It is a busy time of the year and there’s a lot of competition for my spare time in the garden and the greenhouse. It’s a time of gluts, and so I’ve been picking runner beans, apples and blackberries, pickling chillies, drying flowers for dyeing with later,and roasting tomatoes with garlic, olive oil and thyme before freezing them (my favourite way to deal with a tomato glut). Making apple and blackberry jam will be my next mission.
It’s all good fun being a domestic goddess every now and then (and it’s an ideal season for it), but as a result my woad experiments haven’t progressed at all. Having boiled the leftover woad leaves, I dumped some mordanted skeins in the pots thinking I’ll come and simmer them later, and now, well over a week later, they are still there. Well, looks like they are now being cold-dyed instead.
But when there’s no time for big dyeing sessions, spinning is always a good activity that you can do even if you only have a spare 10 minutes available. For the last month or so I have been spinning a hand-dyed combed top that I bought at the Fiber East festival in July. It’s a lovely top, 75% merino and 25% seacell, it feels very soft and silky and it has been a pleasure to spin.
It has been dyed with a mixture of magenta and dark blood red, with large gaps between the colour stripes, so there’s a fair amount of pink in it too. I could be wrong but it looks like the Seacell part of the fiber hasn’t picked up the dye at all which probably explains why there are narrow white vertical stripes in the top.
Given the lovely soft feel, I thought I’d spin a lace yarn from it (just in case I ever manage to overcome my absent-mindedness and tendency to make knitting mistakes and so be able to make some progress with lace knitting). I decided to spin it worsted style, with a short forward draw, as I thought it would give a nice stitch definition to the knitted lace (and this style spinning has the advantage that it is easy and relaxing, not requiring too much concentration, so making it ideal for spinning in the evening) .
I wanted the colours to change slowly, so I did not pre-draft it in any way, just spun straight from the edge of the top. Although the top itself looks quite stripy, the yarn looks nice and tonal, more semi-solid rather than variegated.
I’m not a big fan of knitting with singles yarn, the garments never seem to last that well, so I made mine a 2-ply yarn. The top was quite generous at 120g, and I managed to spin nearly 470 meters from it. That makes 381m/100g, so it is quite a bit thicker than “real” lace yarn, but I wasn’t really trying to spin it as thin as possible, I just spun the way that came naturally. In any case there should be plenty there to make a scarf or a small shawl out of it.