Category Archives: dyeing

And there goes August!

And goodbye August, or nearly so! 

Woosh, the month went flying by, just like that! 

For starters, it’s been busy on all fronts. Home, work, yarn, etc. But a good type of busy I suppose, it definitely makes the time go by faster. 

I took a few days off from my day job and traveled to WY to visit my parents. While I was there my mom and I set up a outdoor dye studio and did some natural dyeing with sunflowers. My mom and dad went out into the country one evening on their 4-wheeler and walked up and down the ditches on the side of the road picking sunflowers that in turn were boiled so they’d release the dye. 

I will say this about my parents, they have always been extraordinarily patient with my crafty and artistic endeavors and never once in all the years I’ve been coming up with one crazy scheme or idea after another did they tell me no/that’s not a good idea. It’s how I am raising my son, I think it’s an excellent way to parent. So, thanks mom and dad! 🙂 

So the first day I was home we did the sunflower dyeing and after that was done (1+ pounds of roving plus hanks of yarn) my mom and I tackled the handpainted yarn project. In the next two days she helped me dye 50 skeins of yarn! It was crazy productive, I have never knocked out that much yarn in that short of time. 

Since then I’ve had time to focus more on spinning, I hope to have time to update my Etsy store soon as well and continue to prepare for craft shows this fall and other events coming up in September. 

Somewhere in all this I start classes in September (I’m finishing a degree via online coursework), got my son off to his first day of school, work, have a trip to Denver planned, etc. Busy! But again, busy is good, it keeps my life interesting even if most of the time I feel like it’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride around here. 

How about some photos?

This is what sunflower dye looks like in progress. I prefer to call it something nice, like peridot. My dad thought it looked like calf scours. Being from ranch country, I guess I can see why he had such an opinion!

When the yarn and roving came out of the kettles it veried in shade from a pale green to a buttery yellow. I plan to spin the roving and ply it to get the full effect of the subtle color shifts. As you can see, the deck at my parents house was absolutely built for someone like me and yarn madness!

Here a couple shots of the handpainted spree, these were taken on day one. As I said previously, by the time we were done we’d completed fifty skeins!






So there you have it! Happy Almost-Autumn, we’ll all need hats, scarves and socks before you know it!


Goodbye July

This weekend was blistering hot so staying indoors seemed to be a fantastic plan! Saturday morning I dyed a pound of faux angora fiber using my oven and had it all shut down by 9 a.m., just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in my kitchen.

That task complete, I hauled a box fan downstairs to my work area, grabbed a giant glass of ice water, put on a good record and set out to tackle the giant reskeining project that had been looming over my head for the past week. When I first started handpainting yarns I didn’t reskein it but as time has gone on I have learned to appreciate the much better presentation of the yarn when I do so. I personally tend to fixate on one block/pool of color, it prevents me from seeing the big picture.

For example, here is a skein of my handpainted before reskeining. I kept fixating on the red tone:

And after: much, much better!

In order to make this project successful I set up my yarn swift at one end of my work desk and my yarn winder at the other. Then I wind, wind, wind, until my arm gets tired!


When I was done, I had this! The bottom row is worsted, the rest to the top is sock yarn.


Last year, my friend Donna who owns and operates Nor’East Architectural Antiques contacted me, she’d found an antique yarn winder at an estate sale and would I be interested? Of course I was! It arrived shortly thereafter and has by far become one of the most valuable pieces of equipment I have in my collection. In this photo there are six skeins of worsted weight yarn on the winder, each skein is 250 yards in length.That’s a lot of yarn! When I’m done winding I just take the wheel off and slip the skeins off the bottom. So easy! If anybody out there knows more about these winders I’d love to hear from you. I have no idea how old it is but it’s sturdy and a complete workhorse piece of equipment.


Now that I’m done with that type of project I have to get caught up on my spinning. As usual, I have everything I need, I just need more time! 🙂


Happy New Year!

Wow, 2010, I can hardly fathom it!

I had the good fortune of having four days off work over New Years, I am almost dreading going back to work tomorrow because I’ve gotten used to doing everything that falls under “not work” during my time off.

As usual, there was a lot of yarning going on in my house. Yesterday I spent amost the entire day dyeing roving, today I spent several hours spinning. I have 3 new skeins of handspun twist setting and about 50 skeinlets to wind.

I realized a few days ago that a lot of the supplies for carding that I’d accumulated in the past three years are rapidly dwindling. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, I have carded a lot of fiber, especially for what eventually becomes my Bedlam yarns since I bought my drumcarder in 2007. Building supply for me from the beginning had to be a gradual thing due to financial constraints, I suspect rebuilding will come about in the same manner.

If anything, I find myself wishing I lived in a community that had a spinning/fiber arts store. We have a couple yarn stores here but the spinning supplies are almost nonexistant other than undyed roving or the occasional solid color. It  irritates me because I’m pretty much a instant gratification sort of person and having to order everything online does nothing for my impatience factor. In July 2009 I visited my best friend Jen, who lives in Maine. We made several trips to the Portland Fiber Gallery & Weaving Studio while I was there and I was so impressed with the fact that all I had to do was grab bags and start stuffing assorted fibers and blendables into them. I would so dearly love to own or co-own a spinning/yarn/fiber arts store with Jen some day!  Though I wonder if we’d spin it all before we could sell it!

Rambling on, as usual!

Here are some photos of recently listed items at my etsy store:

Skeinlet Sensation (mini skeins of my handspun) I’ve offered over 50 of these not counting custom orders!

Bedlam yarns, as mentioned above:

Handpainted commercially spun yarn:

And a new to me creation, Scraptastic yarns:

I didn’t make any resolutions this year, I never keep them anyway! I do plan to kick up the spinning an dyeing to even higher levels than before, I think I have finally struck a good balance when it comes to managing my day job, home, kid, husband and online college courses (why yes, I have indeed lost my mind!). It sounds crazy busy, and it is. But it’s all doable.

Happy New Year everyone and if you’ve stayed with me to this point, thanks!

Hello Fall!

Well hi there, long time no update.

I’m just not good at this self discipline thing.

Happy Autumn everyone!

I so love fall, it makes me feel so productive and inspired.

As I do every year at this time, I’m once again building inventory for the arts and crafts show held the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Holiday Inn in Sheridan, WY. I will be there again this year, as will my wheel. If you want to attend a truly great show, I suggest attending! There are some truly amazing people who attend with their wares, I look forward to going every year.

This year I’ve changed some of my dye techniques as well as my primary dye preference. When I first started dyeing fiber, I used Kool Aid. I then progressed to Wilton’s paste food coloring and then when my ever increasing need for more colors grew I finally took the plunge with acid dyes. I started with Jacquard acid dyes, I still have over 30 colors in stock. But eventually I started to feel limited by that selection as well and in January of this year I ordered a small bundle of Cushing’s acid dyes. I’ll admit that initially it was not a pleasant experience. I was used to being able to dump a lot of color on fiber using Jacquard and not having it saturate so much or so darkly, I guess. It took a lot of trying but eventually got the hang of the more concentrated (in my opinion) Cushing dyes and things just took off from there.

My last post I showed a bunch of hand painted rovings, over 80% of those were dyed with Cushing dyes, so you can see that my love has become full blown.

I will say that I still haven’t found anything that can beat Jacquard’s Hot Fuschia though, that is a truly great shade of hot pink.

In July I went to visit my best friend Jen, she lives in Maine. One afternoon during my last couple days there, we journeyed to Kennebunkport and visited the Cushing dye studios! That place knocked my freaking socks off, it was just so wonderful. We were there for well over an hour looking at swatches of wool dyed in half a dozen strengths of their acid dyes and I was able to see first hand what colors didn’t appeal to me on a computer screen or a glossy publication. Neither are a bad way to shop, but if you can see or purchase swatches first hand I highly recommend it. And if you go to Cushings, ask for Gillian because she is about the coolest, most helpful person I’ve ever met in the dye world.

I guess for me it depends on mood. If I want a true baby blue, I’ll break out the Cushings. Easy, no mixing. Instant gratification. If I want that hot pink that is so elusive, I chose Jacquard.

I mainly use Jacquard for kettle dyeing and Cushing for hand painting, but that’s just my preference. That said, my collection of Jacquard has stayed at 36 colors (Jacquard produces 40 colors) and 60 out of the 94 shades offered by Cushing. I would guess it’s all part of the evolution of coming into my own as a fiber artist (though quite honestly I don’t consider myself to be one) and someday I might discover something new.

As a side note, those that think that those tiny envelopes of Cushings aren’t worth the approximate price of $3, vs. about $5 for a small jar of Jacquard I will tell you that in my experience a tiny bit goes a long, long way! I’ve had some of my envelopes since January and I’m still not close to being out.

Long weekend, not long enough!

Right now the downstairs smells like wet wool because there is a whole bunch of handspun twist setting down there. I have spun and spun and spun some more and I’m still one night away from my custom order completion. Wasn’t I just lamenting that I need more time?

I spent a goodly portion of Saturday in the kitchen dyeing commercially spun yarn and puttering around. It was such a gorgeous weekend here though that I honestly chose to spend more time outdoors than in and therefore and once again behind on all things yarn. I’m not too broke up by it, can you tell?

My kitchen is pretty small and sadly lacking for counter space but I don’t mind. I have a folding table I haul out if I have to handpaint anything. The silver boombox (OMG!) on the counter? I’ve had that since I was in the 4th grade. I am now 33 for a point of reference. And I still use the tape deck.

I listed a bunch of sock yarn in my Etsy store on Saturday and since then have been chipping away at my big custom order and the 3 in line behind it. *head, I’d like you to meet desk* I’m flattered, thrilled even, but holy cows (as my son would say) it’s a lot to tackle when it all comes at me at once.

I really like what the dye did on this skein of sock yarn. It was a total happy accident, I can’t even take credit for it really. I owe it all to the dye.

I guess that’s it for now. Some progress is better than none, yeah?

Progress, I make it.

O.k. I realize that the pile o’yarn probably doesn’t look like it’s expanded much, but since my last update I’ve added 8 new skeins to the pile! I’m getting really tired! The show in Sheridan is exactly a month away. I was thinking of taking a break from spinning and dyeing yarn this weekend but then my eyes landed on the cones of undyed sock yarn, the huge bag of 8 ounce dyed rovings and the stuff that I might have accidentally ordered onlien in a fit of “OMG I NEED THIS STUFF.”

Ahem. 🙂

In between all this I’ve managed to squeeze in a custom yarn order at Etsy. I am so flattered that I was chosen to create this yarn! The lovely customer wanted roving dyed in shades of silver and brown and then handspun super bulky and thin. It was hard for me to deliberately place huge slubs into the yarn but the results were so nice! Super soft and an amazing texture. I’m really pleased with it, I can’t wait to see what she makes with it!

300 yards. I never formally named it but started to think of it as Sepia.

And with that, I’m keeping my promise to myself to get to bed at a decent hour tonight so off I go. Goodnight!