Weekend Dyeing with Cabbage and Beans

This weekend I played around with natural dyeing.

I just re-read that sentence and two things came to mind.  First dye and die are awfully close… thank goodness I was not talking about death.   Second.. several years ago I would have never guessed I would be fascinated with dyeing wool.   This dye fascination (almost fetish) began with one of my first posts on this blog.  (see Weekend with the Cochineals) Not only did I find a real joy in crushing beetles I was completely enamored with the wonderful resulting color.

 

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 02
Here are white strings I used to tie the yarn while being dyed.   The top is dyed with red cabbage while the bottom is dyed with black beens

 

This weekend I revisited two natural dye techniques I had previously tried.  I dyed with black beans and red cabbage.   In the picture above you can see the color you get when dyeing white wool. This time I decided to try dyeing another color of wool.   Instead of starting with white wool  I am using gray.

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 08

I have read and been warned that natural dye especially red cabbage is not ideal.   The  color will fade away etc… While all of this is probably true I really don’t care.   (Umm don’t read that wrong.  I like it when people offer advice.  I just like the process more than I care about the end result)

The first step is getting the wool ready to accept the dye.   This time I spun it into a single ply yarn than I “mordanted” the wool… yes I know that is probably not a word.   Mordanting helps the wool absorb the color.   I will quote myself from the first dyeing post instead of writing it out the instructions again.   (I know I am being a bit lazy… but I followed the same process)

Mordanting the wool (from the french word mordant… My wife is french but I don’t find here “biting” or caustic… ).  This step helps the wool absorb the dye as well as changes the end color… all depending upon what is added.   I presoaked the wool (150 grams) for an hour than dissolved 12 grams of Alum and 10 grams of Tartaric Acid in 2 gallons of distilled water (mixed marriages do have their consequences… gallons mixed with grams… sorry).    Added the wool (wet) and simmered at 93º F. for an hour. I than removed the wool and let sit overnight to dry.

 

after
Here is the result from the first time… Dyed with cochineals (not spun).   I still love this color!

My first dyeing experience has not yet been replace with a better experience.  I loved the resulting color and  the idea that it came from a “bug”.

Let me come back to this weekend… (jesh… need to stop living in the past)

Black Bean Instructions:

Black bean dye gives a nice gray blue color when dying white wool.   It is also a very easy technique.   I added water to dry black beans (2 gallons of distilled water for one large sack of beans) .  I don’t believe you can do this with canned beans… in fact I bet that would make a huge mess.  (Maybe I will try it) I let this sit 24 hours then removed the beans… (I made refried beans by cooking  the beans then adding bacon, onions, and garlic and frying… no wasted food for this dye)

 

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 06
This is what the color looks like.   It has a purple hue and well looks disgusting.

I warmed up the bean water to about 140 and added the yarn.  I let this soak for several hours.   The first time I let the yarn soak  until I got the color I wanted…  below is an example of the white wool color.

 

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 09
This is a sample of white wool dyed with black beans.  (I was going to crochet a hat but stopped so it is now just a color sample)

I really like the blue color from black beans… but the gray wool didn’t take the blue in the same way. I left it in the dye for about 3 hours and  It actually turned to a “blackish” color… who would guess black beans making something black.

 

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 07
Pulled out before it went completely black…

Later in the post I will show the yarn made from the combination of both but in the above picture you can see how dark the gray became.   (I wont lie… I was a bit disappointed)

Red Cabbage Instructions:

Red cabbage is much more fun to play with and you have your choice of colors by changing the acidity of the water.

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 00

 

 

 

 

You cut up the cabbage place it in water and bring it to a boil.   The water will be a dark purple… this is the starting color.   I recommend doing this with your children or curious spouse (if they are curious… this kind of stresses Isabelle since she knows I can’t help making a mess).   You should remove the cabbage if you do not want to waste it.   I didn’t think about this until Ben (my 7 year old) asked me what smelt so good…. (weird kid… who thinks cabbage smells good).  With cabbage acid takes it to the red hues and base takes it to the blue/green hues.   I wanted blue/green so I added baking soda to the water.  Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 04

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 03

I gradually added the backing soda and you can see the blue starting to happen.   (I don’t have exact amounts… just play with this).   I love the purple blue color.   It would make a really interesting yarn if you plied the two colors together… similar color to these cabbage leaves in the above picture.

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 05

UMM… Sorry Ben… (who still wanted to eat the cabbage) this is what the cabbage looked like when it was finished cooking in the baking soda water.  I didn’t taste it nor did I allow Ben to try the cabbage… although I was kind of tempted.  Next time I will take the cabbage out first and will not waste it.

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I  added the yarn to the cabbage water and let it simmer for two hours (not to hot).   The color came to a gray-forest green color.   I was not sure that I like this color either.  Two fails… hmm… leaves me with only one option… combine the two by plying both colors together.  This way it is only one fail or maybe two negatives will make a positive.

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Here is the result…kind of a green gray. I am not sure that you can see the color well in the pictures…  let  me know what you think.

Quick Update (7/4)

I began a new scarf. with this yarn.. (the only thing I know how to knit… need to learn how to knit a sweater… next goal)  I think you can see the color better when it is knitted.

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 12

 

 

 

Inky Dinky Do’s Scarf

Here is one of my all time favorite posts… (from another blogger). It is not just because I am mentioned in the post. This post shows the source of my alpaca scarf… (an alpaca) wearing the scarf made from its fibers!… I love the idea of that. If you haven’t read Claire’s blog I highly recommend it!!!

smallholding dreams

scarf.jpg

The wonderful and suitably weird Adam from weirdweekends sent me a scarf.

This is, however no ordinary scarf.

label.jpg I love the label

Some time ago I sent an alpaca fleece (Inky Dinky Do’s) and a Jacob shearling fleece over to the US as I thought he might like to use them in some of his weekend projects.

me and the scarf.jpg

All I can say about the scarf is wow. See his blog post here for a summary of the whole process and a list of all the individual posts where he explains how he washed and carded the fleece, then dyed it a variety of colours, spun it, plyed it and even evntually learnt to knit and knitted it.

This scarf is now one of my most treasured possessions not only because it is beautiful and snuggly, but because I know the extent of the journey it has been on – not just crossing…

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Weekend with Weird Talk and Cat Toys

I love long weekends and this weekend was fantastic!   Sometimes I feel like my words trivialize the fun we actually had… or… maybe I am just looking for excuses to not have to really write anything meaningful here.   (Today I listened to a “real” author talk about what it takes to write a novel and I realized that I am so clueless.. umm… don’t take that too far…  what I meant is that I am clueless about writing… I know other stuff… lots of other stuff)

Family Felting 09

The weekend started with Isabelle and I taking a nice walk and realizing that they have already started the free Saturday concerts at the Homestead.   That night a fantastic band named “Q’d Up” was playing.   (Jazz bands often have stupid names)  Next week a blue grass – Celtic -folk band will play. (you think they would pick a genre)   I remember the first time I took Isabelle to a “blue grass” concert.  I could see her French mind trying to process what she was hearing and halfway through the first song she asked me “What language are they speaking”…   I told her “hillbilly”…  she was very curious about this newly discovered patois… I finally confessed that they just have a really strong accent.

Family Felting 08
Hanna sneaking up on Gwen and Sam… trying to scare them.   I had told them that most likely a badger was in that cave… and badgers are dangerous.

Let me get back to this weekend… My kids were very excited since their older sister Hanna was driving up to Midway to spend time with us and to have some fun with felt.  (All I have to say is who would not want to come have fun with felt… )

Family Felting 01

Hanna had priced some felt cat toys and was complaining about how expensive they were so I invited her up and told her that along with the other kids we would make them.   I got out all of my wool odds and ends and four felting needles.   I knew there was going to be some finger poking and maybe some blood…  but like the “real” author said… every story needs conflict.

Family Felting 02

Being a good dad I worried about their fingers especially with Ben (my 7 year old).   I got out the duck tape and wrapped their “wool holding” fingers.   I told Ben they were “Robot Fingers”.   I reasoned that even if they did poke their fingers this should stop the needle from going too deep… hopefully avoiding blood stains on the carpet.

Family Felting 03

Well… unfortunately… despite the duck tape there was finger poking and blood. On the bright side… no carpet stains.   Ben took this poke like a brave little man…  and I took note of his little conversation.

Ben:  “I have blood all over my fingers”.

Hanna:  “Ya… that is what happens when you are doing this.”

Ben:  “Yep… it happens when you are having fun”…. several seconds later… “Papa… Can I get my fingers double wrapped?”

Family Felting 04
Ben’s cat… you can also see his double duck taped thumbs up!

I remember my grandfather secretly recording my siblings and I as we had our “odd” conversations… you know the ones that all kids have…  I have always wondered why he did this and now as I listened to their conversations I realized how funny kids can be.  I decided to take notes as I watched them poke wool… and I am going to share with you some of the “highlights”.

Gwen:  “What do you think of mine, Father”

Hanna:  “You call him ‘Father’?”

Sam:   “What should we call you Papa?”

Me:  “How about lord”… (not the sacrilege… the feudal lord)

Gwen:   “Ok… LARD”

Ben:  “OH!… that is even worse than what I call him”

Family Felting 07
Gwen made an alpaca… called it “Inky Dinky Do”… of course.. and stated “My alpaca has boobs”

Gwen:  “I am getting sick of doing this… it takes forever”

Sam:  “Gwen, when did you learn the virtue of not being patient?”


Bendidn’t say anything… just farted

Gwen:  “EWWW…  it’s spicy… Hanna can you smell it?”

Hanna: “I am not going to breath in with my nose”

Ben:  “I don’t know why I do it…”

Family Felting 06
Hanna’s felt ball and felt octopus/spider thingy.

Gwen (quoting from her civil war reenactment):   “the lord’s will be done… we have achieved the greatest victory in this war.  I have no regrets of my approaching death.  I fell in defense of my country”…

none of us were sure of why she started quoting this

Sam:  “Roasted!… ” small pause… “union scum”

Ben:  “Sam stop being a German tactic”

Hanna:   Laughing uncontrollably…

Ben: “why are you laughing with your big mouth”

Sam: “that is racist”

Family Felting 05
Sam’s felt balls… and of course being 12 he said “papa… look at my balls”

Ben:   mumbling and saying something incomprehensible…

Hanna:    “Ben what did you just say with your big mouth”

Ben:  “Boom roasted! by your big mouth”

Gwen:  “What does Hanna need most in life?”

Ben:  “A heart or maybe a brain”

Hanna:  “Felting is tearing my family apart”

Family Felting 10
Some odd pink “red nosed” mouse…   this might actually scare the cat instead of entertaining it.

I think I will stop the conversation stuff… I think it is one of those things that is much more enjoyable when you are actually sitting and watching them.   We had a very enjoyable time and then Hanna said good bye and went home.  As soon as she got home she sent us a picture of her cat enjoying our “homemade felt toys”…

 

Family Felting 11
Every blog needs pictures of cats… and this is my second!   You will note that the red nose is already gone

I also felted a little bit… although I preferred just sitting back listening and watching them occasionally poke their fingers.  By the way… double layered duck tape does do the trick.  Here is what I made… pebbles…. I think I want to make a pebble rug. (Have about 100 more to do) What do you think?

Felting 10

I hope all of you had as wonderful a weekend as I did!…

 

 

Weekend Making a Lamp

This weekend the kids and I decided to make a lamp.   (I know kind of odd… )  I  kind of have a thing for lamps (not a fetish… just a healthy love affair)  I want to share with you our lamp making adventure… hold on tight… this is going to be thrilling.  (I am exaggerating a bit… in fact it might be extremely boring… and if that be the case just look at the pictures)   

SunnyBrook
My brother, sister and I… (think you recognize the picture) at Sunny Brook

Before I begin I want to provide some context around my love affair with lamps.  It all began years ago when as a kid we would spend part of the summer in a cabin located in a place called Sunny Brook.   Staying at the cabin was like going back 100 years … no TV… and no in door plumbing (this meant hauling buckets of water from the water pump and walking along a small path behind the cabin to a smaller “house”… a stinky place we called our “outhouse”)  We had a stove that you had to light a fire in to cook with and another large stove (pot belly) for heat.   As a young boy every day playing in the woods or at the river was a Huckleberry Finn-like adventure and the nights were spent under the flickering light of kerosene lamps  listening to mother read stories.   I remember intently listening while watching a flame dance around the wick… Something so uniquely intimate when light comes from such a personal source.

Our hearts are lamps for ever burning

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have such a nostalgic longing when I reminisce about those early formative years… and well to get to the point… I like lamps… lamps are my friends… not lights… but lamps.   If having light fixtures, chandeliers, sconces is like visiting a zoo… sitting next to a lamp is like having a dog curled up next to you.

Let’s get to the action!  This is not my first time around the lamp building “block”…. here are a couple of lamps I have made recently.

Lamp 1
Simple “Bucket Lamp”…  really quick project… and yes.. there is a hole in this bucket
Lamp 2
From the top… ya.. I admit it loses some of its charm from this angle.
Lamp 17
My bottle lamp… maybe more involved but still fairly simple.  The hardest part was cutting up the mirror for lining the crate.
Lamp 4
This lamp is fantastic from all angles… and spectacular at night

Now to this weekends lamp!

Lamp 6
Every good lamp begins with an idea… Here is mine.   I want to build an industrial lamp for my office.

Lamp 5

Isabelle (who loves shopping) went with me to our local home improvement store to help me get the parts… and to probably keep my spending in check.  While digging through the pipes a salesman offered help by asking us what we were fixing.  I said we were “weird” and that we were making a lamp…  he quickly said “oh” we have more people than you would believe doing exactly the same thing.   (hmmm…   I might have to go look for the lamp building online groups… not for help… just for friends)

Lamp 8

 The next step in this project is get the kids involved.   This usually means that the project will  take twice as long… but what joy.  (as long as they don’t ruin my lamp) I love seeing the kids “light up” and witness their minds moving a hundreds miles per hour as I hand them the plans and ask them to figure out what each part is for.
Lamp 7
We took a couple of short cuts with the electricity for now… (I will be adding an antique radio or something at the base to turn on each light and dim them).   I had to do my part to warn them about electricity and how dangerous it can be.   That adds to the adventure…  you know… saying stuff like… if this is done wrong we could all die and watch out… I think that part has rogue amps.
Lamp 9
They are so proud of themselves for laying out the base correctly and Ben (the youngest) insisted on pulling the wires… braving the rogue amps and all
Lamp 11
And now it is ready for the first test… does it “turn on”?
Lamp 10
It works… and we all lived!!!

Next we need to build the upper arm.   This was not built with pipes since it is always easier to have a lamp stay up if the base is heavier than the top.   Each kid took turns cutting the dowels… (and each cut had to be “re-cut” by dad… when they weren’t looking)

Lamp 12
We have the upper arm built and now all we need to do is paint the wood and pulleys to match the pipes

 

Lamp 13
The older kids Sam and Gwen spray painted the upper arm.   I cannot tell you how proud I was that they had done this without any runs… or missed spots.

Here is the finally product!   I am not sure that the kids “love” the lamp like I do… but I know they were proud of their accomplishment… they had lots of fun… and they spent  most of the day not looking at a screen.

Lamp 16

Lamp 14

Lamp 15

UPDATE:

Here it is in my office

lamp final

Weekend Knitting (Manly… Knitting)

This weekend Isabelle taught me to knit.   Hmm… As hard as this is to say,  I am going to admit that I kind of liked it.  It is definitely not as fun as poking things (again don’t take that wrong… see last weekends post Weekend Felting) but knitting is enjoyable.   I am struggling internally with my newly found fondness for knitting… (does this mean I completely lose my man card?).  

Just to set things square… My goal is not necessarily to become a “Good Knitter”.  I want to become a “MANLY KNITTER“.   This idea came from watching a video this weekend on the web titled “How to knit like an Icelandic man“.  This man whose name is impossible to say “Þórgnýr” says he makes up for his difficult name by “being a very good (and manly) knitter”.  I don’t care about being  good at knitting (although I do believe anything worth doing is worth doing well) but I do care about being manly.  This means I am altering Isabelle’s patient teaching to fit my manly ego… i.e.  dropping all of cutesy names and replacing them with manly words like saying front knotting and back knotting… and refusing to wrap the yarn around my pinky.   All mistakes I made were really just my way of creating a manly “distressed” look. (Isabelle drew the line with this and many times… more than I want to admit… undid my work to fix the weird holes or lumps that comes from my manly knitting).

knitting 2

Here you can see me starting a “manly” scarf out of the alpaca yarn I have created.   Isabelle picked out the needles and I am mad that there were no black or brushed steel colored needles (manly needles)…  I was told that she picked the size and that was the color I was stuck with.  (pretty lame)  As you can see I am starting with the “wine” dyed yarn and I am just guessing at width.

knitting 2.5  I like the uneven look that my “art” yarn (or uneven poorly done hand spun yarn) gives to this scarf.  It also hides the “perfection” of my knitting… (Isabelle had already fixed three big problems by now)  I decided to change yarn at this point to a mix of wine and avocado yarn (2 ply – one wine one avocado).

knitting 3

Finally I move to only avocado dyed 2 ply yarn. This is 100% alpaca.. no wool is being blended with the alpaca fibers and I wondered if that would be ok. I asked Isabelle since I would not know if the yarn was not “elastic” enough for knitting.   She told me that the yarn works great.  (She is french so I don’t have to worry about her just saying that to spare my feelings… french never “spare feelings”). 

This is as far as I got this weekend not because I couldn’t do more knitting but because I ran out of spun yarn.  Because I have ended here…  I have decided to transition from this pink to the natural white. This is part “design decision” and part lazy running out of dyed fibers.  I washed more alpaca and carded it preparing for the spinning.

knitting 4

Here are the two colors (natural white and avocado pink) next to each other.  I think I will do the next section of the scarf with a white/pink ply and the finish the scarf with all white.  Any thoughts?… (kind of tempted to see if I can end the scarf with a chocolate dye… if that is possible)

JUST AN FYI… I have not been around for a week and I have missed reading all of your blogs.  My excuse is that this has been a crazy week for me at work.  I am not sure if you have ever felt like you are treading water… barely able to keep your head from going under… and then just when you think it can’t get worse… someone flushes.  This was my week at work… not that I am comparing my work to swimming in a toilet.    I have been given a new assignment… (replacing someone who was brillant) and with this new assignment I  am probably for the first time at my current job feeling less than confident.  Don’t read this wrong… I am incredibly excited… just humbled and I know that I have a lot to do and even more to learn.   (Hopefully this means growth… not failure)  I don’t want to go into too much details… bore you with my work… but wanted all of you to know I will be back reading your words and loving it.

Weekend Felting

Isabelle walked into my “man cave” this weekend…  looked at me while scrunching up her face and finally asked…  “Are you felting now?”.   I couldn’t tell if she was surprised or frustrated. (I am always starting something new and it often either comes with a cost or a big mess)  I affirmed that she was correct and told here that I was pleased that she recognized what I was doing.   (I wouldn’t have known what I was doing had I not been YouTubing felting…  I probably would have thought it was some weird voodoo thing.)

Felting 02.jpg

I decided to start my felting experiments with a kit and I purchased one from Etsy- FeltHoppy  (kind of a good get ready for Easter project).  After having finished this kit… I don’t believe it is necessary to purchase a kit to start felting.  With that said, it is nice to have some instructions and I found that the “pre-measured” amounts of felt and drawings that were “actual” size helped to make this felting novice much more successful.  (I will let you judge how well I succeeded)

Felting 03

I started with the head and for those who are not familiar with felting it starts with wool fibers (I am  not sure what other fibers work for felting… I do know human hair will not work).  You will also note that there is a felting needle and some foam.   The felting needle is specialized and I am not sure if you can use something else… (don’t just get a normal needle it will not work)   Felting this rabbit is a lot like sculpting.   What is interesting is that you sculpt by poking the fibers with the felting needle repeatedly.   This needle poking made me think of the “voodoo” reference.

Felting 04

Above you can see the final size of the head after I have poked it… and when I say “poked it” I mean that I have poked it a lot.   I realized something about myself while poking this and that is I really like poking things…. hmm..   That doesn’t sound right… maybe I should say stabbing?… wow that might even be worse.  Let me just keep this appropriate by saying that I found the process of felting very enjoyable.   For those of you like me who look for short cuts or ways to get things done quickly… watch that you are not poking too aggressively or too deep.   Poking hard, fast, or deep does not make it turn  into felt any quicker.  If you are too aggressive you also risk breaking the felting needle.   Look closely at the needle in the picture above and you will see the tip poking out separated from the needle.  I got over excited and yes… I broke my felting needle.  I had to go out and buy a new one.  (The only thing I could recommend for making this kit better is to include a spare needle)

Felting 05

Once I got the head done I started poking the ears out.. and move on to each part of the body.   To connect pieces you leave the fibers “un-poked” where they would connect to the other part… then you poke those fibers into the other part making them fuse.  Did I tell you how much I like poking.   There is one thing I don’t like about poking and that is when the needle misses the felt and finds flesh.   Here is another piece of advice… Don’t poke yourself… it hurts.   I ended up with several bandages. I will not tell you how many since I know there are people out there that will take joy in hearing that I hurt myself repeatedly.

 

Felting 06.jpg
Ears connected to the head… and a little bit of “white” felt.   I relate to this since I am finding that the older I get… the more white hairs I find growing out of my ears.

 

Felting 07
Eyes sewed on… not poked… and sewing is not as fun.

 

Felting 08
Working on the body and adding white chest hair… (was going to say that I can relate to that… but hmm maybe too much personal information)

Felting 09

 

 

Here is the final rabbit!   I found this to be a very fun interesting project.  Surprisingly it did not take too much time to completed… plus I got to poke things.   I think I might try to felt some of the pink alpaca fibers into an Easter egg for the bunny… (dont’ know yet how well alpaca will work).   That is all for this week. I recommend giving this a try… you might be surprised at how much you like poking!

 

 

Weekend spinning the rolags (Inky Dinky Do alpaca fibers)

It is nice to be finally home on a weekend and able to do whatever I want… (or at least what ever Isabelle will let me do). This weekend I continue working with the alpaca fibers by spinning them and plying them.  Here are the related previous posts:

If you haven’t read the previous posts and don’t feel like doing so here is some background… the alpaca fibers came from Inky Dinky Do (that is a name of an alpaca) who lives in England and likes to be hugged… He/She doesn’t have a blog but his/her owner does and it is worth checking out… especially if you want to learn how to butcher a pig head or A.I. a pig (and  A.I. doesn’t stand for artificial intelligent… it is another “I” word…  )  As a young farm kid, after watching “A.I.” at the dairy behind my house I remember telling my friends that my mom had just gone through the same thing. She had just recently returned home from a doctor visit and announced that she was going to have a baby.   My older wiser friends tried to explain to me what had really happened but I refused to believe my parents could be involved with something so disgusting.

hmm… I get off topic easily… here is the blog  I was trying to mention.

Smallholding dreams

spinning-alpaca-02

After carding the alpaca fibers it is time to spin the rolags.(from the scottish gaelic word roleags.) Hmm… “spining the rolags” sounds kind of cool… almost street.  I might not have to lie to my co-workers Monday when they ask me what I did this weekend.  I can just look at them and say… spun some rolags.. add a wink and then say how about you.   And as long as they don’t google it or ask me what it means I might pull off some fake street cred.

Back to the point… I didn’t know that small rolls of  fiber were called rolags until I was left a great comment from a “real” fiber artist – Leonor.   She also mentioned that I should try to keep the softness by doing a “woolen spun as opposed to worsted spun”… (after looking up “rolags” I had to look up woolen versus worsted… I feel like such a novice… from what I learned it is easy to tell the difference between the two… if it is woolen spun you can break the yarn with your hands.)

spinning-alpaca-01

I watched several videos on YouTube but was not able to really catch on… actually I kind of understood but am not talented enough to do it.   I imagine if NSA is spying on all of my different YouTube and Google Searching they are scratching their heads…  I definitely don’t have street cred with them.

I decided to stick with what I know and that is to spin using this “bottom  whorl” drop spindle.  I don’t think I have outlined a”how to”… so here are the basic steps for spinning with a drop spindle.  (describing it is kind of tough)

Spinning Alpaca 03.jpg

  1. Pull out fibers and spin into small leader thread… (hand spin clockwise).  Create a loop and put loop in the hook.   Drop the spindle and start spinning it.  This will close the loop.  Now you spin the hanging spindle with your right hand and pinch the fibers with your left.  You should always spin in one direction… clockwise if you are cool like me.
  2. When you have a tight spin you stop spinning and move your right hand just under your left hand and pinch the thread.   With your left hand now replaced by your right you pull at the un-spun fibers stretching and thinning them out to a consistent amount.  This is called drafting and it takes practice.  I learned that you have to gently pull and the distance between your right hand and left depends upon the length of the fibers.
  3. Once you have drafted it to the right thinness pinch at the top of the draft with your left hand and let go of the right hand.  The spin in the thread below will travel up the newly “drafted” fiber twisting it up to your left hand.  I repeat the process over and over… kind of inch worming and “draftin” through the un-spun fiber.   I often will “park” the spindle in between drafting.  Parking is putting the drop spindle between your knees or feet and not letting it undo the twist in the fibers.   When you park you need to make sure you keep tension on the twisted fibers.spinning-alpaca-04
  4. Once you have a couple of feet you unhook the twisted fibers and tie them at the base of the spindle this is where all of the yarn will be stored as you are spinning.  You almost have to see this to understand and I recommend watching this video on YouTube:  (this is the first one I watched)

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Once I have spun enough.. (this is really and arbitrary decision)  I put the single thread yarn on this copper tube niddy noddy that I built.  (The first time I heard someway say niddy noddy I thought they were making it up…   who is coming up with all of these weird words.)   In the past I didn’t do this and I found that the thread had so much kinetic energy that it would twist and knot up on itself… it was very difficult to work with…. when it is washed and dried this way it sets the spin and evens out the twist.  The yarn will be calm and well behaved now.  (I wished there was something to take the “kinetic” energy out of my kids… )

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The next step is to ply the yarn.  This means twisting several single yarns together.  I have never done more than two and I use the same drop spindle.   This is very simple.  You spin the two yarns together in the opposite direction  of what they were spun.  (Counter clockwise)  I inch up  the two singles almost in the same way that I do when making a single but instead of drafting I make sure they two singles are tight and not twisted…  I then wash this on the niddy noddy let it dry and then twist it into a skein.

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Here is the first skein of Inky Dinky Yarn… died pink from avocado pits.   I like this color but it is really a “dusty” pink.   I decided to try to get a “pink-ier” pink… and since my wine was a big flop wondered if I could use it to dye some fibers. ( Wine Making (Final) … kind of an expensive dye… )  I am going to make some Inky Drinky Do yarn.

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I followed the same process as the avocado dye but added vinegar to the wine to make it acidic and had to follow the dyeing with several rinses since the wine had sugar.   I then carded,, spun and 2-plie some of the “pink-ier” yarn with the avocado yarn.  (Here are the pictures)

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I now have two skeins of about 45 yards (I know they are small… no mocking please). I will continue until I have enough to make something… not sure what… yet… but Isabelle has been teaching me to knit so I imagine I am going to knit something.   (I think I just lost more street cred).