Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chillin' at OFFF (and dyeing conundra)

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, that is.

Sue and I shared a booth again, this year. It was great fun, being able to sit and spin, and talk to people and sell stuff.

My marathon dyeing session was fraught with "issues" but everything turned out ok in the end. I was using some new to me roving, American Top from Columbia Scouring. This is a 20-22 micron top, made from US sheep, processed in North Carolina, and dyed by me. It was interesting that the dye took up very erratically on this, so I called Columbia about it. They said (after checking with their dyer) to check that the pH was 4. Mine was 5. So I added more vinegar, got 4, and continued with the last batch. There was a slight difference, but not much.

Gray BFL/Tussah on Left; Merino/Bamboo/Tussah on Right

Mohair yarn on top; Merino Bamboo yarn on bottom

Superwash sport yarn

Note the light colors on the roving at left and the light yarn on right

Kind of dilute color take up (sorry about the shade)
Gray BFL/Tussah on left; Merino/Bamboo/Tussah on right
 So, I called Dharma Trading Co. They have a chemist (or 2 or 3) on staff that you can talk to. I had pretty much narrowed my problem down, but needed to confirm. So, I asked if dye powder has a shelf life. He wanted to know how old my dye was - um, 4-5 years... He said that they were positively ancient, and I needed new ones... Good news for them, bad news for me, as I have another show coming up in November, and need to dye more stuff!!

I re-skeined the yarn, using my antique clock reel. You know, sometimes you just can't improve the mouse-trap. This little gem works so well, and is probably 200 years old, and I love it.

This was The Craisin's first big outing (that's my new car, a cranberry, 2001 Escort sedan). I managed to get everything in except the gridwall, which Sue took in her van. The space below was filled by a medium animal crate, which held 3 chickens for Michelle.

Also in this small space, I was able to pack my Country Craftsman spinning wheel. They look like this (This is not my wheel, just a picture):

Do you see a wheel in here?
 Once I took some of the stuff out, you can see it... In pieces.
I never cleaned off the table -doh!!

It was less than thrilled to be dismembered, but after whacking some pins back into place for the wheel supports, we were off and running.

I actually ran out of room for all my stuff. I'm also a member of the High Desert Woolgrowers, whose booth was right next to ours, so I put the roving over there.

One of the highlights of the show (for me, anyway) was helping a young couple with a spinning wheel. The husband came around the corner holding a frame upright wheel over his shoulder, and I commented that he had a wheel, but it was missing some parts. He asked if I knew what they were, and I did. So he pulled up a chair, and I started explaining what it was missing. As I did this, he started pulling pieces out of a messenger bag that he was carrying. Once all the pieces were displayed, I realized how it was to come together, and proceeded to install them, a drive band, a bobbin leader and had it spinning. I told them (by this time the wife had appeared) how to oil it, and care for it. We also turned it over to see if there were any maker's marks - it was a Clemes and Clemes. They were thrilled - I was thrilled! It's always nice to get a dis/misused wheel back in action.

Later, while talking to a customer, I saw him come steaming back in the barn with a big smile on his face. I pardoned myself for a moment, and he exclaimed that he had found the person who built the wheel! Small world. The builder is going to take it and tune it up, replace all the dried up leather bushings and get it completely renovated. How cool is that!!

I had a very good weekend, coming home with much less than I took. Sue took the wheel home in her van, along with the gridwall, which I will pick up today. I spent one more night at Linda's (we stayed up way too late all three nights, catching up), so I could go by Columbia Scouring in Portland and get more roving, since I was in the area.

Next year, I WILL start dyeing earlier, and I will bring some signs to put out on the lawn (where most of the vendors are) directing people to come see us in the barn. That's the one drawback to being in the barn - there's no advertising of our existence there. Corex signs are cheap - I just need to come up with a catchy statement!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I have a lot of work to do, and a week to do it...

Oregon Flock and Fiber starts a week from today. I always do this (procrastinate), but this time I have an excuse! My contract work has been pretty flat this summer, like really dead, so when I was suddenly inundated with work, I rejoiced! However, I also had this looming deadline, and decreasing time to get it done in. Last night at 10:30pm,  I sent the draft of the last critical plan off to be perused, and went to bed, thinking about how I was to set up the dye kitchen, and where I would start.

I did eventually get to sleep... to be awakened at 6 am by a cat, and noise from the poultry (but that's another story on the other blog...).

So, this morning, I gathered up all the yarn and fiber that I need to dye. OH MY! Some of the fiber is already wound into 4 oz. balls, and some of the yarn has already been re-skeined into 4+/- oz. skeins. The rest needs to be divided. Guess I know what I'm doing today!!

I get my yarn from Henry's Attic - I've had an account with them since the 90's. They sell mostly undyed yarn and fiber, with a few natural colors thrown in (alpaca or cotton, mostly). They have really nice linen, which comes in bleached, unbleached with 2 weights also in black. It's a really good thing that I, a) am not made of money, and b) don't have a lot of storage space, because I love everything they have.

Most of the fiber is wool - superfine merino, merino/bamboo/tussah blend, a gray BFL/tussah, some corriedale top, USA-made medium wool top (big bump), but I also have some really nice silk top.

So here's the before picture:

Stay tuned for the results!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Demo Hat

Since publishing my first pattern (Yurt for your Head), I have found 3 omissions. One I have already fixed, two I discovered while knitting the hat to show at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. I will have to correct the latter, and forward the update to the person who has purchased the pattern. Hopefully, she's not knitting like the fiend that I have been for the last day and a half, and hasn't gotten to that part of the pattern  (the very end...).

So, while these pictures aren't very good - daylight was really waning - here is the demo hat. A note about the colors used: you'd think in this house, it would be very easy to find yarn. You'd be wrong, especially when I was trying to get enough of 2 colors to do the entire hat out of commercial yarn. I mostly knit with handspun, but had a number of balls of KnitPicks worsted (best laid plans...). I had 2 balls of eggplant-y purple, and two of green, but when I started knitting with the green as the contrast, it was very blah. Back to the drawing board. I also had one ball of "tidepool heather," which I really liked, but wasn't sure I'd have enough (I would have, but it doesn't matter). So I grabbed a couple more colors and called Sue. Sometimes, it helps to describe the problem to another person, which leads to a decision. I ended up using 5 colors: Purple for the main color, Tidepool for the secondary color, and the green, amber heather and a tangerine-y orange for accents. The pictures don't show the colors truly, but you can sort of get the idea!

So, Unblocked:

Blocking (even worse light...)

I use my flour canister to block hats on - it's the perfect circumference!

Now to clean up my mess...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall Wool Gathering Day 2

Today, I was supposed to go weave on the shawls that they always raffle off at this event. I forgot... As it turned out, I wasn't needed, so it didn't matter.

I took my camera today because in talking with Barb yesterday, it was mentioned that she had never over-dyed moorit/brown fiber. Last night, in preparation, I spun and plied three small skeins for her to use in her dye demo today.

Today, she used food coloring, not kool-aid, and the results were fun! She had 3 crock-pots, and asked the onlookers to chose colors for each. We had a blue green, a red and a multi-colored one.

After all the fiber was in and cooking, the participants were told to come back in 20 minutes and the great unveiling would happen.

I should mention here, that with rare exceptions, nothing stays its original color at my house. I will over-dye anything, so much so that my Reno friends called me the Queen of Overdye. That was my response to, "I don't like this color," or, "It didn't turn out like I wanted." Over-dye it!! Correy said that she isn't sure about selling moorit wool to me because I don't leave it brown very often!

So, the unveiling:

In the bluegreen pot, we had gray, white and brown wool, and a champagne mohair.
In order top to bottom: White, Brown, Gray and mohair

In the red we had the same, without the mohair.
In order top to bottom: Brown, Gray, White.
 The same three were in the multi-colored pot:
Top to bottom: Gray, White, Brown
I pulled the brown skein up so you can see all the color
I love using brown. The warmth it adds to the dye is incredible. When all the yarn was coming out of the pots, everyone was oohing and aahing, and exclaiming, "Look at the brown!" I think I made a convert...

I took the Country Craftsman wheel today, so as not to have to deal with the Ashford's tempermentalism. I have decided to put a double treadle kit on it... I was spinning a 50/50 blend of moorit merino and alpaca (that was the same brown). I have another skein that I spun a year ago on an Ashford, but I was spinning more finely today, so I'll just have to keep going with the thin stuff! It's really pretty, and I have a lot more of the roving.

It was really fun to go to the festival and not have a booth. While I'm gearing up for Oregon Flock and Fiber - this will be dyeing central for the next week + - it's fun to kick back and just enjoy it, and not work. Don't get me wrong, I love doing a booth at OFFF. I share a booth with Sue, and we're in the barn - very nice if it rains! It's fun to be close to the animals who contribute to our wares. It's a hoot to watch people, and engage in educational opportunities. I wouldn't miss it.

So, off to ply the yarn spun today, and do some real work...

Fall Wool Gathering Day 1

This year, the Shaniko Wool Gathering parted ways with the town of Shaniko (long story), and became the Fall Wool Gathering held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Madras.

I decided not to get a booth space for various reasons, but went up for a "few hours", which ended up being all day. I took my Mom's Ashford wheel, which after being torn apart and put back together was working well enough to appear in public. I also took some fiber, but as I picked up some roving that I had dropped off earlier from Creekside Fiber Mill, I decided to play with some of the new stuff! I'm not ADD or anything...

So after assessing my choices, and with the knowledge that I need to knit a hat to go with my first pattern up on Ravelry (yay!), I decided on a shetland roving, from Limerick, one of Mim's ewes. We used to call Limerick, the Brillo Pad. Let me tell you that she is decidedly not brillo-like. At nine years old, she's gotten very soft and silky. I started out with a full box:

The  wool wanted to be yarn, and I was quickly making a lot...

 I had some technical difficulties along the way, however. one of the nuts holding the footman on came off - fortunately I saw it. I put it back on, but it wasn't right, and the whole bold/nut assembly started tightening up on the footman so hard that, a) it was really hard to spin, and b) it was cracking the wood of the footman. I found Curt Fricke (of Fricke Enterprises) there, who had a tool kit, and between us, we got it working again. With the wheel back in action, I was able to ply off what I spun:

There are 3.45 ounces. I made a huge dent in the box:

The reason I knew that Curt had a tool box is this:

I am getting ready to do a production dye run in advance of Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. My little ball winder isn't up to the task of winding 8 oz. skeins into balls for me to breakdown into 4 oz. skeins. He had a number of ball winders in his booth, but this was purple heart - how could it not be mine!

I'm returning to the Fall Wool Gathering today. I helped my friend, Barb, with her Kool-aid dyeing demo yesterday, and it was such a success that she's going to do it again today. But, she's never overdyed moorit/brown before. So I spun of 3 skeins of moorit shetland from the embarrassingly large stash, and we'll do those today, along with her white and gray.

More pictures to come!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Results of Ice Dyeing!

I let the t-shirts, etc. mentioned in the last post sit until Monday (Labor Day), and then removed all their coverings, hosed them off for awhile, and then put them in the washer in 4 batches. This took all day, and into Tuesday because this dye (fiber-reactive) takes a lot of water to wash out. Each load (of which there were four) went through a wash and 3 rinse cycles. When they no longer left color traces on my hands, I hung them out to dry.

The results:

The logo shows up on all the shirts very well, as well as on the tote bags. However, it was really faint on the ball caps, and on only one or two can you tell there's anything there.

All in all, I am (as is Sue) very please with our work!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dye day (first of several)

In a moment of insanity back in June, I volunteered to dye t-shirts for the American Romeldale/CVM Association booth at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival later this month.

I had gotten the logo-printed shirts, ball caps and canvas totes a couple of months ago, but set them aside. However, with the deadline looming, and now that life had resumed a more normal attitude (see Polymath Chronicles), it was time.

I asked a friend if she wanted to come help, and Sue came this morning. I had already washed all the stuff, and set up the location for the dyeing. We were going to Ice dye them (see instructions here). I'd done a little of this one other time but this would be a larger scale project - 22 t-shirts, 6 ball caps and 4 tote bags.

After lunch (have to fortify yourself, you know!), we set to dyeing. I forgot to take pictures of the process, but we had soaked all of the shirts, etc. in soda ash water (the fixative for fiber reactive dyes) while eating. We pulled them out, squeezed them, and scrunched them up on the racks over the stock tanks (to catch the drips). Then we spread 60 lbs. of ice over the top of them, and sprinkled dye powder over them.

We ended up with a color spectrum from one end of the racks to the other - it was really cool. After the dye was applied, we covered it with plastic wrap, held down with rocks to keep the wind from removing it. I decided to invert my skirting table over top of the whole thing as additional insurance.

Since it's cooling down into the 40's at night, I'll leave it through the day tomorrow to set the dye. Then, I'll toss everything onto the skirting table and rinse with the hose until clear. Monday, I'll wash them and dry them, and they'll be done.

Then I can start on the dyeing I need to do for my own inventory! Should be fun - I have some new fiber to dye - it will be interesting to see how it turns out!