This is what I was after the first time. I've changed the colour much more frequently, so the colours mix more. And with longer rows than the 20 of this swatch, then the effect will be even better. Yay!

43 yards of loveliness. Now I need to learn to take better pictures!

Learning to enjoy the unintended

I think I've got to learn to be a bit more open-minded and enjoy results even they're not exactly what I set out to achieve!

I've dyed some merino sliver (beautifully soft!) using a commercial dye. The colour isn't quite such a rich violet as I'd hoped (it's called ultra-violet), but I am still very pleased with that. Beside it here I have some natural black alpaca, supposedly carded, but which I've carded some more.

I wanted to keep the colours separate in the singles and let them mix in the plying.

This is the first skein. I looooooove the colours, but in the plying, they have matched up far more than I'd have expected! The result, as you can see from the swatch I've knitted, is much stripier (is that a word?) than I had in mind. Hmmmmmm. I'm going to try another bobbin-full tonight and switch the colours much more frequently. (I'm going to call this colour combination 'hug'.)

frog blues

I've concentrated hard, honestly I have, but not hard enough it seems!

First of all, the good news is that since deciding to make a swallowtail shawl, I've been spinning more 'wheatfield' yarn, and achieving a very consistent and fine yarn (20 wpi). I've been using my drop spindle for this, as I think it gives me more control, and I've found the return to the drop spindle most enjoyable. The cute centre-pull ball in the picture I wound using my new nostepinne - I'm so grateful for this lovely gift from my sister who, among other things, now turns wood.

But back to concentration. I'm not sure whether you can see from the picture, but I've made a cock-up in the pattern (on the left in this picture). I've pulled out a couple of rows and tried to continue from there, but it's still not right. I've got to pull out again and go back a bit further.

I suppose two steps forward and one back still = progress!

More finished yarn

I'm calling this one Carrera after the white/grey marble. It's pure alpaca - dead soft and warm. I started with black and white, and carded the white with varying amounts of black to make some shades of grey. Despite the black being very dark chocolate brown, the finished result is a perfect slightly blueish grey. I'm very pleased with it. I don't have a project in mind and may give it to a knitter friend.

Some colour for Spring

Keen to see what the onion-skin wool looks like spun and knitted, I've spun a sample (drop spindle) and cast-on. Yet another WIP....

Earlier in the week I came across Christine's Swallowtail Shawl. I'm in awe of the design and the colour of her handspun. I thought I'd try a few rows. I'm very pleased - I think the design is perfect for this 'wheatfield' yarn (as I'll call it) and I'm enjoying knitting lace.

I didn't know I was going to knit lace when I spun the sample, and I think to carry on with this shawl, I need to spin much thinner.

Dyeing naturally

I've been saving onion skins for a few weeks. What I have in my head is a golden coloured yarn; I'm imagining a ripe wheat field.

The first step is to simmer the fleece in a mordant. This helps the dye to stick to the fibre. Without it, the colour would wash right out. There are lots of mordant options, some affect the finished colour too.

I used alum (potassium aluminium sulphate). The fleece has to be simmered in this for an hour or so.

I was amazed by the depth of colour that came out of the skins when I started to boil them. A very rich reddish brown.

I experimented by dipping locks of the fleece into the dye for various lengths of time. Surprisingly the resulting colour was yellow rather than brown. The time that the wool was in the dye didn't seem to make a difference, but the first lot that went into the dye is certainly much richer in colour. (The lump in the lower left of the picture I held back from the dye and left its natural creamy colour.) It's now drying and I can't wait to start spinning it!

Whippets are cool!

Whippets are cool! (in more ways than one)Thet like to be snug and warm especially when they are out and about on a cold day.
So thats why I thought of making this neck warmer.
When Peahen bought me this bag of ready carded and dyed fleece in mixed colours from Norfolk Yarns.
I spun lengths of each colour, so when it was plyed it came out this lovely random mix.
When knitting it I stuck to 2 knit 2 purl rib to give stretch.
Bryn loves it, he even likes to keep it on indoors.