I really had a lot of fun with Tiger Club this month. Some of my dyeing made it into Spin Off magazine (Winter 2017, article by Devin Helman), and the wool happened to be Polwarth. I love the wool, but hadn’t really used it recently since I could get US grown Targhee, which is fairly similar fiber. I got a chance to try a new source for fiber, though….and they had Polwarth sourced from the Falklands….it is super white, and since there are no natural sheep pests in the islands the wool is pesticide free. I decided to use bright clear colors to show off the whiteness, and threw in black for contrast. It reminded me of the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty….the ever changing color of Aurora’s dress, and the brooding black evil of Maleficent. The fiber made its own resist when packed into a dyeing pan, creating great shades of the colors.
For the yarn, I decided the best counterpart to the Polwarth would be Journey. It is also bright white, and has a great structure of 4 ply, and the superwash qualities will slurp up the bright colors. I wanted to experiment with some ‘messier’ dyeing techniques, as speckles and ‘imperfect’ color are the in-thing right now. A hot pour later, and I got this….I think it is a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing how it turns out in projects!
Are you interested in joining the fun? Technically Tiger Club is closed for December, but drop me a line in the next couple of days and I could squeeze you in. Otherwise, Tiger Club will open again on January 2. I hope you all have a lovely Holiday season!
Long draw fans, do I have a treat for you…..this domestic wool from small farms in New England, scoured, carded, and pulled into sliver. So fun to spin into bouncy lofty yarn, and the natural oatmeal color adds a great depth to the colors.
These do contain some VM (vegetable matter such as hay….sheep gotta eat!), and some neps and noils from the shearing and minimal processing. Most of the VM falls out when spinning, and the rest plus neps can be either pulled out easily, or left in for a charming rustic texture. You can see my assessment and spinning of this wool here.
America the Beautiful, from sea to shining sea there is a lot of beauty here. October’s Tiger Club is a fantasy on the song, I made a rich purple mountain majesty color, and some amber waves of grain, and mixed them up with rich pine forests and clear teal blue sky.
The perfect yarn for this month is Targhee Sock. Targhee is a breed that was developed in the United States specifically for the conditions in our Western states. It’s part Merino, so has that soft hand you are used to in a sock yarn, but it’s a bit more durable as each fiber is a bit thicker and longer. It’s blended with nylon, has a good hosiery twist, and 4 plies. Another benefit of the superwash Targhee is how it takes color…..yum. I did a hot pour technique on these, to allow the colors to mingle and break. They just turned out great, I think! The long blocks of color should make a swirling stripe on socks, or try your hand at Planned Pooling in the Round…..or Faux Ikat on your loom!
Wensleydale is really tops for shine, so it was an obvious choice for these colors. It’s dyed in the round, so the colors stay in order (unless you have an 8oz braid, those switch in the middle). I kept the color segments long so you should have less mud, but you still make like to strip this down before spinning for clarity. Or take the whole thing apart and re-organize it how you like….you are boss of your fiber! Keep your hands further apart for this long stapled wool, and try a soft spin and use the ply to add structure for a beautiful lace yarn, or get daring and try boucle.
If you want in the fun, Tiger Club will be open through November 15th. Due to the Holidays, Tiger Club will not open in December so that I can dye and ship ahead. So join now, or wait until January! I can arrange gift memberships, just use the contact form on the website. Thanks!!!
For September’s Tiger Club, I used a new fiber, Fine Grey New England Sliver. This is a different type of preparation than I usually dye, so I thought I would take a bit to write about it.
Commonly available to dyers is a prep called ‘Combed Top’. This is actually a preliminary step to machine spinning yarn. The wool is washed, carded, combed, and gilled. In the process, the fibers are aligned, and often the crimp is steam pressed away so the fibers are smooth and will flow through the spinners more easily and consistently to make a worsted style yarn. This doesn’t necessarily make a great prep for hand spinning, especially if you want to make a woolen yarn. Fortunately, the process of dyeing gives the crimp a chance to reactivate, which makes for a more pleasurable spinning experience.
This wool was handled much more simply. It is wool from New England small sheep farms, was scoured (washed), and then was carded into a prep called Sliver…..basically a long rope of carded fiber with a slight twist to it. It arrived to my studio in tall skinny bags, all coiled up. The wool is all ready for hand-spinning, and I had a lot of fun trying it out, using long draw on both a spindle and a wheel.
Upper left: Superwash BFL Combed Top; Lower right: Fine Grey New England Sliver
However…..there are some issues with this particular sliver. The most noticeable is the VM, or vegetable matter. These were not coated sheep, and were obviously fed a good quantity of hay. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to deal with. You can do a little fluffing of the fiber to get some out, and the rest will either fall out as you spin, or will be easy to pull out. Here’s a bit of the fluffing, shown on the club colorway:
The other issue with this wool is the neps and noils. Personally, I found this to be a fun rustic element to team up with the yarn of the month, which had neps and noils added on purpose. In reality, these were not meant to be in the wool….some are from ‘second cuts’, which are very short lengths of wool that result from going over an area of the sheep more than once. These little bits tend to glom together in the washing stage and makes little balls in the final roving. The noils come from when both ends of a fiber are stretched by the combing process and it breaks, leading to the fiber snapping back and coiling up. This can come from tender tips, perhaps from being in the sun, or from a nutritional change in the sheep in the middle of the wool growing period, or aggressive carding. You can see these extra bits in the picture below.
So, it isn’t the most perfect wool, but honestly I haven’t met one I haven’t liked yet, and I think this has some personality despite its faults. The price point also makes it attractive.
My first sample was on my new Akerworks mini spindle. These are 3D printed, then the BB’s are added after. You can also choose your own shaft length, and you could remove the whorl and either change it, or be more able to tuck the spindle in your purse. It’s a clever design. My only dislike is that the sharp edges of the plastic catch the yarn while you are winding on. I’ll make future cops a bit lower on the shaft in the future.
I made a plying bracelet for this one…..
And ended up with this yarn:
As you can see, it fluffed up quite a bit, and really showed off the un-even-ness of my spinning. Some of this was me, and some of it was the prep. (Well, ok, it was all me…because I was too lazy to pull out all the slubs….it’s a sample!!)
In the meantime, my pretty new Schacht Flat Iron spinning wheel arrived. I had a lot of fun putting it together (IKEA skills for the win!). Here are some shots…the wood has pretty bird eye freckling all over it.
Here’s the wheel together and with about an ounce of the Fine Grey New England Sliver spun on it.
I went for slightly thicker than my default, and kinda threw the wool at the wheel while doing a long draw. Oh, it was fun! I then chain plied the result, as I wanted to see how this would work as a 3 ply….I want to make a cozy sweater from this wool.
And here it is washed. The chain plying does tend to consolidate your inconsistencies, so for the actual project I will make a true 3 ply yarn. I do love how squishy and stretchy it is, and the wool is nice and soft. I also love the slight variations in color.
I dyed a couple of ounces of the club fiber/colorway for a hat, and I hope to spin that up soon. After that I’ll start the sweater project. I also picked up a faster whorl for the Flat Iron, so these projects should go quickly once I have a chance to start.
If you aren’t in club but would like to try this fiber, I’ll have a number of colors available soon. (And also have a fair amount of undyed, available upon request.) I’m having a Merino sale through Sunday to clear some bin space for these, so hopefully I can list them next week. Thanks for stopping by to read about the Fine Grey New England Sliver!
No inspiration photo for this one, just an idea I had to combine an old fun color of CMY Party (where I put Cyan (blue), Magenta, and Yellow next to each other and let them Party), with the deep reds of fall. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, and it seems club members are, too!
The yarn is Tiger Tweed, which is a blend of Superwash Merino and Donegal NEP, which is a kind of nylon that is acid dye resistant, so it leaves little flecks of color in the yarn. I usually like to do a light wash of color on this yarn to show off both the light and dark neps, but decided to experiment with a stronger color. I like how it turned out. If socks aren’t your thing with Tweed yarn, this would be fun in a Planned Pooling project….a scarf for back and forth, or in the round with a cowl. Or try faux ikat on your rigid heddle loom!
Our fiber is a bit of an experiment. Usually I bring you industrial combed top, which has been carbonized, flattened, and combed….the dyeing process brings it back to life a bit, but it still feels a little ‘clinical’. This carded sliver is from a wool pool from New England of fine wool, and leans to a pale grey-brown color. I enjoy over-dyeing natural colors (besides white) because of the depth of color that brings life to the project. I love how light and fluffy it is….you’ll notice the braid is much longer for the 4 oz! I’ll have more about spinning this wool in a future blog post.
Inspiration this month came from my backyard….we have a rather steep hillside that is not fun to mow, so a number of years ago I over seeded it with wildflower mix. Over the years many of the species have been crowded out, and now it is mostly Purple Coneflower and Goldenrod….with an occasional Black-eyed Susan. It’s very pretty and bright at it’s peak, but as fall comes on the colors dull a bit, and the Goldfinches descend to eat all the seeds. The colors this month reflect that ‘Fading Summer’ of the pink, purple, green, blue, gold, and neutral greys and browns of this landscape.
The yarn this month is Safari, and while I wanted to do a gradient so each color could shine, I also wanted it to be appropriate for socks. So I made you two matching 50 gram skeins. I used my own ‘kink free sock blank’ method, and came up with this:
Here are the finished skeins….one wound each direction.
The wool for August is Cheviot. This Scottish breed is characterized by its helical (spiral) crimp structure to the wool. This keeps the wool top open and easy to spin, and your finished yarn will puff up in the finishing wash. It is a little coarser than the fine wools, at 27-33 microns. The staple is generally 3-5 inches.
I’m thinking cozy, yet sturdy, mittens….I’d strip this down lengthwise into 4 parts and spin two matching skeins of 2 ply in the sport weight range. Want to mix up the colors? You can do that, too….pull it apart and draw bits out of a bag, or make faux-lags….or use hand cards or a blending board for true rolags. These colors are all of similar value and will look good however you combine them!
It’s the height of summer in Iowa, a time when the corn goes from ‘knee-high by the 4th of July’ to six feet tall, seemingly overnight….you can actually hear it grow if you listen close enough (hard to do when you are swatting mosquitoes!). The weather is hot and humid, and there is often a haze over the landscape. Way back when Laura Ingalls Wilder was a girl and pioneering, Iowa was a sea of Tallgrass Prairie. In college, I took a class about them, and it was so interesting. Prominent in most tallgrass prairies is the grass Big Blue Stem, seen in the foreground of this picture. Like the corn, it is over your head tall, and does indeed lean blue. (And yes, there is a Little Blue Stem!) I really love this state….the green and rolling hills, and wanted to share it with you.
To capture the ‘haze’ of summer, I decided to use a Superwash Merino/Tencel blend. The Tencel does not take the acid dye, so the overall look is a bit hazy, and has a lovely shine. This 50/50 blend does have enough twist to use as socks, but I’d suggest a shawl, cowl, or other such item. The dyeing (of 3 greens, a golden tan, and rust) is a quite random drizzling, so if anything pools it shouldn’t stay that way for long.
Our fiber is also a 50/50 blend of Merino and Tencel (no superwash, though). The technique I used is a layered one, so the colors are somewhat random, and you will notice that in places the color changes across the width of the fiber. This can be a slippery blend, if you have issues, you may have better luck pulling of a bit and spinning from the fold.
Fitting into our color theme were our visitors the other day. About 100 yards beyond this picture is one of the busiest streets in town, but our neighborhood offers a quiet sanctuary of ravines and wooded backyards. We’ve seen this pair, and sometimes last year’s fawn, frequently this summer. I was surprised to see them so close, and laying down mid-day, so I had to get some shots.
Good thing this little one is cute….she has a penchant for my flowers.