Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's a Good Day to Dye

On Tuesday, I imposed upon my friend, Carol S., to help me dye some of my handspun yarns.  I had four skeins:  three that I’d spun from Lizzy’s fleece (from 2011), and one that I’d spun from a Cormo wool – alpaca blended roving.

Lizzy is a sheep who lives in Duluth, and she’s a mixed breed:  Romney, Corriedale, Suffolk, and Ile de France.  Her wool is not very soft, but it is incredibly elastic.  Perfect for socks.  The Cormo-alpaca roving I got from my friend Joanne Dufour.  She raises alpacas.  And she’d blended some of her alpaca with a particularly special Cormo wool.  See my blog entry about it, June 23, 2010.  This yarn is yummy soft.

Before I went over to Carol’s, I wound the Cormo-alpaca skein into a 4-yard loop.  I wound the Lizzy skeins into 1 ½ yard loops.

Now, Carol is a marvelous dyer.  And she has an impressive dye studio.  And, well, I’m a color dunce.  So, I really really needed her guidance in dyeing.  I had some color ideas, but I did not have any of the technical know-how.  Thank goodness for Carol!  

Here are pictures of the process (not necessarily in order):

That last picture is of Carol.

In exchange for her help in dyeing my yarns, Carol requested that I make a particular garlic-cheese spread that she especially likes.  Ingredients:  butter, olive oil, crushed garlic, grated mozzarella, grated parmesan, chopped fresh basil, maybe some oregano, salt, pepper, and sriracha sauce.  Spread it on slices of good bread and put in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.  Yum!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Barely Enough

When I go on the road, I like to take some travel knitting with me.  You know, something portable, not too difficult to knit, with little need for refering to charts or directions.  Before I headed to Columbus for Knitters Connection, I started a hat that I thought would be perfect travel knitting.

I spun the yarn myself.  And I didn’t make much.  There were two yarns.  One was a two-ply yarn of some lovely carded roving from Handspun by Stefania.  It was a blend of CVM and silk, and Stefania had dyed the fibers with indigo and osage.  A lovely, gentle light blue.  The second yarn was a combination of one ply of that same CVM/silk roving and the other ply texturally spun from a small amount of dyed Teeswater locks that I purchased from Wild Hare Fiber Studio.

Here’s a picture of the yarn with the locks:

I failed to record the amount of yarn I made.  Or, if I did, I lost the tags…

Even combining the two yarns, I wasn’t sure I had enough for a hat.  But I started one anyway.  I knitted the brim with an old stitch pattern called “Cayce” I’d found in a unidentifiable vintage knitting magazine.  I’ve used this stitch before for my Tattoo sweater (see blog entry January 23, 2011). 

I had more of the CVM/silk yarn than of the lock yarn, so for the brim I used only the CVM/silk yarn.  Then for the rest of the hat, I used both yarns, intermittently working stripes of the lock yarn.  I knitted the rounds of the CVM silk, and I purled the rounds of the lock yarn.  Then I applied three very cool buttons.

Here’s the hat.

Only after strong blocking did it comfortably fit my itty bitty head.  And here’s all the yarn I had left over.

By the way, I was so obsessed with the worry of not having enough yarn that I knitted up the hat very rapidly just to see.  I finished it before I left for Columbus, leaving me with no travel knitting for that trip.

Friday, June 22, 2012


In my first workshop last weekend at Knitters Connection, one of the students was oo-ing and coo-ing about some yarn that she’d purchased.  She showed the class the yarn.  It was fabulously rich in color.  I knew that I’d need to make a bee-line to that booth when I hit the Vendors Hall.

It was the first booth I saw:  Fiber Optic Yarns.  

Kimber Baldwin is the dye artist behind Fiber Optic Yarns.  She is a PhD trained chemist who left academia to spend more time with her family.  Her husband helped her set up a dye studio, and she was on her way!

She is located in Cincinnati, and so far has sold mostly either locally or by etsy.  She told me her stuff sells out FAST!  This fall, she’ll be featured in Spin-Off magazine as one of a group of up-and-coming indie dyers.  Recognition of her work is well deserved.  Her colors are strong and satisfying:  saturated!

Resistance was futile.  So I bought.

Here’s a picture of a combed top (85% Bluefaced Leicester, 15% silk) that she dyed in a colorway she calls, “Garnet”.  She describes this as a “faux Batik”.

Here’s a picture of a combed top (100% Bluefaced Leicester) in colorway “Orchid”.  Mmmmm…

And another BFL combed top.  Kimber has started to dye up some of her fiber in what she calls “Once in a Lifetime” colorways.  These colorways are essentially limited editions, never to be repeated.

Kimber is best known for her “layered gradient” dyeing.  I got two gradient colorways:  “Blackberry-Raspberry” and “Bitter Lime-Rose” (both are 80% Merino, 20% silk).  Aren’t they something!

My plan is to make two skeins in which I ply one layered gradient colorway with the other.  I can hardly wait to get to this project!

By the way, Kimber and her fibers will be at Spin-Off Autumn Retreat  this fall.  And I’m planning to use some of her fiber for the classes I’ll be teaching.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Connecting With Knitters

 I spent last weekend at Knitters Connection  in Columbus, Ohio.  This is a knitting event that is organized by Jan Emerick of Knitters Mercantile, also in Columbus.  Jan and her crew were all delightful to work with, and they did a wonderful job of organizing.

There were three days of workshops, and 16 instructors.  I was the lone spinning instructor among the bunch.  (I felt so special!)  I got to teach “Beginning Spinning at the Wheel” on Friday, “Mechanics of Your Wheel” on Saturday, and “Creating the Yarn You Want” on Sunday.  There were several workshop participants who took two of the three classes, and one person even took all three!  I had so much fun.  All the students were fantastically engaged and enthusiastic.  It couldn’t have been a better teaching/learning experience!

I am happy to report that there was enough time for me to become acquainted – or re-acquainted – with many of the other instructors.  What struck me most about all the instructors is the diversity of their backgrounds.  I met folks who in pre-knitting-instructor-life were psycologists, interior designers, information technology specialists, art historians, orchestra musicians, and more!  Such wide ranging expertise makes for very interesting conversations!  And I got to chat about the trials and tribulations of pattern writing as well as the ins and outs of publishing in the knitting world.

I really don’t want to “drop names”, but I must mention that I shared a hotel room with Debra Lee.   She had worked in the IT world for many years before retiring and turning to fiber arts full time.  She is an active member of her local fiber guild, and we had a good long chat about a Design study group that she belongs to.  For me the take-home message was that cross-disciplinary art study can be quite inspirational.

There was also a Vendors Hall at Knitters Connection.  In the next blog entry, I will introduce you to one of the fiber artists from whom I purchased a goodly amount of fiber.  Stay tuned.