Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weaving Weekend Part 3- Yarn!

Though the retreat was officially a *weaving weekend*, as Connie points out, on her blog, there were lots of spinners along for the ride. There were also crocheters, and I'm sorry that I didn't get a shot of Melissa's crocheted Gnome, but if you go to Connie's link above, and look at the slideshow, you'll spot it.

In addition to weavers, spinners, knitters, crocheters, eaters, and laughers, there were also dyers. Kelly announced in advance that she was going to be doing some organic dyeing, and that anyone who brought 4 ozs of mordanted yarn, or unspun fiber, could join in the fun.

A mordant is an organic chemical treatment that prepares the yarn for dyeing. Different mordants produce different colors with the same dye. Some are benign and easily obtained (such as alum and cream of tartar, which I would have used), suitable for indoor dyeing. Some are less so (natural and organic do not automatically equal safe or non-toxic), like chrome and tin. By noon on Saturday, Kelly decided that it was just too windy to dye outside, and it was unsafe to use her preferred mordant/dye inside, so she went with a milder dye to simmer on the stove.

I didn't have time to pre-mordant my yarn last week, but ever hopeful, I brought some handspun along, just in case.

This is Romney- natural white, and natural gray.

Kelly let me soak my skeins in her mordant solution (yay Kelly!) while the first batches of yarn were in the dyepots.

On the left is cochineal. Cochineal is a teeny little desert-dwelling bug that makes a lovely red color. You need about a bazillion bugs to get any usable dye (technically: 70,000 per pound). On the right is Osage Orange, which produces a yellow-to-orange dye, depending on the fiber, mordant, and the strength of the dye itself, which is made from wood chips and sawdust.
The first yarns out of the dyepots were vivid red and yellow. Oh so beautiful!

Since my yarns were part of the second batch, some of the color had been exhausted already (soaked up by the first yarns- subsequent dye batches are always lighter than the first ones. It's an excellent way to get coordinating shades with your yarn). Personally, I'm thrilled with my watermelon colors (you don't have to look very far in most of my books to see that watermelon colorways have always appealed to me). And I'm fascinated that the Osage Orange dye came out a beautiful green over the silver gray Romney yarn. I have plenty of undyed white Romney handspun, and I do believe that I'll be knitting myself a pair of watermelon socks from these yarns.

I did some spinning too- I finished up two bits of roving that I had on hand, and emptied out all of  my bobbins, which is an unusual state for them. On the left, is some merino from Twisted Fiber Arts, in the Valkyrie colorway. I haven't measured it out, but there is plenty enough for gloves and a hat. On the right is just a bit of something, that I Navajo 3-plied. I don't remember where it came from, but it's pretty.
In fact, my output for the entire weekend came out well. On the far right is some natural cotton. On top of all of them is the mitten I knit for the mitered square class.

I didn't take nearly enough pictures last weekend- you can multiply my yarns by about 20, in all different colors and fibers, and imagine the beauty. It was a wonderful weekend, and I'll be going back next year.

Tonight, I'll see if I can figure out how to tell the Legless Chicken story without naming names...


Connie Peterson said...

I didn't take any yarn or fiber but I surely was drooling over the luscious colors that came out ... from the bright to the muted, like yours. Someday I might be back spinning and get some colors like that.

Kathleen Taylor said...

Kelly inspired me to save my marigold flowers this year, so I can do a little natural dyeing this fall.

Connie Peterson said...

I have several bags of yellow onion skins ... they make lovely golds and yellows.