Project Sheep to Sweater: Dyeing

Disclaimer: By no means take any of these statements for fact. I am a wanna-be fiber artist attempting to process her own wool for the very first time by means of the project titled “Project Sheep to Sweater.” The following series of statements and any future statements are my observations only.

So my wool has been washed and hanging out with me for the past 7 months. After acquiring it I had washed it multiple times (see previous posts on washing and shearing) and let it dry completely. It then sat in a bin for the next 7 months, travelling from Pomona, to Los Angeles, driving north over 1,000 miles, to Bellevue (Washington), and finally to my apartment in Seattle. After many long months of waiting for my life to transition, I finally started with the dyeing process, thanks to the readily available supplies that are pretty easy to find here at Weaving Works.

Dyeing, when done correctly seems to be a science. I, however, do not do it correctly. At least I’ll admit it to myself. I have a little here and a little there. But I can definitely say I understand how it should be done correctly with ratios of ounces of liquid, grams of dye powder, amount of fiber, etc.

I acquired a crockpot at the nearby Goodwill for a mere $10 which was great. I didn’t want to spend too much; granted I’m sure I could have gotten one for cheaper, but it’s in great condition and I probably could have used it for cooking if I had so desired. I decided on the crockpot method due to the seemingly easy method of leaving it and basically forgetting it, only coming back to check every now and then so I could do things as I pleased.

So my first batch, I chose to do a chartreuse with my Rambouillet. (Quick project update: I’m blending my Rambouillet fleece with some Shetland and Tencel in order to get the strength of Shetland with some shimmer of Tencel; we’ll see how this goes). I thought, well 2 ounces of fiber will fit in the pot so lets do it! I followed that thought with “let’s fill (almost) the entire pot with water to ensure maximum coverage. Then let’s set it to low so it doesn’t felt. Then let’s open it regularly to make sure it’s okay. Then let’s add a little dye because this doesn’t seem to be working.”

Mistake. Fail. Fail. Meh.

The above picture is the crockpot at work. FOR SEVEN HOURS. It took so gosh darn long for the fiber to get up to temperature that I had to leave the house and turn it off by that time. Meaning there was no way in heck the dye set. So I was left with a wasted day and a pot of fiber that was attempting to dye.

Lesson here: Do not fill your crockpot up with this much water. You really don’t need that much water so long as it remains covered. Moreover, don’t keep opening the crockpot up! This only allowed the heat to escape so the temperature lowered, thus making it take way longer to get up to temperature.

I ended up having to recover from this pretty crappy mistake by redoing the process about 4 times until I got the desired result. In the end, I had to put this fleece into a bag where my not-so-satisfactory fleece goes that’ll be used for some woolen bitted yarn. But I absolutely despise waste so it will get used. Plus the wool became a weird green-light green with extreme changes that cannot be explained.

After this, I’ve gone with 1 ounce of fiber at a time, with barely enough water to cover it. This has resulted in a much more satisfactory result. Often times, I’ll let it get to the temperature it needs with a good amount of water, then keep it on warm through the night, turning it off in the morning. This way it lets the dye set and I can set it and forget it. 🙂

As you saw yesterday though it’s coming along really well. While the dyeing has been much more difficult and time consuming than I had thought, I still love it. And it’s getting better; lot’s better! I think if I can find a good sized pot at Goodwill, I might do the stovetop method when I have some spare time. It seems like it might go a lot faster, and seeing as I hope to dye/process about 1.5-2 lbs of fiber for this sweater, I still have about 1-1.5 lbs to go. I’m getting impatient with the dyeing.

Til next time!

Meet Penny, a dachshund from the Humane Society who had stolen my heart 2 weeks ago. She by no means replaces my Penny-weenie, but she is so heart-wrenchingly adorable. I am still rejoicing in the fact that she just got adopted today! 😀

Project Sheep to Sweater: Dyeing

Getting Up to Date

And so, it has been almost three weeks. Whoops. No legitimate excuses for my absence but I do have to say, between birthday season and work deadlines, blogging has taken a back seat.

But not knitting or spinning. Well, not exactly spinning but fiber preparation. Project sheep to sweater is well on its way to spinning! Granted, there are plenty of tips/tricks/lessons learned along the way that ultimately slow down the process, but it’ll definitely result in much better yarn. And I’m absolutely loving this raw wool to finished project process.

Some pictures of the process:

From left to right:

Dyed Rambouillet Locks; Carded/Blended Top; Container of Top

Some lessons learned coming tomorrow! (I PROMISE!)

Getting Up to Date

Hullo Froggie

The ominous melody of frogs has been following me lately. Such a lovely sound, especially when mixed with the harmony of failure. That goal I set last week to finish the blanket? Fail. But I guess that’s why I make goal to begin with; if I didn’t have any goals then I wouldn’t really get anywhere. If I have them, at least I achieve…something. At least when it comes to knitting. I know for a fact that I rarely ever meet a knitting goal. Or at even any crafting goal to say the least.

Mr. Blankie is plodding along at a snail’s pace, naturally. However, I have made 2 headbands, but only an eighth of one currently exists. I am currently ill with the frogging disease, meaning for non-knitters I am destroying my handiwork. For knitters, I am simply satisfying the perfectionist attitude that goes along with purchasing high quality yarn. Now, a headband may seem like a menial and too simple of a project but when the weather is this:

and I am doing this outside:

(playing ultimate)

and my jacket does this within an hour:

then it’s time for a headband. Though one of my new years resolutions (like so many other knitters out there) was to not buy yarn for myself, I found that none of the yarn in my bin fit the criteria for my pre-imagined headband. Therefore, in keeping with my mission to visit possibly every LYS in the greater Seattle area, I ventured off to the Fiber Gallery. However, this is not the last time I shall be going there. I loved my first trip there, it’s easily accessible by a bus line near my apartment, and the selection was awesome. I loved the variety of materials there. However, no spinning things (at least I didn’t see any). And on top of that, I ordered some wool to mix in to pick up Project Sheep to Sweater once again. I’ll hopefully be dyeing some wool in the very near future.

Anyway, back to the headband. (Geez, I really do go off onto tangents all the gosh darn time!) I feel that any physical activity that warrants heat transmission from the head should go together with a headband. Hats are just too hot after running for a while, plus they always seem to fall off super easily. Moreover, they take so much more yarn than a headband and restrict your line of sight. The beauty of a headband allows your head to breathe while keeping your ears attached to your head. Quite nice, really. Unfortunately, despite such a simple product, I’ve frogged twice already due to the size. First was the ribbing; it was much to thick. Then it was too wide and didn’t fit me (well enough). I’m on my third try…third time’s a charm?

Despite my lack of loyalty to the blanket, I have made plenty of progress on the Inishmore legwarmers and I’m about an inch of ribbing away from being completely finished! Win!! I’ll take pictures of the FO once it’s done tonight, to be posted later. I’ve also made some progress (minimal) on Awry, one of the sleeves. I’ve forgotten how boring/tedious/fun (yeah, I know contradicting each other) this project can be due to the yarn, but constant stockinette. Hopefully that’ll be done by…March??

Pressing on with the headband.

Stay warm everyone! Let’s hope Seattle remains blue for the next couple days/weeks?

Hullo Froggie

Project Sheep to Sweater: Washing Wool

So after the joy of watching a sheep lose its coat, I had to begin the process of cleaning it. First off, the wool was pretty not well taken care of. There still is quite a bit of grass and organic bits in the wool; however it’s MUCH better now than before.

It took me four washes to get it to be somewhat clean and not barnyard smelling at all. But I’ll just have to comb out the rest of the bits with a metal dog hair comb, then either card or comb it from there to get it ready to spin. The staple length of the fibers is relatively short (approx. 3 inches) so I think I’ll just dye the yarn from there. I think it’ll be easier for me that way. I’ll (hopefully) spin a two ply sport weight-ish to create a sweater.

I also acquired a spinning wheel! And I made a yarn swift this past quarter. Pictures to be posted later on…but yay for new toys! After some maintenance, the wheel will be ready to go! Project sheep to sweater is really underway!

From top to bottom: Raw Fleece, First Wash & Water, Second Wash & Water,
Third Wash, Fourth Wash, Original Fleece, Clean Fleece, and Drying Fleece!

Project Sheep to Sweater: Washing Wool

Project Sheep to Sweater: Shearing

Hello again readers! I’ve returned from the depths of senior project to bring you my latest (and greatest) project, aptly titled Sheep to Sweater. Being fortunate enough to have gone to an agriculturally centered school, there are sheep on campus that are essentially raised by students. Unfortunately they’re not given the type of grooming one would hope to get to produce fine wool, so their wool is usually thrown out.

Enter Chrissie, the recent college grad: I contacted a professor and he helped me greatly by giving me a fleece! Free of charge! Unfortunately, there was plenty of dirt, vegetable matter, burrs, food, grease, etc in the fleece…so it was kind of gross. But see pictures below for a nevertheless awesome sheep shearing adventure! (Photos courtesy of Paul, my lovely, awesome, amazing boyfriend)

Project Sheep to Sweater: Shearing