Sunday, September 25, 2011

Warning: Fiber Content (Finally!)

My fiber project while on the Alaska trip was the result of the overflowing basket of small quantities of handspun yarn, that have been accumulating for far too long. So I brought along some bamboo circular needles, and a selection of yarn.

The scarf that I worked on, and almost finished before returning home, was a singles yarn of kid mohair and Lincoln wool, carded together. The fiber was dyed in the locks before carding; half was dyed in Osage Orange to get a bright acid yellow. Then all the fiber was dyed (or overdyed) in a Saxon Blue indigo preparation. The Osage became an acid green, and the indigo has the characteristic turquoise color that the Saxon Blue preparation gives.

I don't use that indigo preparation any more, because it involves dissolving the indigo powder in sulfuric acid, then neutralizing the acid with calcium chloride. Nasty stuff, that sulfuric... Impossible to store in anything but glass jars, and even after I thought the solution was neutral pH, there was enough acid left to eat through the rubber-coated metal lid on the jar.

There are reports that Saxon Blue is not particularly colorfast, but the skeins of spun yarn have been in the basket for more than 10 years without fading (no direct sun, but plenty of bright natural and incandescent light). During wet finishing, there was no color washout, and the colors seem as intense as when they came out of the dyepot.

As I spun, I would grab a handful of the green fiber, then a handful of the blue fiber, and since "handfuls" aren't a very precise measure, the resulting variegation is really random - areas of small stripes, and areas of big stripes.

Because this is a singles yarn, with lots of residual overtwist in spite of having been wet down in the skein and weighted while drying, it was a challenge to knit evenly. The twist makes some stitches larger than others, and they bend and lean in odd directions.

Here's the scarf before final wet finishing, with the stitches torquing every which way, and measuring about 8 x 40 inches:

After washing, the scarf measured about 5 x 48 inches; the stitches are more evenly slanted and the twist made the fabric collapse widthwise and stretch lengthwise:

The mohair (about 50% of the blend) has developed the halo of fluff one would expect. The yarn fuzzed while being knit, and even more in the wash. Here's a closeup:

The reason it's taken so long to show any fiber-related work is that I had a terrible cold all throughout the trip, and a residual cough that still won't go away. I haven't even been near the loom yet - no energy after all the 24/7 cough. Maybe next week...

Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of the absolute highlight of the Alaska trip: humpback whales, which we saw in large numbers.


Laura Fry said...

Sorry you've got a cold. :( Not nice. Hope you start feeling better soon.

Connie Rose said...

Hope you feel better soon. Lovely scarf, regardless of the difficulties suffered along the way!

Incidentally, the word verification for this comment is "restican." Rest I Can -- that means YOU!

neki desu said...

seconding connie here.
nice blue, but i doubt i'm trying such stuff.
ot: blogger seems to be highly inspired i got dencel as verification word!