special projects

Every January our local SCA group hosts an evening of eating and dancing. To help pay for the site, we hold an auction. Usually the tables are piled with cast-off garb, feast gear, books, nicknacks, etc. We don’t generate a huge amount of money for those things. But one year there were several handmade items on the table, which helped to increase the money we made. For this year I suggested we do an artisans auction — all items donated must be made by hand and relevant to our group. My contribution is handspun yarn (surprise!). I have three skeins of Shetland. One is the natural fawn color and the other two constitute my first attempt at natural dyeing in many years.

I started with three pots on the stove. One had alum, one had copper, and one had madder root. While the madder was simmering, I mordanted the yarn along with some fiber. I put one skein of yarn and a braid of roving in with the madder. In the alum pot, I dumped some turmeric and brazilwood. Since there was extra space in the pot I tossed in an old dish towel. After removing the yarn, I dyed a piece of linen fabric. The copper pot got logwood extract and then later I threw in some tin. Nothing exploded and I didn’t pass out, so I think it was okay.

The yarn dyed the best, but what a mess! I rinsed the skeins so many times and still it seemed like the water wouldn’t run clear. And despite straining, I ended up with all these fine pieces of plant matter in the yarn. When I reskeined them, I ended up with a dust pile underneath the swift. But overall they turned out better than I had expected. And you cannot deny the power of natural light in photos!

From front to back: madder root on alum, turmeric & brazilwood on alum, logwood on copper. #Shetland #wool #dyeing #plantdyes #handspun #handspunstagram #yarn
Madder root, turmeric + brazilwood, logwood

progress in pictures

Thanks to Instagram, I am now documenting everything down to the last insignificant moment of my day. I baked muffins? Photo! New shoes? Photo! Cute kitty pose? Photo! Project in the house? Photo! Spinning yarn? Photo! It may get a little dull sometimes, but the up side is that when I am in the midst of a knitting project, there are many more process shots.

I finally finished the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief using approximately 250 yards of handspun Shetland wool and size 8 needles. For each section I used a different color of yarn. The pattern was so easy and quick. Although my measurements didn’t come out quite as the pattern suggested, it’s much wider than any other shawl/kerchief I’ve made. I didn’t make any adjustments, just followed the instructions as is.

Three shades of #Shetland. #handspun #wool #yarn

Shetland triangle shawl. #nodyes #WIP #handspun

Shetland triangle blocking. #shawl #FO #handspun #handknit #natural

In action.

rainbow of shetland

I’ve been sitting on this yarn for at least two years. No wait, I got the fiber on our first visit to Rhinebeck in 2008. Good heavens!

It was all spun using my drop spindle. Initially I thought it would be perfect for a shawl. However, at the time I had never made one and perhaps felt intimidated or that I wouldn’t wear it? Now I’ve made two, so I think I can handle it (and I know I like triangle over half-circle). There should be around 6 ounces all together, though I’m not sure on the yardage. I went through my Ravelry queue to see what patterns I had saved the last time I got shawl fever. I came across the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief. It has three sections, so I thought that would work well. Now I just need to get it on the ball winder! And then cast on, of course. It’s time to do some stash busting!

Three shades of #Shetland. #handspun #wool #yarn

new fleeces

As I predicted, my fleeces arrived from Zeilinger’s this month. October to January seems to be a standard turn-around, about 2.5 months. And it’s perfect timing, since I’m getting geared up for winter/spring festival season. I had three fleeces processed this time. Each one is a different breed and came from a different place.

Shetland – I bought this fleece in May at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. The man who sold it to me has a small flock of Shetlands in Ohio and he is a skilled woodworker. All of his fleeces were beautiful. I decided on a very light grey and white fleece. When it went through the carding machine, the colors were blended quite uniformly. The overall color now is white with grey strands throughout. I’m curious to see it dyed. I’m not sure whether the grey is pronounced enough to impact the finished colors.

Shropshire – This one came from the fleece sale at the Lake Metroparks Woolfest in June. It was the first time I attended the event and the sale. They were selling fleeces from their own flock at the farm park. There was a wide range of breeds to choose from and I wanted to get something I’d never tried before. You could say I selected this one at random. It seems to be quite spongy! I am interested to see how it spins.

Columbia – This fleece was purchased at the Mahoning County Fair in September. Each year they have a fleece competition and certain fleeces are available for purchase. I had bought a Columbia there a few years ago and decided to try it again. It was a big fleece and it came from a farm in Ohio. In fact, the man who was in charge of the fleece sale owned that particular sheep. Unfortunately it came back to me with a bit more vegetable matter than I would like.

new roving!
They all came in that box, but they don't fit in there now.
three bags full
Left to right, Shetland, Columbia, Shropshire.