Friday, March 30, 2007

All the colours of the rainbow?

Sorry for the extended hiatus. I'm not sure what happened although I have been reasonably busy. Sometimes, though, I feel as though I can't really be bothered stringing words together and this week seems to have been one of those times. I have hardly even emailed my daughter in England!

Yesterday our spinning group had another day together where we had a good look at the fleece we had dyed. Now that it has all been rinsed (thanks to yours truly - have you ever had to rinse out 4 kgs of fleece before? No? Believe me, it is hard work and takes ages!) and dried the colours seem more vivid than they were at first. Nearly every colour of the rainbow was present in some small way. Many of the piles (there must be a better word to describe these small blobs of coloured fleece!), because of the very nature of the dyeing-wool-in-the-fleece-beast, are multi-coloured. For instance, some of the blues have quite a bit of green in them and the greens have a fair bit of yellow mixed in. Very pretty when you really look closely.

Each of us took several piles and began to separate the locks and comb/card or started to spin from the straight away. I was a little concerned that maybe the piles would have become matted from all the rinsing they needed and the compression when the whole lot were rolled up together in storage once dry. Surprisingly, though, the majority separated out quite nicely and, with some, it was even possible to spin without combing first. This fleece was a Border Leceister, though, which I think helped a lot. If a finer, more felting-prone breed was used the outcome may not have been so good. This is something any would-be Dartmoor dyer should take into account.

I chose a pile of red/orange/yellow fluff to comb and spin. Not my normal colours (if there is such a thing) but really pretty. Especially as we are going into Autumn here. The colours are reminiscent of bright Autumn leaves - think sugar maple! Very nice after the dull brown I am still churning out (about halfway or slightly more now). I'm not sure what I will pair this with. I think I'll wait until I have plied it up.

We are all going to work on something small for display at the Club's Open Day in May. Hats, maybe fingerless mitts. Who knows? Should be pretty and colourful.

Last time I was here I spoke about my "petting zoo" - my stash. Since then our family all went toan animal-type zoo, Orana Park in Christchurch, for our grandgirl's 3rd birthday. What a lovely time we had walking around the extensive grounds and seeing all the animals in as close to a natural environment as NZ, enclosed spaces and considerations for their particular species can give them. It was amazing to be separated from a large Sumatran tiger by only a plate glass window!

The kids (3 and 15 months) really enjoyed their time there. It was lovely to see little children really enjoying a close encounter with different types of animals. For as far back as I can remember I have loved animals so it gives me a little thrill to see that love being passed on to yet another generation. Both my sons and my daughter love animals also. Perhaps this is why my son and his partner chose this particular place for a birthday trip.

Another special thing for me was being able to go through an enclosure with different types of native birds in it. I missed several of them but I did manage to see a tui (pictured) for the first time and the kereru (wood pigeon) was so close I could have reached out and touched it! I know there are both in the native bush not far from here but these birds are not always easy to locate. We are often visited by bellbirds in the garden here, though. In fact I heard one singing its beautiful song this morning. Tuis, although a little more showy in the looks departments, do not have the same singing voice!

Giraffes are another of my favourite animals (I'm not sure if there are any that are NOT my favourite!) but this time we weren't supposed to go quite so close to them as we used to be able to. Not to be outwitted, my sons grabbed my camera and climbed the small gate and got up onto the higher platform to get me a good, in-your-face photo of them. I don't really approve, but I wasn't saying no!

Well, that is about it for today. Other things are calling out for my attention. Hopefully there won't be such a gap between postings. And, just maybe I'll have photos of the spinning of the fleece!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Additions to my Petting Zoo!

I realised a day or two ago that I had not shown you the skeins I had bought in Nelson while on holiday in February. Bad blogger! So here goes:

Yes, I know only five little skeins, but at least that is something. From the left we have a lovely soft 200g skein of slub yarn from Touch Yarns. This skein is unbelievably soft to the touch and such pretty colours which are fairly true on my monitor but perhaps a little more muted. Plans for this yarn? I have no idea, but I am open to suggestions! Although there is no length stated on the label it does say that the yarn knits as an 8 ply on 4mm needles.

To the right of this skein is another offering from Touch Yarns, this time a super-soft 4 ply fine wool in a lovely deep red, not quite as pink as the monitor shows. Again there is no yardage stated but the skein weighs in at 100g. I'm not sure about a final destination for this one - perhaps a scarf (either long or triangular) or a mobius.

To the right of this, again, is a tiny little offering of kashmir sari ribbon from Yarntraders. Very pretty in shades of pinks, reds, purples and teals (do I see a pattern here?) the label states the skein weighs in at 50g and is a mere 19m long! It is 90-100% silk. To its right there is another skein from Yarntraders, Makula, 80m of 100% recycled cotton. The usual pinks, purples and blues with a fair smattering of orange and yellow in it.

On the far right you see a 75m skein of Banana Silk from Yarntraders in the colourway "Magic Carpet" which appears to be spaced dyed red, blue. pink and turquoise. The label describes this skein to be rayon made from banana palm fibres. It has a slight sheen, is spun fairly thickly but with some thinner patches. It is quite dense and heavy for its size - it weighs 200g.

I have been thinking of making these last three skeins into a scarf knitted lengthwise maybe finding a woollen yarn to work in along with them. Not sure yet. I wouldn't mind making them into a small bag but I'm not sure how to combine the three and would I have enough to do this? Again, suggestions welcome. But I am not averse to having them sit here in my stash and bring them out now and then to look at, dream about and maybe pet a little!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Busy Week!

I hope that you will forgive me for the long interval since my last posting but I have been rather busy. Last week was Dyeing in the Park day for our Spinners and Weavers group. This time, we had decided to dye a fleece using a method written about in our Creative Fibre newsletter (the newsletter received by all members of Creative Fibre New Zealand) - Dartmoor Dyeing. This involves 4 kilos of fleece in the grease, 4 dyepots and 4 colours of dye (red, yellow, blue and green) as well as several willing helpers. The end result is 48 colours of fibre and several happy, and tired, ladies.

To try and cut down on the time involved on the actual dyeing day I weighed out 3 piles of fibre and split each of these into 4 bags. This worked really well as each pile of fibre was the same size. I had also made up the dyes to the specification of the recipe so that there was the correct amount available and measuring on the day was kept to a minimum. If using this method with these dyes (Teri Sandolan Dyes) again I would perhaps make the concentration of the red dye (red B) at least half as strong again. Or even double. It exhausted rather well on the day meaning there was little left for the second dipping.

Perhaps I should explain this method a little more - the fleece was divided into three equal parts. These parts were further divided into four parts. The first set of four parts were put into the dyebaths - one part into each - and simmered for a while. They were then taken out of the dyebath and divided into four parts. One part from each dyebath was kept aside as a clear colour while the other parts were put into the other dyebaths. After more simmering these were taken out. The dyebaths were replenished with more dye, salt and vinegar and the process gone through again with the next of the first three parts. This happened again for a third and final time.

Confused? I think it is something you have to do to understand! Anyway, the upshot was 48 small piles of fibre in various shades hues and tints! Quite amazing, really, considering we started with a fairly large, greasy fleece! All of these piles were wrapped up in a sheet which I took home. I now have the "lovely" job of rinsing out all the piles and drying them. I am a quarter of the way through. Because of the grease in the fleece each pile is needing to be rinsed about three times trying not to subject it to too much agitation. I would hate to ruin all our hard work by felting it all.

Another thing keeping me busy for a while was a visit from the Grandgirls! We had them for the whole weekend (from Friday night until Sunday afternoon when we took them back). Kind of a challenge considering their age (almost 3 and 15 months) but enjoyable for the most part. a visit to the local park was a hit. They loved watching the wallabies (or "wobbalies" as the 3 year old said at first! Sad when she changed it to wallabies before the day was out) and playing on the playground equipment.

Another thrill was watching the 15 month old walking! She had been taking the occasional step up until the Monday of last week, then it was all go. She is almost running now! Funny how some kids don't do things until they can actually do them properly. I think she may get this from me!

This week we spent a rather large chunk of money getting an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation)system installed. Too soon yet to tell if it is going to be worth it but I do know there is a huge amount of heat in the roof space to be tapped. We live in an old (about 100 years old) wooden house with high ceilings and an iron roof. The living area heats up nicely with the log burner but it can be difficult to heat the bedroom areas. I don't know how much longer we will be able to have a log burner, either, as my husband's back makes it difficult to cut firewood as well as the relatively new regulations regarding log burners. Our old one will be illegal in a few years and the new ones do not stay in all night. Hopefully, this system will make an improvement to the temperatures throughout the house as well as keeping the house dry and the air clean.

Spinning - well I spent about half an hour yesterday on the merino/soy silk. Not much to show for it! Knitting - haven't been able to settle on it this week. Hopefully progress to show next week.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

In which I feel a little let down

My copy of Interweave Knits arrived today. At last. I must be one of the last people in the world to receive it! But I needn't have worried - I don't think I would have missed much if it hadn't arrived. I think the only thing in it I would consider knitting is Grumperina's Roza's Socks.

Everything else, to me, is rather ho hum. I kind of like a few things but the shape or the neckline or whatever is not my cup of tea. For example, why on earth would you make a v-neck with one side longer than the other? It makes it look like you knitted it wrong. Or that is what the non-knitting public would think at any rate. Otherwise, that top is a very nice, classic little piece. A little unfair of me, I guess, to single out that one particular piece but that is one that annoyed me. I like balance and that top offended my sense of balance!

Also, did anyone else notice that a few of the garments look like they should have been a slightly larger size for the model? In no way am I saying the models are too large. Not at all! But just a couple of the garments look ill-fitting to my eye. Take the Dollar and a Half Cardigan that many seem to be raving over. A very nice cardigan but the button band is gaping and the sleeves are a tad too long. Also the Bauhaus Fair Isle (again a very nice jersey) should be longer in the body length as well as in the sleeves for the model. Shouldn't it? Or am I just being picky?

Maybe I am just put out that the magazine I have been haunting the letterbox for has been such a disappointment. I hope this is not repeated in a couple of weeks when the books I have ordered from Amazon arrive!

My apologies to anyone who notices my favourite blogs list in the sidebar. The names seem to be awol at present. This will be rectified as soon as I know why it has happened and how I can fix it! Thank you for being patient with me.