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not another yarn blog (spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing)

 
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Today I am playing with a new yarn on an Ashford Knitters Loom: Yoga Yarn is a cotton yarn designed with a bit of stretch so it's easier to weave with on a rigid heddle loom.

I love it!  

Also, my first time playing with colour and weave patterns.  Which is different patterns of light and dark yarn (light light, dark, dark.  Light dark light dark.  That kind of thing.)
ashford-yoga-yarn-colour-and-weave-gamp-blue.jpg
ashford yoga yarn colour and weave gamp blue
ashford yoga yarn colour and weave gamp blue
 
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You made it in Seahawk colors!



I totally don't do football, but living down here, everyone is about the Seahawks since they won, and people have "blue Friday"s where they all dress in Seahawk colors.

You might just have a huge market for such a blanket just south of your boarder. People seem to buy most anything that's blue and bright green, at least when the Seahawks are doing well...

(My favorite day to shop is when the Seahawks are playing. The stores are so nice and empty and parking is so easy to find. Truly lovely!)
 
r ranson
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Some yarn I spun a while ago.  I wrote down somewhere the yardage but can't find it.  Too lazy to re-measure.  
chicken-and-yarn.jpg
chicken and yarn
chicken and yarn
handspun-fine-yarn.jpg
handspun fine yarn
handspun fine yarn
 
r ranson
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Someone asked me about acid dyes and I fell down a rabbit hole.  

Which ended in me making some vibrant colours.
ashford-acid-one-pot-dye.jpg
ashford acid one pot dye
ashford acid one pot dye
laundry-sink-rinse.jpg
laundry sink rinse
laundry sink rinse
 
r ranson
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the rainbow grows as I decided to dye the weft too.
rainbow.JPG
warp and weft rainbow
warp and weft rainbow
 
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so beautiful!!! thank you so much for sharing the pics, and the process. Gorgeous.
 
r ranson
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This blanket could easily have been dressed (put the yarn on the loom) and woven in an afternoon.  The yarn is delightful to work that every step is effortless!  But I had to keep stopping and waiting for good light so I could take photos.

But here's an attempt to take a photo in the dark with some artificial lights.  I think it turned out okay - except one hand holds the light and one hand holds the camera so it's not as good a photo as I want.

blanket-in-12-ply-tekapo-rainbow-dyed.jpg
blanket in 12-ply tekapo rainbow dyed
blanket in 12-ply tekapo rainbow dyed
 
r ranson
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Here's some fun I had playing with a draft to see what it would look like in finished cloth.
the draft (draw down) https://handweaving.net/draft-detail/8771/crackle-with-swirls-sally-breckenridge-california-2004-2017

crackle.jpg
crackle draw down
crackle draw down
 
r ranson
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Here's exactly the same draft but 'turned'.  It's like cutting out snowflakes on a paper, if you fold it just right, you only need to cut out one quarter of the flake and unfold it to see the finished design.
crackle-turned.jpg
turned draft
turned draft
 
r ranson
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I'm going to be focusing on my shop more this year.  

Suddenly a lot of projects have fallen away leaving time for more crafting!  YAH!

Right now, I'm experimenting with free shipping in Canada and the USA on orders over a certain amount.

I've also relisted the learn to spin flax kit as this was popular last year but I kept running out of envelopes to ship it in: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/692617357/learn-to-spin-flax-kit

I'm thinking of redesigning the learn to spin flax kit to include a smaller spindle and ship in a box instead of in an envelope.  The price would go up a bit as those spindles are more, but it would be a better quality kit.
 
r ranson
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I had a lot of fun the other day playing with some new yarn: caterpillar cotton

This yarn is very soft, very light, and very strong.  It has a squiggle to it which makes a thick and thin texture and a delight to weave.

I found a pattern for a shawl that could be woven with just one cone - a whole shawl, one cone!  That's amazing.  I had my doubts.  No need for doubts.  It worked like a charm!  
cc-citrus-cones.jpg
citrus caterpillar yarn
citrus caterpillar yarn
cc-citrus-on-loom.jpg
citrus on loom
citrus on loom
cc-citrus-close.jpg
finished shawl
finished shawl
 
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I so want to learn how to do this. Unfortunately, I have not found someone in my community who teach.
 
r ranson
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Jodi Barr wrote:I so want to learn how to do this. Unfortunately, I have not found someone in my community who teach.



If you had someone to teach, what would you want to learn first?
 
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There's nobody in my community to teach either, but I've found a couple of really useful books: The Joy of Handweaving and The Weaving Primer that have gotten me started. I'm sure there are more out there, and probably youtube tutorials and such (love the internet for stuff like this).

Not to mention people on sites like this!
 
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Catherine Carney wrote:There's nobody in my community to teach either, but I've found a couple of really useful books: The Joy of Handweaving and The Weaving Primer that have gotten me started. I'm sure there are more out there, and probably youtube tutorials and such (love the internet for stuff like this).

Not to mention people on sites like this!



What part of the state are you in? I'm in a spinners and weavers guild, really we have a lot of people and every craft someone has dabbled in or is a pro. I know of some other guilds in other parts of the state. Feel free to purple moosage me.
 
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Thanks Kadence! I'm an hour northeast of Columbus. I'm hoping that my life will slow down a bit and I'll be able to find a guild and attend meetings.

Of course, I also have to land a day job, shear my sheep, spin up my backlog of fleeces, keep the raccoons from eating my show birds, etc. There's so much I want to do, but not enough hours to do it.
 
kadence blevins
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Catherine Carney wrote:Thanks Kadence! I'm an hour northeast of Columbus. I'm hoping that my life will slow down a bit and I'll be able to find a guild and attend meetings.

Of course, I also have to land a day job, shear my sheep, spin up my backlog of fleeces, keep the raccoons from eating my show birds, etc. There's so much I want to do, but not enough hours to do it.



Gal after my own heart! haha sounds about like my life. I'll link the ones I know of..
https://wrspinweave.org/
https://cuyahogaweaversguild.com/about/
https://www.weaversguildcincinnati.org/
https://yawg.group/
 
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Those links are great resources! I hope other people use them as well.

Given the COVID-19 outbreak in the state I don't know how likely people are to attend meetings for a while. I've spent most of the day corresponding with fellow board members about our policy for meetings and events we host (Humanist Community of Central Ohio) for the foreseeable future.

At least this all gives me an excuse to stay home and work on all the fiber that's sitting around....
 
r ranson
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social distancing measures are a great excuse to learn a new craft.  I've been thinking how much more time I'll have to weave if we shut down the city.  
 
r ranson
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had some fun dyeing locks and letting them drip dry while watering the garden

Need some help finding better ways to photograph them for the etsy shop.  Any ideas?
rainbow-cotswold-locks-04.jpg
rainbow dyeing drip drying
rainbow dyeing drip drying
 
Catherine Carney
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Lovely colors! What did you use?
 
r ranson
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Catherine Carney wrote:Lovely colors! What did you use?



Thanks
I used the Ashford Wool Dyes.  Although not natural dyes, these acid dyes have a strict manufacturing method that prevents waste from entering the local water and when properly exhausted, I can simply pour the dye bath directly on the plants (the locks above are watering the freshly planted strawberries in my keyhole garden as they dip dry).  With natural dyes, I have to be much more careful with the wastewater because of potential toxins in the plants and mordants.  But I do like the colour of natural dyes best.

The sheep that provided this wool are called Pender and Not-a-goat.


This is wool that I was saving to have processed at the local fibre mill, but sadly that closed last year and I'm left with a big pile of wool from last year's sheering.  This years sheering should be later this week.  That's a lot of wool.  On top of that, the new normal means I'm not working so I need to find a way to transform this wonderful pile of wool into money for food (and to pay the sheerer) quickly.  I suspect you will be seeing a lot more colour here in the coming weeks.
 
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Thank you! I'll have to look at the Ashford dye line. And loved the names of your sheep--though I'm one to talk given my senior rams are named Moo and Rambo....

I too have a backlog of fleeces, and am in the process of shearing. While many of my fleeces are natural colored (Shetlands), I do have a number of light greys that are almost white and have some dye experiments planned for lockdown. Typically my dyeing is either natural sources and relatively safe (alum, onion skins, that sort of thing), or food coloring, though I do keep dedicated dyepots that are used for nothing else (safety first, after all)....

You're not the first person who's mentioned concerns about dye toxicity. I know that tin and chrome are quite toxic and I won't use them as mordants. Oxalic acid is naturally occurring (rhubarb leaves I think?), but still a problem in large enough amounts. Do you have any recommendations for references I should check regarding natural dye/mordant safety? Thanks in advance!

 
r ranson
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Dyes and safety are a huge topic.  It's very much give and take.  So I have several measures to decide if I want to use the substance on the farm.


How does it affect my body?

With MCSS (multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome) I'm probably more responsive to chemicals than most people.  So my first test of anything I use in my crafting is "does it harm my body?"

For example, many food dyes give me blisters on my mouth (if in food) and on my skin if touched in diluted form.  So even though they are not officially toxic, I don't like the idea of using them.  Same with Koolaid dyeing - spinning the dyed wool hurts my skin and can cause some massive blisters.  

Many plants contain substances that hurt my hands when working with the dyed wool.  And many plants like rhubarb and peach bark can cause a gas that will kill a person and make me feel queezy to be near unless I can dye outside (which I don't have the set up for yet due to fire restrictions here).

Although we are not supposed to, I don't generally use gloves when acid dyeing.  Once the dye is in the vinegar solution, it doesn't affect my skin except to make it colourful.  Nor does the smell bother me as the dyes are heating.  


How was the dyestuff sourced?

Plants are easy enough to gather ethically (in a way that doesn't hurt people or plants) on my own property.  I like working with weeds and invasive species best as I get colour and dye from the same plant!  

The mordants are more difficult.  Iron I can make from rusty nails and vinegar water.  But that's a colour modifier as much as a mordant and saddens the colour (not always a bad thing).  I'm not sure where alum comes from, but I keep meaning to look it up.  

Indigo dyeing is another big can of worms that I'm learning about.  I have enough left to do several batches, but I don't know when/if I'll be getting more.

Of the acid dyes I've looked into, the Ashford ones had the best certification.  However, I did have the opportunity to talk with the Ashford family about where they source their materials and their values.  All the family and workers seem to share this value, but Elizabeth Ashford especially, is passionate about sourcing all their ingredients (dye, wood, etc) in a way that does minimal damage to the earth, is renewable, and kind to people.  The company is now going into the third generation of ownership, they understand how important renewable resources are to the earth and their business.  This impressed me and was the start of my turning point to accept acid dyes as something I can use in my crafting.


How will I dispose of the wastewater?

This is a huge thing for me.  I have a garden and a septic tank.  Just about anything not poo, pee, water, or soap can put the tank out of balance.  A lot of metals used in natural dyeing are biocides which will destroy the invisible beasties that make the septic tank work.

Likewise, many plants can produce herbicides and other biocides when boiled for dye.  Alum is used in the garden, but often not at the concentrations we use in dyeing.  I'll try and find my dye book that talks about using the correct amount of alum for exhausting the water so it doesn't harm the plants/soil/life when disposing of it.  

Most importantly, I test even "safe" dye plants by pouring a patch of the cooled wastewater on the grass.  If the grass dies (which it usually does) then I know I cannot use that water directly on my garden.  

With the acid dyes, when properly exhausted, there is no dye left in the water as it is all affixed to the fibre.  It's just a mild vinegar and water solution which I'm happy to put directly on my garden.


Does it give me the results I want?

This is something that is more user error than anything else.

With acid dyes, I can get a dye that is lightfast, washfast, and most importantly, doesn't hurt my skin when working with the wool because all the chemicals are inactive.  

With natural dyes, the results vary.  I wash my dyed fibre vigorously after dyeing (because I would rather have the dye come out now than in the finished fabric).  However, sometimes the texture of the wool changes (onion skins did this) and sometimes there are chemicals (albeit natural ones) left on the fibre that can cause it to hurt my skin.  

But I do continue to experiment with natural dyes as I think they are another excellent element to fibre arts.  When possible, I like to work with the natural wool colour, but Pender and Not-a-goat both grow an ugly yellow-white fleece, so dyeing is a good way to add value to these locks.
 
Catherine Carney
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Thank you for such a comprehensive and in-depth response!

It's interesting when you look at plant compounds and chemical sensitivity. I wonder how many of us have sensitivity of one form or another to things and miss them because they're subtle and we're constantly inundated with various toxins from natural and man made sources.

Quercetin--the dye components in onions as well as other plants and some oaks--is also supposed to have some antiviral effects. I want to say that indigotin also has some antimicrobial effects, but it's been a while since I looked it up. Peach pits and other stone fruits pits and bark can contain cyanide precursors, so no surprise given your sensitivity that being around a dyebath of them makes you feel ill.

I haven't looked up alum sources, either, but there are some plants commonly called alumroot (also known as coral bells, genus Heuchera) that evidently are/were a source of alum. Here's one reference: https://waysofthewhorl.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/natural-dyeing-take-one-alum-mordanting-with-heuchera-plants/  Unfortunately coral bells/alum root don't grow well in my heavy clays, so I doubt I'll ever have enough with which to experiment....Rhubarb roots are also supposed to be a mordant (along with the leaves) as well as a dye, but again it's a plant that doesn't do particularly well in my heavy soil.

I tend to dye with weeds when I can, and even then never intentionally eradicate a patch unless they're something horribly invasive (field bindweed comes to mind) or introduced. One other thing as I think about "weed dyeing:" many weeds are host plants for various butterflies, so if we're going to be responsible we need to take their life cycle into account. I love the butter yellows that common milkweed gives on wool, for example, but I won't collect it in any quantity because I'd rather have it as food for monarch caterpillars.

Your comment on dyestuffs sometimes changing wool texture is interesting. I hadn't noticed that with onion skins on my wools, but I'm not always the most observant person. I do know that I've managed to make a couple of skeins of wool quite sticky by overdoing alum. You live and learn....And failed attempts can always go in the boxes for the barn cats.

My wastewater from my yarn washing and dyebaths gets put around non-edible trees here. Septic tanks are finicky enough beasts that I'd rather not put anything down the drains to upset mine!

 
r ranson
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Catherine Carney wrote:It's interesting when you look at plant compounds and chemical sensitivity. I wonder how many of us have sensitivity of one form or another to things and miss them because they're subtle and we're constantly inundated with various toxins from natural and man made sources.



That's a really good point.  When we are dyeing we are super-concentrating these chemicals (both natural and synthetic), minerals, and other substances.  So I think it makes sense that I would be more sensitive to these plants when dyeing than when just working with them in the garden.  
 
Catherine Carney
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In a sense, you are the canary in the coal mine in regards to these (and other) chemicals, and it would make sense for the rest of us to take a good hard look at how, when, and why we use them. Just because we don't react immediately or strongly doesn't mean that they don't effect us.

 
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I'm thrilled with how today's batch of cotswold locks turned out
jewel-colour-locks-available-in-my-etsy-store.jpg
jewel colour locks available in my etsy store
jewel colour locks available in my etsy store
 
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While I was waiting for the sheep shearer to come, I decided to wash some alpaca locks in the garden.  The nice thing about washing alpaca is that it doesn't need hot water.  Just a hose will do!

Below is a photo of it drying above the keyhole garden and watering my strawberries.



Sheering was different this year.  Due to the New Normal, the sheerer has implemented a 6-yard policy.  No one is to go within 6-yards of him so I had to have everything ready ahead of time.  As sheerers are so few around here, and good ones even harder to find, it's very important that we keep him healthy.  He sanitized everything including the fence before interacting with the sheep. It was very strange for me not to participate in sheering and even worse for the sheep because the sheerer wore a mask and sheep are very focused on recognizing humans by their face.  

I had a very poor wool harvest this year for three main reasons.
- we had a bit of nutritional issues last spring and had to wait a few weeks to get the minerals we needed
- last year they didn't get to go to their summer pasture
- I have a bit of a genetic issue with some of my more Icelandic sheep in that they rue (lose their wool) early in the spring and it felts on their backs.  

But the Cotswold sheep did the best and the white ones made some amazing fleeces that are beyond my dreams!  That plus the massive pile of wool I was going to send to the mill, and I'll have lots to do and hope to fill up my etsy shop this spring so I might start making enough money for the supplies to make the farmstand.
keyhole-alpaca-wash.JPG
drip drying alpaca fibre in the keyhole garden
drip drying alpaca fibre in the keyhole garden
 
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i spent the last couple of days working on my etsy shop, especially the photos, and now it is time to make more stuff to sell.   cannot decide if I want to do more dyeing or maybe start catching carding batts or both.  do many decisions.
 
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R, how do you wash the locks?
 
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Carla Burke wrote:R, how do you wash the locks?



Normally I wash at home with biodegradable soap called orvas paste as it's the only thing that will get the grease out without hurting my skin.  (remembering to wear gloves is not something I seem capable of learning).  I first sort the wool and give it a gentle pick over, then divide the wool into small amount and put them in net bags.  I make sure the water is very hot so I do not need much soap.  If I can, I save the wastewater for use on the garden as the orvas paste is only mildly a biocide and it's great for the roses.

However, most of the locks I have for sale now were washed in the local fibre mill because I was having water supply issues that year.  
 
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Thank you! I've been pondering how to wash my goat's angora, because it's incredibly fine-textured, so I feared losing much of it, in the wash water.  Using a bag makes an awful lot of sense. Do you think a baby-mild,  liquid castile soap, like Dr Bronner's would work? This goat wool from my does doesn't seem nearly as waxy/oily as the buck's. I think his might need something stronger - possibly even the Dr Bronner's Sal-Suds... hmmm.... much to think about!
 
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Goat doesn't have a lot of lanolin so it won't need much soap.

The more soap you use, the more time and water needed to rinse it away.  When I'm washing alpaca, I often don't use soap at all as the goal is to get rid of a lot of the dirt and dust.  For my white alpaca, I use a pinch of orvas paste.

I haven't had much luck with Dr. B, but your water will be different than mine, so try small batches to see how it works.
 
Carla Burke
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r ranson wrote:Goat doesn't have a lot of lanolin so it won't need much soap.

The more soap you use, the more time and water needed to rinse it away.  When I'm washing alpaca, I often don't use soap at all as the goal is to get rid of a lot of the dirt and dust.  For my white alpaca, I use a pinch of orvas paste.

I haven't had much luck with Dr. B, but your water will be different than mine, so try small batches to see how it works.



Thank you! Good to know! We're on a deep well, but have a softener, so I'll have to experiment. Have you ever had animal dandruff to deal with? There's very little, in the does', but poor Kola was a bit of a mess. I've no idea how to get it out, unless it comes out readily, in thre washing & carding process.
 
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I find the dandruff (scruff) is very hard to get out but if you can shake it out before washing, that would be best.  Is there anything you can do for prevention wise?  Maybe check the mineral balance or if there's a parasite bothering the skin? Maybe give some extra tree branches?  Some animals are just scruffy, but sometimes diet or environment can help.
 
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For the next season, that's my plan. But, for this season... I have a feeling his fleece is a loss. :'(
 
r ranson
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Carla Burke wrote:For the next season, that's my plan. But, for this season... I have a feeling his fleece is a loss. :'(



Try washing a small amount before giving up on it.
 
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inspiration
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