Dreamy Indigo Dyed BFL

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A couple of weekends ago I went out to my friend Carla's for a natural dye day. I decided to just focus on indigo and dyed a shirt, some yarn I thought had no acrylic in it (I was wrong), and some mixed BFL fiber.

The yarn was dissapointing, it turned a blue-grey at it's most saturated and then 98% of the color rinsed out.

The BFL fiber, however became the most beautiful blue. The BFL fiber started as a mix of oatmeal and black. I dipped it just once and the oatmeal turned to a warm light blue.

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I spun and knit a little and I am so happy with the result. The dark parts of the BFL weave in and out of the blue making a beautiful semi solid.

Since I have a couple of pounds of the mixed BFL in my stash I want to go back to the indigo pot and dip some 2x and some 3x and use the tonal yarns in a single project. Sigh.

A downside I always find any time I dye fiber is how roughed up the surface of the fiber gets. My dyed fiber always looks like a cat has dragged it around the house after vanquishing it in battle.

Do you have tips for keeping the surface of my fiber tidy when I dye?

Tour de Fleece Intuitive Spinning

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I'm spinning sock yarn for my Tour de Fleece goal. I'm spinning Homestead Hobbyist top, drafted woolen into a 2-ply with extra ply twist. I've been asked how I know what my overplied yarn will look like, and how to check my singles consistency when I want extra ply in the ply twist.

Mostly I don't stress it. For me the most important thing is to not get a yarn that feels wirey for socks. I spin my singles fine and woolen and use a plyback sample to guide me. I do a little measuring and a lot of touching, a more intuitive approach to spining.

I know I want my plied yarn to be about 14 WPI. I spin a single that I think is close but, under that WPI then check the WPI * of a plyback sample. I check it plied back on itself, then I tighten the ply twist with my hands, to get an approximation of the overtwist I want.

I feel and check the WPI of my manually overtwisted 2-ply. If it's not right, I do it again. If it's close to what I want, I note my numbers and spin a bit to make sure I can match it. Then I wrap some of my singles on a tag to compare as I spin and attach my plyback smaple to the same tag. I can quickly check WPI against the single on the card and twist with my ply back sample.

My plyback WPI is 12 and over twisted it's 14, which is right where I want to be.

Yes, I should do a bigger sample that is plied, finished and knit. But I just want to spin and get to the making. I'm always happy with an ish yarn. We'll see if this type of intuitive spinning rocks or bite me in the butt.

Embroidery with a Sore Shoulder

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I will be the first to admit that I don't take care of my body like a should. I haven't been stretching or doing yoga as regularly as I used to before and after spinning and knitting. The result is a sore shoulder and neck. I am now back to yoga and stretching, reading Carson Demers wonderful book Knitting Comfortably, and resting my shoulder.

Since I just can't just sit, I hunted for a fiber craft that uses different motions and muscles than spinning and knitting, and hit on embroidery. I used to stitch quite a bit and have all of the supplies (and then some).

I had several patterns and samplers on hand from Dropcloth (the patterns on the bottom, to the left and the one in progress) but felt the need to freshen my pattern stash. I bought three patterns from Cozy Blue (top right) and a nautical knitting themed kit from Hook, Line, and Tinker (top). I don't need any more patterns to stitch, but let me know if there is someone whose work you really like.

What are you spinning for the Tour de Fleece? My goal is four ounces of Homestead Hobbyist fiber to knit into socks for the Homestead HobbyIst Sock Along, a multi month spin and knit.

Talking without all of the Words

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My father in law has dementia. He is one of the most intelligent and curious people I have ever met. Through the years we bonded over books and reading, and clashed over guns. This man loves his family fiercely and he knows exactly what is happening to him.He made the choice to stop driving and get rid of his car. 

He grasps for words most days, but still knows the concepts. We had an entertaining conversation about black holes the other day. Between his dementia and my menopause brain we didn't have many concrete words between us, but understood each other perfectly.

His birthday was the other day and he wanted to go to John King Books in Detroit, four stories of used books. My husband and I took him book shopping and then to Polish Village for lunch. He has great difficulty reading, but still loves books. He spoke openly at lunch about how much has changed, and didn't need to say how hard it is to feel himself slipping away.

These types of outings have become a regular thing, mostly with my husband and his dad. I feel lucky when I get to come along, to spend time with him and to have the connection of talking without all of the words.

 

Summer PLY Magazine Is Out!

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Just in time for vacation reading and spinning the new issue of PLY is out. This one is all about the flyer-led (some, including me, call it Scotch tension) drive system.

I used to only spin in double drive and needing a little more finesse in my take-up one day, I switched to Scotch tension and it's been my go-to drive ever since. 

I do still spin in double drive and a Louet bobbin-led wheel is high on my list of next wheels, so I'm not a Scotch-only woman, but a Scotch-usually woman.

 

 

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I'm excited to read the articles Band Practice by Kathy Sparks all about different drive band materials, Trifecta by Kara Perpelitz about twist,draft and tension, and to spin along with Beth Smith to practice my fine yarn spinning.

I wrote an article about how to adjust your wheel if you're not getting the yarns you want with Scotch tension, called World Peace and the Yarn You Want (flyer-led edition), it's a quick and dirty Agony Aunt style article.

Because I know you want to know, the fiber I used for my article is Homestead Hobbyist Crime Scene Blend (Superfine Merino/Shetland/Mulberry Silk) in the Chain of Custody colorway.

There are two new columns that start in this issue of PLY, the first is Sheep on the Edge, about rare and endangered sheep and the second is Person of Interest, a showcase of the leaders, teachers, mentors, and deep thinkers in the spinning world. You'll have to pick up an issue to find out the which sheep and which luminary we feature in this issue.

You can find PLY at your local spinning shop or online here available in both paper and electronic editions.

Pocket Looms for the Summer

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As soon as it gets hot (and it's 90+F here in Michigan already), I bring out my little looms, my Zoom Loom and my Wee Weavers. There is something about the hot weather that makes me want to play with tiny squares.

They use so little yarn and are so satisfying. I have yet to make anything to wear with mine, but I have a few things that are really inspiring me to try.

 

 Spanish Moss from Handwoven May/June 2010, Harlequin Vest from Cotton /clouds, and Little Looms magazine from Interweave

Spanish Moss from Handwoven May/June 2010, Harlequin Vest from Cotton /clouds, and Little Looms magazine from Interweave

John Mullarkey's Spanish Moss shawl from Handwoven May/June 2010 and Lois Weaver's Harlequin Vest for Cotton Clouds get me excited to make squares that work well together. Little Looms magazine from Interweave is also a great resource.

There are a bunch of boards on Pinterest devoted to Zoom and pin loom weaving and they get me excited about adding texture to my squares.

Do you use Zoom Loom or tiny looms? What do you make?

Storage Bobbins for Spinning

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I am a huge fan of using storage bobbins and a bobbin winder for spinning.

I use them because they are cheaper than buying more bobbins for my wheel. I rarely spin one project from start to finish without starting something else, so I store bunches of yarn.

Storage bobbins also help me work with color, to mix and match and just play with color in my spinning. 

I use small stickers on the ends of the bobbins or loop tags around the bobbins to keep track of the yarn on them. I usually use both.

Last week I wrote a blog post about how using storage bobbins makes my yarn better on the Schacht blog.

 

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I also use cardboard spools when I want to store more yardage on a single bobbin. Spools won't fit on my bobbin winder, so I use cooking skewers. 

I bundle the skewers together with a rubber band and use an electric drill to wind them.

It's very easy to keep track of what's on a spool because I can write right on the end.

Do you use storage bobbins?