A Dyer’s Shopping List

Hi all,

It’s been a while!

A little update on my crafting activities: I’ve done a bunch of knitting, featherweight cardigan is still on the needles though! I’m working on a pair of self striping knitpicks felici socks, vanilla pattern. I’m also now working on a little table cover for a slightly splintery end table, no pattern, just deciding what to do as I go! What else… I have to knit a hat for my sister, no pattern, just winging it. I’m almost at the decreases.

Handspun yarn, green and natural, tied into a hankHandspun yarn, single ply, colourful with purples, whites, greys... still on the bobbin, attached to the spinning wheel

Spinning wise, I’ve done a bunch of spindle and wheel spinning. My skills are improving slowly and my spinning is getting more even. I need to work on balancing my yarn better when I am plying.

And, new thing! Well, I’ve been toying with the plan of dyeing yarn basically since I discovered hand dyed yarns maybe even a year ago or so (I only started knitting in August 2016!)… the reason for this is I would love to dye my own colours as and when required, and I want to be able to dye the colours I require without searching for the perfect match.

Also, some of my favourite dyers are based in USA which is not practical for me to order from due to customs fees (and my low wage job! In future, I will one day order from these lovely people, but not right now). A bunch of my favourite UK dyers are either now working on wholesale orders all the time or are sold out in a snap! I’m often at work during their updates too.

So, I ordered some bits for my experiments. I’m gonna list below what I’ve ordered and what I still need to get, for future reference! I’m currently watching Lara from Gynx Yarns’ video on dyeing as she has a great equipment list.

Bought/Have

  1. 7 x 100g aran Shetland wool yarn (enough for the worsted boxy pattern)
  2. A bunch of acid dyes
  3. Pipette
  4. Plastic measuring container
  5. Latex gloves x 1
  6. Simple dust mask (to upgrade if I do more)
  7. Apron
  8. Citric acid
  9. Tongs

Need

  1. Salt
  2. Stainless steel pot
  3. Find a notebook (I have one, I just need to christen one the dye book)
  4. A few tea towels (I can dampen them when mixing dye powders and if the powder falls out of containers it will be attracted to the dampness/it’ll go on there rather than float about and get in things like lungs)

Extra

  1. Respirator
  2. Urea
  3. Containers for dye stock (plastic or if I use old jars I need to sterilise them)
  4. More sturdy gloves
  5. Safety information for dyes and other things I’m using (MSDS) – I don’t have a printer at the moment – this is something I should do though!
  6. PH testing paper
  7. Little measuring spoons

Extra task: I should really join my local guild!

I’ve decided that I would like to document and write as much as I can about my dyeing and spinning (and crafts, etc) journey. I still would love to somehow make this a source of income although I acknowledge that I am a big (and not super dedicated) noob compared to all these very knowledgeable, committed and experienced people online! I hope to learn from them. I’ve just decided to ‘see how it goes’ and see if I can give it a shot regardless! I’ve changed my yarnie instagram to virago.yarns now…  welp!

 

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Temporary Acquisition: Spinning Wheel

It’s been a little while since my last post, welp!

So, one of my peers in Japanese class happens to be a retired lady who has a farm, who also makes amazing food and cakes, is a textile artist… and has a spinning wheel! She hasn’t used it in years so she said I could borrow it. I went to her house and she showed me its set up. I now have it in my home! She said I could have it for a while, and get accustomed to wheel spinning until I eventually buy my own. She also kindly gave us some unwashed long-staple fleece (can’t remember the breed of sheep). That now brings me to 2 bags of some fleece plus a whole Torwen fleece. Eep. Better get to work!

We took it home, set it up… and had problems with it. First with getting to grips with the tension on a double drive band and then I struggled to get the newly spun yarn to wind onto the bobbin. It turns out that the metal bit of the orifice kept twisting around and so the yarn got stuck on that. I didn’t want to permanently alter the wheel in any way since it’s not mine, so C tied up some yarn around it in a way to keep it in position.

It seems to work now, but I am not yet used to both treadling and drafting and feeding the yarn into the orifice. A lot more practice is needed! I have thought about again adjusting the tension so the take-up of the yarn is slower, but I’m wary of causing more issues on this old wheel.

I’m mainly at this point with spindling as well since I tend to park and draft only. Hopefully I’ll practice enough that the process becomes natural and easier.

I have been toying with the idea of being able to spin and sell yarn (along with wanting to be an indie dyer). While this is a long way off, since I’m very new to the act of spinning itself plus not super knowledgeable about all fibres ever… it is a nice dream to non-chalantly (a word?) and slowly pursue. I’m going to continue to think ‘can I get away with making a spinning and dyeing business?’ and work towards improving my skills…

Other Acquisitions

  1. I bought Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitters’ Almanac, second hand, online, am waiting for its arrival!
  2. Last night I got paid from a commission, so was able to purchase an art batt from spin city. I’m so excited for its arrival… it may take a while to arrive as it’s made to order!

And, end of episode progress report:

  1. Seed Stitch Socks – at a deadlock, on the cuff, an inch to go before fish lips kiss heel. I’m intimidated by the FLKH PDF!
  2. Donegal Tweed Socks – on the heel of the first sock
  3. Featherweight Cardigan – cardigan body is complete, next up I must do the sleeves. There was a delay as I needed to order 4mm DPNs for the sleeves!
  4. Snowmelt Shawl – I started the shawl, I got excited! I’m halfway through.