Saturday, August 24, 2013

Channyn's Tweed

I imagine that there are people out there who devise a fiber concoction completely in their heads. "Hmmm, I'll put 2 ounces of this and 1 ounce of that and blend it all together, and bingo-bango-bongo, perfect fiber will be born." I, unfortunately, cannot develop that way. So instead, I try a little something, spin it up. Add some more of something else, remove something that I don't like, decrease the quantity on something that is nice but not in that quantity, and eventually I get perfect fiber for perfect yarn. Perfect, of course, being in the eye of the beholder. So I thought today I'd show you the evolution of yarn that we here at the house are calling "Channyn's Tweed".

I started with fiber provided by my friend Denise. She had come for a dyeing day with 10 pounds of fiber. Part of it was a lovely soft white wool, and the other was a bit harsher brown wool with some alpaca blended in, which came from a sheep she raised named Barbie. I had never tackled overdying (dying over another color) before, so my namesake's fiber was interesting. We separated it into 2 pound piles and dyed it with dark dyes - a dark blue, a maroon, a forest green. And then my friend Channyn said that she really wanted to see those dark colors blended into a tweed. So the recipe she wanted was 70% of something, and 10% each of three other colors.

This is the brown Barbie before we dyed it. It looks lighter in the picture than it looked in person. You can see it is nicely processed, which means it has been thoroughly cleaned and carded. This makes dying so much more consistent, because the dye doesn't have to fight with junk in the fleece.

This picture shows the two fibers that we were working with:

The maroon, dark blue, dark spruce green and purple are overdyed brown. Pink and aqua are dyed white Cotswold.

The dark blue is the most outstanding result, to me. We would never have gotten such a deep blue from dying white. And the purple is interesting. The brown shows through in interesting ways.

So for Channyn's Tweed, I took the maroon, the blue, the green and the purple. I used 70% maroon, and 10% each for the other colors. Channyn's inspiration was a blog called Brooklyn Tweed. This site is very interesting. If you follow their link, you can see how they create the tweed yarn that they sell. It really is quite fascinating.

Anyway, Channyn wanted a yarn that would have a dominant color and then flecks of other colors peeking through. And Channyn did not want any namby pamby bunny fiber in her yarn. I love angora, because it makes things soft, but Channyn correctly points out that you lose your intricate patterns in the bunny fluff. So, I carded up one batt of Channyn's Tweed. She's been too busy to see it in person, and I don't want to risk making fiber she doesn't like, so I can't go any further until she approves or proposes an alternate fiber recipe.

 So, the question is, will it suit Channyn? I could always blend it more by putting it through the carder a second time. Or we could choose a different dominant color. Or, we could blend a different type of fiber in. I have mohair, silk, alpaca and angora. So, we'll just have to see what Channyn says. In the meantime, here's what it looks like spun up. Personally, I think I got the whole "flecks of color" thing to work, but it will be up to Channyn to decide:


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Frosting Buckets

When I was growing up, the best gift was a homemade one. So you can imagine the unbearable pressure placed upon my husband and son when a holiday comes up. They gently try to pry from me some hint of the elusive perfect gift. And they get nothing but flack back, because Momma wants something homemade. Or, if it cannot be homemade, then something that was obtained at a garage sale for an amazingly ridiculously low price. Yes, I am beyond the age of wanting jewelry. Flowers are frivolous unless purchased from Aldi's for $3.99. One of the best gifts my boys made ev-er was when they made me fudge for Mother's Day one year, and to avoid having to go to the store to get a card, they wrote the card in peanut butter across the top. Now, that, I tell you, is the true measure of their love and inventiveness.

So as we approach the holiday season, I've decided to tell them, in clear and certain terms, of the perfect gift. I'm even including a picture and instructions for how to obtain it.

I want frosting buckets.

That's right, you heard it here first. I want Walmart Frosting Buckets. My cousin Michelle brought a couple over as we were preparing to do a dying project. I looked at the label and was astounded that Michelle's family could possibly consume so much frosting. It's a five gallon bucket, after all. But Michelle says that if you go to a Walmart with a bakery, you can ask if they have any, and if they do, they give them to you for free. So, dear friends and family, that is what I want. I want frosting buckets. Cleaned out of frosting residue, preferably, but don't let that stop you if you have a chance to get me some. 

One can't help but wonder what it is about frosting buckets that has tickled my fancy so. Well JUST LOOK AT IT! With its lid on, you can stack them. It has a handle. You can't tell from the picture, but the plastic is a bit on the transparent side, so you can sort of tell what's in there. And so, with my stash of frosting buckets, I dream of storing my fiber inside neatly labelled frosting buckets. They are a perfect size for putting on shelves. They can be easily carried. It must be so clear now to anyone who looks at them that the frosting bucket is the most perfect containment system ever devised by man

So. If you REALLY love me. And, I think you do. Please go to Walmart and charm their bakery out of frosting buckets. And then steel yourself, because you are going to want to keep the frosting buckets for yourself. But you have to give it up. You have to give me the frosting buckets. It's that simple. And please don't forget the lids. I'm nothing without the lids.

I think my friend Hope thinks that if you're going to have an obsession with frosting buckets, then the least you can do is make them look purty. So here is my ode to Hope:

Please note that I thought myself terribly clever when I decided to include a sample of the fiber on the outside of the bucket.