Aunt Grace Baby Quilt and more…

I have a few more things to post since the last time I wrote. I finished dyeing up the bulky yarn that I’d planned to turn into a hat for John and then I knit the hat.

shetland bulky overdyed sapphire blue and jet black
Shetland homespun yarn dyed with Jaquard’s Sapphire Blue and over-dyed with Jaquard’s Jet Black dye.

hat side view 1
Shetland bulky homespun knitted into a hat, the pattern is called Jason’s Tweed Hat by Melissa Thomson of Sweet Fiber Designs.

Next up is another baby quilt that I finished for the daughter of a good friend. She is expecting her first child come spring so I was invited to the baby shower and this is what I came up with. The fabrics that I used where from a charm pack of Aunt Grace 30’s reproduction fabrics. I chose to pair the fabric with plain white and then picked out some green homespun to match for the backing. Usually I dye my own backing but somehow with these prints I didn’t think funky tie-dye would work so I settled for the more muted green and I’m glad I did. Kind of scary that I’ve had this sitting in the closet since 2006, it just seems like yesterday I bought the charm pack. The quilt was made from a quilt tutorial put out by the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Go over to the right of the web page and click on Tutorials to find a listing. Zipper Quilt

aunt grace baby quilt in playpen

Aunt Grace baby quilt

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Aunt Grace “Scrapbag 2006″ – Marcus Brothers textiles.

One of the girls in my Ravelry forum groups posted a cute little scarf and I immediatley thought of my mother-in-law who likes this type of scarf where you can put one end through the other, I think it’s called a keyhole scarf. Anyhow this one was a quick knit that I did while watching the Olympics. I just used a simple acylic for the yarn as she is allergic to wool.

Miss Marple scarf
Miss Marple Scarf by SusanneS-vV, done in Red Heart Supersaver.

This looks like the bulky yarn that I spun for John’s hat and it is wool from the same fleece but this time the yarn I spun is finer more of an Aran weight yarn. I’ve spun up two of these so there is about 360 yards. I was going to spin two hanks and then dye them together but I’m not sure what project I’m going to use the yarn for. I was thinking of an Aran sweater for one of the grandkids so I guess I’ll research the yardage needed and go from there but meanwhile here are two hanks of Shetland White.

2 skeins aran weight shetland
Shetland White homespun, Aran weight approximately 360 yards.

Finally I thought I’d share some fiber that I have sitting out ready to be spun into something (at some point). Some pretty eye candy, I always like seeing fiber on blogs so here is some of mine.

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The Great Pumpkin Patch dyed by Vickie from Vickie’s Raspberry Hollow, This is a Coopworth/BFL wool fiber.

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Northern Lights dyed by Karen Burren Stained Glass Art. This is a merino/silk blend.

That’s all for now. I’m not sure what I have planned next but I’m sure it’ll be more spinning and maybe some more quilting as well. Now that I’ve done the two baby quilts I realize just how much fabric I have so I need to get some more sewing done.

Karen

Projects galore…

I’ve done a lot of work since Christmas but I haven’t blogged it. I’d thought I’d only done a few things but went back to check the photos and surprised even myself so here goes…

First up is a headband that I knit using Kate Davies pattern WWWW #1. This is a free pattern that can be found on Ravelry so if you aren’t a member I can highly recommend joining as it’s one of the best databases out there with tons of patterns, yarns, forums, etc.

The thing that is special about this headband is that it’s the second finished project that I’ve knit using yarn that I’ve handspun myself. The headband is a bit tall in these photos but that’s my own fault because I thought I was off gauge so tossed in extra rows, I should have left the pattern alone. This is the first time I’ve knit a lining into anything and picked up a provisional cast-on. The white lining was alpaca for softness.
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WWWW #1 with lining showing

The next project I worked on was a cowl I started while on vacation in Florida. We went down at the beginning of January and I took the headband pictured above to work on along with a spindle. I also took a lot of books but ended up knitting and watching reno shows inbetween walking the beaches. Well I finished off the headband and then had to go out and find something else to knit so I picked up a ball of Berroco lace and started in on this cowl. It’s a nice drapey cowl and while it took a lot of effort to finish it I really like how it drapes and folds in on itself. The cowl will go to Dan’s girlfriend so I hope she likes it. The cowl is called Willow Cowl by Amelia Lyon and is another free Ravelry pattern.
Willow cowl head shot

willow cowl

I belong to the Bliss Spinning Wheel forum on Ravelry and the girls decided that this year will be one for the beginning spinners (there are a lot of us) so each month of 2014 will feature a different type of fibre or method of spinning. For the month of January the featured fibre was BFL – Blue-faced Leicester. I have some superwash BFL so decided to try my hand at dyeing again only this time using the Jaquard acid dyes I bought for Christmas. Unfortunately I’m not sure where the photos of the dyepot are, maybe I forgot to take them, oh well the pot was half blue and half yellow but mostly green by the time it was done.
sky blue sun yellow superwash bfl
Fingering weight yarn in BFL superwash.

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sky blue and yellow sun braid bfl superwash

Well before we left for Florida my chiropractor of eight years informed me that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby in February so while I’m congratulating him I’m thinking that doesn’t leave me much time to get a baby gift ready. I see my chiropractor each week so he’s like family to me so I had to make something. Well we got back home and a week later I’m getting ready for my appointment when the office phoned to cancel as he was in the delivery room – three weeks early awk! Anyhow after thinking about it and going to my stash I settled on a very simple quilt with lots of colour and this is what I came up with – hand-dyed backing of course.
Finished bright colours baby quilt

Front and back view bright colours baby quilt
Backing dyed with Procion MX dyes in Lemon Yellow and Turquoise.

Finally, another handspun project for February’s challenge for the spinning group. This time the lesson was to try and create a big and lofty type of yarn, which usually means spinning woollen. I carded up some of the Shetland fleece that I had washed a couple of months ago into four big batts and then spun it up woollen. I didn’t fuss about what happened so the resulting yarn is quite rough but I wanted that look. I’m hoping to knit it into a hat for my husband John, something simple and guy-like that he’ll want to wear. I’ve decided to keep it natural for now and I can always dye it later if need be.
carded shetland fleece

Shetland bulky 104 yards

shetland bulky

Well that’s all for now. I have another baby quilt to finish by February 22 and I haven’t started but I have an idea for it so that’s half the battle. I also have the hat to knit and then I should be free of projects for the next little while. I bought a new pressure canner while down south on vacation, saved myself about $200 so I was pleased and I’ve been reading up on pressure canning soups and meats so we’ll see how that turns out.

Karen

Ice Storm 2013

It rained yesterday overnight so the result looked like this and we woke up to no power.

close up iced branchesa

ice storm 2013a

iced trees fronta

icy screena

Hopefully the ice will melt somewhat today because it’s supposed to get down to -17 C in a couple of days and I’m afraid that if we get wind there are going to be a lot of damaged trees. Several of our trees have branches down already.

Karen

Almost Christmas

Well Christmas is almost upon us and I really haven’t gotten much done to show for it. I found out that I have the beginning stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis so have been mired in the Internet for the last three weeks trying to figure out what happens with this disease. I did start some knitting today but I have to admit that as far as getting homemade gifts ready for Christmas this year was so-so.

I did make some more oven towels.
christmas towels
The tutorial for these towels is over at the right-hand side of this blog.

I also spun up a little hank of the wool I had dyed (shown in previous posts).
black boysenberry tangerine starfire
Shetland black, dyed shetland boysenberry and tangerine.

I also managed to do a low-water immersion shirt for my son.
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Jaquard Jet Black, ProChem Intense Blue. The grey/brown was the jet black separating in the water.

I also bought some stuff from KnitPicks.
enchanted lake sock yarn
Enchanted Lake sock yarn.

enchanted lake closeup
Close-up of the sock yarn because it’s so pretty.

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Jaquard acid dyes to experiment with my wool after Christmas.

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Some baby alpaca yarn on sale.

Not much else going on right now. I need to clean the dining room and put up the tree (I hate doing this but the grandkids will be here) so I can’t see blogging again before Christmas so I’m wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :)

Karen

Kettle dyeing with MX dyes.

I tried dyeing some of the Shetland fleece I was given with some of my mx procion dyes. I’d read something about being able to use exhausted procion mx dyes on wool or silk you just need to put an acid with them to make them work. I know the colours don’t always come true but given that I have two tubs worth of mx dyes I thought I’d give it a shot.

The fleece I was given is a very fine (as in micron count) fleece. The only problem I had with it was that the rise or break in the fibre occurred about 2/3 – 1/2 way down the tips so there was a lot of wasteage. I decided that I was going to card all of it together and just spin it woolen and not worry about what I got. I consider this a practise fleece. The first practise was in washing and cleaning the fleece. It was very full of peat and the amount of dirt that came out of the fibre incredible but I did pick most of it out.

Next I decided to practise my woolen spinning skills and make big fat yarn, which came out not too badly with the hat and cowl I made my granddaughter Charlie. Here’s a picture of her wearing her hat. Bad grandma disturbed her lunch to get it so she’s not too happy with me. LOL, plus she’s wearing her spaghettio’s on her face.
eating spaghettios

So figuring the fleece owed me nothing I decided to drum card up a couple of batts and try dyeing them using the paint method. I didn’t bother taking pictures of the process (meaning I forgot) but this is where you lay out your pre-soaked fibre on sarah wrap, paint it, wrap it up and then steam it.

I really don’t know what I’m doing or how long I should be steaming the packages but the last time I tried this with the wilton’s food colour I just steamed until the water ran clear. This didn’t happen with the procion mx dyes. I’m not sure if it’s because I used too much dye or because they are procion mx dyes and they don’t run clear. Anyhow the eggplant when used on cotton gives you a beautiful dark purple, that’s not what I got. On the other hand the tangerine came out vividly so go figure.

Next I decided to dye some fleece that hadn’t been carded to see what happened. Again I decided to try using my procion mx dyes because I have some nice colour combinations so I used Intense blue, boysenberry and golden yellow.

ultra blue bosenberry golden yellow
Fleece in dye pot with blue, boysenberry and yellow.

In the pot the dyes started to mix so I could see the green and purple starting to show. Of course it didn’t stop there and to my dismay the blue and boysenberry totally took over the yellow.

Blended dyes

Well needless to say the dye didn’t totally absorb into the wool or the water run clear. I tried simmering the wool for about 50 minutes and left it to cool quite a bit before I rinsed the whole thing. Lots of dye went down the drain and I also found out that none of the blue dye took. I was left with boysenberry and a boysenberry-golden yellow type of orange. Not sure why the blue didn’t take but I have a feeling blue takes longer to absorb into wool.

rinsed fibre still wet
Rinsed fibre still wet.

Next morning the wool was dry and it hadn’t really lightened like fibre is supposed to. If anything it seemed darker to me but then again I dyed this late last night so the lighting wasn’t that great.

dried boysenberry mix
Dry wool, actually more purplish than pink in real life.

Anyhow the mystery of the blue yarn with the barber pole effect (previous post) was solved as the tips of the fleece turned out really dark. When I washed the fleece there were a lot of dark dirty tips that didn’t come clean in the wash. You’re really kind of helpless to try and get these tips clean unless you want a felted mess from disturbing the wool to much so I just comb them out when the fleece is dry. So the tips were still dirty and I guess my hair-dresser was right when he said dirty hair absorbs the dye better.

tip
Darker tips.

Then I carded up some of the dyed wool into a batt. It was really kind of pretty but I carded it a third time so most of the pretty streaks from the orange were lost into the batt but the batt needed an extra turn through the drum carder to make it more uniform so I lost the variation.

Here is a picture of all three batts.

batts
Eggplant, Tangerine, Boysenberry.

And here is a picture of what I woke up to this morning.

winter wonderland
Winter wonderland.

Next, what to do with the different coloured batts?
Karen

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my American friends, have a Happy Thanksgiving.
turkey dinner
Karen

Girly-girl Hat and Cowl

I seem to be having great fun washing fleece and spinning up yarn and then making projects from the results. In fact looking back at my last few posts I realize that I’m a bit behind on posting pictures of finished projects. So before I get to the topic of this post here are a few photos of projects that I’ve finished.

Here is a cowl that I knit up using the polwarth and gold angelina fibre that I blogged about a few posts back. The gold sparkle is nice and subtle but unfortunately you can’t see it in the photo.

Elizabeth's cowl
Elizabeth’s Cowl, by Wendy D Johnson from the book “Wendy Knits Lace”. This is a wonderful book full of good patterns and useful tips. I had taken it out from the library and ended up buying it.

Another project that took a good month to complete and has actually give me shoulder problems from working too many hours on it was Feather and Fan Short Scarf by Kelly Faller. My problem was the scarf wasn’t short I knit it 60″ long.

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feather and fan stole

head scarf
A couple of ways to wear it. Not handspun but Paton’s Lace Sequin yarn knit on 5mm needles.

I’ve also been playing around making more yarn but I’ll save that for another post when I finish knitting up the yarn.

Now back to the Girly-girl hat and cowl other known as the 5-Hour Hat and Gaiter by Rachel Kluesner…it started like this.

washed and unwashed shetland fleece
Some shetland fleece, unwashed in front and some washed in the background for comparison.

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Woolen yarn spun with the washed fibre.

yarn cooking in pot - Wilton's sky blue
Dyeing the fibre with Wilton’s Sky Blue – turns out it’s really bright!

Exhausted water
Photo showing the exhausted water.

Wilton's Sky Blue on bulky shetland
This is the finished dyed yarn. Both skeins where dyed at the same time but in the one skein I got some barber poling effect. This was a single that was wound into a center-pull ball and spun two-ply on itself. The one end (that corresponded to the middle of the ball) dyed solid while most of it dyed one ply light blue and the other ply darker blue. The only reason I can come up with for this effect is that when I grabbed fibre to card on my drum carder I must have grabbed fibre from two different washed lots. One lot must have been cleaner than the other. Someone said the cleaner fibre probably dyed darker but my hair stylist always told me not to wash my hair before a dye job so the colour would take better so I’m not sure whether the dirty fibre dyed darker than the cleaner fibre. Another experiment for another time.

Bulky yarn on ball winder
Winding on into a ball.

cropped hat and gaiter

blue hat and gaiter
5-Hour Hat and Gaiter by Rachel Kluesner otherwise affectionly known as the Girly-girl Hat and Cowl by yours truly. Knit using Shetland wool and pink bobble novelty yarn on 6.5mm and 9mm cable needles.

Karen

Ball-Winder Addition

As I was winding some of the bulky yarn I’ve spun it suddenly occurred to me to share this tip on how to extend your ball-winder through use of a toilet paper roll. I actually did think up this all on my own but have since discovered that others use this idea as well. It’s the old thing, if you’ve thought of the idea then sure enough someone else has as well.

What I do is to take a toilet paper roll, cut it in half and then retape the roll around my Knitpicks ball winder. It’s possible there are better winders out there and you don’t need to do this but for $20 I’m happy with the knitpicks winder.

My winder is slightly wider at the bottom than the top so as I go along with the tape I start at the bottom and work my way up to the top putting the tape in pieces around the roll. Keep the roll tight and snug to the plastic core as you do this. If you tape too loosely the roll will spin off as you wind the yarn on. At the top I then put some pieces of tape length-wise going around the circumference. I do this because I’ve found that the yarn can catch on the roll where the groove spirals up. If you use the modified toilet paper roll enough that little ends starts to come unstuck and your fine yarn can catch on it as you wind. Next, cut two slits in the roll opposite each other; you use these to hold your yarn end as you start winding.

Adding the roll to the winder does two things. One, it extends the length of the winder so you can make larger ‘neater’ yarn cakes, this is handy for thicker yarn. Two, I find the grooves on the Knitpicks winder don’t hold my yarn that well so I’m always fiddling to try and make the end catch.

Ball winder with toilet roll
Ball winder with toilet roll addition.

Bulky yarn on ball winder
Bulky yarn wound on ball winder.

cake of yarn compared to ball winder
Size of yarn cake compared to the regular ball winder height.

Hope this post is helpful to you.
Karen

Spinning Polwarth

I was watching youtube videos the other night, cruising all the spinning techniques trying to pick up some pointers to help me learn the craft. Somehow I always end up watching the videos of art batts being carded up. Of course after watching them for about an hour I got the itch to make something with my carder so out it came and I had a go with the Polwarth I’d washed.

I had been thinking of dyeing the Polwarth but after seeing some yarn creations I envisioned a skein of yarn that was fluffy white with gold, after all we are getting to wintertime and Christmas.

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Fibre being fed into the drum carder, you’re supposed to be able to read the print through the fibre this way you know you’re not over-loading the drum carder with fibre and causing a jam; plus adding the fibre slowly and a bit at a time will help to keep the fibre from attaching to the licker (small drum).

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Another view.

At the time I thought to myself that this would be a good opportunity to try dizzing the fibre off of the drum carder. A Diz is basically an object that has a small hole in it. When you diz fibre you’re pulling some fibre through the hole to make a long rope of roving. It’s amazing how much fibre will fit through this small hole. Anyhow I looked around and grabbed a ceramic button and proceeded to use it.

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I have to admit that this isn’t as easy as it looks and I didn’t really enjoy doing it but at least I can say that I’ve dizzed fibre off of my drum carder. The second batt I left as a batt.

polwarth with gold angelina
Washed Polwarth locks drum carded with gold Angelina.

Here’s a picture of some left-over dirt after the carding was done. I guess it goes to show that you can never get all the vegetable matter out when you wash your fleece.

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At first I thought the Polwarth was going to spin to a fine thickness but it was very grabby so I immediately thought of spinning up a thicker single than I’ve ever spun before. My vision was of a soft woolen-spun skein of yarn that I could use to make nice soft cushiony mittens. I was surprised at how quickly the 50 grams of fibre was spun, under a couple of hours and maybe closer to an hour. It was a pop of instant gratification especially after spinning hours and hours with the Wilton’s Purple skein of wool.

Needless to say I hadn’t gotten an equal amount of single on the two bobbins so I made a center-pull ball with my ball winder out of the leftovers on the one bobbin. I then tried to make a nice join, lol tried being the operative word here. I’m going to have to figure out a better way I guess.

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Trying to join two ends of 2-ply yarn.

And here is the final yarn. It’s got a lot of bumps and underspun spots but for the most part I’m happy with it and if and when I ever learn to be more consistent I’ll be happy with this thickness of yarn. I think the thick/thin areas might be where I’m going from a woolen type of spinning back into a worsted but I assume practise will help me to improve that.

white and gold polwarth chunky
Two-ply bulky yarn, Polwarth with gold Angelina.

Karen

Wilton’s Purple.

After much angsting over the whole process I finally finished spinning up the purple fibre I’d dyed with the Wilton’s purple food colouring. I have to admit that while I was spinning up the singles all I could think of was “Am I over-plying the singles?” Sometimes they seemed okay at other times I’d get into a real groove and realize I was whipping along with the wheel and then they seemed to tight.

closeup wilton purple singles
Bobbin of single-plied BFL.

I thought okay tight is good and I’ll ply the singles tighter than I normally do and it’ll balance out. Well needless to say I over-plied the singles so that yarn coming off of the bobbin was really twisty. Thank goodness for Ravelry and the members there. One lady suggested that I spin the yarn back off of the one bobbin onto an empty bobbin counter-spinning but with a fast uptake. This would have the effect of taking off some of the twist so that’s what I ended up doing. The yarn was still over-spun but not as badly.

I then proceeded to do the washout. This involves letting the yarn sit in a sink full of hot water and wool wash. The idea is the fibres relax a bit. After doing this the skein didn’t look too bad but there were still a lot of kinked areas so I proceeded to thwack the yarn. I’d seen a video of this on youtube and at the time thought it looked like great fun. I asked a question about thwacking on Ravelry and got directed to a discussion about the process. Generally it’s thought that thwacking doesn’t do much for the yarn if it’s a worsted yarn, however given how I was feeling at that point thwacking seemed like a great idea.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to beat the crap out of that hank of yarn, lol. All the frustrations of not knowing whether or not I was over-spinning or over-plying the yarn came out with a thwack, thwack…bad yarn…thwack, thwack, thwack. Don’t know if it helped the yarn but it certainly helped my sanity, thwack!

A few kinks left in the yarn, so I thought about it and decided to re-skein the yarn. The problem is I have a small niddy noddy. At the time it seemed like a good idea but the problem is the niddy noddy is really too small to skein up a 100 grams of fibre. I took two chairs and rewound the yarn around them, old-fashioned but it works.

yarn stretched on chairs
Yarn plus various junk on the floor. If you have a keen eye you’ll notice the luscious fibre from Jamieson and Smith (dog brush for carding on top) and some spinning books from the library along with a new girly-girl knapsack I picked up at Costco for $10.

Rewinding the yarn seems to have really worked and I ended up with a decent looking hank of fibre.

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Wilton’s Purple.

Karen