Jobo Designs

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

5. October 2009 10:14
by Jobo
6 Comments

Fiddlehead Mittens... Still in the Mitten Prepping Stages

5. October 2009 10:14 by Jobo | 6 Comments

Some time ago I saw this amazing pair of mittens...

David's Handspun Fiddleheads

                                                        Photo Courtesy of David, at Southern Cross Fibre

 

That's when I knew that SOMEDAY I would have to make a pair too.  I think what struck me particularly about David's pair is the fact that the yarn colours were so cheery, and the mittens looked so well made and luxuriously soft.  Imagine my surprise when I went on to stalk read that they were made from his own Handspun yarn too!  (you can read all about it on his blog - here )

So I set out to try and come up with my own ideas about color and fibre to try and make a pair for myself.  I have some really fine, soft merino in my stash, so I think that's the natural choice for my main fiber, but I think an Angora Blend will add some luxury for the lining.  (see last post for more about my lining designing!)

I wasn't at all sure how much fiber I would need for each part, so I started studying the specific yarns called for in the pattern (Fiddlehead Mittens - Hello Yarn) and checked on Ravelry project pages to see what kinds of yarns other people had used.  Both original yarns were approximately 11 - 12 WPI (wraps per inch) and considered about a DK or Sport Weight.  In some ways it is kind of fun to try and "match" a required yarn with my own handspun.  Makes me feel like I am finally able to use my skills, and that all of the Wooly-Internet-Surfing has finally paid off?

David used about an ounce of each of the 5 contrasting colors for his mittens, so I started there.  Because I was afraid that I might lose/waste some of the fiber and be in trouble, I decided to use a little more than he did - about 2 ounces and hope that it makes enough for two pairs in the end.  For the lining I carded up about 4.5 ounces of merino/angora.  I think I will spin up all of the individual colors before I do the Main color, and hopefully I will be able to extrapolate a fiber quantity from my experience with the other parts.

Here is what my final swatch of Angora Merino (10% / 90%) looks like - at around 11 - 12 WPI, I think it will work just fine.  I've carried the swatch around in my pocket for a few days, hoping to bloom the angora halo of the yarn similar to what a little wear will look like.  It doesn't seem to be getting pilly or anything, but the light angora halo is definetly starting to come out.  At first I was a little disappointed with the greyish-oatmeal color, but I think it is growing on me.  For a lining (where hands, and dirt may enter) it's Probably best that the lining isn't pure white anyways.

The next step was to choose some colors and dye up some wool for the 5 contrasting colors.  (My main color will be a natural white wool)  I have a very minimal selection of Landscape Dyes, so for this project my colors were limited.  I want to achieve heathery shades similar to David's so I settled on dyeing the roving in a "kettle" fashion, where the wool would be semisolid and then I'll card it to mix up the darker and lighter shades. 

As for Dyeing process... I had read a post a while back (sorry I forget who posted it!) in a dyeing group on Ravelry, that another user would sometimes just shove the wool into a big jar with some hot dye solution and let the color wick from the bottom of the jar up the wool.  If done correctly, the wool would be darkest near the bottom of the jar, since it would have had the most contact with the wool and things would get lighter near the top.  I have been saving the 12 ounce Jars that Spaghetti sauce comes in just for this purpose... sorry I forgot to take pictures of the wool in process

Here is what I ended up with!  You can sort of see in the picture how the color is more of a semisolid with some lighter and darker bits.  I had folded up the roving accordion style, so when it went into the jar there was a repeating dark/light pattern.  I made sure to put Hot wool (soaking in hot water) into the jars full of hot dye bath to avoid felting.  After the wool was in, and comfy of course, I filled the sink with water as hot as the tap would allow, and stood the jars in the sink and left the whole thing to steep for about an hour.  (I refilled the sink with hot water about halfway through)  It was surprising just how hot it stayed in the jars.   After the hour, when I rinsed, there was quite a bit of dye runoff which was disappointing.  I had eyeballed how much dye to use.  Must really go out and buy scale sometime. 

Now I am waiting for them all to dry (were still damp this morning) so I can start carding them up.  I think I will try carding each colour alone first, and if there isn't a heathery enough feel, I might throw in a few handfuls of natural merino just to give it some contrast.   Speaking of which... this means I should probably clean out my drum carder too.  Sigh.  Always more cleaning isn't there?

It's nice to have a new project to daydream about :)

25. September 2009 14:55
by Jobo
3 Comments

Swatching, Swatching...

25. September 2009 14:55 by Jobo | 3 Comments

I am still really new at spinning, as far as experience and skills go.  I am learning more and more with each project, but still need a lot of practice :)  and one thing I am hoping to get better at is 'designing' (for lack of a better word) yarns for specific projects, and creating yarns with specific characteristics.

I decided last night to dig into the stash and card up some Angora and Merino batts, to try and make a soft lofty fluffy yarn (perhaps to use as the lining of a pair of fancy mittens?) 

I haven't really worked with many commercially available Angora yarns, so I was unsure what mix to use... so I eyeballed the proportions, using about half of a 1 ounce bag of snow white angora and about 4 ounces of Merino Top - about 10 % Angora.  I figure since my favorite angora sweater is 10 % that this should be just enough luxury, and besides, the Merino is super soft too!  A few cranks on the Old Strauch Petite later, and pulling the batts out into a roving-like prep and voila:

Clouds in a Bowl Anyone?

The bumps of fiber are super soft and super light.  I prefer to hand-pull my batts before spinning them, mostly because I find that it is easier to draft from a roving state rather than a handful-of-fiber state.  I decided to spin up a small sample, just a few yards really, to see if I could achieve the characteristics I was looking for - light, soft, airy, fluffy

Because I know I wanted "airy" yarn, I used a big whorl, and really lowered the tension so that there would be the bare minimum of twist.  I tried not to squish out all the air in the carded fiber before the twist entered the zone with a sort of modified long draw.  (I still haven't completely figured out long draw yet despite my attempts)  The singles were quite soft compared with the extra twisty sock singles I have been making lately.

I hope you don't find white fiber too boring......

I want my final yarn to be a DK or Sport weight 3 -ply, so I decided to Navajo ply the sample just for simplicity sake.  My finished 3-ply sample was around 10 - 11 WPI, which is a little larger than I need.  When I spin up the remainder of the yarn, I will have to try and spin a little bit thinner.  My swatch, knit on 3 3/4 DPN's (My favorite set for knitting mittens) worked up to be around 5.5 stitches per inch.  I am also trying to be more consistant in adding things to my Spinner's Notebook... swatches, samples, measurements so someday maybe I could reproduce the results?

The resulting knit swatch was very soft, and not too hairy or fuzzy.  I like the feel of Angora, but I don't like yarn with so much Halo that it obscures the stitch definition.  I think that's why I never liked "faux fur" yarns or felted items.  Felting can look really awesome, but I hate that it completely wipes out any semblance of the design that existed before the Felt happened.

Very Scientific Pseudo-blocking method - pin swatch to pantleg... watch out for leg!

I was a little bit disappointed with the dingy colour of this yarn.  The angora was such a pure white, and the Merino on its own looks natural, but not so beige and dirty looking, almost Oatmeal.  I know it is only for the lining of mittens, but still, I might have to dye it some interesting colour, or at least give it some pizazz.

8. September 2009 07:30
by Jobo
6 Comments

Big Big Blueberry Bobbins... say that 5 times fast!

8. September 2009 07:30 by Jobo | 6 Comments

If you are a Maritimer... Blueberry season is almost over :(

Every August there is an abundance of delicious local blueberries, delicious to eat as is, or bake with, or freeze to use later...  and in my house - even the fiber I've been spinning is Blueberry in colour!

Fiber Notes:

- "Blueberry Whip" Colourway

- blend of Merino/Alpaca Bamboo/Silk 60/40 (This is what it says on the bag, I don't know the original blend proportions)

- From Belfast Mini Mills, Belfast P. E. I.

I started with 2 bags of 4 ounces each (8 ounces total) and made each of the individual plies on my old regular sized Traddy Bobbins, and then plied onto my new Jumbo Bobbins.  (That's how I got a continuous skein so freaking big!)

This fiber is like cotton candy in a bag.... sweet and soft and smooth.  I am not sure exactly how the roving was prepared, but the mix was very light and airy.  The Merino/Alpaca Content was dyed a lovely navy or blueberry colour, and the silk/bamboo component dyed light blue almost turqouise with some white through it.  In places it seemed as though all the fibers were completely blended and were indecipherable, but other areas where the shiny ribbon of silkiness was quite visible.  I was unsure how this unevenness would show in the yarn, but because I was planning to do a traditional 3-ply, I knew that even if some of the light colour showed up exclusively in places, the other 2 plies would tone it down.  

Check That Bobbin! She is Full!!! with 250 yards of continuous yarn... love that length! 

The end result is a heathery blue yarn, 3-ply of course, at approximately worsted or light worsted weight.   With the super jumbo skein and her little sister (not shown) I have about 350 yards of yarn, so definetly enough to make some mittens, and maybe a hat or something too?  This yarn is a gift for someone, so it will be up to her what to make with it.... I'll make her photograph it for you to see when it's done.

mmm Blueberry... hanging out with our Sci-fi/Fantasy Book Collection.  Showing the Geek Colours today aren't we?

As I was spinning this blend, there were some areas where the silk/bamboo seemed to "slub" a little, but you can't really see it in the finished yarn.  I find 3-ply is great for smoothing out any imperfections in diameter and is pretty forgiving.  It is really hard to capture the sparkle and shine of this yarn in a photograph.  In the sun, the shiny bits really gleam, and the dark blue looks even darker of course next to the glinting bits.

I am pretty proud of this yarn!  I am really just starting to "design" yarns with specific purposes in mind.  I am still practicing keeping my plies even so I will get the desired yarn when I am finished.  I still need to set the twist in this yarn, but other than that I think she is done and ready for gifting (I won't tell you who, in case she is reading :P)

and... you can't have Blueberry Season without having some Blueberry Baking! 

Mark's favorite... homemade blueberry pie - homemade filling, homemade crust, happy Husband.

 

Powered by BlogEngine.NET | Theme: Yoko by Elmastudio, adapted by onesoft

Top