Updates in slow motion

I took some more fun pictures of the dragon toy, and sent them one by one with humorous “sightings” emails, and a little silly “newspaper clipping” to the recipient of the gift as a teaser before giving her the dragon:

Dragon from a distance


Dragon flying at the beach

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... a dragonling!

Here are the finished/dried samples of what I took home from dye day:

Dye Day 2009 samples

Dye Day 2009 samples

From left to right I believe they are (it’s been a while):  Red onion skin & alum, carrot top & copper, carrot top & tin, cochineal & alum, and kool-aid!  I loved the kool-aid process and resultant colorway so much that I immediately dyed up another skein for a total of 440 yds of pink and blue goodness.  I hope I can get a tank top out of it.  All of it was Knit Picks Bare: Peruvian Highland Worsted.

And in other updates, here’s what happened with the dye-day scarf:

Exhibit A:  rusty objects and steel wool on the silk scarf soaked in vinegar, more vinegar spritzed on and salt applied, scarf + objects rolled carefully and left in plastic overnight to set.

Silk scarf/rusty object imprint in progress

Silk scarf/rusty object imprint in progress


Rust-dyed scarves

Rust-dyed scarves, interesting pattern, but color...

Suffice it to say that I wasn’t in love with the color.  I’m not an orange person generally, and this staining on the translucent white was evocative of… unpleasant things.  Another lady at dye day had rust-dyed onto denim – I think that might have been a better look.

So what do dyers do when they don’t like a color?

Exhibit B:

Rust-scarves with kool-aid overdye

Kool-aid: the fastest tool in the dyer's handbag

A couple of Kool-aid colors later and I had something with some pretty colors, but alas, not a good combo with that particular shade of orange.  It still looked… less than purposeful – which is not a good attribute in a hand-crafted item in my opinion.  Perhaps that sounds odd, to clarify:  I don’t think there is anything wrong with randomness or organic-ness in color, line or form, but if the entire effect is too arbitrary, then the piece will simply look poorly planned or poorly executed and thereby fall into the dreaded category of “homemade” instead of “handcrafted”.  Anyway, I digress.

I remembered something about turning rust black… I googled like mad and came up with a natural answer: tea-dyeing!  I adore tea dyeing, it can be used to make such organic, lovely, cloudy stains.  The color is dependent largely on the tea used and the material being dyed, you get anything from light tan to orangey-brown to dark grey.  I’ve used it to good effect on cottons in some of my art pieces.  How is this related to rust?  Well the tannins in black tea supposedly will make your rust stains turn black, or blackish, or at least tone down the orange.  I cannot find the original source I read it on, but here is someone else’s cool experiments with rust and tannins.  So I made up a tea bath for the scarves.

Exhibit C:

Tea-dyed, kool-aid dyed, and rust-dyed scarves

Tea-dyed + kool-aid dyed + rust-dyed scarves

I finally gave in.  The combo isn’t bad, sort of fall-festive.  The orange-rust color is definitely toned down.  I’m satisfied.  I’ve gone from “will never wear it” to “can wear it in certain seasons”.  Good enough!

After the dye day extravaganza (and some extra effort put into the scarves) was concluded, I rode on the inspiration high to start some color spinning.  Now I’m no spinning expert, and I’ve never spun multi-colored rovings before, so I got some books on the library for guidance, separated the colors in the roving and got to work.  The roving was from CJ Kopec Creations and was a colorway called “Vintage Charm”: 2/3 merino, 1/3 Colonial and very luxurious.

Roving from CJ Kopec Creations: lavendar, teal and pale orangey-cream

Roving from CJ Kopec Creations "Vintage Charm"

I haven’t finished the whole 16 oz, but I have worked up a couple of skeins.

Spinning Pastels

Spinning Pastels

Just a simple 2-ply, aiming for a worsted weight.  In the first couple of skeins the color changes were sort of short and random, but now I’m trying to separate the colors into longer sections of color so that the colors are more intense in sections (plying like-to-like, er, hopefully).  I’m sure I’ll have to switch from skein to skein in the knitting to keep it from looking erratic.  The colors are really gorgeous and inspiring, but I think for the sporadic nature of my spinning, I’m better off spinning undyed roving and dyeing the finished yarn.  It’s hard enough to keep the size consistent between one session and the next, let alone the color separations.

The biggest problem I’m having is that between sessions, I have to hide my box of roving from my kitten (for the squeamish amongst you, do not fear, this is not a video of him destroying anything fiber related, just a demonstration of his energy, which he has not yet outgrown, despite being several months older than he was in this film).  But this means the roving is also hidden from me, which means it requires more motivation for me to start a spinning session.  But it’s better than finding tufts of beautiful purple fluff all around the house.  At least so far he hasn’t molested the spinning wheel or bobbins too much.

And just because it’s lovely, below are some scenes of the September harvest in my garden.  Why, oh why, are none of my hobbies compatible?  I cannot garden and knit, I cannot play videogames or board games and garden, I cannot cook and knit… oh so many distractions in life, so many things keeping my hands busy.  At least I can do some of those things and read audiobooks simultaneously.

Sunflower and the bean harvest

Sunflower and the bean harvest

Cornplanter Purple Beans

Cornplanter Purple Beans

Tune in next time for more of my fiber-related adventures…


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