I had been eagerly anticipating an opportunity to attend the Great Lakes Fiber Show with my parents for at least a month. They had given me a refurbished drum carder as a graduation gift and I wanted to reignite my deep fibernerditude with fiber-fanatic atmosphere. I also needed to diversify my fiber stash to take advantage of my new drum carder. To get “my hand back in” to the spinning world, I’ve been dropspindling some silk hankies (mawatas) that I had purchased a while back.
I was gushing over my weekend fiber fair plans to my boardgaming friends when one fellow suggested that his wife might like to come along. Now Emily is one of the coolest people I know, but it hadn’t occurred to me that she or anyone else not currently a spinner or weaver would want to get into deep fiber nerd territory. I was both surprised and delighted when she wanted to join us.
We all had a great time. There were lots of live fibery critters, finished yarns, spinnable fibers, tools large and small, weaving supplies, and so much more! It was also very, very hot, and after 3 large open barns of booth after booth of excitement, the wool fumes and heat were melting my brain to the point that any purchase seemed reasonable. Fortunately, by that point I was very low on actual cash, so that formed a natural reminder not to overspend.
I bought a Lincoln Longwool whole fleece from a sheep named “Romeo”. I bought a small bag of undyed mohair, three 1 oz samples of dyed mohair, some Firestar (a synthetic fiber that’s very lustrous), some Angelina (another synthetic fiber that’s metallic), an upright lazy kate, a nostepinne (manual ball-winding stick), and a cute little suet feeder stuffed full of fiber seconds to provide nesting material for the birds.
Emily quickly converted from a fiber passerby to a fiber enthusiast as she bought her own first drop-spindle kit, plus some blended roving. She made her first yarns in the car on the way back home.
I came home with a raging headache from all the 90 degree F heat, overstimulation, and perhaps having a delicious but foolish lunch of only french fries, fried oreos, and strawberry shortcake. However, a cool shower, some more liquids, and dinner revived me enough that I wanted to do some fibery crafts.
I suggested dyeing and Emily was amenable to the plan, having been bitten by the fiber crafting bug and eager to see what else we could do. My Mom had given her some samples of roving from her stash, so that went in the pots. I also threw in my mixed alpaca roving (from five free middling-quality fleeces that I had commercially processed into roving a few years back), plus some of my new undyed mohair and some freshly cleaned locks of Lincoln Longwool.
We decided to use up some acid dyes that I had pre-mixed a while back. Although Emily is a scientist by profession, and I have a science degree as well, we abandoned rigorous and accurate measurements for this adventure.
We approximated fiber weights, added dyes freely. But essentially, the basics hold true: wet fiber, add water/ vinegar to just cover fiber, add heat, pour on dissolved dyes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 30 min. Wait until cool and rinse.
Here are the results. The red/yellow dyepot saturated nicely, although the dye bath never did run clear. I rinsed and rinsed but it never seemed to run clean. I noticed some sediment at the bottom of the jar when we added the red, so it’s possible that it wasn’t dissolved well enough. Hopefully the dye will not bleed onto hands when spinning.
The blue/green/purple dyepot did not saturate as well, possibly I had it too tightly packed. Also, the “purple” which we had mixed up from some blue and red dye concentrates, separated in the mix for some reason. Still, I am willing to bet that the results will spin up nicely, maybe especially after a blending in the drum carder.
So that sums up the fiber adventures for one day! Lots more craftiness has happened in the past few weeks, but this post has been a slowly progressing draft for over a week. So let’s close this one out and move onto the next topic!
Until next time, keep those needles clicking and dyebaths bubbling…