On Christmas day as my children and hubby were all happy and ensconced in their new toys, games and books I made my escape across the way to my studio. There began my final push to finish my homework for level 3. in the past month, my children have heard me say things like “when I am all done with this then we can go ice skating.” We home school, so my kids started back to classes that first week in Jan with a distracted mom. I kept trying to figure out where I would get an hour here or there to finish spinning my singles (25 hours of work) and ply another 5 or so hours and then knitting. Last week I had my 15 year old show me his history, I swear I almost came unglued when his answer to the vocabulary word “Aristotle, was a greek philosopher who lived in ancient times”. Are you kidding me???? He and I had words, in which were his saying I was making him do more than was called for… HA think again buddy. My other two have been skating by. Doing what they are required to but no more. My youngest made some strides in math but we let spelling slide. Then this weekend I totally forgot to take my daughter to her choral concert… just forgot. She also forgot and told me I needed to forgive my self because it was just as much her fault. Her maturity blew me away. I felt like a failure, here I was trying to finish everything and put my book together and in my mind when I woke up that day, we had nothing going on. I need to be better about checking my calendar ever day. Even on weekends.
I decided for my final project to spin a 3 ply fingering weight yarn suitable for a lace scarf. The Scarf I chose was Alhambra by knitspot. I chose to use an Alpaca cria fleece that is a fawn color, tussah silk and some commercial Targhee top. I sampled a two ply yarn with a blend of 50% Alpaca, 42% Targhee, 8% silk.
The sample yarn weighed 2.4g and was 20 yards. I extrapolated that I would need 20 rolags of 1.2 grams each for each single. That would give me 400 yards. The scarf pattern called for 350 yards of lace weight yarn. I Prefer to knit lace weight scarves with fingering weight. I also wanted the scarf wider and longer than the pattern So I used my fingering weight yarn and a large needle (US size 6).
After spinning and plying the yarn, my yarn was over spun, so I replied the yarn to remove some twist. Once I was happy with the balance, I proceeded to the dye stage.
The DWG of my yarn was 80.5 g. Per Jenny Dean’s recipe I used 6.44 g Alum and 5.63 cream of tartar. The yarn was allowed to mordant overnight.
I wanted my scarf to be red. I had Brazil wood extract dye from Table Rock Llamas. On their website they said to use 6% of the DWG for the extract. I used 4.83g of the powder. I rehydrated the dye per the instructions on their website. I simmered my yarn for an hour and my yarn was not red. I called another dyer. They suggested adding more dye. I mixed up another 4.83g of the powder and added it to the dye pot. After another hour it was still not red. My friend (thank you Ric) offered to send me Brazilwood sawdust. I agreed. I took the yarn out of the dye pot, and allowed it to dry. I had to make a decision as time was short and decided to knit the scarf with the yarn as it was and then dye it again once it was finished.
Once the scarf was finished I weighed it and my DWG was 77g. Not all the yarn was used in the scarf. This scarf pattern has two natural stopping points. I did not have quite enough to the next 9 rows and ended it. Based on Jenny Dean’s book “Wild Color,” I used an equal amount of Dye stuff to DWG. I measured 77g of the Brazil wood sawdust and placed it into a nylon stocking and tied it off, then I placed it in a pot and simmered it for an hour. I removed the dyestuff and added my scarf and simmered it for another hour, carefully stirring the scarf every so often to ensure even dye. The scarf was removed from the pot and allowed to cool, then it was rinsed and blocked.
Some final notes: If I were to go back and do this project again I would change the percentages of the blend just slightly. I would keep the alpaca at 50%, and decrease the Targhee to 40% and increase the silk to 10%. The reason is that I feel like the sheen of the silk is lost in this project. I would like it to have a bit more of the shimmer that silk has. In hind sight I think that the problem I had with the extract dye is the amount of water I used with it. The website warned me about this, but I wanted to make sure I had adequate flow for the yarn.