Jobo Designs

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

16. November 2010 05:03
by Jobo
0 Comments

Moody Blues: Hand dyed Roving becomes Yarn!

16. November 2010 05:03 by Jobo | 0 Comments

christys yarn

christys yarn 3Why is it that Blue is such a difficult color to photograph?   I love the way this yarn has turned out... a rich, broody, muddy blue mix.  The teal strands show up beautifully against the greys and blacks and navys in the mix.  This yarn is definetly a worsted-chunky weight, and at 3-ply, the color is broken up enough to give the whole thing an overall blue appearance.  My goal was to make something that would match well with blue jeans - and I think I've achieved it :)

Of course, because this skein was spun while chatting with the ladies in our spinning circle at the Maritime Handspinners' Retreat there are a few thick or thin spots, but I don't think this will be a problem for the finished garment.  I always strive to have even yarns, but in the end, the knitting process seems to gloss over any subtle differences. 

The next step... will be to set to work designing the mittens!  (I've already done a bit of swatching, as you might have noticed a mittenish shaped swatch with the Angora Merino Bamboo batts on yesterday's Yarn Candy Monday Post)

 

christys yarn2I also have plans to pair this yarn up with some classy Mother of Pearl Buttons (likely square-ish or rectangular in shape) and a moss or cable stitched button plackett across the back of the hand for good measure.  I think the green-y blue-y lavender-ry shimmer of mother of pearl will be just what this yarn needs to pick up those tones in the finished mitten.

My other plan is to knit the outer shell of the mitten to be nice and roomy, and then line them with a soft, luxurious Angora Blend of some sort for extra warmth and comfort.  The batts I carded on the weekend (you can see here) were originally intended for this purpose, but I might be getting attached to them... likely since they are the first real sample of my fur-baby's fluff.  Time will tell if I can let them go to a commissioned project.  They are for a special lady, so maybe I will be able to share ;)

I hope the eventual recipient likes them... I have a feeling I will have a difficult time letting them go once they are done...

19. August 2010 09:50
by Jobo
2 Comments

A little Bit Husky...

19. August 2010 09:50 by Jobo | 2 Comments

While out doing one of my spinning wheel demonstrations last week... I was approached by a gentleman and his wife about potentially spinning up some custom yarn for them - from the combings of undercoat from their dog - a beautiful Alaskan Malamute!  The eventual goal would be to have some mittens and a hat made from the coat of their furry friend.

I had been a bit skeptical at first... knowing that some breeds of dog that have lovely fur on the animal, but spinning the coat from clippings or combings in some cases can make a horrible itchy yarn.  In the case of this breed though, their undercoat is so soft and downy, it blends well with wools and actually makes a fuzzy yarn that is almost like an angora blend.  I had the opportunity to look at and touch some Husky Blend yarns knit up into hats up at Belfast Mini Mills the last few times I visited, so I had a feeling that this yarn would work out just fine.

After some internet searches, and a some helpful pointers from Straw (a lady who posts regularly on some of the Chiengora Boards over on Ravelry) I decided that the easiest to prep the fiber would be to blend it with some wool - to help it have more memory and elasticity than just dog fur alone.  I have a nice stash of both Merino and Shetland wools, but I decided on the Merino because I felt that it was a little closer in staple length to the 1-2 inch undercoat, so maybe it would blend better.

Straw had suggested that somewhere between a 70/30 dog/wool blend and a 50/50 one would be appropriate... so for simplicity's sake, I chose to make a 50/50 blend... and went rummaging through the packing boxes for my little wool scale.  The scale doesn't measure as small of increments as I would have liked for this job... the undercoat is very light and airy, and surprisingly free of guard hairs and dirt. These folks must really love their pup, I'd say he is very well cared for ;)

My Ashford Hand Carders seemed to hold 4g of fiber quite nicely! (2g of each creamy white merino and downy grey undercoat)  I alternated adding the fibers to the carders to ease the blending, and carded lightly to get a nice homogeneous mix.  The resulting Rolags were light, soft, and a lovely dove grey heathered shade. 

husky wool blend carded basket

husky wool blend carded - gratuitous closeup!

I carded up around 1.5 ounces as a starting sample which filled a good sized basket.  The fiber was so light I worried it would float out of the basket while I tried to capture a decent photo... it was windy!

I have heard that dog fur, actually pet fur of any kind, is a lot warmer than wool on it's own, so I decided that a dk or sport weight yarn would probably be the best weight to strive for... that way the finished mittens and hat would be thin and comfortable for the wearer.  (I'm guessing a bulky weight yarn would have been way too warm, and then the items wouldn't get as much wear)

I actually only spun up around 0.6 ounces... dk/sport 3-ply as a navajo 3 ply.  By that point I had a good feel for what the yarn would be like.

 

Husky yarn miniskein

This:  is the resulting miniskein.  I did not measure the yardage or WPI on this one... but I will before I choose the garment patterns.

Even after only a little "thwacking" the yarn had already begun to show a nice amount of fuzzing and halo.  When I was picking through the husky fiber, I was worried that I might not have picked out enough of the guard hairs.  Obviously I pulled out any of the long bristly obtrusive ones, but there had been some finer ones.  I tried to take most of them out, but I feared that the ones I missed would result in a scratchy sample.  I guess they weren't coarse enough to make any problems, because the skein is quite soft.

I would describe it as being a little bit thinner than Patons Classic Wool, but about the same bounciness and just a little softer.  I think the halo accounts for that part. I always found the classic wool to be a little bit itchy for close to the skin garments like hats. (make my forehead itch a bit)

 

husky yarn closeup Closeup!

After spinning, washing with a little shampoo to remove any traces of dogginess, and then fulling... I left the yarn to dry overnight.  It was hard to wait... this stuff takes a fair bit of time to dry!  Maybe that's the ambient humidity's fault though... not the yarns!

swatches all 3 

The next step of course... was to knit some swatches to see what the yarn will *feel* like in a knitted state.  The yarn fluffed up a pleasing amount during the knitting process and has just the right amount of halo I think - fuzzy but not completely obscuring the stitch definition.  I tried a swatch of plain stockinette, a slightly lacy diagonal pattern, and a little 2 stitch cable... just to see how it stands up to each style of knitting.  Sometime this weekend, I hope to visit with the customers again and see what they think of the yarn.  If they are happy (and I bet they will be !!)  we can start a design session to choose the details for the final garments :)

** I also have a bit of dark brown fiber saved from the undercoat too... it's a pretty darker brownish grey, and there were only a few bits in the odd clump of fur!  I've been picking it out and saving it to card with some natural black merino which is a similar color and hopefully will use it for some sort of accent on the finished product... maybe a little sewn paw print somewhere, or a cuff accent or something :) **

More to come on this one... and hopefully I'll be able to add a pic of the Dog too :)

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 :)

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