Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spin Journal #6: Cooking Up Something Wild

Tried the Ice Blue Lemonade Kool-Aid, and discovered that you get a nice light blue, but it still wasn't as dark as I wanted. Sigh. OK, back to the drawing board, or dye pot. While I was waiting for the first skein of Romney to dry so I could check the color, I finished spinning and plying the rest of the Romney, so I have about 6 ounces (approximately 255 yards) of finished yarn.

The second try was with Blue Berry Kool-Aid: 6 packets of Blue Berry and 2 packets of Ice Blue Lemonade, along with 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and enough water to cover the balls of yarn. This time I gave the dye pots (my stainless steel saucepans) 90 minutes in the oven at 210 degrees and then let them cool in the liquor overnight before rinsing. This time, I got a much "bluer" blue, and the red from the Cherry Kool-Aid is more subdued than in the yarn dyed with the Ice Blue Lemonade Kool-Aid. The yarn is a variegated blue through a process known as "cloud dyeing": you roll the undyed yarn into a ball (I use a ball winder), then dye it rolled up. The dye doesn't penetrate completely, and you get these lovely clouded patterns in the finished yarn.
The other skeins are some other yarns dyed with Orange and Grape Kool-Aid. I have all this yarn I've spun, but never done anything with, so I'm trying to get rid of some of it by dyeing it up bright colors. Perhaps the fact that it's dyed will motivate me to do something with it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

...And They're Off!

Summer vacation is finally, finally, FINALLY here! Far too short for my taste, but at least I have 9 beautiful, blessed weeks of doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g connected with school or education. Time to do all those things I normally like to do in my full and busy life: spin, weave, do needlework, read, sleeping in, and staying up late.

I'm celebrating the first day of summer vacation by finishing up some spinning, and leisurely cleaning up the house. I'm trying to get more focused about cleaning, as I would love to have the house really clean (housekeeping is a "hit or miss" situation during the school year), but I'm too lazy to day to really worry about it.

I did manage to get quite a bit of spinning done. I finished dyeing the batts and got them spun, and started spinning the rest of the Merino on my Wendy wheel, Emily. I wanted to get used to using it, as I'm taking it with me to Black Sheep, and I haven't spun on it for about 10 years. I took the Wendy to the guild meeting yesterday, and several people commented on how cute it was (it really is pretty cute). A lot of people confuse a Wendy with John Rappard's wheels, the Little Peggy and the Wee Peggy, but they're completely different wheels from different wheelmakers.

Emily seems to have lived a charmed life. Stephen found her in an antiques shop in Coloma (California) in late 1994, while we were there doing an historical reenactment. He bought her for me, lock, stock, and 3 bobbins, for the whopping price of $65, including tax. I'm sure she probably sold for more than that brand new. Shortly after purchasing her, I "sort of" learned to spin and had loads of fun spinning really bad yarn until I finally settled down and started taking classes and spinning on a regular basis. I ordered a bunch of extra bobbins for Emily from Philip Poore, the New Zealand wheelmaker who made her, and have a couple charming letters detailing the history of the wheel, how to build and install a Scotch tensioner on the wheel, and why it wasn't in production any longer. Nobody is really sure how she ended up here in the US, but I'm not complaining--she's still the wheel I take to workshops because she spins silently and is tremendously light and sturdy. For her trip to Black Sheep, I got a new, blue carrying case for her that arrived today. If inanimate objects can look happy and excited, this wheel is doing just that: she's currently standing in her new carrying case in the front hall, saying, "Can we go yet? Can we go yet?" Soon.