28 December 2012

Oh My! Is it end of the year already?

There must be something wrong with the calendar, how can it be 28th December already?! It only seemed yesterday that I was making plans for 2012, it feels like I haven't had a chance to carry out my plans. Heck, I can't even remember them! Still, now that Christmas is over it's time to reflect on the time past and looking to the year ahead.

First thing first, my final FO: Purple Leaves of Summer Vest

Pattern: Leaves of Summer Vest by Doris Chan
Yarn:   Panda Regal 4ply cotton
Hook:  5.0mm
Note: I couldn't get the hem to come out right according to the pattern so I winged it with a simple border and made some ties just under the bust. This is my final entry for the IntSweModo2012 challenge, my 12th!! I must have been mad when I signed up for the challenge, although I made it (just!!) it was a real struggle. Was I pleased that I'd done it? You bet I was! Would I ever do it again? I'd have to be totally off my head!! like my new mannequin ;)

Reflecting 2012:

It has been a busy year, and not just because I made 12 sweaters (have told you that already? :P), looking at my projects page of Rav I count 30 completed projects, that's not too bad, right? Plus I have acquired a new passion - spinning :D 

I'm excited about 2013, there are so many avenues to explore in spinning and dyeing, and I have many knitting and crochet projects lined up already. But one thing is for sure: I am NOT making 12 sweaters!

Happy New Year Everyone! May 2013 bring you much joy and happiness in whatever you do!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!  

21 December 2012

So We're Still Here :)

Yep, sorry to disappoint those staunch Mayan calendar enthusiasts out there, as I write this post it's already past midday on 21 December 2012 Australian Time, looks like it's doomsday no more and we can all get on with our lives.

Well, for those of us who are lucky enough to do so that is. My thoughts go to the families and friends of the victims of Newtown shooting, I know I can never fully comprehend what they must be going through right now but I sincerely hope that somehow they will find strength to pull through. My Christmas wish for this year is that the US government and the NRA will collaborate on working out a solution to curb these senseless shootings so that those little angels and their teachers did not die in vain. I know being a non-American I shouldn't get involved but I just couldn't help this time, as a parent I feel the pain of those who have lost their children in this horrific tragedy, especially at this time of the year.

Sorry about my off topic ramblings, now back to fibre arts...

I finally finished the Skyp Socks for the old man, I started them back in November but only worked on them when I was doing the waiting around. The pattern is nice and simple but the result is rather elegant, of course I reverse the process and did them toe-up with short-row heels.
The sock blockers are homemade by following this tutorial, I think the heel part could do with a little more shaping but otherwise they work just fine :)

I also did some experimenting with dyeing the wool locks to spin a gradient skein, I used one of the small fleeces I bought from my sheep farm visit, it came out rather well I think :)
Three more days till Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas wherever you are :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

14 December 2012

One Two Pickle My Wool ... ...

Summer in Australia can be very hot, which is perfect for solar dyeing :)  I've been reading up on different dyeing methods ever since I started spinning, solar dyeing jumped out particularly because it's energy efficient and easy to do. Now that summer's finally here I'm eager to try it out!

I had some of my own hand carded hand spun 75/25 merino tussah silk blend that I wanted to dye, my little man helped me mixing the colours because he wanted to create Cyan. First the yarn was pre-soaked in a white vinegar solution to help set the colour because I was using food dyes, then I filled two jars (a pickle jar and a recycled Chinese sake jar) with my dye stock and submerged one skein in each jar and left them in the sun to cook:
... ... and when the water in the jars was clear I rinsed the yarn and hang it to dry, and tah dah!
I'm not sure it's Cyan but I quite like the effect,  it's been named Summer Seas :D

Finally I can show you my finished Fern Amiga Cardigan, it's very comfortable to wear and weighs hardly anything. This is the eleventh of my IntSweMoDo2012 challenge, I'm still one short, yikes!

The response to my story last week was good, Vivian was particularly encouraging (she always is!). I wish there was something exciting to share with you this week but it has been an ordinary week with lots of to-ing and fro-ing, including visits to dentists and GPs, lawyers and barristers, oh and I went to prison again (that doesn't sound right!).  The story I'm sharing today didn't happen in this week but it concerned the same client that I saw in prison which I think highlights the challenges we interpreters face in Court Interpreting.

The visit to prison this week was by a psychologist at the request of the defence lawyer. The inmate, let's call him H, he might appear in other stories, was accused of murder. I have been working on this case for about two years now and H is still in remand. He was due to be sentenced a few months ago, I went to the meeting with his lawyer and barrister a few days before the hearing and during the meeting H agreed to plead guilty in the hope of a reduced sentence. I thought that was the end of it, but a week later his lawyer called me to attend another meeting with him. Apparently during the arraignment H first pleaded guilty (through an interpreter), but when the judge was going through the particulars for the next steps H had an outburst saying that he would never admit to murder. You can imagine the confusion and kafuffle! During that follow up meeting H insisted that he Did Not plead guilty in court, that the court interpreter got it wrong. However as a result of this misfortune his lawyer and barrister could no longer represent him, as they themselves might be called as witnesses when the matter was investigated. H had to find another lawyer.

The new lawyer kept me on the case and obtained the court recording to find out what had happened, I went through the recording countless times and did a transcript verbatim. The recording did show that H pleaded not guilty and when the interpreter interpreted "I plead guilty" H was visibly surprised (he did understand that much in English), and the outburst ensued a minute or two later. Now I'm not criticising that court interpreter in any way, in fact I sympathise and feel sorry for her because her competency and reputation will be put under scrutiny. The acoustics in courtrooms are generally bad, particularly in the supreme court where this hearing was held. Interpreters always have a hard time at catching what everyone's saying in court as we don't get headphones like conference interpreters do. Added to the difficulty was that H did not appear in person but via video link, I can only imagine the sound quality, plus H has a tendency to mumble anyway. When I did the transcript I had the luxury of going over the recording numerous times but, when in court, blink and you'll miss it and then your reputation is on the line. Such are the perils of court interpreters. And that's my story for this week.

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

07 December 2012

No FO but a little story...

Today is definitely not FO Friday!  The cardigan I started last week is not yet finished, but I can post a WIP photo:
As you can see I'm not far off, only got one more sleeve to do. I'm making the sleeves longer than the pattern called for, and I've also lengthened the body as I don't like my cardigan hanging about my waist. It doesn't look like I'll get a matching second sleeve in the colour sequence but I don't mind. The front edging rolls terribly at the moment, hopefully blocking will sort that out. Oh, and I didn't make button holes, think I'll leave it as it is and use a pin when I want it fastened.

That's all my news on the fibre arts front, but I would like to share a little story from my other life if I may. In the non-fibre world I am a professional interpreter working in the English/Mandarin language pair, and to be precise I am a Community Interpreter, meaning I don't work in glass booth with a headphone but rather I work in community settings which range from court rooms to hospitals, from police stations to schools, from employment services to correction services, etc. What I like about my work is that no two days are the same and you never know what you will get even when you know where you are going. For some time now I'd thought about keeping an interpreter's diary but as you know, I'm prone to be lazy so nothing has been done. But if you don't mind I might use today's opportunity to test the waters, so here it goes...

I was booked to visit the MRC (Metropolitan Remand Centre) with a psychologist during the week, who was writing a report on the (Mandarin speaking) inmate we were seeing for a parole application. As our meeting was drawing to a close we heard the announcement over the Tannoy system (loud speakers) that there was going to be a headcount in 10 minutes. Now if you are a regular visitor to the prison, as I am, you would know that when there is a headcount no one moves except the guards. The psychologist had other clients to see there so she quickly wrapped up the meeting and signed my job sheet so that I could run out before the count starts. Unlucky for me, I only managed to get through two sets of doors to reach the inner reception when the count started, so I was stuck. Even more unlucky for me, the headcount didn't go smoothly meaning the first count didn't tally up so they had to do it again, and it was clearly not my lucky day because the second count didn't tally up either, so the whole prison was in lockdown.  As I had nowhere to go and nothing to do (no phones allowed beyond the first reception) I got chatting to the guard on the inner reception and he told me a story about one of the inmates that was so incredulous that he had to look up that guy's file to confirm it was true:

This man went out shopping with his wife, upon returning home they found a man on top of their roof trying to gain entry. He shouted and his wife called the police, the (potential) burglar panicked and slipped down from the roof and injured himself, then our man hit him out of rage. The police arrived and arrested both men, after questioning our man got prosecuted for assault and sentenced to two months imprisonment, the other guy walked free because no crime had been committed. The kick in the teeth was that this inmate was ordered to pay $10,000 compensation to the potential burglar because that guy got injured from slipping off the roof at his house!

Seriously you can't make this up, and I'm lost for words. Oh well, at least the heads did eventually add up otherwise I'd be posting this entry from within the MRC!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party! 

30 November 2012

The Beginning of a Sweater ....

Last week I told you about my visit to a sheep farm and the fleece I bought to make a jumper for the old man, this week I can report that I had started the long arduous process of making that sweater. I say arduous not because it's really that hard but the reality presents various difficulties...  The concept is easy right? First you spin some yarn, then you knit the sweater. Well that's the idea, but as soon as I started spinning, no, as soon as I was about to start spinning I realised that I had some decisions to make.

First of, since I started spinning two months ago my yarn has got progressively thinner and thinner, to the point that I was spinning lace weight pretty much all the time. I have no intention of making a man's sweater in lace weight yarn, or even finger weight yarn. But if I were to have at least double knit weight yarn with my regular lace weight handspun I would have to make it into a 8 ply, and that would be very time consuming and tedious. Also, the fleece/wool has a shorter staple than the corriedale and BFL I have been using and it's really quite fine, therefore making it a little hard to spin fine yarn (for me anyway). So I thought I would try a semi woollen or semi worsted approach in the hope that a) I would get a thicker yarn; b) it would be quicker to spin. So now I have a plan.

Secondly, I needed to decide whether I wanted to spin in the grease or to scour it first. Since the fleece is a coated one and there is hardly any VM,  my lazy streak kicked in and I started with spinning in the grease. But somehow this fleece is a bit too greasy for me, so I scoured it. And because it's so fine it matted (not felted thank goodness!) in the scouring process, therefore I had to card it rather than just flick it before I could spin. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was making rolags, which turned out to be perfect for my purpose! It's all part of the plan of course, ahem....
There you have it, in the picture above from top left to bottom are the steps I've been through this week: scoured fleece, card it into rolags, spun yarn (semi worsted & N-plied) and a swatch! Yes, you are not seeing things, I did make a swatch. I spun this sample mini skein to check whether it's doable before I start on the mass production, and it seems to have worked. I'm pleased with the navajo ply which gave the yarn some body, but my yarn is not consistent as you can see from the swatch, the bottom part is wider than the top part, that's because that length of yarn is thicker. Keeping it consistent is going to be a battle of wills between my fingers and my brain!

I also started a new project this week, well I really didn't have a choice if I were to complete the International Seater-a-Month Dodecathon 2012 (IntSweModo2012) challenge. Whatever possessed me to take up the challenge is now back to haunt me as we head into the last month of the year and I am still two sweaters short!!

Project Name: Fern Amiga Cardigan, project page here
Pattern: Amiga by Mags Kandis, free from Knitty spring + summer 2011
Yarn:  Fern by Moda Vera in pink colourways
Needles: 5mm circular
Although it's officially summer tomorrow you can never be sure with Melbourne's weather, for example the mercury hit 39C degrees (that's 102F for you folks from North America) yesterday, down to 24C today and will be lower still tomorrow, so a cardigan is always useful. Just hope I can get it finished in time, and then there's the matter of one more!!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party! 

23 November 2012

Baa baa black sheep ...

I visited a sheep farm with my spinning friend Deb on Monday, it is a small farm in the Macedon Ranges called Fairfield Finns. They have around 130 sheep and specialise in Finn sheep and Finn crosses. The owner Maureen is a lovely lady who took us to the field to meet her flock which is guarded by two gorgeous looking alpacas, some of her sheep are coated so the fleeces from these sheep are nice and clean. She also took us to the wool shed where she stores her fleeces, as it's spring in Melbourne her sheep have just been shorn. She has all these fleeces hanging up in pillow cases (to let them breath and to prevent moths) as you can see here:
Maureen is very organised, every pillow case has a label with the breed of sheep, weight of fleece, colour(s), staple length, price and a code to indicate which sheep it's from. We were encouraged to look around and spread out the fleece on a table if we saw something that we might be interested. Maureen insisted that we should check out the whole fleece and feel it before we made a decision, but making a decision was the hardest part because all her fleeces were just so gorgeous, it was really hard to choose from. I'm sure if we were able, physically and financially, Deb and I would have gladly taken a lot more! In the end Deb chose seven and I chose six, mine were three coloured and three white. I won't bore you with photos of bags of wool but I would like to show just one:
I got two bags of this lovely black fleece, both from the same sheep and totaling 1.7kg. Maureen was disappointed with the brown tips as the fleece came from a coated sheep, she thought that the coat would prevent the sun bleaching the tips. But I love it! I think once spun up it's going to be beautiful. My plan is to make a jumper for the old man, I don't often knit jumpers for him because, well, men's jumpers take too long to make. But he's turning 50 (shhh!) in a year's time so I thought I'd make him one with my handspun. I don't know how long it will take but at least I have a head start :)

Other than my little fleece hunting adventure life ticks along, but this week I was reminded of something important by my little man Elli. I was experimenting with dyeing (of course!) and I thought I'd try a semi solid effect, and I followed the instructions from Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing by Barbara Parry, which involves making up the dye at a certain temperature and dip the prepared yarn in the dye bath to allow certain colours to strike first before simmering it. Sounds easy enough but my yarn didn't come out as I envisioned, it came out all uneven with light and dark patches...
 ... so I was grumbling to myself when Elli said to me: "Be happy with what you have Mummy, because we're lucky." So we are, my dear boy, so we are! On that note, I wish you all good day and have a nice weekend!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

16 November 2012

Paris in Melbourne Finale, and Spinning With Friends :)

My Paris in Melbourne Tunic didn't make it to my last week's post but here it is now :)
I am very pleased with the result, the decision to use smaller hook for shaping instead of following the instructions paid dividends, I much prefer it this way. The only problem I found after wearing is that the neck opening is a bit too wide, it became "off shoulder" by the end of the day, so I might run a round of slip stitch to bring it in a bit. It is very light weight and I can see a lot of use out of this :D Project page here.

Today I had a fun day spinning with a couple of ladies from my spinning class, we all have come a long way since that first day in class when we struggled to coordinate our hands and feet while cursing the lumps and bumps that went into our yarn. It was wonderful to just spinning away and chatting about all things in our lives, from children to husbands, from food to fashion, and of course about fibre! The conversations flowed easily accompanied by the soothing whirling sound of our wheels, it was such a shame when 3 o'clock came and I had to chuck everyone out so that I could do  the school pick up. But there is always next time :)

I've been spinning a BFL roving in Humbug and I just love the natural colours of the wool :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

09 November 2012

I dream of Monet

In this week's post I had hoped that I would be able to report that my Paris in Melbourne tunic was finished, unfortunately that was not the case. But I'm almost there, (most) definitely next Friday...

I am rather pleased with myself on my recent dyeing and carding experience though. Remember when I first started spinning I had some bright blue fibre on a spindle? Well, my spindle spinning hasn't improved much since then because I got completely obsessed with the spinning wheel, and I used some of that blue fibre and some silk hankie to spin up this. But I still had some left over that I wasn't sure what to do with, then I got some sample fibre in a jade marble colourway which was also too little to spin on its own, apart from that there was still a handful of scoured corriedale locks left from my spinning class... and all these little bits of fibre just sitting there looking at me as if to say "Come on, you've got to do something!" So I did, first I over dyed the blue fibre with some yellow food dye to match the jade marble, then I dyed the corriedale locks with blue food dye, and I carded all three together:
I really am quite pleased with the result, the colours blend well together and they remind me of Monet's Waterlilies. I can't wait to see the spun up yarn!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

02 November 2012

A Weekly Update :)

Hello there! Thanks for visiting me on this fine Friday :)  It has been a good week in the fibre world, I was having so much fun that I nearly forgot to write this post! So without further ado I will give you a quick run down of this week's happenings ...

My Paris in Melbourne tunic is progressing steadily, I've done the yoke and now working towards the bottom hem. I'm rather liking the colour variation so far.

Hubby is pestering me for socks again so I started a pair for him, project page here.

Pattern: Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku
Yarn: Vera Moda Noir (I have tons of this yarn in stash, went a bit crazy in the sale one day!)
Needles: 2.75mm circular
Cast on: 29 October 2012
Mod: Making the socks toe-up instead of top-down, I'm partial to toe-up socks :)

Most of my knitting is done in the car these days while waiting around for kids, even the update photos were taken in the car!

I haven't mentioned spinning in the last couple of posts but I'm still spinning everyday, not fancy stuff, just practicing making even yarn and I taught myself to Navajo ply which is really cool. I'm also learning to blend fibre and making my own batts, most of my fibre supply is in ecru/undyed natural state because I want to experiment with dyeing (also I have a limited budget :)). My spinning pleasure this week has got to be joining a spinning group and catching up with the ladies from my spinning class, it's so much more fun to spin with friends!

Now what have you been up to this week? :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

26 October 2012

Paris in Melbourne - A Spring Project

It's been a long winter in Melbourne, in fact this was the longest and coldest winter since we moved to Australia almost five years ago. But spring is definitely in the air, the days are getting longer and flowers are blooming, spring in Melbourne really is quite beautiful. We went for a walk around our favourite Cherry Lake last weekend, it's a 3-mile circle and only five minutes' walk from home...
The marshland by the lake is blanketed by the little pink flowers, the beige you see in the distance are reeds from last year but there are new ones coming through. There are abundant wildlife in and around the lake, we saw many tiny little birds with bright blue chest bouncing around the walk path but they were too quick for me to capture on camera.

The changes in the air make me wanting to start a spring project, so I did! ... the WIPs and UFOs can wait, I need something to set the mood ;)

Project: Paris in Melbourne
Pattern: Paris Tunic by Doris Chan
Yarn:  Panda Regal 4ply mercerised cotton, fingering weight
Cast on:  24 October 2012
Hook: 4mm / G
The beige and grey in the yarn remind me of the marshland, pity there's no pink, I'm not usually a pink person but a little soft pink wouldn't go amiss here. I'm not too sure about the variegated yarn, just hope the colour arrangement won't turn out too tedious. Also I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there's enough yarn, my sleeves won't be as long and I will be making a smaller bell shape at the cuffs so that might help.

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

19 October 2012

I'm a lucky winner, and some FOs :)

I received an email during the week from the wonderful Denise of Voie de Vie that I was one of the lucky winners to receive her new eBook: Accessories: Autumn 2012. This was such a lovely surprise I was over the moon! All the designs in this collection are gorgeous but I'm particularly taken with the Piaf Scarf and the Enveloped Cowl. I can't think of any yarn in my stash that I want to use for these projects (naturally!), but hey, I can spin now! So I'm going to spin some yarn, maybe home dye too, off to the drawing board to make plans... will report back later :)

On the knitting front I managed to finish couple of projects, a sideways jacket for my aunt and a hat for my goddaughter.

Sideways Jacket:

Hat for Ericka using my rainbow dyed yarn :)

That's it from me this week! Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

12 October 2012

I've Got Wheel!!

At the beginning of the week I was feeling a little sad, because my spinning class was coming to an end and I was going to hand back my borrowed wheel. Then everything changed quite suddenly... I have been on the look out for a secondhand wheel without much luck, on Tuesday afternoon I searched again on eBay and found a listing for a vintage Ashford traditional that looked in reasonable condition. So I clicked on it to read the description, to my surprise and delight, the seller only lived 30 minutes away from me, and she welcomed anyone who wanted to go for a test drive! I immediately contacted her and cajoled her to let me have a go the same evening, she agreed. The rest, as they say, it's history... someone was looking after me that day ;)
Introducing Charlotte- my first wheel, isn't she beautiful! Charlotte came with a lazy kate and seven bobbins, she's in very good condition and spins smoothly. When I brought her to my last class my teacher told me that the style of her maidens suggests that she's circa 1965-1970, she and I could be sisters :)

Charlotte also came with the original assembly instructions and some leaflets:
I haven't had the chance to read these yet, but they look rather interesting don't you think?

My knitting has suffered a great deal in the last month or so due to my new found love, but I'm still chipping away (slowly) at some WIPs. I did complete a new project though, mainly because I needed it for show and tell, it's my first homespun item:
It's a simple crochet scarf, the pattern is free and can be found on Ravelry. I only had about 140 meters / 150 yards of the yarn so I just kept going until I almost run out, then did a simple shell border on each end. It came out rather cute I think :)

I really must catch up on more knitting next week, if Charlotte will let me ;)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

05 October 2012

Rainbow Dyeing with Kool-Aid: Instructions

When I showed my rainbow dyed yarn last week some of you showed interest in learning how it's done, as there is no spinning class this week I thought I'd write that Rainbow Dyeing post with instructions :)

What you will need: 

  • undyed yarn/top/fibre/scoured fleece
  • three different coloured powder dyes. I'm using Kool-Aid today because that's all I have at home. But you can use any acid based dyes or food colourings.
  • a frying pan or shallow cooking pot, or electric frying pan.
  • a pair of tongs (if you don't want dyeing your fingers too, or burn them!)
  • a pair of rubber gloves
  • a plastic spoon (mine gives a perfect measure of 5g/0.18oz of powder)
  • white vinegar 
  • dish washing liquid
  • a colander for draining
  • a bucket for soaking and rinsing
  • a water jug for adding water if needed
N.B.  You should always keep dyeing equipments separate, I bought this old pan and tongs from an op-shop (shrift store). I should find another colander too, but as I'm using Kool-Aid I'll be let off today ;)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Weigh your dry material. The ratio for powdered dye and undyed material is 1:10.  For example I'm using 100g of yarn, so I need 10g of dye all together. The 3 packets of Kool-Aid is roughly 10g.

2. Tie your yarn in several places to prevent tangling during the process. If you're using fibre top or scoured fleece you don't need to tie them. (N.B. make sure you don't tie too tightly if you don't want rings of undyed spots where the ties had been)

 3. Soak your yarn/fibre/fleece for at least 1 hour, better result if soaked overnight. (N.B. if using commercial yarn you might need to soak with some dish washing liquid to help dye absorption).

4. Drain the yarn/fibre/fleece to get rid of excess water. Your undyed material should be thoroughly wet but not dripping.

5. Add some water to the pan, not too much because you don't want to submerge the material. Then add a dash of dish washing liquid and a dash of vinegar.  - can you see the dish washing liquid in the pan? No need to mix or stir.
 6. Add the material to the pan and arrange it so that there is no empty space at all. There should be enough water for cooking (so that it doesn't run dry) but not covering the material - this is very important as too much liquid will allow the dyes to travel in the pan and merge together to make the colour murky. (if you have less material try using a smaller pan to fill the gap with other fibre things like a clean old tea towel that you don't mind ruining)
 7. Now the fun part!! Sprinkle the dye powder over the material in three sections, the colours next to each other will merge and make new colours.
8. Start heating and bring it to a simmer - do not boil! Once the pan starts to simmer set the timer for 10 minutes (if you are using commercial dye), I actually waited 15 minutes as I was using Kool-Aid. Do not be tempted to stir or fiddle with it, but you can poke it with tongs if you think the powder is not dissolving - make sure you wipe the tongs clean or rinse them before touching another colour.

9. After 10 (or 15) minutes turn off the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. The picture below is after cooking.
10. Using your tongs to take out the yarn/fibre (it could still be hot) and let it drain in the colander.
11. Once drained and completely cool, rinse in cold water until the water runs clear, squeeze out the water (do not wring) or roll in a clean towel, then hang in the shade to dry.
And there you are, beautiful rainbow dyed yarn! or fibre :)

Of course you can use any colour combination, last week one of my classmates only used 2 colours (purple and pine green) and the result was stunning. You can also do this in a microwave or an oven, but I haven't tried those methods yet.  Knitting-And.com has a post on rainbow dyeing using pre-mixed dye in which you mix the dyes into liquid and pour over the undyed yarn, the result is the same. On reflection I think you can use just one colour and you might get different shades of the same colour or have an semi-solide effect. In fact next time I might do just that :)

Now it's your turn to have fun with Rainbow Dyeing, please do show us what you have created :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

P.S. Last week someone asked how I got the dark denim blue colour from Kool-Aid, well that's a mix of grape and blueberry, interesting result isn't it  :)

28 September 2012

Dyeing Experiments - A Chance With A Spinning Wheel: Part IV

In this week's spinning class we experimented with rainbow dyeing, in a nutshell it's just cooking the yarn/fibre in a frying pan with just enough water. I say cooking in a loose term, simmering would be more actuate. Of course you need to add dye to the yarn or fibre, we used Landscape Dyes that come in powder form and just sprinkled whatever colours we fancied on top of the yarn/fibre, then you just stand back and watch the transformation take place.
The colours I used were Cyclamin (purple), Citrus (orange) and Sandstone (deep yellow). I had no idea how it would come out, the colours in the pan were quite deep and I was having doubts while watching but once rinsed and dried the colours just took on a new life, it's amazing!

In my excitement I forgot to take photos of the process, I might write a separate post for Rainbow Dyeing at another time with instructions.

I also tried a little KoolAid dyeing in my slow cooker: 
A valuable lesson learnt from this exercise was that do not tie the skein too tightly unless the tie-dyed effect is a desired outcome ... you can see where the tie had been the colour is much lighter, there are actually uncoloured spots if you peel back the top layer. But I'll call it a designer feature, like my thick and think yarn ;)

After last week's lesson I was eager to experiment with mixing different fibres, the skein above is plied with 1 strand of merino and 1 strand of merino/tussah silk blend (first carding by myself). The merino silk blend was so easy to spin, the long staple from the silk makes it easy to spin very think yarn and I just love the luster from the silk. Another experiment I did was combining a silk hankie and a corriedale top, I'm not sure if the little bumps are part and parcel with silk hankies or if I was doing something wrong, but there were quite a few of these in the otherwise very smooth and almost cobweb like strand. Thankfully once plied the little bumps are not very visible.
It's the school holidays here and our teacher is away so there will be no class next week, but that won't stop me from spinning - just as soon as my finger feels better, burnt my right middle finger last night, it's not serious just a bit sore. I might stick to knitting for a few days :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

21 September 2012

A Test Knit and A Chance With A Spinning Wheel: Part III

Hello there! It's Friday again and that means it's time for some fibre arts fun. Before I continue the story of my spinning adventure I want to show you a small project I just completed, it's a test knit of a new pattern from the talented Shui Kuen Kozinsky. I love Shui Kuen's designs, to me they are poetic and each tells a story of romance, nature or a reminiscent of the bygone years. I was chilling out on Ravelry one day and saw the call for test knitters for the Gentle Beauty Cowl, both the name and design spoke to me so I put my hand up and got started straight away, and here is the finished piece:

It took me six days to complete and only used less than 40g of kid mohair blend in lace weight. The grafting was a little tricky in mohair but a little uneveness is hardly noticeable in this yarn. The design is really simple yet elegant (tick all the boxes for me!), I think it would make a wonderful gift or I might just keep it for myself :) ... In case anyone's interested, the pattern is on sale at half price until November 15th and there is a KAL in the Fans of SK Kozinsky group.

OK, now about spinning! In this week's lesson we learnt about different types of fibre, if you are a seasoned knitter/crocheter you will already know that there are animal fibres and plant fibres. From a dying perspective the fibres are categorized in protein, cellulose and manufactured, we were told to pay particular attention to these as each type takes to the dye differently. Talking about dying, I resolved my last week's dilemma of whether to dye my lovely first handspun - I decided to keep that skein as it is but I spun another one with the stained fleece to use for the dying practice in the next class. Thank you all for your advice and suggestions, as it turned out it wasn't just me, everyone had the same problem. Apparently that fleece was donated to the Guild and if it was sold commercially the stained bits would have been removed.

We had a lot of fun in class experimenting with different fibres: alpaca, cashmere, silk, bamboo, soy... There are so many possibilities one could spin, it's mind boggling but very exciting! Things I learnt from this class:
  • Alpaca fibre is hair, not fleece, hence it's non-greasy.
  • Angora is harvested by brushing the rabbits everyday.
  • Tussah silk is from wild silkworms whilst mulberry silk is from domestic silkworms. 
  • A silk hankie is not something you blow your nose on ;)
  • Bamboo breathes easily and has deodorizing properties (perfect for socks!!).
  • Possums are culled for their fur, they are considered pests in New Zealand. 

This is a mini skein I spun using some practice fibre I got from the class, it's Corriedale Romney cross, both are natural colours. When I was plying I watched the two colours came together to make the new yarn, it reminded me of the book I just finished: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. This is not the sort of books I normally go for, but it's the book of the month from my book club and I am so glad I read it.

In the book an (quite) ordinary young man called Richard Mayhew helped a fallen young girl out of kindness in a London street, unbeknown to him his actions set certain things in motion and got him inadvertently involved in a world he never knew existed: the London Below. Eventually he teamed up with the girl he helped, who was on a quest of her own, and began his journey of finding his way back to his old life in the London Above. Neil Gaiman is a master story teller, his unequivocal English sense of humour gave me giggles and I found myself feeling quite nostalgic for London: the long underground passageway between Monument and Bank stations (I used to walk that passage quite often), the announcement in the Tube stations "Mind the Gap", Earls Court, the British Museum, and even the occasional rats one sees next to the underground tracks...  all the familiar sites of London took on new meanings in the book, you recognised the names but it's not the London as you know it,  yet somehow the human tragedies - betrayal, revenge, honour, bravery, loyalty, love... are just as real in the world Below as in the world Above.

Well, that's pretty much my week wrapped up. Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

14 September 2012

A Chance With a Spinning Wheel: Part II

They say time flies when you are having fun, that is certainly the case this past week. Remember last week I said that in this week's spinning class I was going to learn to ply and scour my yarn and fibre? Well, I did just that and now I can present you my very first finished handspun, drum roll please... tah dah!

I learnt to ply two singles in the opposite direction to the one they were spun to make a balanced yarn, oh I love plying, it's so much faster than spinning! And then because my yarn was spun from the greasy wool I also learnt to scour and wash it to get rid of all the grease and grime. The transformation was amazing!

Project:  my first hand spun on a wheel
Fibre:   raw corriedale fleece
Yardage: 98 meters / 107 yards (2 ply)
Yarn weight: DK (11 wpi)
Amount: 70g / 2.5 oz

I am so pleased with my first hand spun, it's not perfect but I love it and just can't stop petting it. The next question is: What should I do with it? What should I make? And there's another point, I'm not sure I want to dye it - that's part of the lesson plan in a later class, but I really quite like the natural colour, it's so yummy... decision decision...

On a slightly down note, my attempt at scouring the raw fleece did not go quite so smoothly. I prepared my fleece as instructed, like this:

... then I scoured it, washed it and laid it out to dry:

For some reason the stains on the tips did not quite come out, I don't know if this is because I didn't use hot enough water or not enough detergent, but there it is. I spoke with the lady who runs the class, she told me not to panic and that she's going to scour some of this fleece over the weekend and see how it will come out, "maybe it will look better once flicked" she suggested. I think she's just trying to comfort me, but let's hope so! I'm waiting for the fleece to dry so I can find out whether I'd made a complete boo boo of this beautiful fleece.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

07 September 2012

A Chance With A Spinning Wheel: Part I

After much anticipation my spinning classes started this week, hooray! The classes are being held at the Handweavers & Spinners Guild of Victoria, there are five sessions all together and each lasting 3 hours. The first lesson was about learning the basics, how to adjust the wheel, how to flick the fleece, how to get started and all that.

Since I don't have my own wheel (yet!!) the Guild loaned me one to practice on. It's a traveller single treadle by Ashford, there are larger traditional wheels available but my beloved little Honda Jazz could only handle this small wheel :)

What I hadn't expected was that we'd be handling raw fleece, well I knew we'd be learning about fleece but for some reason I just didn't consider handling raw fleece, complete with vegetable matter and erm, well, you know, things that get stuck on a sheep's coat... how naive was I! To be fair, the fleece we were given was quite clean, I was assured that there were worse ones. Anyway we learned to turn this corriedale fleece:

... into this: (I do love the sheen!)

... by using a flick carder like this: (yes, I bought my own carder :)

To be honest, at this stage I'm not entirely sure that I like handling greasy wool, maybe I'm just being a typical squeamish city dweller. On the other hand isn't this what it's all about? Learning where the wool/yarn had come from, how it came to be, like growing your own vegetables and making your own bread. In fact, come to think of it, knitting one's own garment is also part of that process of Make It Happen, it's earthy qualities serve as a constant reminder that that's what distinguishes us humans to the rest of the animals, that armed with tools and knowledge we can make it happen.

And make it happen I will, spinning on the wheel that is! It's easily said than done though, just when I thought I'd had the spindle under control, more or less, the spinning wheel is entirely a different kettle of fish! For you seasoned wheel spinners I solute you for making it seem so easy, so fluid, so serene, so transfixing... but to coordinate two hands and a foot while drafting/sliding/treadling is like trying to make a pair of puppets dance cha-cha!! Yes, yes, I know, practice makes it perfect, I'll drink to that! ... maybe I'll drink another one to that!

Next week I will be learning how to ply on the wheel and how to scour the wool, to do that we need to complete our homework of spinning two bobbins worth of yarn. This is my progress so far:

Actually this is my second bobbin - I didn't fill the first one mind you, it's just simply too ghastly to see. I've set it aside as a reminder of "how NOT to do it" whilst at the same time I can have a look at that and give myself a quick pat on the back and say "there there, you're making progress". By that, my friends, I will say good-bye for now because I have some real work to do.

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!