Jobo Designs

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

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 :)

15. March 2009 11:00
by Jobo
1 Comments

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.

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