Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dyeing to Know

Where to start? Well, let's just jump right in! While my eye was recuperating I took the opportunity to wind some skeins and find some answers to my burning dye questions. While there were no real answers at the end I had a very pleasant journey.

I had two goals. One was to make what I think is termed a "semi-solid". Basically the same color but with subtle variations. The other was to make a yarn that had different colors but that blended together - there's that subtle again!

45% mustard, 15% violet, 20% blue, and 20% turquoise
So this was my starting point. I put water, citric acid, and dye solutions into my oven roaster and then added the presoaked skeins and moved them gently around to make sure the solution was getting through the skeins. Then I brought the roaster up to a simmer and left it for an hour or so. Then I turned it off and let it alone until it was cool. Pretty - but really subtle.

60% mustard, 20% blue, 20% turquoise

With these skeins I followed the previous plan but poured the dyes over separately and then stirred very gently to allow only some of the dyes to blend. I like the results but thought it was going to be a bit blotchy. I used enough yarn that either one of these could be knitted into a shawl. I thought this yarn would end up being warp but then Marie talked me into trying it out.

Good call! I love the way it is knitting up. Seraphim is the perfect pattern for lots of mindless knitting and then the big show-off border!

So then I decided to try more colors. I wound one two yard skein, 146 grams. I used the previous two recipes, along with dull orange, dull red orange, and dull mustard (adapted from Deb Menz's Color in Spinning) I thought I would soak one fifth of the skein and then I would get some blending, but for some reason I decided to spin out the presoaked skein in the washer. The yarn was a little too dry and didn't wick the dye.

I like it - the addition of the cream colored yarn to the mix adds a bit of kick. I'd still like to try the more blended style but this is going to make a pretty cool hat and gloves set.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Adjusting the Loom

Just about the time that my eye began to feel better it was time to head back to the classroom for three weeks. I've added another course this summer - a wellness class. The first day and a half are more traditional with lectures/reading/etc on nutrition, acid/alkaline levels, and such. After that I led them through a series of stress reducing exercises. First just a general unwinding script that I read with Dolphin Dreams softly playing as background, the next day I taught the basics of meditation and we did a guided relaxation exercise. It was even relaxing for me!

Throughout the week we added components of social wellness and time management along with a few poses from Svaroopa Yoga - the Magic Four. We spent time on exercises for strength and endurance for specific muscle groups. The last day one of the students brought in Wii Fit and we all had a chance to try that out. I'm sold! Josh has the system so now I'm on a mission to find one for me. Not an easy task, apparently. I've been told I can just camp out at Game Stop but I don't think that's where I want to spend my two weeks before school starts. The clerk at BestBuy said they will have them on Sunday but she doesn't know how many. Sarah said she'd go early with me. I need someone more aggressive in case the competition gets fierce :-)

I was working on this post when the stick met the eye. That was July 2nd and I've seemed to have lost my train of thought (along with a few other things) since then, so please ignore the choppiness...

While I was working on the twill baby blankets I was reminded of a problem I have noticed off and on. The bottom threads of my shed are sometimes so loose that despite a close sett the shuttle can find it's was through to the floor. I was using Peggy Osterkamp's Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps to help me visualize setting up the counterbalance loom. Oh, and that reminds me, I don't think that I mentioned that I'm almost positive that my loom is not handmade but is a Gallinger loom. It turns out that Woolflower's Leigh has one too and I found pictures on her blog. More about that later.

Back to the loose bottom shed - Peggy recommends raising the back beam to correct that problem. Of course, once I started googling for links for this post I found Leigh had investigated this when she bought her Glimakra. Ha, another example of that great mind of mine! I then remembered that Joanne Hall had mentioned raising the back beam for better sheds. Just to add insult to injury, I found I had printed out that article more than five years ago!

So here's what I did.

I strung a red thread from breast beam to back beam, going through the reed, and attaching a weight to each end. According to Osterkamp the warp should curve below the diagnostic string at the heddles. I'm not sure if you can see in this rather blurry picture but the warp is even with the string at the beater, dips about 1/4" below the string through the heddles and then rises to meet string going towards the back beam.

When opening harnesses 1-3 there isn't too much of a problem.

But you can see how there is almost a smaller, second shed when 2-4 are raised.

The suggestion is to raise the back beam and there are several approaches to this solution. However I remembered that my Macomber came with a second back beam attached. I left it there because the former owner did. I removed it recently when trying different approaches to threading back to front because I couldn't attach the raddle or angel wings with it on. So I slackened the warp slightly and put it back on. Voilá!

The thunking sound is me realizing that's why I didn't have this problem even when I put on a fifteen yard warp for my second weaving project! I will need to remove it for some tasks but it's going back on before I start weaving.

While browsing through Peggy Osterkamp's archives I found an tip for weaving twills and plain weaves together. Who knows if I'll actually remember that tip the next time?