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Archive for December, 2009

In my post about Pine Hill Farm, I neglected to mention that the owner, Anna-Maria, is an accomplished hand-dyer. She works mostly with a merino-tencel blend that she uses for felting scarves and other objects. Before I visited her farm in October, I saw this example of her work for sale at Ariadne:

I loved the colour combination, especially the little spots of green among the blue and the orange. I wanted to preserve the colours as much as possible in the finished yarn, something I usually do by chain-plying, but I also wanted to make a laceweight yarn. One of the drawbacks to chain-plying is the little bump you get at the start of each chained section, something that usually gets hidden in a thicker yarn but stands out quite a bit once the WPIs go up. So, I decided to split the roving lengthwise and spin it in two parts, and hope that the colours matched up. Each half of the roving I split again three times and spun them in the same succession, and the resulting yarn matched up… pretty close. In some places the colours match, but there is a little bit of barber-poling in other sections, and the colours faded immensely once they were thinned out to laceweight width. Well, good enough. You can see where the orange mixes with the blue in this picture:

With only two ounces I was limited in what I could make with the yarn. I thought perhaps I could get a shawl out of it, and worked a simple trianglular leaf lace pattern, starting from the apex and working up:

Pretty, I think, despite the uneven stripes. However, halfway through the ball it’s clear I don’t have nearly enough for a shawl, and unless I start over it will be destined to be purely decorative. As much as it hurts to rip back all that work, I’m going to start again and make a narrow rectangular stole out of it (although keep a leafy pattern).

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I frequently buy dyed mohair locks from a local angora goat farm, Wellington Fibres, for my intermediate spinning class. As part of my recent fascination with embroidery, I tried out the mohair as a potential material for thread, with fairly good results. The next batch I’ll get some photos up of the whole process, from locks to combed top to spun thread, but for now here’s the finished product:

The first bit I spun about as fine as the alpaca top in my last post:

fine mohair thread

Mohair, in case you’re wondering, is a trickier fibre than wool to spin. It’s a very smooth fibre with a wave to it rather than crimp, and though it takes dye like nothing else, it’s really got to be convinced to hold itself together in yarn form. After my singles drifted apart a couple of times I realized I needed more twist than I was used to. For the second attempt, I decided to go finer, and therefore put in a LOT more twist. Even on the smallest whorl on the fast flyer I still had to be conscious of adding more twist. I do like the finished result, though:

finer mohair thread

That’s close to the finest I’ve ever spun, I think. And how does it work in its intended purpose? I practiced a few stitches on an old dark blue quilt block and they came out pretty nicely, but unfortunately getting good photos of the result eluded me. I’m going to try again on plain, natural twill and with any luck the stitches will show up better. Either that, or get a new camera already.

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