Spinning Scraps

Sometimes you wonder where an idea comes from, and then you wonder why you had to try to and make it work. This is one of those stories.

blog spinning scraps 3I have a ton of wool scraps from knitting projects. Short little pieces of yarn that I saw no point in throwing out. As the pieces accumulated I started to realize I really need to find a use for them. Some how I came up with the idea of re-spinning them. Perhaps a crazy idea, but I thought it was worth a go.

blog spinning scraps 4I started by separating the scraps into single strands. My two youngest were helpers with this.

blog spinning scraps 1Not having proper carders, or willing to make an investment for such a crazy experiment, we picked up two grooming brushes from the dollar store to help break down the wool. Two dollars was the right amount of investment for the project.

My daughter loved working on the yarn; she likes helping with everything.

blog spinning scraps 2The yarn scraps started to look kind of like fleece, so we continued.

blog spinning scraps 5At first we were “carding” all the colors together, and then we thought it would be nicer to have definite colors.

Then came the tricky part, spinning. I am a newby to spinning, very unexperienced, but I gave it a try. Some of the fibers were very short creating quite the challenge. It was VERY slow going, but it did resemble something like yarn. We’ll call it “art yarn”. I am thinking that perhaps we don’t need to break down the scraps as much and it still might spin. It appears the experiment will continue, an interesting recycling project.

blog spinning scraps 6


( I apologize for the recent sporadic blogging, I have been slaving away creating a website out of an existing blog  at www.debra-hunter.com . If you are visiting that blog, check out all the new additions in the top header, there is a lot to see!)


I’ve been wanting to do some indigo dyeing for quite some time. I was always waiting for the perfect time and the perfect project. As the months (or maybe more than a year!) passed I realized that the perfect time or project was never going to happen. Instead of simply shelving the idea I chose to tackle indigo dyeing on the busiest possible week ever.

In between shooting, editing, knitting, volunteering and school field trips (including swimming with three different classes in the span of two days) this is what happened……..

yarn waiting to dye

yarn waiting to dye

I prepped some wool yarn, cotton yarn, cotton threads of various thicknesses and some cotton fabrics. Some of the yarn was dyed previously in tansy to create a yellow to over-dye with hopes of achieving green.

into the indigo dye vat

into the indigo dye vat

Into the vat all the materials went. The tansy wool yarn was immersed for about 10 minutes, while everything else stayed in for about 30 minutes.

And then the fun began…..

yarn just pulled out of the dye bath

yarn just pulled out of the dye bath

The yarn only starts to truly change color as it emerges from the dye bath and is exposed to the air. It starts out green…..

indigo dyeingthen turns an aqua color………

indigo dyeingand finally blue.

Luckily Mark came home from work just in time to take these pictures as the yarn was being pulled out of the dye bath.

dyeing on the front lawn

I ended up with quite a variety of blue items which will be a lot of fun to work with over the coming weeks. It is nice to add a new range of colors into my knitting and stitching.

dyed wool yarn

dyed wool yarn


This is wool yarn. The yarn on the left entered the dye bath as natural white, while the yarn on the right had been dyed previously in tansy.

cotton yarnThis is cotton yarn dyed in segments to get color variations. What a disaster this was to get untangled after dyeing and washing. I had preplanned the segments, rather than just a random dyeing, perhaps I need to figure out a better game plan for next time.

indigo scarf detail

indigo scarf detail

Just for fun I dyed a gauze scarf that I had hemmed up earlier. This is a detail. It looks beautiful when it is worn. I think this one will remain “mine”. A perfect scarf to wear while walking a rocky beach lined with driftwood.


Testing Goldenrod

goldenrod dyeing 1

Goldenrod Dye Test – from left: silk fabric, silk embroidery thread (previously dyed in “something”) cotton, cotton cord, wool yarn

It has been a little while since I have posted anything related to fibre art or dyeing.

 I have a couple of projects currently on the go that are perhaps more time-consuming than I first planned (which pretty much means I let the beading get out of control!).

I have one quite small piece finished that needs to be mounted……..however……. with having had two major house issues in the last few months (sewer backup and electrical fire) I have no idea where the saw is at the moment to cut the wood backing. First the basement was completely ripped apart and now the ceilings upstairs; we keep shifting items from one part of the house to another part to allow the restoration company to do the work that needs to be done. Our kids say it is like moving house in our own house. Perhaps one day the saw will miraculously appear and I can finish the piece………………or my husband will use it as an excuse to buy another saw (let’s just say we have a history of that happening with drills).

I have been playing around a bit with the dye pot recently. Trying dyes on different threads and cords. A little bit of eco-printing (a post will be coming very soon). Yesterday I decided to try goldenrod.

I came across a good amount of the plant along a road a few nights ago and thought I would give it a try. Ditches are a fun and cheap place for dye plants, even if my children are scared of the spiders I bring home on the plants (they are especially afraid of the yellow spiders….who knows?!). I decided to go just with the flower heads, boil them up for a bit, pop in the items to be dyed for an hour, and call it good. The color emerged from the flowers very quickly. The items that seemed to take the dye the best were the wool yarn, the silk embroidery thread and the cotton fabric. I was especially thrilled with the result on the cotton, clearly scouring the fabric and then mordanting in alum made for a beautiful take up of the dye. The wool yarn also took on the color wonderfully. The silk embroidery thread is probably not showing the “true” color of goldenrod as it has been dyed previously in “something” resulting in an uninspiring shade of beige, so I figured “throw it into the pot and see what happens”. Well what happened is the color of thread I really need for a piece I am working on which is great (I just won’t ever be able to duplicate it again).

goldenrod dyeing 2


Just for fun I also threw these two rejects into the dye. They were originally eco-print failures of rose petals. The petal imprint came out very weak so I tried an iron dip which really didn’t improve things at all. As things couldn’t get any uglier I decided to pop them into the goldenrod dye. They are still ugly (no doubt!) but the fabric on the left that is silk has had the iron areas turn a purple color. I am thinking this may be worth exploring. The fabric on the right is cotton, and is still just ugly.

With the success of my goldenrod experiment my plans for the weekend are some country drives looking for goldenrod growing in the ditches. I may even try drying some flowers to use once winter hits.


(Just a reminder that portrait photography, art and paintings are being posted at http://debrahunter.wordpress.com )