Friday, December 8, 2017

Tutorial: Self striping sock yarn

Now, I am not an expert. But I hand dyed some self striping sock yarn, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

So, I figured I'd share what I did with you all.

Wool yarn. I used superwash sock yarn, which is less likely to felt.
Jacquard acid dyes
cotton crochet thread for ties
Dawn dish soap for washing afterwards

saran wrap
squirt bottles
measuring spoon
dust mask
warping mill (or something to measure out your yarn)
swift (Or someone to hold the hank of yarn out for you in their hands.)
ball winder (Optional. You can ball up the yarn by hand.)
tub for soaking

Note: Do not use any of the items used for dyeing for food preparation ever again.

So, the first thing I did was to wind the hank of yarn from the swift onto my warping mill. I figured that 5 yards on the mill would give me about a 10 yard repeat (as the yarn goes back and forth from end to end.) My calculations were that that length would give me about an inch pattern repeat in my socks. You'll have to swatch for your own tension and row size to get your own figures.
 I tied loose figure 8 ties every yard, from some cotton crochet thread. That helps keep things from tangling, and the cotton doesn't dye so I can find it easily later on. Don't tie these too tight, or they will block the dye from getting through to the yarn.
 I also used loose ties around each arm of the figure 8 crosses at the ends of the warping mill. This again keeps things in order, and makes it easier to replace the yarn back onto the mill when the dyeing process is done.
 Then I chained the yarn up as I took it off the warping mill. No tangles!
 I soaked the chained up yarn in a tub of water and vinegar for half an hour. I had about a cup of vinegar in here. This provides the acid for the acid dyes to bond to the fiber.
 While the yarn was soaking, I put down a layer of cling wrap onto my work surface.
 Then, I chose my colors. My client wanted green, yellow, orange, and pink, as bright as possible.
 At this point, I put on my dust mask and gloves. Then I put about a half tsp of dye into each squirt bottle, and mixed it with warm water. Once the dye powders were closed up and put back away, and my area cleaned up, I could take the dust mask back off. I don't want airborne particles in my lungs!!
 I squeezed the water gently out of my yarn, and laid it out onto my work surface.
 Then, I had fun with the squeeze bottles! I used my gloved fingers to squish the dye down into the yarn, to make sure it got all of the way through. A bit of color theory helped here. I wanted bright colors, and I know that colors across the color wheel from each other combine to make earth tones. So, I kept the green and pink/orange far away from each other.
 After dyeing, I covered everything with another layer of saran wrap.
 Then, I rolled the bundle up.
 I curled the long bundle around itself, and put it in my steamer. I steamed the packet of yarn for an hour, then let it cool overnight. The next morning, I rinsed the yarn in the sink with first a squirt of dish soap, and then plain water to rinse the soap out. You are looking to rinse until the water runs clear. It didn't take long at all this time. Then, I hung the yarn up to air dry. (I forgot to take pictures of the rinsing and drying process.)
Once the yarn was dry, I put it back onto the warping mill, and used my automatic ball winder to put the yarn into a useable form.
 All ready to go!
It worked!!! I cranked out a pair of socks on my 100 year old sock knitting machine, and just danced in my seat the whole time. I am really, really pleased with how it turned out!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tutorial: Warping the medieval box loom

Several years ago, I bought a medieval style box loom at Estrella War, a local event for the historical recreation group that I was active in at the time. I've since moved on to other activities, and the loom has been sitting unused. Poor little thing! But I found someone who is still active in the historical community, and I'll be passing the loom on to her this week. In preparation for that, I warped up the loom one more time, and took pictures of the process so she could see how I did it. That should give her a starting point for her own explorations.

So... Usually I use a warping board or mill to measure out my warp, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't have one of those. So I fell back on the old school method of setting up wood clamps to give me three uprights. I put two down at one end of the table to make my figure 8 cross around, and one down at the other end to measure out the length.
 I'm using cotton crochet thread here. Start by tying on to the outside of the two clamps.
 Bring your yarn around one side of the next clamp, to start your figure 8.
 Bring your thread down to the far end, and around that upright.
  Come back up to the two clamps (Without crossing your thread between the figure 8 clamps and the far end, like I did here. I flipped it around after the picture.), and make the other arm of your figure 8. This gives you your cross, which will keep the threads in order for you.
 When you want to change colors, simply cut your working thread and tie on a new one.
When you are done measuring out your warp, tie your last thread off to the upright.
 Now, take 5 lengths of thread and tie bows around the threading cross. One on each arm of the figure 8, and one through the openings of the 8 right around the intersection. This will keep the cross intact until you are ready to use it.
 If your warp is long, I also recommend tying a choke tie around the length of the warp, every few feet. This will keep things from tangling.
 Ok, go down to the far end away from the cross, and lift your warp off of the upright.
 From that far end, chain your warp up. Again, this will keep things from tangling.
 Reach your hand through the loop, and grab the warp and pull it through, making another loop. Keep doing this. It is kind of like crochet.
Now you have your warp, and it is time to thread the rigid heddle. I use some binder clips to make a stand for the heddle.
 Take your threading cross in your hand like so. Your fingers are going to hold that cross for you.
 Remove the black ties, and snip open the beginning loop.
 You can fold your bottom two fingers down to keep things stable.
 Now, you can pick your threads up one by one, in the order that you warped them up.
 I made a threading hook of bent wire, and use that to pull the first thread through the hole.
 The next thread goes in the slot next to that hole.
 Repeat, hole then slot then hole then slot then....Then check your work and make sure that you didn't skip any like I did. If you do, move them over into the right spot one by one.
 When your heddle is threaded, it will look something like this.
 Now, tie the cut ends around the apron rod at one end of the loom.
 Bring your warp up and over the back beam, and down to the front end of the loom.
 Release the brake on the back beam, so it will turn.
 Hold onto the warp at the front end of the loom, to give it tension during the warping process. (I turned the loom around for working. The front of the loom is on the left in the picture now. No big deal, I just didn't want to confuse you.)
 Move your heddle down to the back end of the loom, so the warp will spread evenly as you wind it on.
 Wind your warp onto the back beam. Insert strips of paper as you go along, to prevent the threads from burrowing down into the previous layers as you go along. If they do, they will end up different lengths, and will give you tension problems as you weave. Try to keep your warp centered as you wind on, so the threads don't slip off the sides of the paper. (Oops. I did that one too.)
 When the warp is all wound on, snip the end loop and tie on to the front apron rod, up and over the front beam.
 Re-engage the brakes, and wind enough to put tension on the threads.
 Now you're ready to weave! You create the weaving sheds (the opening for your weft thread) by lifting up on the heddle for one...
 ...and pushing down on the heddle for the other.
 Weave your header, and you are ready to go! To advance your warp, release the back brake, crank it forward, and re-engage the brake.