Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Solar Dyeing Part 2 & 3

I decided to jump in and try some more solar dyeing while it was still hot and summer-y. So next up was some of the fleece I have been spinning. I washed it and left it to dry before deciding to dye it. Hence I didn't prep it properly and it could've benefited from a longer pre-soak. Ahh, the things you learn.

I used Wiltons Rose Pink for the pink, as I don't have pink in my Educational colours collection. The other 2 are though. I made up the dye amount and poured it over the fleece - I used less blue as I didn't want it to be too dark and over power the yellow and pink. Popped it in the solar oven and left it to it. After a few hours I checked and the water was clear, but the top layer wasn't very colourful as the dye had pooled at the bottom - possibly too much liquid? So I turned the fleece over, as carefully as I could (it was very hot!) and poured more dye gently over the top. Back in for a few more hours and then left to cool overnight.

I love the results!

It is a bit like spinning fairy floss :) Colourful and fun.

The 3rd go was to get a particular colour. I knew roughly what I wanted and after reading my book Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing, I had a rough idea on how to get it. So I mixed up my colours and put it all in the oven. And what do you know? It was the colour I wanted. Well close enough anyways. So now I have some hand spun yarn in the right shade that I dyed, with a project in mind, I just need to knit it up. How cool will that be!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

A New Drink Bottle Holder

After goodness knows how many years.

I have had my drink bottle holder for many years, I even tried replacing it about 7 years ago, but I couldn't buy another one the same, so I didn't bother. I wanted the zip down the side, and a long handle, as I wear it across my body when walking to and from school.

Every year, the poor bottle holder got progressively more and more worn. Its seams started to come apart, and it just looked very sad. When I saw Pink Chalk Studio's tutorial for a water bottle carrier, I swore I was going to make a new one. But I never did.
Until Friday. I was doing some sewing stuff and found the fabric in my stash (it came from my Grandma's stash) and told myself that today was the day I sewed a new water bottle holder.

I used insul-brite as my insulating layer, and thermal curtain lining for the inner layer of the holder (just because I happened to have a fair bit left from lining some curtains recently). I also found a perfect zip in a bag of zips I got from the opshop a while ago.

There was a bit of unpicking and cursing trying to work out the best way to construct it, but I got there in the end. I didn't follow the tutorial, but I did use the idea of a round bottom (it worked better than my idea of a square bottom, as I need it to stand without the risk of falling over).

It is bright, cheerful and makes me smile when I look at it.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Solar Dyeing

I decided to give solar dyeing a go on the weekend. There were two reasons why.
1. I didn't want to risk felting my handspun (I sometimes don't watch very closely and my water starts to bubble), and
2. We are having a heatwave here - I may as well make the most of free heat!

So I started with rather unprepared wool - I quickly soaked it in some warm water. Then I added some hot tap water to my turquoise dye and citric acid (first time using citric instead of vinegar) and poured it into a strong freezer bag, then placed the wool in and tied it up. I placed it into a big saucepan, so that if the bag broke it would be contained.

Then out to the solar oven that my husband constructed ages ago and in it went. I put it in at about 3:30pm, so there was only a few hours of heat left for that day. Most of the dye had been absorbed by about 6pm but I figured I may as well leave it overnight and give it another day of heating.

At the end of day 2, the water was completely clear and when I took it out of the oven (must remember pot mitts next time) the water was at ~65C! Not bad! Again, I left it overnight, this time to cool down completely (that took a lot of patience let me tell you).

When I rinsed, there was no dye leak, and no vinegar smell :) I have read that turquoise dye can be a terrible one to get to stick, so I am very happy that mine didn't wash out.

All in all, I am very happy with the results, and while we have hot weather, I shall certainly be doing more solar dyeing, as it doesn't heat my house up, and uses free energy :) Win win I say!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yummy Soap

I made two new soaps yesterday. Based on the usual recipe I use, as the last time I tried a new recipe it was absolutely horrible. I know this one works, and is lovely to use.

So I tried my hand at making layered soap this time. First was Vanilla Mocha Soap, using Chocolate and Vanilla fragrance oils. The top layer was left unfragranced and coloured with titanium dioxide. I used coffee grounds for exfoliating. Also put some cocoa powder in to give it a nice rich brown colour - it is deepening as it dries.

The second one was using a new fragrance oil called Coconut Citrus Sorbet. Yum! It is a very sweet citrus-y smell that makes you want to eat it! I did a yellow bottom layer and a green top layer. The only problem was that I didn't appear to mix the fragrance oil in properly to the top layer, so when I cut it, there was a few pockets of the oil. Oh well. Or maybe I just put a bit much in. Next time I would mix it through the whole batch before seperating to do the colours - but I wasn't sure how it would act, so this way was safer first. Betonite clay beads are the exfoliant for this batch.

Both are now drying and I can't wait to use them. We are trying a little experiment and have put one bar of each into the jerky cooker, to see if it dries them better in the hot humid weather we are having at the moment.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Say Hello to Matilda

The kids suggested this name, and I think it appropriate, as when we brought her home, a large bag of sheep fleece came too ;)

She is a gorgeous Ashford Traveller about 15-20 years old.

With no knowledge of spinning, other than a great interest, youtube and one book that I was reading, I asked for tips at the shop when I purchased her. It was suggested that I start with a raw fleece, as due to the lanolin, it made the fibers more 'grabby' and easier to learn how to spin.

So I headed home with my supplies and started to play. Using a comb to tease and clean the fleece as I worked on it, I just jumped right in! I managed to get 2 bobbins about 1/2 filled yesterday, and left them to sit overnight. Then I plied them together this morning. My first skein of yarn! Yay :) It works out to about 20m lol, so not very much. But I made it and that is all that matters.

I have another 2 bobbins sitting, and they look much more uniform today - so I will try and ply them tomorrow.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Takes After His Dad

If you think you can make it, you probably can. And you can probably do it with things you have scrounged up from around the place. Need I say more.

p.s. I should say that this started by him doing a quick drawing on my whiteboard that I forgot to take a photo of :( Then he raided my kitchen for parts.