Thursday, 25 April 2019

Spinning and dyeing

A little while ago I was gifted a spinning and natural dyeing lesson with a lady called Sian that lives near my in-laws in Spain.  It was a fantastic course but I didn't do much with what I'd been taught because I was concentrating on my City and Guilds and was trying really hard to not get distracted.

The one thing I did do, was to procure two spinning wheels.  They're both Swiss wheels: 

The first I picked up at the brocki for 30chf - I believe it's from the canton of Ticino and is probably 100+ years old. 

I've got it to sort of work - the flyer didn't seem to have an orifice, so I got one drilled and am now trying to figure out a brake as it works by Irish tension.  I've managed to spin a very little, but I need more time playing with it.

The second I got through ebay for not much more but found that when I got it home it didn't have a whorl (it's double drive).  It's a Swiss vertical frame.  One was made for me and a couple of extra bobbins and I've got it to work. 

 So far, I'm not making the most consistent yarn, but I'm sure with more miles under my belt it'll get better.  I've also been spinning a bag of carded lambs wool which I was gifted years ago, and I have no idea of its quality, so that's probably not helping either.

The other part of the course I did with Sian was natural dyeing.  This was also great fun and I've been wanting to have another go at this nearly as much as I've been wanting to get going with spinning.

With her I dyed using coccineal and also yellow and brown onion skins.  Since I've been having a go myself I've tried dyeing with dandelions as there's lots around at the moment.

Here's my show and tell:

From left to right:  Coccineal, brown onion skins mordanted with alum, brown onion skins un-mordanted, yellow onion skins mordanted with alum, undyed, dandelion mordanted with alum.

I'm not entirely sure which types of fleece were used for each, but I know we spun Lojena (a local breed of Spanish sheep), ryeland, merino, some fleece from a neighbour of an unknown breed and some herdwick which I'd brought with me (the dark brown in the undyed skein above).

It's a fascinating process and I'm looking forward to doing some more.  I have planted some woad seeds and have my eye on some elderberry trees to pick some berries from later in the season.

I have to figure out something to knit from my test skeins - I'm thinking probably a cushion cover.

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