of about 4 oz that I purchased from Squoosh.

I was afraid to use them at first... because of course as a new spinner, I didn't want to "Ruin" the good stuff during the learning process.  I know thats a silly view to have on things, but I know I'm not alone in that way of thinking.  I read a post on Ravelry the other day about someone else worried about ruining a perfectly good roving by not knowing what to do with it exactly.  Well, since I have been at this a year, I figured the time has come...

My  plan is to divide each yellow braid into sections and spin in long stretches of colour, then 3-ply it to make some superwash sock yarn.  My spinning has been getting better lately, more even and more consistent, so I am able to produce much more useable yarns.  I love knitting socks, so I think sock yarn was the natural choice here.

I hear that for spinning sock yarn, BFL and Corrie are considered to be good choices because: 

     * Longer wool staple

     *A little coarser fiber

I mean seriously, if you are going to all the trouble of spinning the wool, and then knitting socks with it, you want to make sure that the finished socks are at least somewhat durable in the end.  I'd be pretty sour if I got them done, wore them twice, and wore the heel out of them or something. This is a superwash fiber also, so less likely to felt or get ruined during the washing process.  I often worry that a homemade sock will accidentally make it into the dryer and get completely shrunken beyond recognition.

This fiber, though a little coarser than the Merino I have been using lately, is really really soft and squooshy (the supplier didn't lie on that one :P)  And the colours are mostly butter/lemon yellow hues with a few splashes of Blue and green (where the blue and yellow mix of course)  I'm not sure If I will use only the yellow braids, or mix in some of the plain blue braid, or maybe one of the 3 plies as completely blue. I haven't quite decided yet.  I might just spin up a bunch of the yellow first and see what it looks like.  Generally my plan changes on the fly... especially when it comes to spinning it seems.



From the reading I have done it seems that to make an ideal sock yarn, you also want to have: 

     * Worsted spinning (not Woolen)

     * tightly spun singles with lots of twist

     * multiple plies, because more plies yields more strength and durability

Naturally, since this preparation is "top" and all the fibers are already nicely aligned - worsted was a no brainer.  No fluffy airy yarns for these socks!

Also, as I am spinning this up I am trying to add a bit more twist than I usually would, to get a more solid single, and hopefully a more solid and practical yarn.  This is kind of funny to be working on, since all along I have been trying to put in less spin!  My first yarns were very much overspun and almost wiry, so I was trying to learn to lighten up the spin to achieve softer loftier yarns.  I guess it's true how we have to learn and unlearn our so called bad habits.  I have been trying so hard to spin smoother thinner singles, I probably couldn't spin a thick bumpy one if I tried.  Someday when I want to make novelty or thick and thin yarns, I will have to learn all over again to make those newbie errors that it took me so long to forget!

I chose 3-ply simply because I have done this before and it seems to work out okay for me.  I think if I were to try for 4-ply my singles are still a little too fat.  I think after more practice though I could handle this.  The last 3-ply sock yarn I did was nice, and I am having fun working on a mystery project with them (to be posted when finished and photographed).  I also decided against using a Navajo 3-ply after reading the opinions of several Ravellers who mentionned that Navajo doesn't seem to stand up to wear as well since the 3 plies are running back and forth up the shaft of the yarn, not all in the same direction like traditional 3-ply.  I have made socks with navajo plied yarn, and I didn't find any problems, but they are nowhere near being worn out yet... so who knows.  I have lots of time to work on this project, and could definetly use some practice with multiple ply yarns, so I will consider this a kind of experiment as I go.

More pics to come post-spinning :)

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