Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fun with Wool

My sister made a delicious batch of chocolate dipped cheesecake pops for my mom's birthday party. She let me arrange them for the party, and here's how they looked, like something from Candy Land. Her deserts are good that way, and not too sweet. She had to use a really thick cheese cake recipe to help the pops keep their shape. I had one with nuts even though I think the ones with the sprinkles are the cutest. Delectable! What I learned: Cheese cake pops taste better when they're not frozen.

I spun the single I made from my Artemis Artemis batts (see previous post) into supercoil yarn (batt colors are Copper Beech and Verdigris). I got about 15 yards from a full spool of singles. I love the rich colors. It reminds me of something you'd find in a forest. I plan to make this into a hat using a basket weaving technique I've seen wire wrappers use a lot lately. I've never actually tried the technique, so I'm going to make it up as I go. Wish me luck, and stay tuned if you want to see if it works. Yikes. What I learned: supercoil yarn takes an enourmous amount of roving to make very little yardage, but it's oh, so pretty. Also, I used a white core thread. It would have been nice to use a matching core thread because then if it shows through, it looks okay. I pushed the coils very tightly together so the core thread doesn't show. If I didn't have to do that, I could have gotten a lot more yardage out of the finished yarn.

I have been making slow progress on my Entrelac bag. I'm officially half done, so that makes me happy. I've decided to eliminate two rows of squares because it's going to be really large, even without the extra rows, large enough to hold a few sweaters and a pair of shoes. I need to order more green and purple wool roving from Chimera. What I learned: Carding the wool before spinning makes the yarn very textured. Carding seems to take as much time as spinning.

I tried my first two batches of hand dyed roving this week. Once I found that I could use food grade dye and vinegar to dye wool, I got myself a few pounds of merino and BFL wool in hopes of saving some money on my new obsession with wool. What I learned: There are 5 basic colors of food dye: lipstick red (red #40), magenta (red #3), cyan (blue #1), yellow (yellow #5), and orange (yellow #6). All other colors seem to be a combo of these five. Liptsick red is a very bright orange red, but I didn't actually use it in either of these dyed pieces here. Purple is a combo of magenta and cyan, and the colors will separate easily. You can see this in the roving on the right. I meant it to be purple, blue and green, but when I baked it in the oven, I didn't have the roving fully immersed in the water/dye/vinegar solution. The parts above the water turned magenta, and the blue and yellow dye stayed in the water. On the left, you can see that the orange dye is a really strong and bright dye. I love this shade of orange, and will certainly dye more roving in this color. I was not surprised to find that the yellow dye is not as strong as the other colors. I used many times the amount of yellow as orange or green to dye the roving on the left, maybe 15 times as much. I love this pea green color even though I imagine many people would find it a bit puky. I can live with that.

I did some felting. I needle felted a little blue jewelry pouch with some merino I got from Chimera. I started with golf ball inside of layers of roving. I needle felted it until it was stable enough to remove the ball. Then, I added more roving to make the flap. Then I added some wool yarn which I needle felted in a spiral pattern. Lastly I cut a hole and added a button. What I learned: Needle felted merino is very soft and springy. When you needle felt yarn onto felt, it sort of sticks, but if the yarn is not entirely wool, the yarn can pull off. You can secure it by adding a thin layer of fiber over the yarn and felting that in, but this obscures the color of the yarn.

I also felted a little hamentashen cookie, complete with seed beaded poppy seed filling. It's a pin for a very special friend, the only one I know who might actually wear such a piece. I'm long over due for making her a gift, and I'm hoping she will be able to use the pouch for one of her rings, and wear the pin on a special occasion. What I learned: When you wet felt, and go from very cold water to very hot, the wool shrinks up VERY quickly.

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