Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fiber Exchange - Third Skein

The last skein of yarn I made for the fiber exchange project was spun from the two balls of roving.

I was surprised to find that my white roving was actually many short pieces instead of one long piece. There ended up being more participants than there were pre-prepared balls of roving, so we took a piece off of each long roving to make up an extra ball and I ended up being the one to get it.

I soaked the roving in warm water and vinegar for about an hour. Then I lined up the pieces into one flat square bundle on a piece of plastic wrap. I mixed turquoise and golden yellow Washfast dye from Pro Chemical Dye Company to get an avocado green. I sprinkled that and brilliant purple sparsely on the top of the roving, leaving areas of white showing. I only needed to sprinkle a few areas on the back side.  After rolling up the plastic wrap into a tube and sealing the ends, I placed the bundle in an enamel pot on top of an inverted pie pan with an inch of water in the bottom. I covered the pan and steamed it on low for forty minutes. Then I turned off the heat and went to bed. In the morning I rinsed the dyed fiber in running water in the sink. Then I soaked it in warm water with a little dishwashing detergent. Then again in another warm clean water bath. I put the roving in the washing machine and spun out the extra water using the spin cycle with no water squirting out. This  is what the roving looked like after it dried.

In order to keep shorter lengths of each color in the yarn, I split the roving into pencil size strips.  That also made the fiber draft easier after being put through the dyeing process.

It was really easy to spin a thin single ply because the roving was commercially processed and didn't have any VM in it.

The pink novelty roving was a little harder spin because it had a small amount of  VM like bits of grass, but it also had a lot of other little bits of debris that was put there intentionally to give "character" to the yarn. I liked the sections of contrasting purple and turquoise fibers and maybe even the metallic tinsel, but I would have left out the little pieces of fiber that looked like torn pieces of cardboard.

Here are the two singles ready to ply.

This is what the two-ply yarn looked like on the bobbin.

Here is the third skein for the fiber exchange project.

Here are all three skeins ready to take to my U-Spin, spinning guild meeting next week.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fiber Exchange - Second Skein

I used four out of eleven of the sample fibers from our fiber exchange party in my first skein. They were the softest fibers.

For the next skein, I chose four of the Romney type, spongy fibers (the two white ones were exactly alike) and I included the mohair fiber. 

The largest fiber sample was loaded with VM (vegetable matter like grass, seeds, and moss). Almost every square inch had something bumpy or stickery in it. I tried to remove as much as I could before I mixed it up with the other, cleaner fibers, but it was too much trouble, so I decided to card the fiber samples really well and then dye the batts in fairly dusty shades to hide the VM that I couldn't feel as I spun the fiber. 

I divided each of the different fiber samples into four pieces and made four separate groups with one piece of each fiber in each group. I put each group through the drum carder to blend all of the different colors together. Then I divided each of those four batts in half and recombined them in a different order before carding them. I repeated that process until they were well blended into a uniform grey color. A lot of the VM fell out during the carding process, so the batts were very soft and clean.

I chose two colors of Washfast dye that looked good with the grey fleece, moss green and boysenberry. After soaking the fleece for an hour in a warm water/vinegar solution, I spread the fleece out on plastic wrap and sprinkled the dye all over the surface. I checked the underneath areas and sprinkled a little dye in the two areas that didn't soak through from above. Then I rolled up the fleece in the plastic and set it aside until I finished dyeing the roving that I intended to use for the third skein of my project. (I'll tell you about that skein tomorrow.)  Here is what the fleece looked like after it was steamed and dried.

Then I split the batt into strips.

I spun a thin tightly twisted singles. This made it easy to remove most of the bits of VM that remained in the fiber. By this stage it wasn't bad at all.

I made a three-ply yarn by Navajo plying it.

This is the finished skein.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Working On Our Fiber Exchange Project

It's almost time for the U-Spin Umpqua Valley Spinning Guild meeting when we will all show what we made from the fibers we exchanged. I can't believed I finished with a week to spare. Here is an overview of my project:

These are the fibers I brought home with me.

I pinched off a sample of each one:

I divided them up into groups. These six fibers were all a certain type of spongy wool, possibly Romney. Some were soft and some were coarse. Two of the white ones were exactly alike, so I combined them as one.

These three fibers were a lot softer than the rest. The brown fiber is a really nice alpaca. The white ball is roving from Brown Sheep Woolen Mills. The white rolag is a mixture of wool from a long-hair sheep and angora.

The last two fibers are a little more coarse than the rest. The grey fiber is mohair and the pink one is a novelty combination of unknown fibers.

After playing with several different ideas about how to combine these various fibers into yarn, I decided to make three separate skeins. I started by separating out four of the softest fibers to make a natural colored, navajo plied yarn.

Since each fiber sample was already carded I was able to go right into combining the different fibers on my drum carder. I wanted to keep the different colors distinct, so I only put them through the carder one time. This is how the batts turned out. You can see distinct layers of the different colored fibers.

I split the batt into fat roving, trying to keep the colors fairly even throughout.

I spun a thin singles with a high twist. It took a little bit of maneuvering to keep the colors drafting evenly because they were of several different lengths. The long-wool wanted to sneak out of the roving, leaving the short spongy yarn behind, so I kept bringing up the spongy wool and letting it twist with the long-wool to keep the colors even.

I made a three-ply yarn using the navajo plying method, which basically means you make large slip knots and pull the fiber through with your hand as you are spinning the yarn in the direction opposite to the one you spun the singles yarn. I remember making yards and yards of yarn chains like that when I was a kid, thinking that I was crocheting.

This is the finished skein. It's a soft, bulky yarn.

I'll show you the next yarn tomorrow.