One More Woolly Post

Just one more woolly post (I promise!) and then I will get back to more varied blogging.

hand knit itemsToday was a day of weaving in ends, choosing buttons, and sewing on buttons. The stack in the picture above was only part of what I tackled. I won’t share how long this whole process took (forever!), the only good thing is it gave me an excuse to avoid reorganizing the studio (tomorrow’s dreaded chore!). I am amazed at how long it can take to choose the “right” black button; I swear I spent over an hour matching black buttons to different projects because all black buttons are not created equal. I still have eight pieces to finish up and then I can shoot the lot in the studio…….well after I reorganize it that is…….I’m avoiding the studio as I have 180 square feet of backdrop to iron. Fun. Not.

blog feb knit spin 2As a reward for the endless weaving of ends I decided to tackle recycled spinning again. I divided up the scraps of yarn.

blog feb knit spin 3Broke it down just a little this time, and mixed up the colors.

blog feb knit spin 4And spun. This time it is spinning much faster, it is less finicky and breaking less. Now the question is, can I have a big ball of this ready to go by Saturday when I take my daughter to knitting group?

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 . If you are visiting that blog, check out all the new additions in the top header, there is a lot to see!)

Mystery Dyeing

blog mystery dyeingI decided it was time to use up some of the dyes that have taken over both my kitchen counters and fridge. Rumor has it these areas are supposed to be used for cooking and food storage……who knew. Yellow is turmeric dyeing some threads previously dyed in pomegranate, plus I threw in a small amount of lopi yarn. The purple-pink is a lac and logwood combination, so a real mystery mix. It is also dyeing some thread and lopi. The thread is currently a disgusting color so it will probably be redyed later this evening, I will leave the yarn for a few hours and then decide it’s fate. I have two more jars sitting on the counter and then I will start on what is living in the fridge. Eventually it reaches a point where it is nice to start with brand new dyes (and have room to cook and store food too!)

I am dyeing small amounts of lopi as our 6 year old wants a hat that has been naturally dyed. I think small amounts of different colors knit into patterns would be fun; a completely unplanned hat. The thread is for the bull skull stitched piece; this is a piece of a lot of different bits…..I am still figuring out just where it is going.

Going for a Spin

Sometimes the Classified Ads in the newspaper provide new experiences you don’t expect. Back in the summer my dad came across an ad in the paper, “bags of wool for sale, $20.00”. He knew I had been doing all sorts of knitting projects and thought I might be interested. It did seem interesting. We called up the seller and arranged to buy a bag. She didn’t know much about the wool, she was selling it for her sister who had bought it from a neighbor in rural Alberta. Genuine mystery wool. I wasn’t too sure how I was going to use it, maybe felt it or worse case use it for stuffing……well a lot of stuffing as it was a huge bag the size of a garbage bag stuffed tight.

turkish spindleInitially I used the wool to stuff a few mini crochet toys, this didn’t make a dent in the bag of wool. Then one day in late August I took a trip to a woolen mill and in the shop  Turkish spindles. were being sold. I had watched a few tutorials on-line of spinning with them, so I decided to risk the $25 and buy a spindle and see if it would work with the mystery wool.

dyed fleece With plans to try spinning the mystery wool I started popping bits of fleece in random dye pots as I dyed yarn or fabric. There was no real plan, I just thought it would be more fun to try and spin the wool if it was colored.

spinning on a turkish spindleI will admit it took a little to get the hang of spinning the fleece. The hook on the spindle gave me some trouble. I actually took the good old X-Acto knife to the hook to allow it to grab the yarn better; I may still have to carve out the hook portion a little more. The first tiny ball of yarn took forever, but as I spun more and more it went a lot quicker and easier.

blog spinning 3I spun seven small balls in total, enough to give me a taste of spinning with the spindle.

plying the hand spun yarnThe next step was to ply the yarns together. I was really looking forward to seeing the colors combine. The concept of plying was easy, the only issue is that the hook doesn’t seem to hold the yarn in place very well and keeps slipping off. I tried all sorts of fancy tying, winding and twisting, I even briefly attempted holding the yarn in place with an elastic band (did not work!), but the yarn kept slipping off.

plyed hand spun yarnI am continuing to persevere with the plying. The mixed colors look great and will be so fun to knit up. I am wondering if I need to pick up a separate spindle for plying, perhaps a spindle that has a metal hook instead of a carved wooden hook. I am thinking that may work more successfully with plying such a chunky yarn. Still, I think it has been a fairly successful first time spinning experience with mystery wool.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Busy, busy, busy is the best way to describe things at the moment. We have recently done a quick jaunt to the coast, and it seems as soon as my feet hit the snow back in Alberta I have spent day after day over the dye pot. I love dyeing, so that is a good thing, and you can actually keep yourself warm over a dye pot (which is even better!). I have been dyeing up wool yarns, and knitting them as soon as they are dry. I am working on a project. The best discovery of the week is lac; this dye give beautiful reds, I love it. More dyeing and knitting ahead for this week. It is a good project to settle in with for the winter.

Knit Beach – fibre art

"Knit Beach"8"x10" Naturally dyed cotton and wool embellished with glass beads.

“Knit Beach”
Naturally dyed cotton and wool embellished with glass beads.

This is a quirky little piece that I just finished this evening. It is quirky in the way that it came to be.

I had been dyeing some silk for another project and was using arbutus bark and blackberries as the dyeing material. I have a tendency to throw a few bits of this and that into the pots when dyeing just to see what happens. On this particular occasion I tossed  a bit of wool yarn into each dye pot and thought I would knit up the yarn at some point down the road if the dyeing was successful. The colors of the wool were very nice and the yarn sat on my desk. When I dye yarn I loop it into a big circle and tie it loosely in a few places just to keep it from being a huge goopy spaghetti-like mess while in the dye pot.

One day I decided I should at least roll this yarn into balls so I untied the pieces of yarn holding the yarn in the loop, rolled the balls, put them away, but left the loose strands hanging out on my desk, or more specifically my mouse pad. For a few days my mouse and these strands fought for position. A sane person would have just tossed them, but no, there they sat. One day while working on my computer I thought, lets see what these scraps could do (I had yet to knit up the main yarn), so I rolled up the main pieces but tossed a few scraggly scraps into the bin thinking I was tidying my desk. I start knitting away and all looks good. I break off to make my littlest two children good old Kraft Dinner for lunch. They are eating away. I am knitting away. The littles finish up, I clear the table, scrape the plates into the bin, hose down the kids (not really but it would be way faster than the washcloth routine), sit down and knit………and then I realized I needed those little scraggly pieces to knit into the piece. I did what anyone would do (well actually no one in their right mind…but anyway), I went to hunt for the scraggly pieces in the bin. Yes I dug past the half eaten cold mac and cheese and found the scraggly bits all safe and sound there in my garbage bin.

Whew! I had the pieces I needed. (And yes, I did wash them before knitting them up!)

Now most people are now saying “Why did you so desperately need the scraggly bits?”, so I’ll tell you a little about my inspiration for this piece. The original dye project was actually an eco-dyeing project that I started while out on Pender Island. It consisted of a bundled piece dyed with blackberries collected in the Trincomali neighborhood and arbutus bark collected under the massive arbutus tree at Medicine Beach. The dye pot at home was just to dye some silk thread to complement the project. As I knit I thought about the origins of the dyestuff and the beach where the bark had been collected, and so I decided to knit a beach. The scraggly bits, that I so desperately wanted, are the islands in the piece. I also decided that I would make the beach using only the remnant scraps plus plain un-dyed yarn; it was interesting to challenge myself to a limited amount of material. I also added a few glass beads to embellish the piece as there is always a little glimmer and reflection on the beach and around the water. The knit part of the piece is mounted on cotton dyed with arbutus bark after being tied for patterning.

I am quite pleased with the end result. I like that this was not a planned piece. I love that the dyeing materials come from a place that means something to me. When I see the brown of the beach, it is not brown, it is the huge tree by the side of the sea shedding it’s bark.