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1  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Discussion and Questions / What are the brightest commercial dyes? on: May 21, 2007 05:37:15 AM
Okay, so I have some naturally colored merino that I've carded up into a heathered grey with the intention of spinning then overdyeing. I tested a bit with a few different food colorings, and liked the results but all of the "proper" dyes (which are all cushings) I currently have mixed up into solutions are just not bright enough to really show through well.

I was wondering if anyone had any good suggestions for luridly bright acid dyes, both brands and color names.

I know of jacquard's hot fuschia and prochem's rhodamine red and they're both blindingly intense but am hesitant to use them since they're suspected carcinogens.
2  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / How do you spin on a 2.5 lb spindle? on: February 05, 2007 03:52:58 PM
Very Carefully!

Do you know those stupid ideas that pop up in your head, and automatically you know that it's destined to end badly but you just have to do it otherwise you'd never know how badly it'd end?
No? well... I do.

It all started when I was looking for my cup hooks for a regular toy wheel spindle I was making. I couldn't find them, instead I found these giant brass plant hanger ones. I then thought about the dowel and dumbbell set lying around. After a minute of duct tape magic I had myself a two pound eight ounce (actually 2 pound 13 ounce counting the weight of the dowel) spindle. I amused myself for a quick second: I created without a doubt the heaviest most unwieldy "boat anchor" of a spindle known to man.

But what good's a spindle that you don't put to use?

So, I tried to get as far away from anything valuable and breakable and got a bit of medium wool top.

I didn't bother to dye it because I actually didn't think I could spin on this thing, but I did, slowly, with only three breaks when spinning.

I purposely left the dowel long, that way it would only hover an inch or two above the floor so i could catch the spindle when the yarn broke. Only after a goodly amount of time spindling did I realize that a bottom whorl spindle would have been much less dangerous. I'm just so used to top whorling I guess.

Here's the resulting yarn:

1 ply, 25 yards, 2.5 ounces. Pretty much your average looking first skein.
3  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Hooray for secularism round 2 on: January 23, 2007 10:20:41 AM
I participated in the first hooray for secularism swap last year because I loved the idea of it.

It started as an idea for an atheist swap since there were (and still are) all of these faith based swaps going on and morphed into a more inclusive secularism theme.

Not many people joined so I thought that maybe the swap could live up to it's potential if it were given a second round.

Atheists, deists, existentialists, and agnostics can craft about their lack of religion and how it shapes their lives and poke fun (but not smash; there's a difference) at established religion, and anyone of any faith can join and just craft about being thankful for religious freedom, and the separation of church and state, or being sad/angry over the lack of it.

The gallery for round 1's here:

Anyone up for it?
4  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Handspun Watch Cap on: December 16, 2006 12:29:13 AM
I figured I should post pictures of the hat I made with the yarn I posted on fiber friday 12/8 so here it is:

It's made with a low z twist hand carded alpaca/wool/mohair blend singles that ranged around light to heavy worsted weight. I'm actually surprised at how evenly it knitted up considering I didn't card the fibers as much as I probably should ending up in little slubs in the yarn.

I actually intended it to be a giant beanie for a large headed person but felt that it looked better turned up. It's for a gift, so hopefully there's a small headed person on the list that this will fit.

The rib's a fisherman's rib since its thick and warm, plus I like the look of it done with singles yarn.
5  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Discussion and Questions / Fiber CPR: reviving "lifeless" roving on: December 12, 2006 03:37:41 PM
Hey guys and gals,

Since I hear alot of people talking about how the fiber in commercial rovings is dead or lifeless, I figured I should do my part to share knowledge:

Most commercial wool roving contains fibers that are rather straight and don't have as much crimp as "fresh" wool. I'm not sure if it's a result of the combing process or from being compressed into bumps but the wool fibers are essentially blocked straight, just as how yarn and finished objects are occasionally blocked into shape.

This is generally why people complain of roving being limp and spinning into a denser yarn than farm wool.

But just like yarn, the fibers can be unblocked.
Steaming is the fastest and most dramatic method but I've found that steam from an iron generally doesn't penetrate through thick roving unless it's pre drafted a bit or spread out width wise. Hand held garment steamers would probably work better, and I've never tried it but I'm guessing that putting roving in a steamer pot would work too.

I generally un block my roving by soaking it in warm water, around 110 Fahrenheit (for those without a thermometer, 110 is hot enough to be tingly to the fingers but not so hot that you can't comfortably leave them in the water for a while) then letting it cool down and hanging it to dry. Just as with dyeing, the roving might need to be soaked in soapy water first if its not absorbing the water.

And just as with dyeing, the roving may need to be pre drafted afterwards to fluff it up.

Unblocking commercial wool before carding it helps give a fluffier batt or rolag and the carding teeth have an easier time grabbing the fiber.

The unblocked roving should spin up bouncier and less dense.

I feel it necessary to state that I'm not in any way shape or form discounting farm wool. Even with crimp restored, most commercial roving is combed and will not spin up as warm and fluffy as carded wool and sometimes the treatments done to it will make it permanently harsh. Its also a big plus being able to see the sheep that your wool came from and knowing that he or she's treated well.

6  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / Fiber Friday! 12/8 on: December 08, 2006 04:32:36 AM
Thanks to my good old friend: insomnia, not only is this my first fiber friday, but I also have the chance to start the thread too.

This one's a singles yarn, 50/50 mix of alpaca and brown/white grab bag roving from the sheep shed studio. 130 something yards, I forget. To hell what people say about alpaca never itching, this alpaca fiber was as prickly as a field of porcupines and cacti when spun as a moderate twist 2 ply yarn, so I blended the remaining roving with wool and spun it as a low twist z single so it would untwist a bit when knitted up. It sorta feels like Cascade Pastaza but a bit softer.
Currently it's in the process of becoming a hat.

This one took too friggin' long to dry to become yarn in time but it is Fiber Friday, so I'll post it anyway:

I call it "short bus massacre" and I'll post pics when it becomes yarn.
7  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / pink glittery first yarn on: May 08, 2006 12:06:44 AM
Okay, so I sorta lied, this is actually my third real hank that I spun and before that I wasted an ounce or two on alot of two to three yard pieces. The first two hanks are not dyed yet, so this is the one I'm going to post. When we were at our lys my girlfriend found some purplish pink roving  along with some thin tinsel stuff that she wanted me to spin into yarn for her, she said she wanted something gilttery and wooley with puffs in it so I intentionally made it slubby. The red sparkly stuff is really thin tinsel that I drafted in. It got everywhere, heck I'm still finding it in the cats' hairballs, but it does give a nice sparkle that doesn't really show up well in the photo.

8  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Help deciphering japanese care symbols on: February 22, 2006 04:41:20 AM
My girlfriend went down to southern california a few weeks back and brought back some cool yarn from a japanese outlet store, thing is the washing instructions are completely in japanese and the japanese care symbols are a little different than the american ones. I've tried to search for a site that had a listing of the japanese clothing care symbols and what they mean but all I keep on finding are pages for the american labelling standard. Three of the four pictures are very similar to the american ones so I have an idea of what they probably mean but I'd rather be sure. If anyone knows of a webpage, even if its in japanese that explains the labels please post it here.
9  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Completed Projects / First Poly clay project - Dinko Bird on: February 22, 2006 04:20:03 AM
I've always been meaning to try my hands at polymer clay for quite some time and just kept putting it off but since all 2oz bricks were on sale at Michael's for a dollar I decided to go down there, get a bunch of packets of premo and give it a shot. Since I didn't have any projects in mind when I went to michaels I pretty much bought one packet of every color so when I made the bird I didn't want to waste my whole block of blue and instead wrapped it around a ball of aluminum foil. I guess I didn't smooth out the foil enough because the clay took on alot of the bumps and creases of the foil, even after I laid another layer of clay.

I made the bird from a tutorial located here: http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/castle/lesdinkobird.html.  Of course mine looks nowhere near as good as his but considering that this is my first foray into sculpting with anything save for good old play dough more than a decade and a half ago, and that my fingers are far from nimble, I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

And if anyone who's experienced with polymer clays is reading this: what other materials would make a good lightweight core? would play dough, or home made flour clay work? I've been thinking about using dried flour clay as the core for my next bird but don't know if that would be such a good idea.
10  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / Kool Aid dyed "feathers" novelty yarn on: January 31, 2006 07:50:45 AM
The other day my girlfriend came home with a bunch of Caron novelty yarn she got at big lots for $2 a skein. She bought quite a bit of a few different styles and colors, but one yarn in particular: the black and white "feathers" yarn, that got my attention since I'm on a bit of an acid dyeing trip. You see, the fluffy stuff on novelty yarn is almost always nylon and nylon is the only synthetic fiber that can be dyed with an acid dye such as food coloring or hair coloring or kool aid; but I never attempted to dye such a yarn because it would always either come colored, or contain another fiber such as cotton or polyester that might stain and look ugly. This however was the perfect Nylon Yarn to dye: the main strand was black so it wouldn't stain, the nylon was white to gray ombre which was great because dying over gray just makes a darker shade of the dye color and that means whatever color I choose to dye it, the finished product will also turn out to be an ombre, and the best part is of course that it was cheap. Since it was her yarn I went to big lots and bought a skein to test dye. Alot of people have posted about their experiences in dyeing wool and even blends with kool aid but as far as I'm aware no one has posted anything about kool aid dyeing Nylon here so I decided I'd do the honors.

Its not exactly a true before and after but the uncolored yarn is the exact same thing. Once she saw the outcome she decided to roll up all of that one style and color into hanks so I could dye them.

The red did in fact turn out to be an ombre and the colors are very vibrant, much more so than kool aid dyed wool.

I'm sorry I'm no good with tutorials but the process is pretty much the same as kool aid dying. In a nutshell: wind yarn in hank, bind loosely with a length of yarn, fill up rectangular Pyrex or Tupperware dish with water and kool aid mixture, gently wash yarn, place yarn in mixture making sure its covered, microwave until hot, let sit, microwave until hot, let sit, repeat until done, remove yarn and let cool, gently rinse in lukewarm water, gently wash in lukewarm water, gently rinse in lukewarm water, hang to dry or dry in an oven on lowest setting

There was one big difference between dying wool and nylon
The ratio of dye to water does seem to matter.
Unlike Wool where dissolving a packet into a pint of water will eventually bring the same results as dissolving a packet into a gallon of water, a lighter liquid will dye Nylon lighter while a darker liquid will dye it darker. I used two packets of black cherry with a quart of water that made a very dark liquid, but no-matter how much I heated and waited, the color wouldn't go any darker despite there still being alot of dye left in the water. Just so I knew that it wasn't the nylon refusing to take on too much dye, I took a small piece of the yarn and dyed it with a strong mix of food coloring and vinegar and it turned a very dark red. Since the nylon won't suck up all of the dye like wool its not as convenient to tell when the yarn is done; its done when it just won't get any darker.

The rinsing washing process also took considerably longer to get it clean. The dye didn't seem to wash out of the nylon too much so I'm guessing that it was because the black main strand must have been stained. Running it under lukewarm water and gently pressing until it runs clear is fine but if you plan on machine washing whatever you're going to make with the yarn I'd reccommend that you run it under hot water and press until it runs almost completely clear.

Partially drying it out with a hair dryer at low speed on medium heat is something that also helped not just because it sped up the drying process but also because it did a good job of fluffing the nylon back up.
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