The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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The fun part

Our first-ever giveaway is ready for her drum roll!  Winners are:

Chronicbooker3, Shelley! You win the woven project bag!

Cristaldiva, Rayna!  Tosh Sock in Logwood is yours!

Many thanks to each & every one of you who posted, and tweeted.  Your comments & wishes were lovely.  The support is from long-time readers, and means a lot to me.

Rayna, please contact me at irieknit at gmail dot com, and I will send your skein to you!  I know where to find Shelley.

Big thanks to Beth too

Southern Cross!

Beth very kindly gave me my first Southern Cross Fibre experience.  Two braids of superwash merino wool top  ‘Sugar and Spice’ from their August 2011 Fibre Club that popped out of her super-duper stash cupboard into my lap.

How it got spun — with glee; on my Watson Martha in scotch tension; each braid is a straight single spun right; plied left.  Worsted all the way. A gift of 756 yds.  For weaving?  Perhaps a VIP baby?

Thank you, Beth!  The colours are so gorgeous, and I loved every last bit of this spin.  I showed it off at our Guild meeting this week to some fanfare!

Ever looked down to see this?

Not a cat bed

Pin-drafted roving in a nicely lined basket.  That would be Sir Melvin’s “What?!” look.  Guess who won that argument?

Hot off the bobbin – Columbia 4-ply handspun yarn

I spun the singles long-draw in 2 sittings on May 4th and June 16th on my Cadorette CPW.  It was the best pairing of wool-to-Quebec wheel to date.  Each ply is 2 oz.  I took the drive band off the bobbin, moved the wheel to the far side of the room, and wound onto a cardboard roll with dowel cores.

A wheel with 1 bobbin is no impediment to serious use.  It took me 2 sittings, and no extra kit to spin 4 bobbins full.  That’s 247 yards of 4-ply yarn.  Winding-off by hand goes quickly, and lets the twist move around before it sets in the single.  It was spun DD, and with my zoned-out abandon, so redistributing extra twist is for the good of the end product.

The cardboard rolls + dowel go onto my Will Taylor lazy kate, and feed smoothly for plying.

Sproing, defined

The CPW is a wheel that I am growing into, and just love for what it can do.

As the yarn sat around, I slowly got a pretty good idea going about its future.  On Thursday this led me to bring January’s Logwood bath out for inspection.

No secret – I love the Logwood

In freshening the exhaust with new Logwood chips, I got this stunning blue.  It really is blue!

Sproing improvement

Fleece happens

My over-arching plan on this has to do with the Birthday Fibre.  What Birthday Fibre, you ask?

Border Leicester raw wool

This fleece is from a 2 year old Border Leicester sheep at Lambs Quarters Farm in Holstein, Ontario.  Finding new spinners’ flocks is one of the main draws for me at the Ontario Handspinning Seminar.

Cleaned locks in the sun

My plan for this fleece is to build on what I learned at Sarah Swett’s workshop last month – blending wool for value.  This is my first real attempt at dyeing locks – when the Logwood is clear, I will bring out the Black Walnut liquor.

The back office

This is my first post using Flickr to host my blog photos.  I am changing over from Google, and ask you to please give feedback if there are any problems on your end.

The changes in Google photo hosting are deal-breakers.  It comes down to unilateral withdrawal of capability with no explanation, and no ability to be heard as a customer.  It is ludicrous, even more so because we pay an annual fee for extra storage.

The irony is that my irieknit handle was refused under the former Google+ rules.  Under the new dispensation, I have no choice in the matter.  I will keep the email account but shifting my Google+ footprint feels onerous – I may do it for uniformity but am undecided at this point.

 


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Logwood Heart, an experiment

I am speaking about Haematoxylum campechianum.  Logwood is a natural dye that is typically sold as dried chips of the heartwood.  It was introduced for cultivation in Caribbean colonies, and continued to be exported even through the sugar hey-day.

 

Who do you think you are?  Logwood Heart?

It’s from my favourite poem, Omeros by Derek Walcott.  Hector, a St. Lucian “madman eaten with envy” rages after Achille.  His cutlass speaking as much as he did:

Moi j’a dire – ‘ous pas prêter un rien. ‘Ous ni shallope, ‘ous ni seine, ‘ous croire ‘ous ni choeur campêche?

I told you, borrow nothing of mine.  You have a canoe, and a net.  Who you think you are?  Logwood Heart?

Omeros, Chapter 3, I.

 My Dad got me this bag of Jamaican logwood about a year ago.  Having found this article I learned it was still exported from the island as dyestuff up until the early 1940s.

Round the First

At the end of May, 2011, I took my 53g of shaved and chipped Jamaican logwood and dove into the hand-spun stash.  This 464 yds of local organic Romney that I spun on my Spinolution Mach 2 a.k.a. Earl came out to play.

For this 278g of fibre, I decided to add in 50g of commercial Logwood chips that I had on hand.  The logic seems fuzzy now but I was aiming for purple, and wanted to “save” the precious stuff from home.

My method was to pre-mordant the yarn (25% alum; 6% cream of tartar).  I put all the logwood plus some Lignum Vitae – on advice from back home – in a stocking.  That went into the dyepot for a cold water soak overnight.  Then I simmered the yarn in the pot for 1 hour, and let the bath cool.  I didn’t remove the stocking.

It worked!  I was (and still am) so excited about this deep, dark purple of natural dyed wonder.

 

Round the Second

I know a good thing when I see it, so the dye pot went straight to the basement.  You know, for later use.  N had a few qualms along the way but he is a scientist and saw I was making An Experiment.  Scientists appreciate experiments.  Mold and all.

In late November, 2011, I got the urge to dye purple again.  This time it was my hand-spun sock yarn.

Mold was the least of my worries.  The blobs of inky gunk showed up as soon as the yarn went in.  I kept calm, and rinsed in the sink.  Thankfully, the blobs agreed to slide right off.  As soon as the colour got mauvey, I pulled the skeins out.  There’s no point in tempting fate now is there?

My first me-spun; me-dyed sock yarn looks a little like this:

Fibre:  154g of kid mohair/ merino/ alpaca sock yarn roving from The Fibre Garden.

Wheel:  Watson Martha in double drive, and spun on the smaller whorl.

Plied wraps per inch:  16 (sport-weight).

Yardage:  363.

Why tell you all of this now?

It’s a fair question.  The answer is that I have been knitting my first pair of me-spun; me-dyed socks.  And I love them very much.

The pattern is Clara Parkes’ Stepping Stones from The Knitter’s Book of Socks that N gave me last Christmas.  I missed the part where she gives a variation on the stitch pattern for the foot.

My little modification was to just twine knit the heel flap.  Her instructions have you almost there anyway, and I do love to twine.

 

More inspiration

This is my handspun, naturally dyed and backstrap loom woven bag from The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Peru.

A quiet reminder that I am a young grasshopper in this world rich with textile traditions.