Saturday, August 19, 2017

Had to try it

While perusing The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory, by Anne Dixon, I came across a description of tubular inkle weaving. Most knitters are familiar with idiot cord, or i-cord. This is basically the same thing: the shuttle goes in the same side instead of back and forth between sides, creating a tube or round cord. Of course, I had to try this out.

I wanted three stripes of equal width, and thought I needed the same color on both sides of the tape in order for the weft to be invisible. I warped 2-5-5-3 in green, yellow, pink, green, all in Maysville 8/4 carpet warp. This worked out great, although splitting the green may have been unnecessary since I was warping from only one side.

I chose a short warp length, which still produced almost five feet of cord. The colors spiral naturally, although part of the "rhythm" of tubular weaving includes giving the tape a little twist. One can do an S-twist or a Z-twist.

A possible use for tubes of weaving is as shoelaces, although I think 8/2 would be a better yarn size to use for this purpose. Other uses I can think of off the top of my head are spiral bowls and round coasters. Any more ideas out there?

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's addicting

I started my first inkle project on August 12, finished it the next day. For one thing, once one develops a rhythm, the weaving goes quickly. For another, it is SO addicting!

I thought maybe I had made a mistake warping such a long project, but now I have 96" of inkle tape, to do something with. I think it is enough for a dog collar and leash. I haven't washed it yet, so it may shrink a bit.

Can you tell which end is the beginning and which the end? To vary the width of a tape, one can tug hard or not, depending on what one's aim is. My aim was to be consistent, and I eventually achieved that. More or less.

A question in the back of my mind right now is, Will I ever return to knitting? It's not unusual for me to fall off knitting during the summer, but now I am wondering if I am on the cusp of abandoning it in favor of weaving. Time (and the arrival of winter weather) will tell.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Inkle dinkle doo

I belong to the Fort Wayne Weavers Guild, a great bunch of talented and generous people. By talented, I mean I spend a good part of the each meeting with my mouth hanging open, stunned by what they produce with their looms. It's both inspiring and intimidating. By generous, I mean they are very welcoming to newcomers and eager to help and share their knowledge. Part of that transfer of knowledge occurs during what they call Super Saturdays, when those interested meet at a member's house and learn something new.

I haven't been able to attend any Super Saturdays until today, when the subject was how to weave on an inkle loom. I've been very interested in learning this because it looks like fun, is a great way to create fancy strips of cloth for a wide variety of uses, and hey, I need a new loom (like a hole in the head).

Like most learning experiences, we exhibited awkwardness and confusion, but once we got our looms warped and started the actual weaving, it became easier and fun. There are a few tricky bits to achieving a consistent looking result, but that comes with practice.

I used Maysville 8/4 Cotton Rug Warp, in colors 'Tulip', 'Yellow', and 'Light Jade' (my granddaughter picked them out). My loom is an Ashford Inkle (not the Inklet which is very compact and portable). I had no problem assembling the loom, but still need to apply a finish. That will have to wait until I complete my practice project. I warped the longest way possible, so I'm more likely to end up with a bunch of somethings that are usable.

Inkle looms are good for making all kinds of things, from bookmarks and bracelets and shoelaces to dog collars and leashes to guitar straps and tote bag handles to tote bags themselves. I see lots of fun in my future.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Not what I was aiming for

When I decided to move the rhubarb patch in my garden, I also decided it was a good time to try dyeing with rhubarb roots. It was a bit of a hassle and I did not get the results I wanted, but that seems to be beside the point when it comes to dyeing with natural materials.

One surprise was this black gunky stuff on the roots. Or I should say, at one end of the roots, as I eventually figured out it was the crown of the plant. (My pix of it came out blurry or I would show you what it looked like.) I chopped up enough root for my dye bath, and then some more, to dry. I chopped until my wrists gave out.

Again, I relied on Jenny Dean's book Wild Color. The yarn this time was a skein of Happy Feet Dye for Me (90% merino, 10% nylon) fingering weight, divided into five mini skeins. The idea was to apply an alkaline modifier to produce a range of colors on the red side. I used ammonia for the modifier, which is strong enough to change litmus paper to its most alkaline color with just fumes. That should have been a clue that my goal was not going to be achieved.

I wish I had saved a skein so you could see what the color looked like before the afterbath. The ammonia altered the color but did not turn it as rosy as I had hoped, and all five skeins are basically alike. It's not a bad color, but again, I was hoping for a range of colors. I may overdye this yarn.

Now that I have tried my dyeing hand several times and with different materials, I am becoming more comfortable with the whole process. Part of me would really like to work in a more controlled and scientific way, but another part of me likes to be surprised by the outcome. Either way, there are no failures, just lessons learned.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Disappointed dyeing

I'm not very interested in yellow or green colors, which is mostly what one gets when dyeing with natural materials. Queen Anne's lace is no exception, but since I have (or had) a lot of Queen Anne's lace growing in the backyard, I decided to give it a try. According to Jenny Dean's Wild Color, dyeing with Queen Anne's lace without a mordant but with an iron modifier should result in gray. But that's not what happened.

Thin gruel

In all fairness, the entry in Dean's book for Queen Anne's lace was also for carrot tops - the two plants are cousins - and she did say the color from carrot tops would be richer. But I decided to work with what I had on hand. I made sure there was a LOT of plant material in the dye bath, but the color still seemed rather thin.

Alum & iron, iron only, alum only, no alum or iron

The yarn I chose was Valley Yarns Northampton (100% wool), a 100g ball divided into four 25g skeins; since I was already working up a dye bath and an iron after bath, I decided I might as well mordant some yarn with alum too. Again, I used the cool method for mordanting, but I simmered the plant material for a good hour AND let it sit overnight. I also used the hot method on the yarn, simmering it for 45 minutes. Because of bad timing on my part, the yarn cooled in the dye bath for almost 24 hours. I also simmered the yarn in the iron bath, for about 5 minutes.

Pale yellow

I'm not very excited with the colors. The yarn that was not modified with iron came out a pale yellow. The yarn that did get modified with iron is kind of an olive green. The alum mordant made only a subtle difference.

Olive green (sorta)

That was a lot of work for disappointing results. However, with natural dyeing there are too many variables to predict what will happen. I sample such small amounts I'm sure I can make use of these colors in something.

(Note: in a recent natural dyeing class I took, "simmer" was defined as 190 degrees. Using my ChefAlarm digital thermometer, which allows you to set a minimum and a maximum temperature, I was able to keep the temp between 190 and 200 without standing over the stove obsessively. I highly recommend this product.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Slow dyeing

Since I am on grandma hiatus for a couple of weeks, I decided it was a good time to tackle one of those projects I had planned for the summer. With school starting mid August around here, summer feels half over. Time's a-wastin'!

Project number one was to dye some yarn with onion skins. I had saved up nearly a paper grocery bagful of yellow onion skins - 5 whole ounces. According to Jenny Dean's book, Wild Color, this amount of onion skins would dye... 2.5 ounces of yarn. Wha'?!? It turns out that was not quite accurate, but it colored (heh) my decisions on how to proceed. The yarn I chose was Cascade 220 and Lamb's Pride, wound into approximately one-ounce skeins.

Onion skins

Also according to the book, if I wanted a nice tangerine color instead of yellow, I would have to mordant the yarn with alum. This I did, but using the cold, slow method outlined by Dean. After all, who wants to be slaving over a hot stove in July? I also ended up applying the mordant in two separate baths, as I kept changing the plan. This may have affected the results somewhat.

Primary onion skin bath

The only cooking I did was to simmer the onion skins for about an hour. After straining, this became what I called the primary dye bath. Then I simmered the onion skins for another hour, to create a secondary dye bath. I dyed a one-ounce skein of each type of yarn in each of these two baths, then another pair of skeins in each "exhaust" bath. I then combined the two baths and used that as well on another pair of skeins. I even threw two unmordanted skeins into the final dye bath, just for fun. The idea was to end up with a range of yellow-to-orange colors.

The Plan (before additions)

I chose the cold method for dyeing the yarn, partly because Dean said I could and partly because it's July (see above) and partly because Lamb's Pride contains mohair. Mohair provides warmth but does not like to be heated. The cold method meant soaking the yarn for 12 hours for each stage. This meant DAYS of my kitchen being cluttered with dye pots and other dye equipment.

Orange you glad you are dyeing me?

I'm fairly pleased with the results, especially the Cascade; the Lamb's Pride came out more murky.

Cascade 220

From top to bottom: Primary dye bath, secondary dye bath, primary dye bath exhaust, secondary dye bath exhaust, combined dye bath exhaust, combined dye bath exhaust without mordant.

Lamb's Pride

I think these colors will work well with the henna-dyed yarn I created earlier this year.

Compare and contrast

Not wanting to waste a single opportunity to dye something orange-ish, I took an old yellow-stained-armpit but otherwise perfectly good white tank top and threw it in the final exhausted dye bath, without mordant (although I could have added some mordant to the dye bath itself. I always think of these things too late.)

White tank top now dyed

Next up: dyeing with Queen Anne's lace.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A little road trip

I bought a new car and wanted to take it on a long enough trip to test out some of the features. And so my SO and I traveled down to Decatur for their sculpture tour, then bopped over to Bluffton to view a yarn bombing. I can't find much info about this particular event, but a lot of hookers crocheted a lot of yarn to make this happen.

I admit I don't think much of yarn bombing - it seems like a waste of perfectly good yarn. Some of these objects were made with cotton yarn, some with what I am guessing is acrylic or an acrylic blend. But at least one was of felted wool.

I used to crochet - a lot - mostly afghans, so I recognized most of the stitches and patterns, particular granny squares.

But some were a puzzlement. Is this crochet or macrame?

Almost nothing was safe from yarn, including the supports for hoops. If it was roundish, it might get bombed.

In the past, when I imagined yarn bombing, I pictured a bunch of knitters standing by a tree or pole, knitting in situ. From inspecting these works, it was apparent the crocheting occurred elsewhere, then the pieces wrapped around their intended target.

All this yarn bombing is at Washington Park (310 E Ohio) in Bluffton, Indiana, and is slated to continue through August. If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.

While I doubt I will become a yarn bomber, seeing a display such as this expands my ideas for just what one can do with yarn beyond socks and sweaters. It might be nice to look out my window on a dreary winter day and see a splash of color in the garden.