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Something is done

October 6, 2009
by

But because I’m just that sort of person, we’re going to do stuff in chronological order…
On the last Saturday in September, someone from my spinning group had a gathering at her lovely old Harford County farmhouse, and the centerpiece of the party was some natural dyeing.

She had three pots going – indigo and cochineal with kits from Halcyon, and goldenrod just done with available plants (goldenrod is everywhere in Maryland in September). I don’t go for yellow but I tried out the other two. I was lucky to have two skeins of undyed Knitpicks yarn hanging around the house and brought them along.

Everyone had stuff to dunk in the indigo pot, which is an art in itself because you don’t want to oxidize the dye by introducing bubbles of air into the bath when you push in your fiber. My first skein is the sort of big one on the top rail in the middle of the photo. Subsequently, it looked like this.

What a gorgeous color. I really love indigo and had never had the opportunity to make something real indigo before. This is 800 yards of Knitpicks merino lace, enough to knit myself a pretty shawl to savor all that color.

My second skein, 4 ounces of fingering weight Knitpicks silk/merino (same as their Gloss line), went into the cochineal first. It made a lovely magenta, but somehow the mordant was not working, and the color drained out of the fiber as soon as it was lifted from the pot, so it was merely a pale pink. I dropped it back into the indigo, hoping for mauve… somehow the blue took really strongly, so back it went into the cochineal. It bled and bled and bled pink when I washed it at home, and ended up this sort of not-quite-purply shade.

Socks, I think… maybe. No plans for it right now.

Emmy had a turn at cranking one of the many antique sock machines that were there that day.

She also met a pudgy wooly bear on the sidewalk.

I was admiring the little flax wheel belonging to Rose from my group. She has been working with it to make it less finicky and flukey, but it is so pretty! It made me discontented with my Mazurka and longing for a little saxony I could take around places with me. More on that subject in the future.

I plyed up two skeins of stuff that were sitting on Mazurka bobbins, and hung them out to dry. The pink is handdyed merino, and the white is pure alpaca that I handcombed from the batch that we got for free at a spinning group meeting a little while back.

I navajo-plyed the merino and got about 210 yards to 3 ounces. I think maybe a hat would be the right use for this, it’s very cheerful. The alpaca surprised me. I was not trying for a fine yarn, I was actually hoping for somethiing poofy and medium-weight. What I got was about 270 yards to 2.8 ounces, which strikes me as fingering weight. It is VERY VERY soft – it went into the hot water feeling a little stiff and overspun, but it softened up beautifully and is quite lovely now. It was a lot of labor to comb it but now that I know what it can do, I will be less loath to go back to it. I think maybe a scarf.

When I stepped onto the back porch to shoot photos of the yarn, I unwittingly disturbed Mamacat who was sitting there. I figured since she’d already run down the steps I’d just go on and take my photos, and she stayed at the bottom of the steps watching me.

She appeared to be expressing her opinion about my spinning. Or maybe it’s just that whenever she sees me she thinks of cat food.

OK so what is done? I finished the knitting of Ice Fantasia. I have not yet had time to block it, and it’s been done for over a week. We spent all weekend obsessed with head lice….. but that is all over now, thank goodness, it just wasted days of our time and energy! So Ice Fantasia is not blocked. But isn’t it just so pretty even so??

It already feels big and it hasn’t been stretched out yet. I think I will set myself that task on the Columbus Day holiday.

Meantime, I am enjoying knitting on the Alpaka Tunic as we move into red-wine weather. It’s an easy knit and I’m almost up to the armholes on the back. The second photo is a bit more true as to the shade of the yarn, but it’s a little washed out.

The Sottopassaggio socks are coming along, the second sock is past the heel flap so it should be done soon. I think I will hold off starting something else until I finish the socks too… I have some ideas.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2009 12:51 pm

    That shawl looks lovely. Can’t wait to see it all blocked out. The dye day looks like much fun.

  2. Sam permalink
    October 8, 2009 12:26 am

    Wow – what a great post, Caroline! I really enjoyed readings this – the indigo yarn is to die for, and the shawl is just stunning. Emmy is so grown up – waah! The alpaca tunic is going to be very nice on you, too. 🙂

  3. October 9, 2009 11:45 am

    What a gorgeous shawl. I love your spun yarn too.

  4. Melanie permalink
    October 10, 2009 10:19 pm

    I love the indigo dyed skein, what a perfect colour. What a fun day that must have been for all, including Emmy, who is looking so grown up now.
    Ice Fantasia looks wonderful even unblocked. It’s going to be a knockout.

  5. October 15, 2009 1:09 pm

    What a beautiful blue post! I linked to your blog from Wendy’s — you have such inspiring projects! Makes me want to learn to spin!

  6. Jan permalink
    October 23, 2009 8:40 pm

    What a great post. I felt like I was right there looking over your shoulder into the dyepots. I do think that purple/blue skein would make nice socks. Lovely shawl, beautiful spinning, and yes, that little antique saxony is enough to inspire. I eagerly await the next installment of that story!

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