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A Little More Abstract

Crafting For Those Dedicated to Experimentation

Month

December 2016

Batty Aftermath

Can you tell I’m having fun with my new Drum Carder?  This is just 2 days worth of playing.  Since they are art batts I am going to see about selling them online.

Happy Crafting!

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My New Drum Carder

My drum carder came!  My Brother Drum Carder finally arrived, and it is all ready to go!  As you can see from my ‘unboxing’ pictures my Brother Drum Carder arrived assembled and ready to go with instructions in a lovely plastic pouch.  The intake drum and larger drum are at the right depth, though there are detailed instructions for how to change that depth if needed.  I will admit I followed directions from another website, I cannot find them again to give them credit, and did some sanding.  I took an emery board and ran it in all directions across both drums of my carder, this was supposed to take out any little burrs left by the manufacturing process.  The emery boards were all chewed up at the end of the process so I hope it worked.  The carder itself works like a dream, but it really is a good idea to be up on your tetanus shot before working with something like this.

I am having an absolute blast playing with my new drum carder.  I am experimenting with corriedale, merino, and some other colored wools.  I will post later today or tomorrow about my new batts!

Happy Crafting!

Dying Experiments Continue

I am not sure what is wrong with my water/wool/microwave but the methods that everyone else swears by don’t work for me.  During the summer I used Kool-Aid to dye some fiber.  Everyone swore that you had to use heat to set the color (which makes ice dying very confusing to me…), however I rinsed my fiber extremely well and have had no problems with the color running.  With my Drum Carder coming soon I dug up some left over white fiber and decided to pick up some dyes to experiment with.  There was a Black dye calling my name so I purchased it in addition to the same food coloring dyes I usually use.  (I do plan on getting some Wilton Dyes soon).

I went through my method of soaking the wool in hot water and vinegar.  The wool is wrung out, the water dumped from the bowl, the fiber put back in.  Next the dye, more vinegar and very hot water are added.  The wool is left to soak up as much dye as it can.

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In this case I decided to microwave the fiber for the five minutes recommended, however the fiber began to boil before it was well into the third minute, when it began to splatter in my microwave I decided to discontinue the experiment and pull the fiber.  After it cooled down and took as much dye as it seemed it would I rinsed the fiber, and rinsed the fiber, and rinsed the fiber.  After a great many rinses the dye stopped coming out and the results were…well disappointing.

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The coiled Brown/Purplish things at the top right are my ‘black’ fiber.  Oh well, the fibers that I overdyed with Yellow are beautiful, since I skipped the microwave the colors seem more vibrant.  The multi-colored batt at the top left should make a beautiful base for my first ‘official batt’ and I am very excited.  That piece was hemorrhaging dye until I soaked it with some pure vinegar, after that the color decided to stay put.

I am positive that most people have great success cooking/boiling/steaming their fiber.  I am certain that they have tried these methods without the heat and have had the fiber return to white, retaining little to no dye, (still can’t understand how they ‘need’ heat when they dye with ice cubes, have to research that more).  My experiments have lead me down a slightly different path.  Perhaps when I wash a finished piece, not finished yarn I’ve done that with no color leaking, my experience will be different, but for right now, when I’m dying with those little bottles of ‘easter egg’ dye, I’m not going to use any extra heat.  Perhaps a bit more vinegar, but I’ll use hot water and vinegar to see how things turn out.

When I move onto ‘professional dyes’, RIT, Wilton Gel, I will revise my experiments.  Until then;

Happy Crafting!

Christmas Presents

I have ordered a Brother Drum Carder for myself for Christmas.  (mom is getting a set of stacking boxes with clear doors for her yarn stash, shhhh don’t tell her).  The Drum carder I have ordered will have 90 tpi, suitable for carding finer wools without damaging them yet coarse enough that I can card almost anything else I desire.  In an effort to get into the carding spirit I also ordered a pound of undyed wool.  I have played with Kool-Aid Dye in the past, causing the co-president of my guild to think I only like primary pinks and blues, but I have been hearing a lot about dying wool with Wilton and Rit Dyes.  Due to this desire to experiment, I am doing some research about other peoples experiments with this dye.

The first mentioned Rit dye and a few ‘glugs’ of vinegar.  Her experiment went well!

Love Knitting has an article about Wilton Food Dyes; Start by soaking the fiber in a vinegar bath, 1/4 cup to about 4 oz of fiber, for at least 20 minutes.  Pour the fiber, vinegar, another 1/4 cup of vinegar into a pot.  Add the color a tiny bit at a time and agitate to disperse the dye.  Start on low and heat up your pot of fiber, when it is at a simmer just before boiling take it off of the stove and let it cool down.  Rinse with lukewarm water until the water runs clear, then hang up to dry.  There are also some tips about painting yarn, I particularly find it interesting that sponges (along with a vinegar dye mix) can be used to paint the yarn/fiber to create gradients and variations.  Heat is still needed to set the fiber, so the author steamed the yarn for about 40 minutes in a steamer basket.  Though they mentioned that it is possible to microwave for 1-2 minute bursts for about 5 minutes to set the yarn.

Both the RIT Dye site and Wilton Food Site have information on how to use their dyes for coloring different materials.  I cannot wait to begin experimentation!

Happy Crafting!

A Study in Wool Part 1

I have been having a blast sorting thorough my stash (taking a quick break from another project).  While doing so I ran across a sampler kit I had purchased with different wool breeds inside.  All of the wool samples were washed, but they were still in their lock formation.  To simplify things, and make sure that the preparation and spinning was not different for each type, I decided to card them and spin from the resulting rolags.  The end products (once spun) were interesting.  I’ll show you as I go, after letting the yarn rest a day (and clearing off a bobbin to spin with) I navajo/chain plied the yarn to keep the breeds separate.  I also spun a bit of a commercially prepared merino in between most of the breeds.

This is my bobbin before this concept seeped into my mind.  I started with some BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) a breed that most people rhapsodize about.  I have spun commercially prepared top BFL before and enjoyed it.  This fiber has a very soft hand, though this sheep must have had some tender tips or something because I wound up with some nepps in my rolags.  Rather than risk more appearing I stopped after 2 passes each rolag.  I did smooth this fiber down as I spun it (which should result in a less springy washed yarn).

The Lincoln had a well defined lock structure but once it had been carded the resulting wool was semi coarse.  This batch did not have many nepps, and actually carded out to pretty, lofty rolags.  I did not smooth this down much while I was spinning.

The Adult Mohair was a nightmare.  This batch had less than 1″ staple length and the guard hairs were still present.  This gave everything a slightly coarse feel but still quite silky.  The main problem is that when spinning the very short fibers either clump together resulting in huge bumps or fall out altogether resulting in a huge mess.  I nay be entirely wrong but I would like to say that the blame is either with the producer (it isn’t a very good fiber animal) and the seller that sold me such messy, useless fiber.  If you have the patience for it and a dropcloth under your wheel this might be usable.  I believe I will see if anyone can use it for felting, or something.

The very first thing I have to say about this Cross Breed fiber is: Whatever was used to wash this smells very sweet!  The fibers are springy and medium soft.  I would not use this as a next to the skin product like socks or a sweater but it might make a decent scarf.  Something you wear for a short while and then take off.  Maybe mittens?  Oh well, I did not smooth this down at all while I was spinning.  I am discovering that since I am not smoothing things down, I have a harder time getting an even yarn.  When I do what I see others doing, spin and then gently pull to pull out the bumps I just wind up with thin spots.  Something else to work on!

The English Gotland fibers had two different types of fibers.  The long springy gray fibers and the shorter less springy white fibers.  It carded beautifully but the differences in staples seemed to result in little clumps of fiber sticking up and falling out.  I did not smooth this as I went so it will be interesting to see how this washes up.

The Icelandic and Romney both carded up beautifully, the Romney seemed to have a lot more loft than the Icelandic.  Neither had many nepps but also neither spun up completely smoothly either.  Possibly an error of the operator rather than a fault of the fiber.  Neither seemed soft enough for next to the skin projects.  I did not smooth them down while spinning.

I had some Llama Fiber and Cashgora that I spun up as well.  I did not bother carding either of these fibers.  There was not enough Llama to bother and I felt that my hand cards would be too coarse to process the Cashgora.  Both of these fibers spun like a dream, the Llama was a little sticky (Probably due to processing oils).

I cannot wait to see how all of these fiber will turn out in the end.  I will say that one of the fibers, the English Gotland I believe, wound up splitting in a place and had to be tied back together resulting in a flaw in the skein.  This skein and the other that I plied to make room for the bobbin have both been soaked for an hour or so.  They are both hung up to dry and I cannot wait to see what they will look like when I dry.  (I also have some fiber drying that I washed and rinsed very thoroughly.  It came to me a bit sticky and so I hope it was lanolin that I have succeeded in washing off.  I only did about half of the batch if this does not work, or felts the fiber, I will have to see what else I can do.)

Happy Crafting, more information about the skein of samples and the sticky fibers in the next episode.  Dun, Dun, Dun.

Still Practicing

I purchased some Fluorescent fiber from Blue Barn Fiber and spun it up.  I then plied the resulting yarn with a Black Bamboo that I loved spinning.  This created a beautiful yarn that fluoresces under black light, I had to buy a little black light to prove this but it really is amazing.  Well, I loved the yarn but didn’t know what i was going to do with it.  Since I am practicing with my weaving I thought it would be the perfect fiber to practice weaving with.  I love how well, and proudly, my yarn stands out from the warp and the simple pattern is just beautiful.

I am really pleased with how this has turned out, and I will probably purchase more of the fluorescent fiber in the future.  I am very pleased with how my weaving and spinning are going.  I know that I am no where near expert in either craft but I am enjoying myself and learning all the time.

Happy Crafting!

Borrowing a Loom

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I am very fortunate that my guild allows their 4 shaft table loom to be borrowed.  I am having an absolute blast playing with color, threading, patterns, and more.  I will freely admit to being extremely overwhelmed.  The threadings, patterns, combinations, colors, etc. I am just lost with how much can be done with a simple 4 shaft loom…then there is how much and how many different yarns need to be purchased for each pattern.  I do not know how any craft-person can even claim to make a living on weaving, lol.  As a hobby I am finding it almost cost prohibitive.  But I persevere, I hope to find a single project that I am passionate about and work through things from there.  I have a 15″ weaving width to work with and right now I am having fun with some carpet warp and cones I bought on sale.  The picture above is a treadling sequence on the pink warp that was already on the loom using my variegated weft.

Happy Crafting!

Rebecca Mezoff’s Class

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I enrolled in Rebecca Mezoff’s Little Looms course, and then had to obtain a little loom to take advantage of the course, lol.  I tried to order a Hokett Loom from Woolery but ran into stock problems, one 10 day wait I can handle but when the items from the first wait came in they were sold out of something else in my order and wanted me to wait another 10  days!  That wasn’t going to work for me so I cancelled the entire order and picked up a Stash Blaster from another source.

I decided to warp this with some soft cotton twine I had lying around to see what it would do, unfortunately with the yarn I decided to use the results are closer to a balanced weave than a tapestry weave.  Oh well, it is really pretty and a good first try so I will finish my mug rug and try for a tapestry next time.

Happy Crafting!

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