Thursday, 15 September 2011

Indigo In The Sunshine

Although autumn is drawing in, today was a delightfully sunny day. Emma was at school and Lucy was having a seriously sleepy morning, so I decided to grab my gloves and do a spot of indigo dyeing in the garden. 

I used to do a lot of indigo work, but haven't had a chance to get my vat organised since moving into this house. Indigo is insoluble and needs to be chemically reduced in a vat before it can be used for dyeing. You can create a permanent "living" vat which can remain in use for years. Or you can use chemicals to create the same effect - which is what I used this time. 

The indigo is mixed into a paste, and carefully added to the vat without introducing any oxygen.

I had some undyed merino fibre, and also some local Wallingford Wool from Wool and Willow. I soaked them in water before dyeing. I dipped the merino fibre first, just for a few minutes, but I kept it quite screwed up to create a mottled effect which will look lovey when it is spun. 
I wanted a stronger colour on the yarn, so suspended the skeins and dipped section by section in the vat which created a semi-solid effect.


When you first pull the yarn out of the indigo, it is like nothing has changed. Then it goes through this amazing colour transition from yellow to green to blue as it oxidizes in the air. It is wonderful to watch - I should video it some time!

I rinsed (and rinsed... and rinsed... and rinsed... oh I hate rinsing!) I then washed them in Woolishous which I got from Flufftastic. It is my absolute favourite wool wash - smells heavenly and leaves yarn really soft. Here they are, drying in the sunshine.

And later on, nice and dry.  

I really must make more time for dyeing - it was such a lovely morning!

Monday, 5 September 2011

A little bit of sparkle

A friend from our local knitting group asked me if I could spin some special yarn as a gift for her friend recently. Her friend is a big lover of sock knitting, so the yarn needed to be suitable for that. So I opted for 70% Blue Faced Leicester and 30% sparkly trilobyl nylon dyed in bright jewel colours and spun a fine 3ply. It glints and glistens in the sunshine beautifully. I'm so pleased with the end result and can't wait to see it knitted up - hopefully she will like it as much as I do.

I rarely spin true 3ply yarn, but after this I think I will be doing it more often. It gives such a lovely depth of colour, and I was impressed with the meterage I got. (approx 350m from 100g).

I'll be starting on some beautiful merino/silk blend tomorrow. Can't wait!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Hexipuffs and fairy pillows

As soon as I saw the Beekeepers Quilt pattern from Stephanie Dosen over at Tiny Owl Knits, I was utterly hooked on hexipuffs! 390 little tiny knitted hexagons, all sewn together into the smoochiest quilt ever. It is perfect for using up all those little bits of spare sock yarn, but I decided instead that this will be a handspun project. There are three sources that I'm going to use. Firstly all the end scraps of yarn from handspun knitting projects that I've finished. Secondly all those little end bits from uneven bobbins of singles will be plied together and used up. And finally I have a couple of braids of really pretty fibre that I've earmarked for the majority of the quilt. 

So how is it going... well I've just finished the 12th! So quite a way to go. I've added a little ticker into my sidebar!

The only problem I'm coming across is that the girls keep "borrowing" them because they look like fairy pillows. I wonder how many extra I will end up knitting!

I'm planning on knitting the majority of them, but I also want to encorporate a few fabric hexagons as well to add even more interest and texture. 

I'm off to make number 13!!