Sunday, September 29, 2013

Carded and Dyed Locks

I got a few pounds of fleece from a BFL/Lincoln ram (Powell Sheep Ranch), and I have been dyeing the locks.  My objective is to spin a fat single that has color and texture running through it.  I dyed some of the locks in a dye pot that was burnt orange and yellow and one end, and blue at the other end.  The locks came out in varying colors including some interesting pale greens.  Today I carded some into rolags for spinning.

You can see on the left how the colors in the dye pot turned out.  I like this sort of thing, so the color mixing does not bother me.

I will elongate the rolags to spin them.

Tonight I will dye another batch.  Since the weather is still warm, I'll cook outside tonight, then dye the locks in an enamel pan over the coals.  I leave the pan on the coals overnight, then in the morning it's all done.  I think the real challenge will be getting me to spin the fat singles....

The San Diego Yarn Crawl has been happening over the past few days.  Since the last thing in the world I need is yarn, we visited the two alpaca ranches that were participating.  A Simpler Time is located in Crest, and La Dolce Vita is in Ramona.  A Simpler Time also has a working mill, and we were given a tour.  I had never seen a fiber mill in operation, so this was a real treat.  I hope this event grows and continues.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hemp Spinning

I almost called this post "High on Hemp" but thought better of it.  Who knows where something like that might end up?  Anyway, last summer at Convergence in Long Beach, I bought 2 oz of dyed hemp from Opulent Fibers (color = Rust).  My idea was that I would spin the hemp and also some dyed flax purchased at the same vendor during the hot months of August and September.  Life happened, and my plans were interrupted for the next several months.

Now August and September are with us again.  Temperatures in San Diego have been in the upper 90s (and us without an air conditioner - 88 degrees in the living room for several evenings). I was spinning cotton and thought of the hemp.  I wanted a cap or scarf but 2 ounces was not much to work with.  I needed to be efficient.

I knew it had to be spun fine; the fibers are somewhat short (3-4 inches) and very slippery.  Since it is top, I spun it worsted, smoothing down the fibers as they entered the twist.  I used my Matchless wheel, scotch tension, smallest pulley (15.5:1).  Careful treadling to keep control.  I ended up with a bobbin of somewhat wiry singles, rather on the thin side.  I thought perhaps I could chain ply the singles to improve the hand and make the yarn a little thicker.  This was a mistake; it was very difficult to control the sliding part of the chain plying process.  I produced about 1.5 yards and stopped.  New idea.

Since I had already wasted some yardage of the precious 2 ounces, I did not want to risk dividing what was left based on weight for a 2 ply, and having some left over.  So I used my center pull ball winder to create a ball with two ends and plied from that.  I think it turned out great.

I now just have to finish the yarn, get it dry, and I will be ready to go.  Still not sure if it's going to be a scarf or a cap.