Sunday, 1 March 2015

Mawata silk hankie dyeing

I have been busy dyeing silk hankies, and getting ready for Fibres West in Cloverdale, BC, March 13-15. I thought I would show you my process.

First I separate the hankies into about 10 gram parcels, which conveniently is the way the supplier has them stacked. I fluff up the edges, as I have found if I don't, the dye won't penetrate fully.

I fold them in quarters, and stack them about 12 at a time in my plastic bin. The bin has water as hot as I can get it out of the tap, with a capful of Synthrapol or a couple of squirts of dish washing liquid, and 4 tablespoons of citric acid. I leave them to soak overnight.

The next day, I squeeze out the excess water, open up the folded hankie, and start dyeing. I have a 9x12 glass cake pan that I line with plastic wrap, and place the hankie on top. My dye is mixed - 2 cups of water, 1/4 tsp dye powder and 1 tblsp citric acid. Using a condiment squirt bottle (like the dollar store ones for mustard and ketchup), I randomly place the colours according to the whim of the moment.

The package is then rolled up like a jelly roll, squeezing out the excess water as I go, and they are placed in my canner to steam for 15 minutes. 

After steaming, and after they are cooled, I unwrap them and soak them in warm water, again with a bit of Synthrapol, to get rid of any excess dye that might not have been exhausted.

After drying, they are packaged and ready to go!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Took a mini road trip

Called up my travel buddy Sheila, to see if she wanted to accompany me on a little road trip to check out some yarn stores and deliver 2 broken swifts to my woodworking friend Julia Armstrong.

Our first stop was in Salmon Arm at Intwined Fibre Arts. What a lovely store - everything easy to find, and Althea and Sara were a pleasure to chat with.

Then back on the road again, to visit Elena Nodel in Sicamous. She is a knit wear designer and yarn dyer, with her business name for designing Anadiomena (on Ravelry and Etsy) and her yarn dye company is Colour Adventures. The double garage belongs to her dye business - and she was very welcoming and sharing. She has over 200 different colourways for her yarns! Before she started dyeing yarns, she was a painter - and this is just one series of paintings that she did.

Sheila and Elena.

And just a few pictures of Elena's busy dye studio.

I could have spent the entire day with Elena, but we had other places to go. Our next stop was into the woods between Salmon Arm and Enderby, to bring the sadly broken swifts to Julia for repair.
This is just part of Julia's woodworking tools.

Julia has this lovely old wood cook stove, 
almost ready to be used in her kitchen. 
It is a true family heirloom.
A little walk outside to check out her wood supply. The snow had avalanched off the roof and the light shone through.

Have you ever seen a neater wood pile?

And just a portion of Julia's 30 acres.

Our last stop was through the woods again, over to Highway 97, and to the cute little yarn store inside the Falkland General Store. A treasure trove for sure!

Thanks for the company once again, Sheila. 
And when I got home, there was a message from Julia. 
Both of my swifts are fixed! Maybe another mini road trip in the future?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What have I been up to lately?

After the rush and craziness of winter and Christmas events and sales, it was time to slow down and relax. 

I have been saving odds and ends from dye projects, and samples received, and it was time to start playing with the drum carder. I can get about 70 grams of fibre on this home made carder, which usually works out to about 50-70 yards of handspun yarn, all one-of-a-kind skeins. 
They are enough to make a cozy hat or headband.

A customer of mine has been knitting a blanket out of my thick and thin handspun merino yarn, and with the yarn left over, I made a couple of cozy cowls, to be worn either as a fashion statement or a double wrapped neck warmer. Pattern is with 10 mm needles, cast on 20 stitches. Knit 4 rows, then next row K1, P1 across. Next row P1, K1 across and repeat these 2 rows for 8 rows. Knit 4 rows, then K1, P1 and P1, K1 and repeat these 2 rows for 16 rows. Continue in this manner until only enough yarn left to knit last 4 rows and cast off, join ends.

What to do with leftover sock yarn? This Russian ring pattern used about 100 yards of each colour. The rings intertwine with each other. Easy - cast on 100 stitches with 4 mm circular needle, join in ring without twisting, knit 5 inches, cast off and weave in ends. Next colour, make sure needle goes through the ring already completed, do the same. Next colour, make sure needle goes through both rings already completed, do the same. You can make this as big as you want by knitting more inches, 
or adding more rings..

This is a real cute pattern courtesy of Anne at Kelowna Yarn and Crafts,, using only one skein of Smith and Ewe sock or fingering yarn. This is the sparkle Deep Cove colourway.

And in my stash I had a package of merino/alpaca roving, and quite a few yards of hand dyed silk hankies that I had spun at a retreat. I spun the merino/alpaca, and plied the two yarns together to make a very luxurious blend, 
and knit it into a mobius scarf. 

I am now tackling a knit-along challenge put out by my knitting group, the Needlemaniacs. It is the Madrona scarf, lace pattern with beads. One of my customers asked me to dye a yarn using greys and yellows. The end result was not too pleasing, but once I accepted this challenge, I guarantee the end result will be a keeper, using this failed experiment at dyeing. Watch for it!


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Better late than never..............

October 16 to 18, 2014 - our biannual fall retreat, Desert Mesa Retreat, held in Cache Creek, BC every spring and fall. Due to popular demand, the retreat was expanded to go from Thursday to Sunday. Everyone agreed that the extra day made the event so much more relaxing - lots of time to get the scheduled events happening with lots of time left over for the important things - 
socializing and spinning!
I managed to get it all in the van once again. 
And once again, would it all fit in my room?

Yes, there are about 55 spinning wheels set up in this room.

But we are a bunch of wild and crazies - and some of us decided that our favourite stuffies needed a play date. Yes, we are mature, but you have to break out of the mold every once in a while!

I was SOOO in love with Irene's I-phone case. I decided I needed one of my own. Found it on E-bay - waited a LONG time - and when it arrived, it was about 2 mm too small - my phone did not fit. 
Boo hoo.

Melody could not decide how to use the beautiful shawl she had made. 
We gave her a few suggestions.

Of course, there was a show and tell, and these are just a sampling of the gorgeous creations that our group makes - felting, knitting, spinning.

And as has been the case for so many years, we were treated to another glorious fall weekend - time to move outside and enjoy the last of October.

I had to walk around the room and see what everyone was spinning 
with fibre dyed by me.

and then of course, there are the bragging rights - displaying what we have done over the past 2 days on our wheels.

 Karen's earrings are real zippers - they open and close. 
Crazy like her (but only in a good way).

And believe it or not, on the way home on October 18, we see the final cut of hay for the season.