Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mini Wool Combs

These are the wool combs (mini) that Four Poster Woodworking makes:
Mini Wool Combs & Holder
Very nice to use. Designed for fine fibres such as merino, alpaca, camel, cashmere, etc.
For more information email Warren at: fangolio at @ silomail .com .

Dog Rugs

I am in process of making a couple of dog rugs, 2' X 3" for the front room. They are really my samples for the larger rugs I wish to make for the front room.
I finished weaving the first one this afternoon and I am surprised at the length of time it took to weave just 42" woven length.
1st Dog Rug. 2/2 twill
It is a weft faced 2/2 twill rug using seine twine warp at 6 epi with 2 ends per dent.
The weft is rug wool using 4 strands per pic. Very time consuming. I have to go back & see just how many pics per inch it is.
Basically it is shades of green with a tiny bit of a dull yellow in it. The green stripes leading off to the right is done every 3rd pick. The colours I am using can be seen on the stick shuttles in the picture.

The other rug I am undecided as to what sort of pattern I will use. I will think about it this weekend while I'm at work.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Socks!

 ...but not for me. 
I love knitting socks. They're so portable & so many designs to try. 
This is from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. 'Chevron Pattern for Self Striping Yarn'. Kroy sock yarn. 

On another note I have a warp on the Lervad countermarche loom for some towels and I have the rug loom dressed for two woollen dog rugs for the front room. 
This is the small loom. Thought I'd try a slightly different method instead of using string to tie the bouts on. 
Dog rugs first, towels second in line. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Madder Recipe

I will be at the Woodstock Fleece Festival (Woodstock, ON) Oct. 19, 2013. Booth is B18 in the center aisle. My husband of Four Poster Woodworks will be selling spinning tools & a few weaving products.
I will have some of my handcrafted soap ( MIM Soap ) and a few bags of madder for sale with this included recipe, but here it is for anyone that would like it.

Madder Root Prep for Dyeing Wool

Yield: 35-100% WOF*. eg. 100 grams of fibre will require from 35-100 grams madder depending on the DOS** you would like.

There are many methods used to dye with madder. Here is one example how to dye a protein fibre:

Prepare the fibre/skein:
Scour yarn or fibre.
Mordant clean fibre/yarn with alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) as your instructions recommend. Rinse.
Fibre or yarn for dyeing must be soaked at least 1 hour.

You probably would want to place the fibre in a mesh bag or strain the dye first to remove the root matter.

Prepare the dyepot by adding to 4 l. water to a large pot (stainless steel or enamel) and soaking the roots overnight.
For best colour results the water should be hard. If you don’t have hard water you can add a little calcium carbonate (or one Tum’s tablet) to the water along with the roots.
Alternately, you can grind the roots in a non-food blender with some of the water first, doing a little at a time before adding to the dyepot. Soak overnight.

When roots & water have been combined & have soaked overnight, slowly raise temperature to 140F for 1 hr.
Add fibre and continue cooking at 140 for 1-2 hrs.
Temperature is important because higher temperatures will bring out brownish reds – so do not go above 160F.
At the end of this time the fibre can be removed and cooled. Let sit overnight & rinse the next day.

*WOF= weight of fibre
**DOS=depth of shade

100 grams=3.5 oz.
113 grams=4 oz.

Further reading:
3. A Dyer’s Garden book by Rita Buchanan

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Madder Crop 2013

This is the result of 3 years growth on my crop of madder. 

Should be fun to see the dye results. My research says 700 grams of fresh madder roots will yield 100 grams of dried roots. 

To use the dried roots, it is suggested to soak the roots in water for 24 hours; then  place water in a blender & gradually add a few bits of root at a time until liquified. 

Use this blend of water and roots to dye your mordanted wool or silk. 
100 grams of dried madder roots will dye 300 grams fibre a lighter colour or 50grams fibre a darker shade. 

Some believe that adding 6 grams calcium carbonate to the water to ensure you are using hard water will improve the colour. 

Heat the madder roots and water gently to 160-170 degrees and just keep the temperature warm like this. After, strain the dye liquor through a very fine sieve to remove the madder pieces, etc. return to stove to keep warm. 

Add your pre mordanted wet fibre to the dye pot and leave in for at least 2 hrs or even overnight, keeping the pot warm. Letting the fibre dry before you wash it will improve the colour too. 

The next time I have a couple of days off I will try a pot of madder for dyeing some wool. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Little Projects

While watching tv, time is available for more interesting things to do - like this sot of thing. Fingerless mitts. Replacements for ones I lost last year. 

A handsun 2 ply in Border Leicester, silk & kid mohair. The pattern is 'Tiriaq Fngerlings' by Knotty Turtle Design by Selena S. Which can be found on Ravelry. 
Also done are these socks in a cable & chevron pattern. It's not homespun, but from a 31/2 lb. cone of a wool/nylon fingerling yarn from last year's (2012) Woodstock Fleece Festival. I think it was from Shelridge Farm. U

A Little More

Putting white with the rainbow.
Some white roving, some rainbow
results of white w. rainbow

Comparison of white w. rainbow & just rainbow.

Mixing white & rainbow on combs for blending.

Comb blended result is on bottom

All were spun using short forward draw. Medium ratio. 2 ply.

Tea time with a plum cake made with the plums from my tree. It is an Italian prune plum specially for jam making. Not enough yet for a batch of jam, but plenty for a little cake.

A little canning had to be done today too. Tomatoes from my garden & white grape jelly from my garden.


Monday, September 23, 2013


I've no idea of the content other than being 100 % wool. Glowing. I went searching for flax, but found this instead. I've taken a short strip of roving to see the results. It's not wet finished yet. Lustrous... If that's what you want. 
That's the strip I divided into 4 to make a two ply. Here it is spun. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Where were you on Sept. 14/13

I had the pleasure of attending the Knitters' Fair with Kim, a very dear friend today. It was an absolutely perfect fall day with a bright blue sky and we had a terrific time. There were so many beautiful colours & fibres to be tempted to take home. Lots of fun we had.

I was so controlled. I came home with alpaca insoles for my hubby & myself to help keep our feet warm this winter, one skein of a beautiful hand dyed silk fibre from Sericin Silkworks, whose colour I cannot describe and a little bit of flax. Oh and one pattern for a new pair of fingerless mitts.

And all because I got a new roof on part of the house. The best birthday present I ever could have had. It's beautiful!!

Tomorrow a visit with my daughter & her partner on my birthday.
A whole day with no pictures. I forgot.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Summer Almost GGGone???

Having had a night where my sleep ended at 2:30, I gave up & decided to use the time for dyeing some wool.

I didn't grow any woad this year, but I had a 5 gallon covered pail of a woad vat I made last year & didn't use. Everytime I left the house I had to pass by the pail which I looked at from the corner of my eye. Not one to waste much, I had too much time involved in it already.

Heck, just harvesting the leaves for that strong a dye probably took me 1.5 hrs. alone. Not to mention the time involved at the stove & stirring, etc.

So last night I went over my old dye notes and looked at some articles from some books on the subject and mentally prepared myself. I had in mind the wool (an assortment of my combed top, my carded batts, and homespun skeins) last night too.

I have loosely planned 3 rugs in variegated colours of coarse fibre I have been preparing over the past 3 yrs. I figure I will need 6 lbs wool for each rug. The rugs will have a dark warp and many shades of green, both from acid dyes & nature dyes.

Anyhow here are a few pics from today.

Woad over G. Marguerite & on white wool on botton.

All 5 skeins.

Batts & top

Skeins Drying

Batts & top

The Day's Work Summed Up

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Olds Master Spinner Level 4... Beginnnings

Here it is just past the middle of July and we are all baking in a heat wave combined with our usual high humidity & also high UV index of 9 or 10. We  could use a thunderstorm to lighten things up.
We have had a lot of rain, but I just came from pulling 10 minutes of weeds and the gardens are extremely dry.

It wasn't but only 3 weeks ago that I was with a few spinners in a classroom setting at Olds College in Alberta. A few days before I was due to fly, the Bow River was overflowing its banks and causing terrible loss for people out there. Rain combined with the snow melt in the mountains was just too much for the river to contain. Many people lost homes, lives or suffered property damage.

My heart goes out to all of them. It will take a great deal of time to rebuild.

In Olds, AB, they weren't affected. The college housed some evacuees for a time.

Classes went on with some people affected by the flooding not being able to attend.

I flew into Calgary Airport from London on the morning of June 23, 2013. Good flight and Jack, my shuttle driver was there as my luggage came round.The countryside I saw that day was lovely even if it was raining part of the time.

When I got onto the campus I settled into my townhouse room and went over to the vendors' marketplace just as I had planned. After seeing what I needed to complete my workbook assignments I was able to purchase a few supplies.

In the class there were the five of us from Ontario, all previously acquainted from the other levels taken in satellite classes in ON. I met 4 other spinners in our class - Maria, Susan, Lynn and (?) sorry her name escapes me at this moment.

Our teacher for Level 4 is Donna Rudd, very capable & very good at explaining & demonstrating what we must learn.
Donna in our silk reeling class

Here's the building our classes were in:
Olds College
The gardens around campus were beautiful being they have horticultural programs.
Columbine flower
These are Columbines, unlike any I have seen before. Many walks produced many pictures of the gardens. Very beautiful indeed.
Olds College is in an agricultural setting and they also have animal sciences and a full working farm on their many hundreds of acres.
Animal Science building
Level 4 deals with the luxury fibres: cashmere, camel, flax, cotton, silk, ramie and bison. How to choose fibres, how to spin, how to finish and where to use them. Level 4 also introduced acid dyeing and silk reeling from cocoons. More novelty yarns were part of the curriculum too. Flax - finally I learned how to dress a distaff.
Dyed silk worm cocoons

Reeled silk

Just wonderful things we learned. No wonder they call them luxurious. It's amazing what properties they can bring to a blend of fibres.

Now for a year's worth of homework. Where to start....let's go to the beginning and just work through it fibre by fibre.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Brand New Handspinning Magazine

There's a new magazine out for the handspinning community I just found out about. The first issue is June 2013.

Ply magazine  Clicking on that link will take you to the
site for info.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Fleece Prep

I received a package in the mail yesterday from Ferris Farms in Arthur, ON. It contained a fleece I purchased sight unseen. I was anxious to open it, as I love getting packages, but I didn't know what to expect.
As I opened the box and pulled out the bag there was that now familiar smell of sheep fleece; to a spinner that's not a bad smell. I laid it out on my large work table out in the barn and loads of green feed kept coming out all over the table - wee itty bitty pieces.  The dung tags had been removed and the strip down the back had mostly been removed though some was still there.

I pulled out a staple, which was about 4" in length, gave it a snap by my ear and it proved to be sound. The crimp in the staple is 7-8 crimps per inch. Pulled out a few more from different areas and all proved to be strong.
The tips on the fleece are good, though I don't think it will wash to a bright white, but that's okay, I don't mind some creamy colour.

I started sorting the fleece into piles of different qualities. The cleanest and best; wavy, but still very good that I will prepare and spin worsted; shorter for carding; and quite seedy, but with nice crimp. I had two large stacks of very nice fleece.

My choice for dealing with the loose feed in the fleece was to take a handful and shake the loose stuff off. I spent a pleasant afternoon doing this. What kept me going was the goal of a very nice crimpy fleece I know will be a joy to spin.

Type of fleece? It is a Dorset cross type and weighed just over 7 lbs. before I started shaking it.

I soaked it overnight in mesh bags just in cold water; took it out and spun it in my front load washer.
I then put a few large pots of hot water on the stove, added some Dawn dish detergent, added my fleece in the mesh bags. Kept the water on a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Spun in washer; rinsed in warm water; rinsed again; then soaked for 5 minutes with a little vinegar in the water. Spun it out again and then laid the sorted fleece on old window screens outside.

I have had to vigorously shake the fleece again and I am still getting a lot of stuff falling out. I think when I card this I will still have lots falling out and probably will still see more when I spin it up. Still the fleece was worth the trouble. It is a nice fine crimpy Dorset type that should make up into something very nice.

Here are the pics.
Fleece out of the bag

The vm and little second cuts.

Sorted stacks.

A few locks I just had to wash to see the 'after' state of affairs.

Cold water soak overnight

A few locks spun. Will knit a small sample. 2 ply. 9:1. Draft 1.5":1 treadle
After the scour

Some of the crimp and vm

This I will comb and spin worsted for something like a stitch patterned pair of mittens.This is not as fine

Nice crimp.

Grey with vm

Nice fine crimp. More shaking to do.
I just added a little knit sample. 2.5 mm needles.Less than 20 sts.

I am convinced it will be lovely when I am finished. I really need an ivory cardigan. But I love the fun of dyeing. Oh the difficult choices I must make...

Would I buy this again? Right now I'd say probably, but next time wouldn't it be a treat to see what a coated sheep fleece is like? Anyways, almost everything I do is a learning experience.

I should be outside tending my gardens; but instead I'm going to harvest some rhubarb and make a pie. The first one of the season is always the best!

And from the leaves I will get an oxalic acid solution to aid in some nature dyeing. More on that another time.

New Pink Socks

Blue Faced Leicester/nylon superwash
These are some socks I recently finished. A nice pattern made using the book by Charlene Schurch called Sensational Knitted Socks. A great format for a sock knitting book. Choose many designs by the stitches per inch in the pattern repeat and fit your sock to your foot by the gauge you knit with your yarn.
The yarn is a Blue Faced Leicester / nylon blend (superwash) purchased from The Fibre Garden in Jordan, ON.
I custom dyed it at the Oxford Weavers and Spinners Guild event one afternoon a few weeks ago. That was a fun thing to do and I just love the results. Thanks to Yvonne N. and the Guild for having this event. Yvonne provided all the dye supplies and guidance.
I first took the undyed skein and rewound it into a 20 foot length and securely tied it frequently so it wouldn't tangle; soaked in a detergent solution; then a citric acid solution. Next I spread it out on a large table covered with plastic wrap. Prepared dye solutions were applied by sponge brush; then the dyed yarn was wrapped in the plastic and placed in a steamer for 40 minutes.
I left it sit overnight before I gave it a wash and rinse. Results were very pleasing for me.
I also did one in greens and blues I will make up for my hubby.

I'm still working on the green socks. It's a very interesting pattern. I will get a lot of satisfaction when these are completed. This is the second sock; one is done.
Basket Weave pattern

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Socks

New socks started Sunday. Following a chart for this one. Interesting.