Sunday, November 11, 2012

Where I learn that Pretty Yarn is Reason Enough

Dear Mom,

I will back track to explain how I got here, but let me just start at the end, because it is the end result that makes this a worthy blog post...

Beautiful yarn, dyed by me, with natural dye stock produced by plants from your garden!

Now, back to the beginning.

It started back in January, with my purchase of the book The Dyer's Garden .  My decision to buy the book was sealed when I saw that Purple Loosestrife was included. You and I both have Purple Loosestrife growing in our gardens, carefully transplanted from house to house, the original parent plant having grown in Grandma's garden.
The instructions say to harvest the whole plant tops when the flowers begin to fade. I asked you to save your plant cuttings for me, and between us I think I have 3 garbage bags full of cuttings. I used one of those bags in my first batch of dye stock, which yielded about 2 1/2 gallons of rich, dark coffee brown dye broth. As soon as I have containers to hold it, I will brew up some more with the rest of my plants.

I didn't have a specific project in mind, just knew that there is plenty of roving to dye on hand when I am ready to use it. I'd been tossing different ideas back and forth in my brain, wondering whether to dye roving and then spin it, or spin and dye later....

And Then.

On Sunday, at spinning, MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit presented me with a cone of yarn, gifted to the two of us to share by MyWeavingBuddyCynthia. Cynthia told me in an email that the wool is from her very own North Country Cheviot sheep which she had commercially spun by Ohio Valley.
In other words, this is a very special cone of yarn.

I took the cone home, weighed it, and wound my half of it into a rather tight ball.

I then heated up enough of the Purple Loosestrife dye in one of my smaller dye crockpots to submerge the ball of yarn about 1/2 way. I did not pre-mordant the yarn, and the ball of yarn was dry. I wanted the dye to wick up into the wool, hopefully giving me a gradient effect.

The yarn simmered in the crockpot for an hour, then sat in the juice, cooling off and soaking until the next morning.

When I pulled it out, it looked like this:

 So far so good!

I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed until the rinse water was clear, then put the ball into a mesh lingerie bag, securing it very tightly at each end with rubber bands so the ball could not become unwound, and put it into my front loader to spin out the extra water. I then wound the ball into a skein to speed up the drying process (and to let me get a good look at how it turned out!). The result? A rich, warm, honey brown.

I was so pleased and proud of that yarn, you might think I had given birth to it. I took about as many photos of it as someone would a newborn baby.
And for document's sake, I took a close up of the dyed fibers next to the original undyed wool, just to show off the color and how nicely the wool fibers bloomed in the dye bath.

I have no plans for this yarn. Yet. For now I am happy to walk past it, admire it, fondle it, and smile at it. Which totally justifies MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit's reason for spinning and dyeing, but not knitting or weaving..... It just feels good to make pretty yarn!