31 May 2014

Why We Take Classes

I mentioned the Leicester longwool in the post about Maryland Sheep and Wool. I have an upcoming swirl jacket class at The Whole Nine Yarns. I've worn my first swirl jacket a lot. I thought that this time when I teach the class, it would be fun for me to make myself another.

I'm also trying to knit from stash because, really, I do not need more yarn. The problem, of course, is that one doesn't need more yarn, but the next project in the queue seems not to match any of the yarn in the stash. Why is that?

With some consideration, I did decided I could make my jacket using two handspun yarns already in my stash.

#1 Blue-tiful:
 #2 Louet Northern Lights:
I also decided it would be fun to have a trim of long locks around the outer edge of the jacket. Fortunately, I took Esther Rodger's "Tailspinning" class at STITCHES South this year. And I took Merike Saarniit's "Microwave Rainbow Dyeing" class last year. So I know a little bit about how to dye protein fiber and how to tailspin yarn.

I started with one ounce of the Leicester longwool purchased from the Rivendell Farm booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I went through the bag and arranged all the locks with tips facing in one direction and butts in the other. I also used the opportunity to clean up the fiber, shake out any vegetable matter, pull off any stray wool, etcetera.
I let the locks soak overnight in water with the juice of a couple lemons. I was going to dye them outdoors in the sun, but I hadn't checked the weather report and the next day was overcast, cool, and rainy. So I had to do the dyeing indoors. I drained off the water. All the locks were laid out nicely in two rows in an inexpensive recyclable aluminum roasting pan. I put all the cut ends down the middle of the pan and all the tip ends facing to the edges. Then I mixed up three colors of Jaquard acid dyes with just a little bit of water. On the cut ends I used 623 Brilliant Blue. On the middle of the locks I used 624 Turquoise. And on the tips I used 628 Chartreuse. Because this method uses so little water, I just drizzled the dye out of the cups and on to the fiber.
Locks with dye just poured on them.
Using my gloved hands, I then squished the wool a little to be sure the dye covered all the locks and to encourage the colors to mingle. Remember, the locks were already damp.
Locks with dye mixed from squishing.
I ended up having to heat the locks on the stovetop instead of using solar power outdoors. (Yes, I did turn the exhaust fan on high and opened both kitchen windows.) Unfortunately, I scorched a few of the locks. But it all worked out okay.
Are those beautiful or what?

I rinsed the locks and allowed them to dry for a day or two. Before spinning, I used a mini-card to flick the cut ends open, so the wool was nice and poof-y and ready to grab. I had spun up a couple plies from the leftover blue base I used for Blue-tiful. I tailspun the dyed Leicester longwool locks as I created the two-ply core. It took me about 3 to 4 hours to tailspin the locks into yarn. I used the time to catch up on some of the television I recorded while I was away. I finished the yarn with two iterations of a few minutes in the steamer followed by a cold shock plunge into ice water. Then I let the yarn hang, slightly weighted, in the guest bathroom to dry.

The result:
This is only four yards of yarn. I later worked up the other one-ounce bag but only got two yards of yarn out of it. I notice Esther sells five yards of tailspun for about $100. Those of you who don't spin may wonder why the price. Really, $100 for a yarn that takes this much time (both dyeing and spinning), is a bargain.

Or, you can just take classes and have the joy of doing it yourself. Which is why we take classes.

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