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1  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Completed Projects / Gradient Dyeing Yarn With a Knitted Blank on: November 06, 2016 02:44:19 PM
One of my favourite ways to dye roving or top is in a single colour gradient. It's very easy too - I just dip the end of the roving into the dye bath and slowly feed it in. As the dye exhausts from the bath, the dye bath gets lighter so you get a slow change, subtle gradient.

But lately I've been branching into dyeing yarn and dipping the end of some yarn into a pot of dye and then feeding it in would result in a massive knot! So I got myself a knitting mill for making knitted blanks. I took 223 yards of worsted weight merino I had left over from a different project and produced a blank.

In one pot, I mixed my dye bath. My first dye in any experimental technique is always blue. Blue is hard to dye but it's also my favourite - there isn't a lot I can do to totally ruin a blue for myself. In the other pot I mixed water and some acid and set the blank in to soak for 15 minutes. This lets the pigment strike quicker and more evenly than if I dumped it in dry. When it was done soaking I wrapped it in a towel and walked all over it to squeeze out the extra water. I wanted it damp but not soaking wet.

Then I put one end into the dye bath and slowly feed the blank in, letting each bit soak about 5-10 minutes before I added more in. The trick to this method is making sure you have the right amount of pigment in the dye bath - if there's too much the whole thing will be dyed one even colour, if there's too little, it'll exhaust quickly and adding more in will give you a definite line of colour change. About half way through this I realized I had too much dye so I scooped out some dye bath and added in some water to dilute.

So the gradient starts a lot later than I expected. But! Not bad for a first attempt. Smiley
2  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Completed Projects / Dye Inspiration Challenge Project on: September 28, 2016 09:23:48 AM
I belong to an online group and periodically they vote on a dye inspiration challenge photo and then you're supposed to use it as inspiration to dye from. This weeks was:

I was very taken with the colour of those petals and after a couple days of working at it, I have produced this:

3  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Completed Projects / [Image Heavy] First Shot at Dyeing Alpaca on: September 01, 2016 08:44:31 AM
We recently got our first round of alpaca back from the mill - 35 lbs of Suri and Huacaya, the two alpaca breeds. Suri is a long, extremely fine, silky fiber while Huacaya more closely resembles wool - it's shorter with a crimp structure that varies from animal to animal. The scales on alpaca are shorter, smaller, and sparser than any wool you'll find other than superwash (which is chemically treated to either remove the scales or glue them down). Alpaca is less moisture absorptive and tends to have semi-hollow fibers with good wicking properties. These factors complicate the dyeing process and there are more alpaca fibers in a standard 4 oz braid than there would be in all but the finest of wool so more surface area for the dye to strike. While more resistant to felting than the average wool, you can still felt alpaca so it's important not to agitate it much in the hot dye bath. I'm still getting the hang of it, but here are my first results.

This is a suri alpaca dyed with blue and purple pigment. It measures at 4.25 ounces which was too much suri for my dye pot - I couldn't spread the fiber out enough to take the dye repeats evenly. Note the white blotches:

A smaller run of 2 ounces had absolutely no problem with my usual dye technique and produced a beautiful, even solid:

The huacaya handles better for me because it feels more like the wool I'm used to dealing with. My first attempt came out quite well:

But no! The second attempt was overly ambitious and pockets of it did not receive much pigment, creating a tie dye affect:

I'll have to keep working at it. Smiley
4  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / Sort of Fractal Spun Malabrigo Nube on: August 29, 2016 03:12:16 PM
I recently bought a Kromski Fantasia and the seller threw in slightly more than 3 ounces of some incredibly soft merino fiber. I may have been ruined forever - no more rough, durable breeds for me!  Roll Eyes

5  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / [Image Heavy] From Fiber to Finished Object: February Lady on: August 29, 2016 02:50:38 PM
I'm a really avid spinner but I've found that indie dyed fiber is generally sold in 4oz braids and there's only so many single skein projects I want to do. So I decided to dye, spin, and knit the February Lady, an adult sized adaptation of an Elizabeth Zimmerman baby sweater. I decided to do a 3-ply yarn in about a dk weight. I did 33 ounces total, 24 ounces of romney for the body and then another 9 ounces of merino for the yoke and sleeves. The goal was to not spend too much money on materials. Smiley I spent about $30 on the raw wool and dyed it with food colouring, doing a light blue, a dark blue, and brown. This was my first dye project and the third thing I ever spun.

I started with all the important tools: 3 lbs of wool, a spinning wheel, and some judgemental cats:

After getting a feel for spinning the romney I dyed the wool before spinning because I wanted to get that barber pole effect. I got quite a lot of variegation in my dye vats because I was dealing (relatively) large amounts in one little pot. I tried to be okay with that:

I spun 8 oz of each main colour on a vintage Louet. Ignore the kromski bobbin, it's full of alpaca:

The Louet bobbins are enormous and I did all my plying on it in order to have as few joins as possible:

It was an awful lot of yarn...

You can see the three different colours easier in full sunlight. In normal light they just blend into a speckled blue and brown.

I was worried my colourful yarn would be too busy for the lace panels so I knit a couple repeats and then blocked it open.

I knit 3/4 sleeves because I plan on wearing this at the computer and I like my bare forearms to rest on the table. Smiley

It took me two weeks to spin the yarn and 30 days to knit the sweater. It's a very, very simple pattern though and could easily be knit faster but I bought a house while I was knitting.

I originally blocked it the way I would a shawl - opening up all the lace panels. But this made me look approximately four feet wide so last weekend I blocked it for length. Now it's a very forgiving a flattering shape! My stepmother is knitting one from green corriedale I dyed for her and I love the feel of it so much I'm thinking of doing a second one. Cheesy
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