Thursday, 28 March 2013

There's a hole in my yarn pot Dear 'Liza a Hole!

Picture the scene I am sat happily carding on my new wide carder, Mr S is contently watching cycling on the TV and on the stove my yarn pot is gently coming up to a simmer.  The cat is gently snoring on the arm of my chair (her preferred place is my wheelchair is occupied) and the log burner is keeping the room at a ambient temperature.  Afternoon tea has just been served so all is harmony and in nearly every way everything is generally perfect, and fairly productive (well Mr S isn't actually doing anything!)

Then from the stove comes a very loud hissing noise as water vapourises - immediate thought is that the pot has boiled over - tragedy, but no - not not even near to boiling!  Investigation finds that there is a hole in the side of my pot, the size of a pin prick but enough for water to be pouring out - gaffer tape doesn't seal the hole and the water is too hot for me to safely remove the fibre without risking some felting!  Nightmare - I can't be certain that the dye has set on the fibre, although the water gradually seeping into the hob is almost clear.... 

Now this wasn't the most expensive of stock pots, possibly around £20 at a well known Swedish store.... but not heavily used and certainly not thrown around and dented in any way.  Immediate reaction is 'how much is a new one going to cost?'  Then whilst looking in another well known DIY store for something to dissolve super glue I came upon some epoxy putty for metal.

I have mixed, and applied and am now waiting to see whether I have achieved a repair - fingers crossed. Quick update - it worked! !

But why was I looking for something to dissolve super glue?  Well some bright spark has super-glued a distaff into a spinning wheel as well as nailing the Mother of All!!

This is a lovely little wheel that I am doing a bit of restoration work on for a friend - its probably a flax wheel, but I am not 100% sure on that!

It does spin despite all that the previous owners have put it through.  The wheel has been well covered in varnish, both the uprights that form the Mother of All have been nailed and the leather orifice support split as it was completely dried out.  But we did managed to spin a little - with me holding the leather together. New leather and a bit of TLC will probably see this sweetie spinning very fine......

The observant will have noticed my passing mention of a new wide carder - brownie points for those who did!  Well truth be told I haven't been a great user of my drum carder, as I never, until now, enjoyed spinning woollen.  But all has changed thanks to Fibrefrog - who patiently took me through the process of producing a fibre puni or a faux rolag - I prefer puni................

Punis are usually made for cotton spinning, but it is possible to make wool fibre punis using a puni stick made from a wooden dowel by. who else but Mr S.

These are my puni sticks the smaller one is 15mm and the other larger one is 25mm, I also have a 12mm one (well if you have a wood turner for a husband you might as well make good use of his skills).

Preparing punis for woollen spinning - first card some fibre - I have been blending to get a tweed effect

This are the colours for Bramble Wood Tweed, which I carded 4 times making sure that I had some little silk nupps as I went

Then I made punis you need a grippy surface, this is D-C-Fix which you put in drawers and the like to stop things slipping around

First roll the fibre around the puni stick one and half to two times then holding the fibre down with the right hand gently pull the fibre apart 

and then roll the fibre around the stick making sure that all the ends are well rolled in

like this....

some finished punis

And here are lots punis waiting to be spun

The finished yarn

Friday, 15 March 2013

I can sing a rainbow....

Well perhaps not sing, because I am tone deaf and sing flat and completely out of tune - in fact at school I was made to mime the words so I didn't put the other off!!  Is it any wonder that I am such mixed up person?  Although Mr S and I did provide the backing group to Simon and Garfunkel last night of the M5 aftering collecting Demelza

What I have been doing is blending colours on my drum carder, and the words of Sing A Rainbow kept popping into my head - red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue!  I haven't actually put this particular combination through the carder (it would probably come out a muddy brown) but I have been having the most fun ever with a drum carder.

All this was prompted by a discussion on Ravelry (when isn't it?) and the request to show the result of blending using the custom blending service at World of Wool.  I had used the blending service before, but to put together blends of fibres for dyeing.  My favourite is Polwarth and Silk 75/25 and if you have passed though five times you get the most gorgeous silky soft spinning top - bliss!

What I hadn't done was to use the Custom Blends to mix colours.  I have to admit I am a bit nervous about choosing colours like this, as monitors differ and my conception of a colour might not be how it comes out.  The Gaywool dye Spearmint is a example of this. Spearmint to me is a pale minty green, the Gaywool Spearmint comes out more a Dijon mustard colour.  So do you jump in and risk not getting the colour you're expecting or do you experiment?

You blend.................................

First blend Autumn Leaves was inspired by this picture

For this I blended Black, Mocha, Caramel and Red and added a very small amount of yellow and this was the result

Not quite as light as I had envisged, but perhaps with a touch more orange it would be perfect.  And then I made lots of punis

For the second blending I took more photos so here is the colours I chose

From left to right - Dark Forest Green, Pale Blue, Turquoise Silk, Grass Green, Spearmint, Sherwood Green and what I would call a Dark Blue Green which I think came in a mixed bag. 

This was after the first pass - I added the colours fairly randomly and blended the silk directly on to the drum.

The second, I split the batt into five strips, and then pulled the fibre out and added more silk directly to the drum

Third - just repassed through the carder

Four as Three

And this is the finished product

Spring Meadow (darker than the photo - the light is bad today and the flash bleaches out colours) - may need a little yellow to even out the bluey tones.  Total 50grams of light airey fibre.........

Monday, 11 March 2013

Danish Oil, the hidden allergen

Back in December I introduced Hiawatha the Indian Spinner that I am restoring.  Well I wasn't very happy with the finish!  I had only given it a light sand and then used a wood balsam which I had imagined would be enough, but it wasn't the finish that I had envisaged.  If you looked hard you could still see where the varnish had been - so back to basics.

Wax and varnish remover and several hours of sanding and I am now getting back to the bare wood (which is pine) which isn't too bad considering that the previous owner had liberally covered the wheel in several coats of the retched varnish which unfortunately hadn't prevented water damage to the legs.....

It does look worse than it is, and a good sanding has removed a lot of the surface damage and I am determined to take my time and do a good job this time!

But what to use - most of the knowledgeable spinners on Ravelry use Danish Oil, mainly I think because it contains some wax, so giving a deep shine while also nourishing the wood.  But, and here's the rub, it contains Tung Oil which comes from the Tung Tree (Vernicia fordii ) or the China Wood Oil Tree.  The oil is made by pressing the seed from the nut and is a drying oil, that is one that hardens on exposure to air.  Note this - it comes from a nut!  I had an allergic reaction to this oil, a serious asthma attack not just a bit of a wheeze but a full blown gasping to breath type attack - not good.

So what else - a bit of research into the subject of drying oils reveals that most of the propriety brands of oil contain tung oil - gun oil is red root oil, but I can't find out what red root oil is exactly - it is used on the stock of guns and seems to give a red finish - so not really what I want for my spinning wheel.

At the moment I am trying Lemon Oil, which comes Lemon Grass, not the Lemon Tree!

One of the methods recommended was to use a very fine steel wool 0000 grade or more and apply wax three times wiping with white spirit in between each wax - thought that this sounded a good method, so this morning I decided to clean and polish the new to me Haldane bobbins for my Orkney(a recent Ebay purchase) and although the results are pretty good I need to wait for the very fine wool and remember to let the wax dry - between applications which should eliminate the need to buff!

The one on the left is the cleaned and waxed one - hope it shows!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

March Show and Tell.....

Well its Woolly Wednesday again and another month has gone by in a flash!  But it has been quite a productive month on the whole.

Two shawls finished - one in my gradient hand spun

This was a mystery KAL by Lilygo who designs the most lovely shawl patterns with lots of stitch definition.  Was really pleased the way the colours show up the pattern.

The second, another KAL, this time by SussanaIC was done in Mad Tosh Prairie and here it is on the blocking mats

On the spinning front I have spun the second batch of gradient dyeing producing a whopping 1035 yards, so a big shawl.

For the rest of the month I have been experimenting dizzing off my drum carder.  At a SpinDyeWeavers meeting last year we had a terrific time playing with drum carders and hackles blending batts after which I purchased a copy of Deb Menz' Color in Spinning having been inspired by her Fiber Preparation and Multicolor Blending Techniques DVD. 

I have also long admiired the beautiful Bullsye Bumps produced by Steph at Loop, but have been put off buying because they would incur a custom charge.  However, I was lucky enough to get a bump in a detash for $25 (so avoiding the custom charge) which I then disconstructed to see how it was done! 

These are a centre pull batts, not your ordinary run of the mill drum carded batt - the blurb from her site says:

"This is not a batt, though it looks like one! It is actually one continuous strand of roving that will change from color to color as you spin. I have wound the roving into a center-pull bump so that you can simply pull the roving out from the center as you spin."

Well after much trial and lots of errors I have come up with these!

These two took me four hours to card, and wind them into a centre pull on my nostepinne and the two only weigh in at 38grams (19grams each) no where near the 5ozs of the original. In my defence my drum carder is only 7 inches wide and I would be really pushed to get anywhere near 100 grams of fibre on it even with the packing brush!  My eventual aim is to get a 50 gram bump...............

And finally two new acquisitions

An Easy Spin Wheel - this came with a broken flyer which is why it was such a bargain.  Mr S has made a new flyer and today I bought the wire to replace the delta orifice, but even with a cobbled orifice she spins like a dream - a true 'easy' spin.

Finally a Yarn Suzy from Mr S in American Cherry - this photo was taken before he had shape the top! But I am pleased with it and it does stop centre pull balls from collapsing in on themselves..........

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