Monthly Archives: October 2010

I’m washing a fleece!

I’m not too sure what came over me, but I found a farmer not too far away who sells whole Zwartbles fleeces. So I bought one. I’m not too sure if I thought that all through totally. The fleece is sitting in our bathroom (no windows) for a while until I could get started, wrapped up in three garbage bags, still stinking! I don’t have a garage or garden, not even a balcony where I could leave it outside. So I better get started soon.

I started looking for info on how to wash the fleece, different people do it different ways, so I tried to find the one most suitable to me. I knew i had to do it in small batches. I don’t even have space to spread out the whole fleece for the skirting. I don’t have an American top-loading washing machine with vertically mounted drum, just a European front-loading horizontal mounted drum. So decided to scour the fleece in the bathtub. I didn’t know how fuzzy this is gonna be, so I make sweater bags out of thin muslin like Amelia suggests in Ask the Bellwether (great information on the page, you should bookmark it). Then I read a lot in Alden Amos’ Big Book of Handspinning. He recommends a bathtub, too. He says lots of water is important. He also tell you to move the fleece very very slow through the bathtub, up and down, to get the water stream slowly through all the fibres in the fleece. As for detergent I think I found somebody on Craftster recommend just plain Fairy dishwasher liquid, since it is the best for dissolving fat and also cleaning out the dirt.

I started by packing about 350g fleece into the one muslin-bag and put it into the hot water (about 125°F) with a good dash of green Fairy (quite a lot of fairy, added after the tub was filled a bit more than half, until the water appeared slightly green). Nothing happened at first, but when I started to slowly move the pack up and down the length of the tub (with a speed of about 40 seconds per tub length), all the dirt came out and I had diarrhea-brown water. I was quite surprised how much dirt was in the fleece, because when I picked those few handfuls out of the bag to put it into my muslin bag, I thought that I must be lucky because there was no VM and hardly any other visible dirt on it. Oh well. I emptied the tub, and filled it now with fresh water, hot enough to dissolve the lanolin and another good dash of Fairy. I added  put the fleece in again, let it sit for about five minutes, then super-slowly moved it up and down the tub 3-4 times (with a stick cause the water was too hot), pulled it out at the shallow end of the tub and let it sit on the rim to let it drip out a bit.
Then I filled the tub a third time, hot clear water only, no detergent, and rinsed the fleeces in clear water, again slowly moving the fleece up and down.
I put them into my washing machine for a quick spin and then spread them on my kitchen table (covered in layers of newspaper) to dry.

The locks feel nice, I only think that sheep had quite some dandruff. Most people say to throw a scurfy fleece away, but after they were completely dry and i shook the locks open a bit, lots of the dandruff came out. It only looks as if the dandruff is in the middle of the length of the lock and where the most dandruff sat there seems to be now a lighter and thinner spot. You can even see it on the photo. Oh well, I have no idea what that is and how bad it really is. I’ll see how much I can get out and if it is too crappy I can maybe use it for some felted  coasters or so.

I was on holidays!

Finally! I thought it would never come. So two weeks agoI left on a plane towards home, to a small town in the very South of Bavaria. It was good to see my family, especially my 1-year old nephew, who by the way looks like Chucky from the Childsplay movies, haha.

We went on two short trips, the first to Alto Adige, a region of the Dolomites in the North of Italy. We had to glorious autumn days with cotton-ball like fog in the valleys and gorgous sunshine on the mountains. Cortina d’Ampezzo is a ghost town off season, but has a great Pizzeria.

This first picture is a view from the “Three Peaks” – Tri Ceme di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen in theAuronzo Dolomites of Northeastern Italy. It looks a bit like a lunar landscape up there, quite impressive.

Later on in the week we went on a one day trip to Venice, the only city where you can get seasick by crossing the street. And again we were lucky and had brilliant sunshine and T-Shirt temperatures. What a weird and beautiful city!

Thorpe Hat

I used the KoolAid dyed BFL roving to make a Thorpe (pattern also on  ravelry of course)hat just before I went on holidays. Oh I love it, it is so soft! And it still smells like berries and grapes from the KoolAid! It was really nice and straight forward to knit. Somewhere on the net there are instructions on how to do the knit a round/purl a round so that you cannot see the jump between them from knitting in the round, but I just did not understand them. The jumps don’t bother me at all anyway, they are hardly noticeable. I cast on for medium size, it is slightly on the bigger side with ny wool, but that is ok. That way I can fit my ponytail under the hat. It was finished in time to take it on holidays home to Germany and short trips to Italy, but it was far too nice weather to be wearing  a woolly hat! … and I just notice the colour of my glasses does not really go with the hat.

Dyeing roving with onion skins

I soooo loved the  craftster post about dyeing roving with onion skin, the golden/yellow/peachy brown is a lovely colour. So I gave it a go yesterday! I had been collecting onion skins for the last two weeks, I ended up with about 50g. When I did some research i found that most people suggest to use as much onion skins as you have wool, so 100g wool need 100g skins. I just did not want to wait so long (going on holiday tomorrow for ten days – yay!), so i just went on and used 50g onion skin for 100g nice BFL roving. To avoid onion skin bit sticking to my roving I sewed a little bag out of muslin, it was easy to store the skins in it beforehand and I just threw the whole thing in a bit stainless steel pot, my dyeing pot. I covered it with about 2.5-3L cold water, added a gulp of white vinegar and boiled everything up briefly. Whilst I let it sit to cool down again, i soaked the roving in lukewarm water.

It seems that onion skin is one of the few dyes you don’t need a mordant for because the yellowish colour from the skin attaches to the fibre without any help. But you can use one and it seems that most people do. Note that different mordants seem to change the tone of the colour you get from dyeing with onion skin. I just used a dash of white vinegar. There is a whole thread on ravelry about dyeing with onion skins and outcomes and colour variations.

Back to my roving. When my onion broth had cooled down to lukewarm, and it was very very deep brown by that time, I added the wet roving to it. I left the onion bag in the pot as well. I just dipped the wool under, did not stir much to avoid felting, put the heat on and brought the pot to a boil again. As soon as bubbles came up i switched it off, put a lid on and let everything sit overnight. I did not weigh the fibre down, hoping to get a bit colour variation in it.

The next morning i took the fibre out of the pot, rinsed it once in a big bowl of clear fresh water and hung it up to dry.

It dried quite quickly overnight and the colours came out looooovely. Nice variations of some light yellow and bits of deep peachy brown.
I’m not too sure yet what i’m gonna do with it spin-wise. I’ll see how a single looks like and if I want to ply it with itself or with something else or just use it as a single.

First Dyeing Experiment KoolAid

My first try to dye roving a couple af weeks ago, and it even turned out ok!

I used Kool Aid to dye 100g BFL roving.  First i soaked the roving for 20mins in luke warm water. Then i transferred the wet rowing into an oval glass dish. I dissolved three bags of KoolAid each separate in about 50mL water and filled them in squirt bottles. The colours i used were Berry Blue (turned out red), Tropical Punch (blue) and Grape (purple).

I applied the dye onto the roving, squirted it into the fibre to get the dye through to the bottom. Then I popped the dish into the oven and heated it up to 180°C for 10 minutes, switched the oven off and let it sit in the heat for af ew more minutes. By then the water in the dish was clear. I took it out, let  it cool and drained it a strainer. Quick rinse in clear water and let it dry.

I was quite surprised how it turned out. I like the colours, they are really quite bright. There are still some white bits, but that is ok I guess.

So i spun it up. I halved the roving to try to get singles with similar colours to ply them together. I think it is fascinating to see how the spun yarn looks like compared to the dyed fibre. Since the KoolAid colours came on so bright on the roving, I expected to get a quite bright yarn out of it with strong colours. But the colours in the spun wool are so much softer, nearly pastel. Maybe that comes from the white/unstained that was left in the roving? I like the singles, I like them better than the roving to be honest. Lesson learned 🙂
The 2-ply was another surprise, it did get quite a bit darker than the singles. It is about worsted/bulky and feels wonderfully soft. It still smells like KoolAid tho!