Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Yarn Yarn

This yarn started with a lunch date with my cousin, Jackie. We meet in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, which is about half way between where we live, she in Barrington, IL, and I just north of Alaska, WI. This is a semi-regular, semi-annual affair. I arrived early in order to check out the Cedarburg Woolen Mill. I entered the shop where I inquired about purchasing some wool. The clerk made a phone call to a lady who met me in the back hall and led me down into the basement. There were the milling machines and piles of fleece to be carded, and piles already processed, and wool related tools. A cloud of wool lover’s heaven in a basement! The lady showed me what she had available and I selected some merino roving. Putting the large ball in a container near the ancient scale, she wound a smaller ball from it and weighed it until it was the amount I requested. She repeated the same process with a beautiful natural dark brown roving.

Since that lovely afternoon with my cousin, I have been working away at my merino roving, 2 ounces here, 4 ounces there. Two examples can be seen in my April 28th post, “Friday is Dyeday.” The yarn I’m writing about today was spun from a little over 4 ounces that were dyed with Greener Shades Dyes. I presoaked the roving in a 3:1 solution of water/vinegar for 30 minutes, then gently squeezed out the excess liquid. I placed the roving in what I call a snaky arrangement in the bottom of my dyepot which contained enough water to make the wool “squishy” (a technical term meaning not covered, but enough to prevent burning while the steaming process takes place).

My dye record indicates that I used equal amounts of GS’s, Ruby Red, Sunshine Yellow and Sunset Orange. I poured the dye solution randomly over the yarn, and with a gloved hand gently pressed down on the roving to make sure it had contact with the dye. I covered the pot and steamed the wool for 30 minutes at 170 degrees. When the water was clear, I knew that the fiber had absorbed all the dye. I let it cool, and rinsed it without agitation, for I try to make felt only when I want to.

When my roving was dry, I divided it into eight long strips of pencil roving, being careful to mark with a knot of yarn the beginning of each strip. I spun four pencils each on two bobbins. As each pencil was ending I attached the next section at the yarn knot end. I thought that would help produce a more coordinated stripe when I plied the yarn from both bobbins. It would have, if each pencil had been the exact same thickness, and if my spinning had been very precise. Since I’m not a machine, it didn’t happen. I really didn’t expect it to, and I’m glad it didn’t. I love the effect I achieved.

I designed a simple lace and bobble scarf for the yarn and I’m very satisfied with the result. The 4 ounces was enough to make the scarf which measures 5 ½ inches wide and 55 inches long. I was glad that I decided, from the beginning, to use a lifeline at each repeat of the pattern. I ended up having to use it twice. It was well worth the minor inconvenience. (See a lifeline in my May 12 post, “Mellow Yellow.”) I kept an eye on the amount of yarn I had left, and when I thought that I would not have enough for another repeat and the end rows, I ended the repeat I was working on, knitted the end rows and had a small ball of .2 ounces left.

My ball of merino roving is shrinking fast. I think I need to email Jackie and see when she’s free to “do lunch.”

Happy stitching and dyeing and spinning.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

 Its International Yarn Bombing Day

And I almost missed it! Today I received a box in the mail from Sievers School of Fiber Arts. It contained three new Louet spinning wheel bobbins that I ordered the day before yesterday. What great service (Thanks, Ann). Last year on IYBD I was at Sievers enjoying a week of Batik when someone reminded me of yarn bombing which I had been introduced to the year before. While my waxed fabric was in the dye pot, I took time out to go to School House Beach and make my small contribution to the day. 

The wonderful Washington Islanders are very protective of their beautiful beach as you can see from the sign pictured below.

With that in mind, I used cotton crochet thread to form a net around one of the smooth rounded rocks that the beach is famous for. 

No rock beings were harmed in the process.

The net form was my tribute to the fishing culture that still remains, reflecting the rich heritage of this island of Native Hurons, French missionaries and voyageurs, and Scandinavian settlers.
If you aren’t familiar with yarn bombing I would suggest you get a hold of Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, by Mandy Moore and Leane Prain. And if you plan to take part in this interesting art form, please be kind to the environment.
Happy Stitches.