dyeing & carding

Nearly two months since my last post? They zipped by awfully quickly…


I finished Leaflet:



…Just in time to wear it to NHSW. Which was wonderfully full of fiber people.

Spring has continued–it feels more like summer now–and there are lots of things growing in the garden and at the CSA farm.

pale balloonflower

(a balloonflower in the front garden)

There has been some family and personal excitement, but things are mostly better now. Going forward, anyway. I’m continuing to look for a Real Job, but I have made some progress toward feeling more productive. I went to MAS&W (also a fantastic place to see fiber people), where Jennifer of Holiday Yarns let me use some of her booth space for my batts. That went quite well, and I have since set up an Etsy shop. Sooo… With the shop (which may soon contain things other than batts and yarn) and some freelance editing work, I at least have something to do that feels less like shouting into a void than the endless round of job applications.


(one of my favorites of the batt sets. even though it’s merino.)

My hand and wrist are feeling much better, but I’ve been using my still-limited dexterity and strength on typing. (Mostly cover letters and venting about the job-hunt process.)

But TheGeorg on Ravelry had a spinning challenge for last week, and I was getting reeeeeally agitated without my usual calming activities (knitting, spinning, weaving, even most iPod games), so I decided to see how much I could spin without aggravating my hand.

I started with the skein on the right, on the Friday evening two weeks ago:


And it zoooooomed. That, and all the other white yarn in this post, is from some mixed fleece I acquired in 2009 and sent off for washing and carding. It was just about perfect for real, unsupported long-draw. I had to make myself stop pulling out all the VM, and I definitely didn’t let myself care about making it even, but I kept going for about a week. With a break to ply up that Pond Scum once I worked out a setup for my ballwinder so I could use it comfortably, and not all-spinning-all-the-time, because that stuff did zoom along.  It only took a little over an hour per full bobbin of singles.

I ended up with this:


It’s certainly more thick-and-thin than my usual yarn (and also a lot bulkier over all, but so fluffy!), but it’s remarkably consistent from skein to skein. I got between 115 and 135yds of 2ply from each of the eight bobbins I filled with singles.

But as much as I enjoyed spinning all that bright white yarn (I really did, which surprised me), I didn’t want a bright white object. One of the other Rav groups I’m in is running an ongoing SAL/KAL for sweaters, and someone linked to Leaflet, and I decided that this pile of yarn would be nice as a Leaflet with half-sleeves instead of cap sleeves. So…what color to dye it all? I went with the easiest option: onion skins. Which also has the side benefit of matching the cat, so his fur shouldn’t show up too much.

I ended up with this:


Right now, I am waiting impatiently for it to finish drying (inside, now), and hoping that my hand will be recovered enough to swatch when the yarn is ready.

I’m still working on Bernhardt, hoping to be able to wear it at Rhinebeck.



I’m still not certain about the sleeve cap shaping, so I’m working on the second sleeve for now.

And I’ve spun some of the yarn from the Spring Mix batch of fibers:


I’ve also been carding more, some for projects and some for just playing around:


Except when there’s construction or serious lawnmowing or something, carding (on the enclosed back porch) is really peaceful, so the just-for-fun batts are especially refreshing.

Nothing much else worth reporting on today…  So I should get back to the job-hunting and the apple-drying and the jamming.  And the knitting.

I’ve posted a bit of a destash on Ravelry.  It’s a mix of fiber and handspun and commercial yarn.  Prices are reasonably firm, but I am open to some negotiation, especially with cash-funded (cheaper) PayPal.

And for something pretty and not for sale, just bloggy:  I’ve been doing some more carding, with some of the stuff I dyed last week and various other things.


This is mostly dorset and wool blend. It’s been sitting next to my chair as a bit of a talisman through the last few days of job-hunting. (Even if all it means is “if I make progress faster, I have more time for making more batts”.)


Well.  I’m still in Burlington, still looking for work, still enjoying some aspects of living in semi-suburbia.  Like this:


I haven’t seen the orioles in a while, but the hummingbirds seem happy.  We’ve got at least three, probably four, near enough that they use our feeder regularly.  And now that we’ve brought out the other birdfeeder for fall, the woodpeckers are more visible, too.

I’ve also continued to work on Bernhardt:



And I’ve been spinning, and carding, and doing some dyeing to have more stuff to card:


That’s most of yesterday’s dyeing, drying in the sun.  Maybe I’ll go out and join it for a little while.


Last week, my dad and I went on a walk along the forest-lined bike path near my grandma’s house. There weren’t a lot of flowers right along the path, but there were at least a dozen or so really impressive spiderwebs, several of them funnels. This one was particularly well lit.

This butterfly joined us in the blackberry patch at that orchard:

…and then someone on Rav pointed out that my most recent batch of batts looked a lot like it.

I wasn’t aiming for a particular color with them, just thinking that I had some bits and pieces that would look good together, but it is remarkably similar. I’m pleased with them.

Oh, and it’s not really an eye-candy shot, but I promised a sweater update:

I’m now a few rows further along, but I haven’t hit the any-time-now color shift. Well, okay, it should be in about three more rows, since it’s in the yarn that’s on break right now. I’m knitting two rows with one yarn, then two rows with another, carrying the yarn up the side, but also switching balls of yarn every couple of inches. Current plan is to knit up to the bottom of the armscyes and then get the sleeves to the same point, so any major mods to the sleeve cap shaping will match the armscyes. (And so I can put off deciding exactly how I want to deal with that, and also so I can have the sleeves use some of the yarns I’ve been using for the bottom of the body.)

In other knitting-y news, I’m working on (choosing and pricing) a batch of stuff (some yarn, some fiber) for a destash.  When it’s ready, I’ll mention it here.

So… Somehow, I thought I was going to be better about blogging this month. Instead, it’s been a weird few weeks, with additional snow and shovelling, and lots of repacking and moving and reorganizing boxes. And carding, which brings us today’s eye candy.



Red batts (made for Liz) are mill-ends from Brown Sheep plus bits of alpaca/silk, sari silk, mohair locks, wool blend, and icicle. Green batts (made for Jen) are my handpainted superwash merino (from a group dye-day way back in 2008) plus grey bamboo rayon and some gold angelina. (Both sets were swapped for other fiber.)

The three main things that are keeping me from doing more carding are 1. work-related stuff, 2. the poor, lonely cat who’s still afraid to come downstairs, and 3. the weather, since my lovely carding station on the (enclosed) back porch is pretty cold if it’s below 40ºF and not sunny. But it is very nice indeed to have the carder clamped to a bookcase rather than an end table, so I can card while standing instead of while sitting on a footstool. Good thing I wanted to get going on the swap batts before I cleared all the boxes off of the former carding table!

And, yes, he does get lonely when I spend time downstairs, but Mel is enjoying at least some aspects of the new living situation:


He has a window that looks out on a tree and lots of birds! (Even though it’s not the window overlooking all the birdfeeders.)

• I was on vacation last week. I visited my parents and had basically the most slothful vacation ever. It was great.




(The cosmos and sunflower were cut flowers from the farm; the copper beech is in my parents’ backyard.)

• I did, in fact, take my sunflower shawl with me, in case the airport/airplane was cold. They weren’t–in fact, they were rather warm–but it got chilly in the evenings. I love Vermont summers. (I did not, however, remember to take a better photo. And then I left it there.)

• I packed two knitting projects and three spinning projects, only to knit less than in a normal week. I made enough progress on the silk plying to have finished it yesterday, though…Photos soon.

• Mel really missed me. So much that 8 hours of my company on Sunday wasn’t enough to keep him from waking me up several times on Monday morning, something he only really does when he wants to play.

• Echo Flowers continues to grow, and I’ve gotten pretty bored with the blossom pattern. I now really dislike the 3-into-9 stitch, but I have another 4 or 5 repeats to knit before I switch to the border pattern.


• That means that the past week’s evening knitting time has gone to recharting the border pattern for my Chai Phoenix shawl and winding a plying ball from my Grim singles.

• Except that some of it went to carding: I took a couple of club fibers from Spunky Eclectic and combined the red/pink/brown bits into 154g of batts.


• Half of those batts somehow totally filled a bobbin on my Lendrum (not really packed tightly, but still…).


• And here’s another sunflower, from my parents’ backyard, just because.


First, some late-Friday eye candy:


It’s not from today–it’s been rainy and overcast, but wonderfully autumnal–it’s from my direct walk to work.  (I’ve started going to a nearby coffeeshop to write before going to lab, on days when I don’t have early-morning microscope time.)

So, yes, I’ve been putting lots of time and energy into work, but I’ve been spinning a bit to calm down in the evenings.  I got some new-wool-breed-to-me fiber recently, which I carded last weekend and have half spun now.


zombie batts

zombies, half spun

I had hoped it would turn out more brown than purple, but I’m not really surprised.  I might’ve added in some brown BFL or alpaca, but I wanted to spin the Falklands wool by itself.  So far, I really like it.  It seems a lot like nice Corriedale.  And I know enough people who do like purple that I think I’ll be able to find a use for this stuff.   It’s also beautifully heathered, from the colors in the handpainted fiber, which makes up for its being less than my favorite color.

• New knitting content will be delayed.  I swear I have 2.5mm needles and more than one set of 2.75mm, but they’re hiding.  And my mini-swatches (15sts, 4 rows) say that 2.25mm is too small and 3mm is too big.

• Adamas continues to grow.  I’ve been very impressed at how much it does so when it’s my carry-around project, so, despite the fact that it’s a bit big for carrying everywhere, I’ll probably keep doing that for a while.  And I appreciate the simplicity of the lace pattern more if I’m also trying to pay attention to other things.

• I saw a very interesting sweater (on a person) at the art museum last Friday: it looked like a Fair Isle-type sweater with the pieces inside out, so the floats were on the outside.  It made me wonder if it’d been made by a very proud knitter….but I wasn’t feeling outgoing enough to ask about it.

• It took about a week, given how much time I was spending either at work or out with my parents, who were in town, but I finished carding my February Spunky Club fiber into batts:



These are mostly all the New Day corriedale, but I added some tussah silk, some icicle (dyed red/orange/yellow), and a couple of teensy bits of sari silk. I’m plotting a few color combinations of my own to dye and then card, but it’ll be quite a while before I have time to act on said plans.

• Getting up early is really, really hard.  It’s great for my work schedule to have a walking-to-work partner, but my sleep schedule has not caught up well enough for me to fit in much pre-work running (the only time of day that works well for me), and housework is taking extra tolls.

• Lack of time for basic housework does mean that I finally tried the Vietnamese chicken hoagie from Fu-Wah (my local deli) last night–it’s not bad, and I like the inclusion of cucumber in addition to the pickled carrot & daikon, but I think I still prefer the tofu version.

I haven’t been cooking much lately, but I’ve managed a bit of spinning and a bit of carding. (And I went to a Sixers game on Friday, which was fun and very much out of my usual range of activity. And great people-watching, especially the people walking down stairs on their hands and the people breakdancing outside the stadium and on the subway.)

Organic merino, part of the January Spunky Club fiber. I separated the purple end for use in sampling, so it won’t contaminate the perfectly nice greens. This is about 100 yards, from what is probably ~18g. (Might be a little more, but it’s definitely lighter than the orange batt shown below, and it’s still damp.)

This is a lot like the previous two pairs of blue batts, except it’s got grey bamboo mixed in–I got some sari silk from Paradise Fibers, and decided to add some bamboo to play with. It’s very soft and flyaway. I think this batt is 14g.

I was trying to card up all of the superwash merino I’d dyed for Sherie’s batts, but I could only manage one more batt before getting sick of blue. As an antidote to all those cool colors, I carded up some orange.


Okay, the orange was also an excuse to use the angora I bought at Rhinebeck…which I surrounded with a little of the natural brown BFL I’ve been using, plus some superwash merino I’d dyed for a different project and some white BFL I dyed orange and yellow, and a few pinches of icicle. I think I may try to open up the angora locks a little more before I use it again, but I’m thinking that clumps of angora are more like clumps of brown sugar than of baking soda. That is, they may be noticeable in the final product, but they’re not necessarily bad.

And now I’m out of tea again and about to fall over, so I declare it to be (past) bedtime.

The batts I sent off for that swap arrived yesterday, so I can share pictures!

First, the ingredients:

sherie batt ingredients

I dyed some superwash merino and unbleached tussah silk with blue and green, leaving some undyed spots, and added some natural brown BFL.  I also dyed some icicle with a green that split into green and yellow.

I blended them kinda like how I cook, by starting with the merino and adding silk, BFL, and icicle until I liked the way it looked.  I had a lot of trouble with the test batt’s second pass through the carder–it was getting stuck on the licker-in drum–so I kept the silk out of the way of the licker-in for the rest of the batts, and all went well.  Those of you who really know what you’re doing: is there another likely problem with an easier fix than feeding silk blends directly onto the main drum?


This is Sherie‘s photo of the batts I sent.


Carding will probably continue to eat into my spinning and knitting time, since I just got some bamboo and sari silk bits for blending…

*like Caturday, but Mel’s been camera-shy lately.

Did I post about my drum carder?  I got a drum carder last month, a Strauch Petite.  Aside from some shipping issues, and the fact that I needed more tools* to put it together (I got the kit) than the instructions suggested, I’m happy with it.

This is the first batt I carded with it, as soon as I put it together:

It’s a wool blend that I dyed with jacquard russet, with natural light brown CVM and some red sparkly bits.

These next two are the same wool blend, but with some tussah silk (partly dyed pink) instead of the CVM.  They’ve grown into yarn and have left my house.

second batt third batt

Next up were some test batts for a swap and then the swap batts, but since I’m about to ship them today, I can’t share pictures.

After them, though, I couldn’t just leave the carder alone this weekend, so I made a few more batts:



Each pair weighs about 30g and is merino and silk with a bit of sparkle.

There’s also been some spinning, and some knitting; pictures when I finish the knitting.


*The instructions call for a screwdriver, and there’s mention of possible need for a hammer, which I did need, and I also found pliers to be very, very helpful.  I had all of them, so it was fine, but I’d recommend gathering them before starting to assemble the carder.

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