Tag Archive: wool

Time Weigheth Heavily

Well, it’s not so much the time that weigheth heavily as it is the seeming lack thereof. (Daily dose of Old English has now been administered.)

As for me, well, I’m up to my elbows in a pile of spinning projects. Lovely projects, for lovely people, but there seem to be tons of them.

First off, I’ve been working on spinning up some Aussie fur for a good friend. (Yes, dog fur.) It’s really soft and fluffy, and has been washed. Definite bonus. I’m spinning it on a spiffy new gadget I’ll have to tell you all about in a future blog post.

Theoretically this yarn will end up as a two-ply fingering weight, although there will be some DK weight bits in there, given the nature of the fiber. I carded the fur into batts, but it’s so fine that it spins more like a cloud, which results in a lot of difficulty keeping things even. And there seems to be different lengths of fur in there, which also makes things interesting.

All in all, it’s spinning up to be an interesting taupe color. Almost like sand.

This Week in Fiber Central. . .

It has been a crazy, crazy last week or two in my little fiber world. Sales practically exploded (hooray!) and I must have had at least an average of one per day.

I loved every minute of it.

In fact, that’s all the confirmation I need to know that I’m doing what I really want to be doing. Selling fiber and yarn definitely holds enough excitement for me to last as long as God wants me here.

From A Place Other Than My Desk

Hello! I’m writing this from a hotel in Arkansas and trying to get used to the keyboard on a borrowed laptop. No, nothing drastic just happened in my life. I’m on my way back home after a lovely visit in Texas.

Of course a yarn store stop was involved in the trip, and it dawned on me there that I hadn’t blogged for quite some time. Therefore, I am taking the necessary steps to share some of the neat things that have happened lately.

First off, the new purchases, because everybody likes seeing shiny new yarn. Three balls of Jo Sharp wool. They’re not amazingly soft, but I really like the colors and the subtle sheen.

Believe it or not, I actually wound up starting a project with them at least four times. Quite probably five or six. This is what happens when I don’t have a pattern and keep changing my mind twelve rows into a scarf. First it was going to be stripey stockinette, then it was going to have purl diamonds to keep it from curling, then cables, then twists with ribbing, then cables and twists but no ribbing . . . you get the idea. I really think I should find a pattern as soon as possible, otherwise it will become the knitting equivalent of trying to rhyme with orange. It just doesn’t work.

When Color Thinks For Itself

As yet another fun thing to do, my aunt and I decided to dye some of her blank yarns (purchased from JoAnn Etc. and the Yarn Garden) in various fun shades. The superwash sock yarn (on the left) turned out amazingly well. I love the intensity of the reds. Next to it is a bulky weight single ply that was inspired by fall. It turned out a little less intense, but pretty.

Then there was this yarn. Another two skeins of the bulky weight. Nice? Pretty? I love the jewel-like tones.

But this yarn was supposed to be purple with green and yellow flecks, and a few spots of brown. Do you see purple? Anywhere at all? I see blue, but not purple.
Every so often the carefully mixed dyes decide to separate and become new entities. The “red + blue = purple” combination separated.

So, we had two really good finished colorways and one that was still nice, but unplanned.

Dyeing Wool

Beginner’s Series: Wool – Part 5

Wool is one of the easiest fibers to dye. It responds readily to Kool-Aid, commercial dyes, natural (plant- or animal-derived) dyes, and even food coloring.

There are dozens of different ways to color wool, and, as I’ve only tried a few of them, I can’t give you detailed tutorials for everything, but here are some of the ones that have helped me along and given me some really great results. I use Jacquard Acid Dyes for most of my dyeing, with the odd natural dye thrown in. The Jacquards are really nice because the only chemical you need to set the color is vinegar!


If you’re a knitter you have probably heard the term “kettle-dyed” before. It pretty much means that the yarn will be mostly the same color, with a slight shift in intensity in some areas. This is achieved by cooking the yarn (or wool roving) in a pot of dye solution. The actual process will vary depending on what kind of dye you use.

Choosing Between Types of Wool

Beginner’s Series: Wool – Part 1

Why Choose?

When I first became a spinner the sheer number of wool types available boggled my brain. Was “Merino” or “Romney” a better choice for a beginner? How about “Rambouillet”? And what on earth did “staple length” or “crimp” mean? Did it really matter what I chose?

I wanted a complete list of every kind of fleece available and information on how it spun. To the best of my knowledge a list like this did not exist (yet!), so what I ended up doing was scrolling through the fiber websites looking for something — anything — labeled “good for beginners.” In my first months of spinning I found a few favorites, maybe branched out a bit, and wound up only spinning certain types of wool because, well, the others might not turn out nicely.

Thankfully this attitude of wool ineptness left after a while. I’m now willing and eager to skim the offerings at fiber fairs and on websites. I can pick a wool with confidence because I have a good bit of head knowledge that tells me how a type of wool will behave.

This article is designed to equip you with the knowledge you need to look at a type of wool and say “Perfect!” or “Run for your life!”

Can We Hurry Up and Get to Autumn?

The weather here has been nice, but I am looking forward to the air turning chilly. The more hats and scarves I can wear this fall the better! (And socks and sweaters, of course.) (And cardigans.) (And maybe gloves.) Ahem. Anyway, I got to spend yesterday evening dyeing some new, fall-themed yarns and fibers!

Corriedale Cross Fiber

Beech Leaf - Corriedale Cross Fiber

It’s been so long since I’ve dyed anything. I really enjoyed this stint in the kitchen. In fact, I had only planned to do one, possibly two projects — but, true to form, I wound up doing four. Thankfully I was able to do them without feeling pressured to hurry things up and get out of the way. Going so long without dyeing made everything seem new and interesting once I started again. Of course, it also meant that I was way out of practice. Nothing irreparable, though!

Beginner’s Series: Wool

Hello, everyone! There’s going to be a second Beginner Series on Maiden Yarn.

I’ll be focusing in on wool types and working with fleece. I’ll go into picking the right type of wool to use and how to choose a raw fleece, wash it, prepare it, and dye it. I’m so excited about these new posts. It’s a lot to cover in one week, but we’ll have a good time.

Posts start September 9th.

As always, these articles are intended to be wildly helpful, so please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment if something needs clarification or elaboration. These are for you and others who love learning. Share your knowledge.

Drum Carding Madness

During the first week of August I was granted the privilege of having a very good spinning friend come to visit, and she brought her drum carder.

Behold the fruits of our labor.


And, not only did she bring the drum carder, but she brought some more Aussie fur, some llama, and some cotton for me! I was in fiber heaven with a marvelous friend to play with. (Thanks, Legossi!) Here are the cotton batts (the white) and some batts of from the Iowa fleece. They’re nice and fluffy!
The cotton batts were rather fun. Legossi brought lots of cotton from the inside of pill bottles. Some of it carded up really well, and some of it did a really weird sort of disintegrating lump thing. All in all I wound up with five or six of them. I’m eager to see how they spin up.

We did attempt a test to see if running the fibers in tip first, cut end first, or sideways made any difference. (In other words, after hearing that there were so many opinions I was dying of curiosity.) We found that, with this particular drumcarder, cut end first worked best. There didn’t seem to be much difference between tip or cut end first on the carding level. I don’t know how it would look on the spinning level. And we tried sideways and got a big mess.

Round Two

Hello, world! I still exist. :) Last month was absolutely nuts with traveling, housesitting, visitors, and a cold, so I’m just now getting my feet back under me. But before I went off to Colorado for a writers’ conference I got to do another indigo vat!

IndigoLite And if there’s anything scarier than doing a natural dyeing pot, it’s doing it for the second time. Because things can go differently. And this second pot of indigo decided to change whatever could be changed. The indigo didn’t dissolve as nicely, the bloom took longer in forming, and the actual vat decided to get oxygen in it a couple times. I tell you. It was crazy.

Well, it still behaved fairly well. Although it seemed a lot stronger than I’d planned. I wound up with a nice medium chunk of fleece.