Washing & drying large amounts of wool

This weekend has been very busy. Saturday was a boys day … complete with changing trailer wheel bearings and rock fishing. Sunday was a domestic day … including washing, house cleaning and wool :)

This is what the end hallway of my house looks like.

image

Bags and bags of unwashed alpaca and sheep fiber. Being the first sunny day in over a week, I figured some serious wool washing was in order.

My usual mode of operation for cleaning wool is to put chunks of fiber into ‘delicates’ bags, washing them in buckets then hanging on the line. My problem with this method is that it seems to take days to dry as the fiber isn’t spread out.

So, after reading a few things on the net I decided to try a new approach.

As follows chronicles my morning in pictures…

1. One large bucket of water.

image

2. Add detergent, but don’t make bubbles.

image

3. Submerge portions of the fleece in water. Wash twice and rinse once.

image

4. Spread wool out over the drying rack.

image

image

I tried covering the portable clothes rack with old fly-screen…but the holes were two small and the water didn’t drain properly. So I switched to using the delicates bags which have larger holes and pegging the bags to the frame.

By 5o’clock it was getting close to dry, but unfortunately it began to rain again. So now the laundry looks like this.

image

The only variation that I would change next time is to put a piece of flyscreen in the bucket before submerging the fleece to help when getting the fleece out without burning your hands.

Overall, the wool was definitely drying faster this way, so I’ll be using this method again.

:)

Fairy Princess Yarn – Giveaway

In my last post I hand dyed some english leichester/merino cross wool in a pretty shade of grey, pink and red. (see here…)

20140209_190316

I was really excited about spinning it up, because I was just in love with the colour! So I blended it with some off-white huacaya alpaca which I purchased from a farm just down the road from my house and some pulled sari silk. It’s soft and yummy and I love it. The picture below is a little dark, I took it at night time (I couldn’t wait until morning) … and when I woke up it was overcast, so i’ll take another photo this afternoon.

20140209_202758

Here is some of the yarn knitted up as a sampler on size 5 needles

So this is my first giveaway. A 50 gram ball of the greatest yarn you’ll ever lay eyes on. :P

Ways to enter:

  1. Post a comment (1 entry) – mandatory.
  2. Follow the blog or subscribe via RSS/email (4 extra entries) – if you already follow the blog, post a comment and i’ll include the extra entries.
  3. Make a link to this post on your blog (5 extra entries) – make sure you mention this when you comment.

The giveaway will end next Monday the 17th of February 2014 at midnight (AEST). I will draw the winner using a random.org and post the winner on this blog within 24 hours (if for some reason I cannot get in contact with the winner within 5 days, I will draw another number).

The draw will be open to anyone, in any country.

This is my first giveaway, so if you have any questions or i’ve done anything wrong please let me know.

Krissie ♥

Ashford & Food Colour Dyeing

The 26th of January is Australia Day, and so in celebration…after an early morning run and jump off the wharf…I decided to have a go at using some of the Ashford powder dyes and food colourings.

image

I ended up dyeing two different colours…a pink variegated colour which was grey English liester/merino cross, kettle dyed with pink food coloring and a sprinkling of blue and red Ashford powder.
image
And a blue/purple/pink colour which is white English liester/merino cross dyed with just the red and blue Ashford powders.
image
It was very easy to do.

It was as simple as: wash the fleece, soak the fleece in vinegar and water, fill pot with warm/hot water and vinegar (just covering wool), place wool in pot, sprinkle in dye for variegated effect or pour in premixed for more even colour, simmer for 30-40 minutes, remove from heat and let the water cool naturally, after a couple of hours remove wool, rinse and dry.

I have plans to make some really fun batts using this wool on my drum carder tomorrow…I’m even thinking up fancy names for them :) For the pink I’m thinking of adding some mohair and calling it “fairy princess” :) Now I just need to buy some of that Angelina stuff.

I also have plans to try some more natural dyeing as well. I have a pot of something (I couldn’t identify the bush) in the backyard waiting to be boiled up tomorrow and possibly some plum skins too.

Have a good night.

Blackberry & Mulberry Dyeing – Part 2

It’s been a busy holiday season and one and a half months since my last post.

I finished spinning the kettle dyed wool from my last post about a month ago, but never got around to taking pictures.
So here they are…the results…
Keep in mind this will was originally a light grey colour…so colours may vary on white wool (which I think I’ll try next time).

image

The mulberry dyed with an alum mordant.

image

Now unfortunately I got the two blackberry wools a little mixed up, but I’m fairly sure this is the blackberry mordanted with alum.

image

And this is the blackberry mordanted with cream of tartar.

image

I think I might have to experiment with blackberry and mulberry dyeing again but try more mordants and not get them mixed up again.

All three skeins of wool were left in indirect sunlight for about one and a half months…accidently… so I can’t give much detail on color fastness unfortunately…

With the holidays over I will probably get back into dyeing and spinning a bit more, so stay tuned for more (hopefully) regular posts.

:) xxx

Kettle Dyeing – Mulberries & Blackberries

I’m sick of spinning boring white wool. So this weekend I went a little crazy and took over the kitchen for about 6 hours.

Two years ago the council environmental board issued the local landowners with a notice to eradicate all blackberries. I understand that blackberries are a noxious weed and that they completely take over creeks and paddocks, but it was also a bit disappointing because I love going out on an early summer morning, to beat the mid-day heat, and collecting blackberries.

So that year, I enlisted the help of all my family and friends and every morning before work we would go out and pick the very last of our blackberries. We ended up with I think about 30 kilos of blackberries. I had blackberries on porridge, I made blackberry pies, blackberry sauce, I even tried blackberry ice-cream… but eventually… we all had to go on diets from eating too much pie…so the remaining blackberries went into the freezer.

They have been sitting in the bottom of the freezer…sad…lonely…forgotten. Until this weekend. I’m not sure if two year old blackberries are okay for eating…but I figured they would be great for dyeing.

We also have a mulberry tree in the orchard…so I picked a handful of the remaining berries (it’s the tail-end of the season) and got started.

2013-11-24 13.06.38

The mulberries and the blackberries went into separate pots – with just enough water to cover them.

Mulberries on the stove, not yet to the boil.

Mulberries on the stove, not yet to the boil.

Frozen blackberries.

Frozen blackberries.

I boiled brought the berries to the boil and then let them simmer for about 30 minutes – or until they are soft and squishy.

The next step was to strain the berries. I didn’t want any of the pulp or seeds getting into the dye mixture, so I strained them through a chux. You would use a piece of muslin…or a very fine sieve…but beware, anything plastic or fabric will possibly stain…

The strained pulp...not very pretty.

The strained pulp…not very pretty.

What is left is the (hopefully) concentrated dye. If you want it more concentrated, it should be left on the stove to simmer for longer.

Mulberry concentrate.

Mulberry concentrate.

Now we mix the mulberry concentrate with the mordant. I have very limited experience (read none) with mordants… so I decided to try out a few different combinations.

Batch One: Mulberries w/ Cream of Tartar + Alum

Batch Two: Blackberries w/ Cream of Tartar + Alum

Batch Three: Blackberries w/ Citric Acid

2013-11-24 14.24.48

I forgot to take measurements … but we didn’t have much Alum left (I really need to go to town soon)… so I only used about a teaspoon, maybe a a teaspoon and a half. The mordants are then mixed into the concentrate.

Now, the exciting part. Take the washed wool and soak it in a water/vingear solution for about 30 minutes (practically, you would do this while cooking the berries).

Once the wool is suitably soaked…layer it carefully in the bottom of a saucepan.

Washed (grey) borderleister wool

Washed (grey) borderleister wool

The wool needs to be just covered with the water/dye. I poured the hot dye/mordant solution directly onto the wet wool. However, I have a feeling that this may have caused the fiber to felt slightly…so next time I will either let the solution cool slightly…or mix it with some water before pouring onto the wool.

2013-11-24 14.25.13

Looking back at this photo I would possibly add a little more water. Then the wool/dye mix is brought to the boil on the stove and then left to simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

After about half an hour, take the pot off the stove and let it sit until cool. This is the hardest part…the waiting…it’s horrible. I wanted to check the wool so badly, in the end I had to go and distract myself with housework.

Once the wool is cool, rinse it out with lukewarm water, lightly squeeze dry in an old towel and hang in a delicates bag on the clothes line.

This is the mulberry wool before it is dry.

2013-11-24 16.52.16

I think it is going to be really pretty.

It rained yesterday afternoon and this morning…so it might be a while before I get photos of the dry wool…but my next mission is to spin up all three samples to see if there is any difference and then probably ply them all together.

Until next time.

Krissie :)

Casting on

Summer is almost here. It’s only 6 more days until the 1st of December, but already the days are getting longer and the cicadas have arrived.

I’ve also cast on for my first major project using handspun, the Bergen Jacket by Drops Design.

image

I’ve been staying up very late the last few nights, watching Once Upon a Time and knitting. It probably wasn’t the best idea as I was pretty tired the next day, but it was fun :)

I’ll keep you posted.