Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dye Exchange 2010

The wool has been rinsed and is now drying. The bathroom looks a little creepy, almost like the "swamp thing" has moved in. The color is a soft olive green. I really like it.

Now that the wool is dry, I can divide it into 1 ounce bundles, and put a information band around it with not only my name, but what I used for dye material, and mordant.
There are 32 one ounce little bundles of soft, pale green wool ready to exchange. All in all this dye pot was a success.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Today is the day that I will dye my wool. First thing is I need to mordant the fiber. Mordanting helps the dye from the plant to stick to the wool. The mordant that I chose to use with this dye material is copper. It comes in a crystal form, and if you look closely you can see the small packet of blue crystals in the center of my supplies. The instructions warn of toxic fumes and skin irritation so I'll be using a mask and rubber gloves when handling the mordant and fiber.
Here is the dye pot. I let the plants sit over night and I think there is some really nice color in there. When I pulled a small amount out of the pot in looks more of a golden color than green. The next step for this pot is to strain off the plant material from the dye. I can then throw away the used leaves.
As I mentioned earlier there is a warning regarding toxic fumes, so I will be doing the mordanting and dyeing outside over my camp stove. The copper and wool are now in the pot and need to simmer for about 30 minutes.

As the wool takes on the copper it changes to a pretty light sea foam green. It's working!!!! After simmering for 30 minutes, I took the wool in the house and rinsed it. Next step, into the dye pot.
The leaves have been strained, and the wool is now added to the dye pot. Between the blue green of the mordant, and the yellow gold of the dye pot, it looks like I'm going to get a pretty olive green. I will let the wool simmer again for about 30 minutes, and then I will let it sit and cool. Later tonight I will rinse it out and hang it up to dry.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Guild Dye Exchange

I belong to the Wasatch Woolpack Handspinners Spinning Guild, and every year we have a dye exchange. This has to be the highlight of the year for me, it's almost like Christmas in March. How it works is the president tells us either what color we need to shoot for, or what kind of dye material we need to use. I think it's great, because it gets me out of comfort zones and forces me to learn and try new things.

This year the challenge is to "Dye From Your Pantry". In other words what do you have around the house inside or out that you can dye wool with. The options included plants, spices, and even Kool-aid. It just couldn't be an acid or other manufactured dye. The other rules are, you need to dye at least 2 pounds of good ready to spin roving.

After you have dyed and dried your wool you then divide it up into 1 ounce balls with the information on how you dyed your wool and your name. Then at the guild meeting in March everyone gets to show and tell about their adventures. Then we all go around and pick up one sample of everyone elses dyed wool. We all go home with about 2 pounds of wonderfully different colored wool.

I thought I would start my 2 pounds today. I decided to use a plant that grows in my garden, so last September I pruned back my sage bushes and hung the stems to dry until I needed them.

To prepare the wool for dying, I need to let my wool soak in plain water so the wool will absorb the dye, and not just the water when it goes in the dye pot. Here is my wool soaking, it will need to soak until tomorrow when I will then mordant it. I'll explain more about that latter.

Here is my sage that I dried earlier last fall. It smells wonderful.

To make a dye pot out of this sage, I first need to strip the leaves off the stems.

Since the leaves are so dry, they crumble quite easily. The kitchen area really smelled strong of sage after I finished doing this.

The leaves are then put into a large stock pot with water to simmer. I usually do this for about 1 hour. I will then turn off the heat and let the leaves steep in the water until tomorrow morning.
Then I will strain the plant material out of the water and the dye pot will be ready for dying.

After only a short time the color is already going into the water, but I want a really deep green and the longer the leaves are in the water the better my chances are of getting the color that I want.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Shawl is Finished

All the strings are in place, and I've started the weaving process. This pattern requires two shuttles. One shuttle for the design (the grey hand spun), and one for the tabby (red) to stabilize the fabric.This pattern takes a little longer to weave because I'm really weaving two types of fabric at the same time. See the treadles under the loom? the two on the left I use to weave the tabby pattern, and the other four are used to make the overshot pattern.
Here is a close up of the woven fabric. I think this side will be the back side of the shawl.

I really like how the pattern worked up on the other side of the fabric. The wool that I used is a dark grey with silver and it gives the yarn a shimmering look. I'm really pleased with how this turned out.

Here is a picture of the completed shawl.
Total time 7 1/2 hours to weave and finish.

So, how many hours did it take to make this shawl from start to finish?
44 hours.
What do you think it's worth???

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Setting up

Okay, so the yarn is spun and ready to weave with, but before I weave I need to set up the loom. I have to do a little bit of math to figure out how many strings per inch I want the shawl to be. The finished shawl will be about 21 inches. I need to allow four inches for shrinkage, so I need to plan on 25 inches on the loom. I want 15 strings per inch. So I multiply 25 by 15 and get 375 ends. The weaving pattern I've chosen is a repeat of 30, so in order to make this work and be centered I need to increase the strings to 390 plus 2 for floats. That is a total of 392 strings that I need to get ready to go on the loom.
The length of the strings will be 3 yards. I use a warping board to measure out the length and count the number of strings that I need. This process took about 2 hours.

Now that I have the warp strings counted and measured it's time to go to the loom. I now will take one by one everyone of those 392 strings and thread them through the reed. That took 1 hour.

After I have finished sleying the reed, I then need to take each thread one by one and pull it through one headle on one of the four shafts on the loom. Time, 2 hours.
Now I need to tie the warp to the back beam. Time 1 hour
With the warp attached to the back beam of the loom, it's now time to wind the warp up and attach the other end to the front beam. Time 1 hour.
The loom is now dressed, and I'm ready to begin weaving. Total time invested so far in this shawl, 37 hours.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In The Beginning

People that come to the village to visit have commented that some of the hand made pieces that they see in the gift shop seem expensive. Though I can't speak for all the artisans at the village, I'm sure many of them will agree that many hours of labor go into each piece before you see the finished item.
I wanted to share with you the steps, and time that go into one of the pieces that you might see at the village.
The project that I've selected is a hand woven shawl, made from hand spun yarn.
The materials that I have chosen for this project are wool and cotton.

When I purchased this wool it had only been sheared off the sheep. The wool smelled like a sheep and was dirty and greasy from all the lanolin that coats the wool to keep the sheep dry and warm.
So step #1 I needed to wash the wool by hand and let it dry. Time 1-2 hours.
As you can see in the picture the wool is in a tangled mess. I can't spin the wool in this condition,

Step #2 Carding. This tool is called a drum carder. It's function is to brush and line up the fiber for spinning. For this wool I needed to run it through the carder 3-4 times, before it was smooth enough to spin. I will need about 14oz. Time, 4hours.

The wool is now ready to spin. I did spin this wool on my spinning wheel. I needed to spin a fine yarn for the shawl which takes longer to do than thicker yarns. I can spin 4 ounces of yarn on one of my bobbins. Total yardage on one bobbin is about 1200 yards. It takes me about 6 hours to spin one bobbin, I spun up three. After the yarn is spun I need to ply the yarn into a two ply yarn. That takes about another 2 hours per bobbin. Total time to spin and ply the yarn 24 hours.

The yarn is now ready. I will be using this yarn for the weft in the shawl. I chose to purchase a beautiful pearl cotton (hot red) for the warp. Total time so far for this shawl 30 hours, and I've not even begun to weave yet.

Tomorrow I start preparing the loom.