Saturday, 31 August 2013

Inspiration and achievement...

I've been quietly dyeing in little bits and pieces since FibreEast, as there's Yarndale at the end of September and the Bakewell Wool Gathering only three weeks after. I'm not sure how big any of them will be, but I do need to take as much fibre and yarn as possible. But it's been a long year's worth of dyeing, and it's getting harder to inspire myself.

However, this is where Pinterest comes in. I pinned this sweater there a while ago, just because I fell in love with the colours.
Winter Stone inspiration
It seems to be a child's sweater, and very simply spun and knitted, but aren't those colours wonderful! The deep saturated sienna/turmeric at the bottom, then a grey-brown shading through paler grey to an even paler blue and then white. Very wintry yet oddly warming. Looking at the way the colours spot and streak into each other, I'm inclined to think this was dyed as a fleece and then separated into the colours to be spun.

After posting this photo on Facebook yesterday, I got such a positive response that I thought I'd better have a go at reproducing it.
Winter Stone, dyeing

The blue was easy, and the grey (I thought). The brown took a bit of thinking about - two oranges and black in the end.  As for the warm spice colour, I wasted a lot of yellow and orange with black trying to get it right. I ended up using olive green as the base, with both oranges again, and a tiny bit of black to darken and neutralise the warmth.

What do you think:
Winter Stone, carded Polwarth

I wasn't sure when I first spun it out, but actually it's pretty accurate, at least to the colours my monitor gave me. The really pale blue was achieved by using plain water as one of the dye stripes. I may tweak it again by making the grey a little darker and warmer, and the blue brighter without adding intensity. Winter Stone, I'm calling it.

As for the fibre, I'm really pleased with how this came out. I'd bought two Polwarth X Lonk shearling fleeces at FibreEast, intending them for me, but then couldn't face the processing after I'd scoured them. So I decided to take them to my chum Paul at Halifax Spinning Mills, over near Selby. As the two fleeces didn't seem much to make all that journey for, I stash-dove and found a Polwarth ram fleece from a couple of years ago and added that to the pile.

I made a special journey over there last Friday, and Mark picked me up from work on Tuesday and we collected it. Because I'd already scoured the fleeces, it wasn't *that* expensive (this is, of course, relative) to have them carded and the finished product is beautiful. And although it's very light and fluffy, being carded, it holds together well enough to be dyed and still retain its rope formation.

 RAF Snaith

I had been wondering why the Halifax Spinning Company was based at the other side of Yorkshire from Halifax. Well, of course, it's in Hangar 66 at what used to be RAF Snaith, a base for bombers in the last war. They flew Halifaxes out of Snaith...

Friday, 2 August 2013

Fibre East, and more dyeing

Just a few quick photos from Fibre East.

Fibre East 2013

The stall, looking good. This year Fibre East had moved to a large school complex, so the show was spread over several classrooms, large school halls and a couple of marquees at the back.  Access wasn't ideal if you had difficulty getting around - stairs had to be avoided by going outside. (Odd in a school that prided itself on disabled sports access!). The caterers were pretty off-the-ball and completely unable to look after the vendors on site before the show opened in the morning.  However, we had the entire sports field (flat, dry, firm, mown short) to camp on, plus facilities.

The heat was unspeakable on Saturday - I'm honestly surprised we didn't have people keeling over. Then of course the now traditional thunderstorm arrived on Saturday evening, but despite the heavy rain for most of the night, the field remained dry and firm, and the tent was actually dry when I dropped it on Sunday morning. It won't be coming out again til next year's Woolfest.

Earth Dragon spindle
This is the lovely spindle that I asked Ian at IST Spindles to make for me at Woolfest, when I realised that I didn't have one of his square spindles in my collection. (I really must get out of the habit of buying one of his at every show I see him, but they are so lovely...). A green dragon, no less - it spent much of Saturday and Sunday spinning green tussah silk, as I wasn't allowed to bring my new wheel to the stall!

Spindle hair at Fibre East
At least when I stick a spindle in my hair for temporary holding, I know it's there. The amount of times I've popped a knitting needle in there and then spent ages trying to find the stuffing thing.

Norwegian wheelYes, new wheel. Ooops. In my defence, I have part-exchanged this for the other large Saxony-style wheel at home, which we shall drop off at Woodland Turnery on our way down to Somerset in September. I normally pop into their stall at the beginning of shows to get all their wheels up and running, ready for people to try them out, and this one just called my name. Nice and plain, no twiddly bits, nice big wheel (26"), a lovely traditional Norwegian style. And a much smaller footprint that my other big wheel. You can tell it's designed for linen, because the orifice is small and it still has its distaff - which is useful for holding wool too.

Today it's Friday, which means that although I'm available to do things for work I don't actually go in, just check emails and stuff from home. So I'm trying to process some of the mountain of fleece I appear to have acquired.  I still have an unwashed Jacob fleece from Tyndale Spinners' Gathering, a British Corriedale from Woolfest, the Charolais from Lance and Lucy, and then last weekend I rather indulged: the Sheer Sheep experience had some rather lovely and unusual sheep breeds that he was shearing to order for their fleeces (Mark discovered this), so from him I got two extremely fine Corriedale lamb fleeces, and two LonkXPolwarths, which are long and so fine and soft. All of which is piled up in the kitchen waiting to be dealt with.

This morning, the Charolais. So, it hadn't been skirted so that was nearly half to the allotment's compost. But it's big, and there's lots left. Nice crimpy staple, bright white, crisp rather than soft. So I washed it in the usual way, mesh bags in buckets of very hot very soapy (dishwashing liquid) water, and then after spinning rather than rinsing it goes straight in the dyepans. I have to use equally hot water to make the dye solution, but straight in the oven until the water's clear. I can't re-use the exhausted dye solution as it's also the rinse water and won't be clean, but it cuts down on water usage anyway. So while the first lot's in the oven, two more bags of fleece are in the hot soapy water waiting their turn.

Today's cooler and breezier out there, so there will be a nice breeze along the corridor which is my drying area.