Friday, 29 August 2014

Having fun with Kool-Aid dyeing

A nice sunny day and a huge supply of packs of Kool-Aid - time to do some more dyeing.

I had pre-soaked 2 skeins of sock yarn, 3-ply merino/nylon superwash, that is the base of all my sock yarn dyeing, overnight in water with just a small squirt of dishwashing soap. No acid (vinegar or citric acid) is necessary because this is already in the packets. I premixed the Kool-Aid, 1 cup of hot water to 1 packet of Kool-Aid, and I chose strawberry, peach-mango, and black cherry.

After spreading the skeins out on a sheet of plastic, I squirted the dye onto the yarn in strips, smooshing down as I went (a very technical term) to make sure the dye penetrated through.

 After all the dye was used up (it took 2 packets of each to completely cover the skeins), I rolled up like a jelly roll in the plastic, and put into the canning pot to steam.

After steaming for 15 minutes, I left the yarn to cool, rinsed out and hung to dry. What do you think?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Making socks

I decided it is time to start making socks, since there are so many people addicted to this part of knitting. What is it all about? And since I am a dyer of sock yarns, I thought I had better jump in. I went with the very basic of sock patterns, since I wanted the colours to be the highlight.

I asked a friend (Sheila Grant) who has a knitting machine, if she would take a skein of undyed yarn and just knit it into one long strip for me (aka sock blank). Normally, I believe sock blanks are prepared with 2 strands of yarn together, so that when you dye the blank, you pull the 2 strands apart and have 2 identical balls of yarn for your socks. Her machine would not take the 2 strands easily, so we went with one.

I soaked the "blank" overnight in water with a touch of dish soap, then squeezed it out and laid it onto a sheet of plastic and doubled it over end to end.

My dye of choice was Kool-Aid, which it itself, was an adventure. Posts on Facebook had suggested that there was a shortage of the old fashioned Kool-Aid (packs with no sugar in them) so on a recent trip to the States, one of my missions was to locate a source of old fashioned packs of Kool-Aid. It took 3 major US chain stores, but I finally located some, although the flavours were pretty limited. Because the store was so busy with line-ups, I took my purchases to a self-check till, and no doubt that line-up was not pleased, watching me put 125 packs of Kool-Aid through.

Why Kool-Aid? Just to have a bit of fun - and so easy. The colours are very bright, and there is citric acid already in the package, so it is "one stop dyeing" so to speak.

I chose strawberry, lemon-lime and peach-mango. I mixed 1 packet of Kool-Aid with 1 cup of warm water and stirred until dissolved. Working on the plastic covered table, I carefully poured the liquid onto my blank, kneading the fibre to help absorb the colour. I eyeballed my widths, and tried to make the same pattern from end to end. Once all liquid was used, I put the piece into a zip-lock bag, and steamed for 20 minutes, then rinsed, and hung to dry.

Once it was dry, I marked the centre and then unravelled onto my ball winder. Once I got to the centre, I broke the yarn, and started a new ball. Now I had 2 "cakes" of yarn, one starting at strawberry, one starting at lime. So my choice would be to make 2 identical by starting from opposite ends, or go opposite.

We were soon embarking on a cruise to Alaska, so my new knitting project accompanied me. Would you believe that out of 1800 passengers on board, I was the only one I saw knitting? What's with those people? (PS, I also had my Joy spinning wheel on the verandah. Can't waste a minute, you know).

So the decision was to go opposite. And here is the finished product, already claimed by my daughter.

Will do this again - it was fun - next time I am going to go with narrower bands of colour.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Williams Lake Spin-in, May 3, 2014

I was invited to be a vendor at the annual spin-in hosted by the Williams Lake spinners. My favourite travel buddy, Sheila Grant, tagged along with me once again. So off we went with a van full of goodies for sale.
Overnighted at the Best Western in Williams Lake and the very helpful front desk lady directed us to the nearby Wal-Mart - we both needed bathing suits - the fastest bathing suit shopping I have ever done!! Back to the motel, to pick our roommate Donna Faulkes and head next door for dinner at the Laughing Loon Pub and then a hot tub soak.

I decided to try braised pork belly for the first time, and it might not be the last. Looking around the pub, it started to look familiar. No wonder - one of our favourite reality shows is "Timber Kings" on HGTV, a show about log home building company Pioneer Log Homes based in Williams Lake, and one of the episodes featured the owner of this pub negotiating a contract to build this beautiful addition to his restaurant.

Next morning, we could not believe our eyes. 
And it snowed like this all day long.
The Kamloops contingent - Terry Prehara, Sharon Philip, 
Sheila Grant and Donna Faulkes. 

 There were about 50 spinners attending - all made it even in spite of the nasty weather. What a wonderful way to spend a bad weather day with friends.

They all loved my hand dyed fibres.
 This is a cake made by Lyshia Goodhue, one of the members of the Williams Lake group. And we all enjoyed cutting it up at the end of the day and eating it!

There was a friendly competition to see who could produce the nicest handspun silk skein, won by Lesley Johnson, and also a test of our knowledge to see who could identify several different unnamed fibres. The smartest one in the group was Lori frame. But of course, the highlight of the day was the wonderful lunch that the ladies provided!

Lynne Rettberg learning how to use her newly purchased blending board.
Thanks, Williams Lake Spinners - 
make sure you invite me back next year!
First Saturday in May.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Some happenings at Desert Mesa Spinning Retreat, March 2014

This spring, we had 3 full days of nothing to do but spin, socialize and have fun. Some of us wanted to have even more fun. The 3 Evil-Doers came up with a great activity - Create the UGLIEST SWEATER COOKIE!!
And here they are - Karen Bonter, Gail Dickson, and Dotty Pon.
They brought the baked cookies and a ton of sprinkles and decorations, and made up icing bags. Then they brought us all downstairs and said GET TO IT!

 And so we did - Sheila Kirk, Heather Specken, Susan Millikan, Donna Faulkes and Sarma Leipins all hard at work.

Lots of fun and creativity - and good enough to eat!

But there was work done also - I spun a few skeins of squishy soft merino chunky yarns, perfect for hats and cowls, and toiled away spinning silk hankies, ending up with 280 yards of thread-thin 2-ply for that special lace scarf.

Next retreat is October 16-19 in Cache Creek - can hardly wait!!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Another wonderful time at Fibres West

Back to Cloverdale March 21 and 22, for the annual Fibres West event. I look forward to the next one as soon as the sale is over - it is so exciting - so many new things to see - so many new friends to meet -
and so many old friends to touch base with.

My display wasn't quite so crowded at the end of the sale
My neighbours, Danielle and Johanna, from Birkeland Brothers Wool in Abbotsford. Danielle's enthusiasm made the weekend fly by!

Margaret Fryatt from Chase, BC, with her luscious Bluefaced Leicester and Gotland fleeces


Tons of colour ideas!

Our organizer, Brenda Alexander, owner of Penelope Fibre arts from Surrey, BC.
Caroline Sommerfeld with an interesting sock display -
perfect way to show yarn samples.

Jane Stafford, weaver and teacher,  from Salt Spring Island.

Enthusiastic Kim Fenton from Gibsons, BC, owner of Unwind Knit and Fibre Lounge and Aurelia Wools

The 3 Musketeers - Marianne Iberg ( Langley, BC, Natalie Vivian (Blackcomb Fibre Farm, Kamloops, BC) and Jude Pilote (Ewesful Creations, Chilliwack, BC) at their combined booths.

Now this was neat - like a salad bar - you pick the colours and the fibre, and she cards them before your eyes into your luscious batt. ( from Alberta.
Had to take a picture of this sweater - hand knit and stunning.

And last, but not least, Vikki Robinson with her first nuno felted project - a gorgeous scarf. She is also a hobby researcher of sheep fleeces - check out her blog link - she is up to 115 different breeds. She also has a very good tutorial on how to make flowers out of silk cocoons and spin them into your yarn - beautiful!
There was so much more to see over these 2 days - you must attend next year!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A quick drive in the country to Harmonious Homestead

Once a year, the hardworking owners open their hall to spinners for a day long get together. Here are Bob and Clare Fensom in their fabulous commercial kitchen, working on our delicious lunch, ingredients organically farm raised. And bags of freshly shorn fleece waiting to be purchased.
Part of my display - hand dyed rovings and pencil rovings.

Melissa Nasby (Soulfibre Studio) showing her felted octopus mask and below, many more examples of her incredible talent.