Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Shawl from Hell......

This is my first lace shawl. I have been humbled by this experience. As a knitter, I can say that I have been forged by the fires of this experience. I can now consider myself an "experienced knitter"---not an expert, mind you, that will come later! I naively thought, before taking this on, that if I could produce a lace shawl, I will have reached a goal in my development as a fiber artist that I had set for myself. Always try something you have not tackled, and you will keep on learning! I did, needless to say. I began this shawl 5 years ago. Yes, you heard that right--5 YEARS! I started it with a lovely lace weight dusty rose yarn. I had to rip the shawl back so many times, because of mistakes I made and did not detect until rows of knitting later, that the yarn became ruined. That was heartbreaking. I began questioning my mental capacity, and my bruised ego gave up on it so many times......I shoved the mess into my knitting bag for months at a time, out of pure disgust. Began again with a sock weight yarn that was easier to work with, and forged ahead, with renewed enthusiasm! More ripping back, consulted the Internet, books, any and all manner of research.....gave up a few more times, etc., my battered ego in the ditch. With a half done shawl, and some experience about what NOT to do, I learned to "read" my knitting, check every single row for accuracy before beginning the next row, learned how to use a "life line" thread, and swallowed another pill of determination! Needless to say, I am feeling accomplished and very happy and relieved to have this shawl done and on the blocking mats! I can't wait to start another lace project.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hand Dyeing Border Leicester Fleece

These photos include color ways in blues and orange, grays and purples, and greens and rose, although the photos don't do them justice! They are soft and lustrous and a joy to spin. I dyed these using a low water immersion technique, on my stovetop, and Jaquard Acid Dyes. A very non-scientific approach, and rather freeing, I might add, since I did not follow my customary weighing and measuring of the dyestuffs. I simply prewet the wool adding a bit of soap to break the surface tension of the water and allow the dye to attach more easily to the fiber. Then, once arranged in the pan with water to barely cover the locks, I randomly sprinkled the dye on top, adding vinegar to help the dye strike, until the water cleared. Can't wait to spin these! I will be looking for Wensleydale fleece and Teeswater as well, next weekend, at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival.....those breeds are coveted by spinners, and are softer (finer micron counts) than the Border Leicester! So many possibilities......!

Lock Spinning

This Border Leicester fleece, purchased at the Ct. Sheep and Wool Growers show in Tolland this past spring, has washed up beautifully, and takes dye on with richness and luster. I hand dyed cleaned locks with deep reds, smoky grays, and some purple, and then used the lock spinning method to create this soft lustrous art yarn singles. After washing to set the twist, it will most likely become part of a tapestry project I have in mind....I am spending the long Columbus Day weekend in my studio, as time allows, in between other commitments, and I feel like a kid in a candy store! I will post more photos shortly, of the rest of the dyed Border Leicester.....