The Gauntlet has Been Thrown

I was presented with 2 challenges this week, both of which I aptly accepted.

The first was from my husband. We decided to embark on some BFF dyeing (an idea we shamelessly “borrowed” from Laura of The Dyer’s Notebook podcast).  The overall idea is that you work together with someone else throughout the dyeing process.  Each person gets to use whatever colors they like and whatever techniques they like, taking turns, and in the end, you get an awesome, completely unique work of art!

Instead of tag-teaming the dyeing process, my husband and I decided that he would do the dyeing and I would do the spinning and knitting of the finished yarn.  That was probably best since the hubs and I have a completely different color sense (and this way, he could ensure no yellow came on the scene, lol)! This is the end result of my husband’s dyeing experiment:

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This is 4oz of Falkland. See that? No yellow, no purple or pink… Anyhow, the challenge came in when I asked how he wanted it spun. With these long color repeats I immediately thought of fractal spinning and a fun winter hat. His idea: self-striping socks! Oy! I haven’t begun spinning it yet, and even though the idea of spinning for self-striping socks is a bit daunting, I’m totally up for it.  Unbeknownst to the hubs, for our next dyeing date, he’ll be responsible for the spinning 😉

A few progress photos (so he can have his moment in the limelight)…

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Next challenge: someone contacted me on Etsy with a custom dyeing request. It caught me off guard since she wants yarn and not fiber, but I again accepted the challenge head on! Here’s the inspiration photo of the colors she wants. Here’s what I was able to come up with:

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Not an exact copy, obviously, but I’d say pretty good, considering I didn’t have the original recipe! So now, I’m just waiting to hear back whether or not she likes it. If not, this pretty skein will become a new hat for Boy.

So, this leaves us with two things to consider:

1) Should I foray into yarn-dyeing alongside dyeing fiber? I had a really good time dyeing this yarn, and I’ve had quite a few instances of people telling me they really like my work, but they just don’t spin…

2) I’ve officially switched over to professional-grade acid dyes. Before, I was only using non-toxic dye solutions (read: food coloring) which worked great, but in the end, it doesn’t make much difference as far as environmental safety is concerned, and on the business end, it’s not as cost-effective.  Food coloring isn’t cheap as it is, and the amount needed to get truly saturated colors caused me to have to restock a lot more often than I’d like. Small Business Success Tip # 108 (or whatever number I’m on): Spend as little as you can on materials.  This doesn’t mean use crap. But if I want to see any kind of a profit, I need to spend every dime wisely, and I was probably paying twice as much for food coloring than I will be on acid dyes.

Anyhow, that’s all for me for today! Hope y’all are finding fun ways to stay cool this weekend– happy crafting!

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Tour de Fleece (and other stuffs…)

Hey, friends! First of all, where in the world did last week go? Ghee whiz! That may have very well been the busiest week I’ve had this year. I was busting my rump to get my sweater done for the KALS, decided at the last minute to attend a friend’s surprise birthday dinner, had my monthly “mom group” meeting, and lots of dyeing and spinning in the midst. So, how’s about a recap, yes?

Le Tour de Fleece

Sadly, I was not able to spin through the 4oz of Dance Fever that I broke into last week, but over these last two days (days 1 and 2 of the Tour) I’ve gotten through the first 2oz. I’m soooo excited to see this finished up and to get knitting with it!  Please excuse these low quality night time photos:

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For today (or at least this morning), I’m spinning up some rolags in my Meadow by the Lake colorway, but there isn’t very much to show with that just yet. But since we’re speaking of rolags, if you’re a beginning spinner or someone who prefers spindles over wheels, rolags and punis (“POO-neez”– like rolags, but much denser) are perfect! You don’t have to worry about splitting fiber into sections, the process used to make them does  some pre-drafting for you, and they’re great for traveling! And if you’re a wheel spinner, the prep on them is ideal for woolen spinning.

Some of my other Tour plans include spinning up the Sweet Georgia fiber I acquired.

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I was thinking of spinning one of the braids into a 3-ply sock weight (they’re both superwash merino), but now I’m thinking I’m just gonna spin them as regular 2-plies and knit something fun for my girls… Maybe even ply them together!

I also want to spin this braid, dyed by another of my Rav BFFs, and get it knit into a Hitchhiker:

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School’s still in session over at Hogwarts! June was a much slower month for me, but I still got some classes complete, and one major assignment turned in. I had to get the OWL I proposed to 50% completion and I did! I’m interpreting the solar system into spun yarns, and here’s a few collages I submitted giving some insight into fiber prep and dyeing:

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FO’s

I finished the sunshine sweater!!!!

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What I learned: don’t judge a pattern by the photo! I loved the shape of this sweater, but never fully considered how the shape was achieved; much to my demise, it was with a million short rows! Overall though, I love the finished product. Blocking it did wonders (although the 3-needle bind off at the shoulders still looks a little sketchy), and it’s light, loose, and oh so yellow!

Stash Enhancement

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The lovely Wren, of Sunrise Fiber Co., had a flash Facebook sale last week on samples, seconds, and a few one of a kind colorways, and I was able to snag this sweet skein. It’s on her Classic Sock base (100% merino) in a one of a kind colorway, Once Bitten, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s very dark (for me anyway– you saw that big yellow sweater), a deep berry color with a wash of black on top. I find it quite romantic, and am planning an equally romantic project for it, the All About Love Shawl by  Sylvia Bo Bilvia.

In other news, Junior made 8 months last week!

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Anyhow, that’s it for me today! I’ve got lots of cleaning, and dyeing, and cleaning, and packing to tackle today (more on that later). And spinning! And I have a few photo “tutorials” planned and, as always, I’ll be back on Wednesday with another spinning update.  Until then, happy crafting!

DIY : Dye it Yourself, Team Braid Edition

Today, I have a quick photo walk through of how I dyed up the team braids for my Tour de Fleece team.

DISCLAIMER: My kitchen is tiny, old fashioned, and has horrible lighting!

Supplies:

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1) Pre-soaked fiber

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2) Dye pot filled with water

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3) Dye, either in the form of “raw” dye (powder, gel, tabs) or a pre-mixed  solution

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4) Acid in the form of vinegar, citric acid, or even lemon juice if you’re in a pinch! The acid can either be added to the dye pot or to the water your fiber is soaking in.

For this particular colorway, I added water, vinegar and dye (I started with pink, but it doesn’t matter) to the dye pot and set it over medium heat. You want a decent sizzle, but definitely not any form of boiling. While the liquid in the pot is warming up, I squeezed all the excess water from the fiber and prepped it for dyeing.

The look of the team braid is achieved by how I folded the fiber before placing it into the pot:

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First, I matched the two rough ends together (where the fiber was pulled apart and separated into smaller strips), essentially folding it in half.  I then took the bottom end and folded that up toward the top end, folding it into quarters. This is what’s shown above.

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I grabbed what was now at the bottom end, and again, folded it to meet with the top end, like so.

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I placed one end, doesn’t matter which, into the pot of pink dye and left the other half to hang out in an old casserole dish.  You need something to hold the other end of the fiber because water is going to transfer from the pot, down the length of your fiber. Once the dyed end has absorbed all of the color, the undyed end should be sitting in a decent sized puddle!

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Now remember, this fiber and water is going to be VERY HOT, but you do need to squeeze the excess water from the oppose end, and repeat with your second color.

And that’s pretty much that! Give your fiber a good rinse, squeeze (or spin– in a salad spinner or your dryer) out the excess water, and lay your finished fiber out to dry! The result is a fiber with nice long color repeats, perfect for fractal spinning or striping effects.

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The same look can also be achieved by hand-painting, as long as the fiber is folded the same way. And, with hand-painting, you can add multiple chunks of color.

So, have fun! If you dye any fiber using this technique, let me know! Post a photo over in the group!

As always, happy crafting!