Wednesday, 23 September 2009

rich pickings

when I looked into the porch today, I found a giant box in it - my fibre order arrived from germany today! it's always great fun to unpack stuff like that - you can delve into fibre bag after fibre bag - and think about all the lovely things you can do with it all! it was hard work to carry it all out into the sunshine to take pix of it!
the first batch shows a huge cone with sock wool for dyeing, some ramie, dye stuff - lanaset dyes, some cream of tartar, hemp top (the beige stuff on the right in the back) and some yarns, one kg in grey superwash wool and silk - a pre-drafted yarn. the other one is a two-ply in viscose/silk in white. I already bought a kg of this some time ago, but it's quite heavy and I was afraid I might not have enough for the project I have planned (a vest in a dark, inky blue).
the large roll on the right is a carded woollen fleece, which Gabi from Wollpoldi dyed and carded - and gave to me:)) it was inspired by the naturally dyed and knit-felted bag "Bertra Beach" I did some time ago and I am looking forward to spinning this - though I still have to figure out how exactly I'll do this to make the most of the colours.
this shows the second batch (it looks quite small on the photo, in reality the table was full to overflowing with fibre bags:)) - one kg of akita fibre (chiengora - the name fits, it's supersoft and more like angora). 1 kg of superwash merino, 2 kg of south american wool top, also 1 kg bourette silk, 1 kg silk bricks, some polyamide, 1 kg baby alpaca (supersoft!), 1 kg mohair top, 150 silk hankies...
some of it is planned for birthday or christmas presents, some of it is for myself - and some of it was ordered just because it's nice:))
all in all it's about 18 kg of fibres and dyes - enough to keep me occupied for the winter months. which is a bit of a joke, because there are still heaps of fibres of all kinds stashed away in my room! but I wanted to make the most of the postage - and if it's the same for a little over 10 or nearly 20 kg - no question what I'll do about this:))
I am one happy bunny now - I also received a packet full of "adult licquorice" from a friend, so I am well cared for on all accounts!:)) I forgot to take a picture of two stitch markers I received - but they'll keep till the next entry.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

colour sessions

I have been dyeing during all of last week, but today will be the last day for a while; hard to believe, but I am running out of stuff to dye! I picked another lot of alder buckthorn berries and had even darker colours than last time - silk in the middle, viscose on the right - and wool on the left. even though the blues are accurate - the "green" is not! it really is a green tone, not this yucky muck colour! (I put some samples of the first blues into the window to test the lightfastness - after a week in pretty bright daylight no visible change...)
same for this pic: I picked fresh fuchsia flowers (the red-purple ones that grow wild everywhere in the west), because I read that you can achieve purples and reds... this is my umptiest trial, I had everything from beige to biting yellow on wool - and as you can see, I had another very light yellow - though in reality the tone is far more golden yellow than beige. the silk however did turn pinkish - neither purple nor red, but not yellow either:))

this is the result of my dye sessions of the last few weeks. I assembled everything on the patio table, waited until the sun wasn't quite as high in the sky anymore - and still the colours look totally different in real life:(( I dyed loads of green tones, which hardly show up. pretty much all the colours look different in reality, far more autumnal, not as bright as in the photo! I tried changing all kinds of settings, but if the reds are ok, the greens are not etc... weird, but at least I have enough choice to keep me busy with the wheel and the knitting needles for some time:))
the plan is to blend some of the fine lace yarns for a shawl in autumn colours, yellow, green and reds. I am already spinning some of the blue tones into a lace yarn, though I am not sure whether to ply with a blue silk or with another blue-green woollen yarn. the two petrol blue skeins of tussah silk on the upper right side are going to be knitted into a lace scarf and I think I am going to spin a yarn with "glacier" colours from some of the lighter coloured viscose and silk, maybe together with a small amount of angelina and some white, either silk or wool (silk might be more fitting for a "cold, sparkly, icy" yarn?)
off to work a bit more on my miniature, while dinner is in the oven.....

Sunday, 13 September 2009

dyeing obsession

we are still having glorious weather - but unfortunately the forecast has mentioned drizzle for tuesday and a decline in the weather from midweek onwards:(( we were just getting used to a bit of sunshine.... but to make the most out of it (a typical irish saying:)) DS and two of the dogs went down to the bog with me. this is one of Stefan's favourite pasttimes - and the dogs love it too, because normally they can run around in total freedom. even the old girls go totally nutty, roll around in the grass, run down to the small river to drink and take a bath every now and then. not today though - because the second we rounded the bend along the bog road - there was a huge racket going on. three donkeys against two dogs, on the one side mad braying, on the other mad barking! of course we had to take out the leads and the donkeys watched the dogs suspiciously during our stay. other than that it was very nice - apart from the heaps of rubbish some of the neighbours throw into the bog - instead of the rubbish collection, because it costs money there:((

to cut a long story short - the pickings of blackberries were so measly, that I dropped the idea totally. I am rather careful and look at every berry - in case it is "inhabited".... a lot of them were and the rest looked so ugly that I didn't bother. I did however manage to pick 175 g of reed flowers - in the hope that I might get another nice green tone for my autumn colour collection. the mean part about this is that there are reed flowers as far as I can see - and I can't reach most of them without running the risk of ending chest-deep in a bog hole or worse:(( I could only pick along the small concrete brick and as far as I dared stretch across the river.... a canoo might be helpful - I could try to stake into the reed like the native americans, when they collect wild rice:))
well, anyway, the plan is to collect some yellows, gold, greens, oranges and reds to spin some lovely autumn coloured yarns - and also to dye some of the fine lace yarns I bought last year for the same purpose. it was a funny coincidence to read the article about the autumn leaf shawls in the fall issue of the spinoff - exactly what I thought I'd be doing with those colours! I also saw on another blog a nice idea - one multicoloured singles plied with one singles coloured in brown, to draw it all together. I still have some woven fabric (commercially done) in those colours and always had the plan to make a vest or something similar, part knitted and part commercial fabric. my usual complaint here: I wish I had more hands and/or more time:))
back to my reed flowers now - hoping for the lovely slightly smokey green I got last time!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

not so small miniature....

I am still busy with dyeing - which has been much easier the last few days because we have brilliant sunshine and temperatures of over 20 deg. C during the day - late summer or what? but it means that I can hang the dripping tops outside without leaving colourful drips on my tiles inside. also the drying is much faster of course. above the results of dyeing twice with "tibetan" madder (not sure if it is really tibetan - or just normal madder, from india though). I used alum as a mordant and no after-treatments. the two balls on the left side are nz lamb top, below the 1. bath, above the 2nd. on the right side the brownish top had been dyed with a beige before and with madder in the 1st bath. half hidden above a ball of silk top, dyed in the 2nd bath; the barely dyed stuff is viscose top and the ball above silk again - but from the 1st dyebath.
the funny thing is that normally madder shouldn't be boiled, so I only barely simmered the first time. it's not a red, more a dark salmon that fixed on the fibres. the second time round I boiled quite vigorously and the colour became much stronger, but not really a rusty shade. hm, maybe it's "tibetan madder" after all? I am not sure whether or not to do a 3rd bath - I don't really use those colours for myself, would fancy a more blueish red from brazilwood myself.
on the other hand maybe I should leave those dried dyestuffs alone for the moment - I had a look outside and there are many more ripe alderbuckthorn berries ready for picking! sometimes I think it would be far better if I didn't have to spin all the dyed fibres as well - and could just buy in more and more fibres for dyeing:))
I am also still busy working on my embroidered miniature - which takes an aweful lot longer than I had anticipated:(( I am in doubt whether I'll manage to finish in time. it's not only the black pattern - I have to fill all the background with the multicolour yarn as well! slow progress... and I can't do it longer than maybe 90 minutes without a break; despite the daylight lamp I use it does strain the eyes! I couldn't resist doing a little bit of the multicolour yarn though - and once the black pattern is finished, at least the counting of stitches will stop. should I do another pattern like this - I'd skip the counting and would draw the basic pattern onto the silk gauze and just fill in the outlines! lesson learned:))
I am also waiting for two orders - one is from the US, a few berocco patterns and the swirl shawl from jojoland, which a kind soul, a fellow knitter in germany, ordered for me - and the other a huge box full of fibres from germany! I couldn't resist the baby alpaca and silk bricks etc. - and also ordered 1 kg of Akita (dog) fibres... looking forward to spinning this - though I wonder how our three dogs will react, when they take a sniff? I think I am well prepared for those autumn and winter days, when there's no chance of going out! weird thought - with the sun blazing outside just now....

Saturday, 5 September 2009

dyeing with alder buckthorn berries

I finally found a dry spot to pick the first batch of my alder buckthorn berries. quite a few ripe ones had already dropped, but I managed about 1 kg of ripe, black berries. the stuff is sticky beyond belief; after picking for half an hour I had trouble pulling the fingers of my right hand apart! I put them into cold water over night - and simmered them lightly for about one hour the day after. when they had cooled, I strained them through an old fabric nappy and pressed them out well.
this is how the dyebath looks with the first batch of fibres inside. well, the photo is taken with a flash - the real colour is more purple, less blue. unfortunately the yarn/fibres don't stay the same strong colour....

these are the tops after rinsing (simmering for an hour and letting the dye bath cool). on the left is nz lamb top, in the middle mulberry silk and on the right viscose top. all three had the same alum mordant treatment! the wool is slightly greener in reality, but the other two shades are pretty close! this was the first time I dyed anything but wool with the rhamnus berries - and I was rather surprised at the result! though it's not uncommon for dyeplants to result in different colours on wool and silk.
this is a larger pic of the wool top - which took the dye rather blotchily (which I don't mind, as it makes a lively colour in the yarn later); this happened with the rhamnus before. don't know why though as I stirred regularly and don't have that problem with other dyes (on the same material!). the colour is stronger in reality, even though I took the picture outside. but with the grey weather over here even natural dyes look slightly depressing:))
the real winners are the silk and the viscose top though - I love purples and blues and though the dye wasn't taken up totally evenly on those two fibres either, I am still looking forward to spinning the batch. I put more silk and viscose into the dye bath, because it was still very dark - we'll see how this lot turns out.
I am also working on a large fibre order from wollpoldi. lots of new stuff and my greedy ordering finger is ticking wildly:)) but if the postage is the same for 11 or 12 kg - or up to 20, it would be stupid to waste the "empty space"?:))
back to working on my miniature - which is close to impossible to see without a daylight lamp even when the sun comes out for a few minutes...