Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alpaca Project – a weekend of dyeing

What is the Alpaca Project? Answer HERE.

mordant 3 mordant 2

I mordanted a batch of alpaca yarn in a solution of alum and cream of tartar, and while I was at it I mordanted some silk and merino wool rovings.

alpaca dyed mexican blossom 4 alpaca dyed mexican blossom 3
alpaca dyed mexican blossom 2 alpaca dyed mexican blossom


First I tried dyeing in a boiling pot of  CHOISYA TERNATA aka MEXICAN ORANGE BLOSSOM. I decided to place the alpaca yarn into a laundry bag to protect it from the moving foliage. It came out of the pot a pale green and dried to a creamier pale green.

Next I wanted a pale pink. So I tried red onion skins which I have been collecting whenever I visit a supermarket.

onion skin in stainless steel onion skin water
alpaca dyed red onion skins 2 alpaca dyed red onion skins

Not quite. See that ruby red liquid. It gave me an earthy green which dried to quite a nice colour but definitely not a pale pink. Beetroot is looking good. I thought it may have been the aluminium pot so I repeated the exercise in a stainless steel pot, and yes, it was different – just a little bit darker green.

natural dyeing books

I consulted all my gurus about this but I'm still no wiser. Maybe someone out there in blog land can enlighten me.

While the pots boiled I did some spinning in the beautiful autumn weather. More frothy alpaca yarn.

hand spun alpaca

Alpaca Project

What is the Alpaca Project? Answer HERE.

Jill's hand spun alpaca

Jill continues to shame us with her quality and output. A sample of her spinning from a first shearing of a huacaya in a fawn pink.

Jill's knitted and dyed alpaca scarf

Jill again, who is mainly concentrating on knitted items. A cute scarf knitted from the alpaca yarn, dyed in Landscape dye MOUNTAIN BLUE and knitted with the pattern - K3 wool *forward K* to last 3 stitches, K3, for every row.

Jill's knitted alpaca shawl

Jill again. A knitted feather and fan stole in alpaca yarn. Very luscious.

Jill's shawl to be dyed

Jill again. A knitted shawl from the alpaca yarn which she decided to dye in a rash moment. See below.

Jill dyeing shawl 

Photos of dried results still to come.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What the /!*?

carton of lux

This is a new carton just opened with it’s full contents. Even allowing for settling of contents this is a bit much. Unbelievable.

Alpaca Project

Georgie and beret

Here is Georgie’s completed beret, woven with alpaca fibre on a piece of cardboard.

dyed alpaca yarn

And here is the final results of the dyed alpaca yarn. The process was shown here. I was mightily impressed with how the over dyeing with black gave the colours a bit more oomph.

twill with variety of setts

The last couple of days I have been weaving samples to test the alpaca yarn’s capacity for weaving. Here’s a happy accident. I’m sure more experienced weavers would know all about this but I didn’t  – the undulating effect of twill when woven on a warp with a variety of setts.

weaving problem

And then there is this. Not so happy. I haven’t had this happen before. When winding the warp forward and over the front beam all my careful weaving went out of whack. Why is it so? And does anyone know how to prevent this from happening? I suppose this is why you do samples.

Introduction to Botanical Illustration with Fiona McKinnon

A little while ago I spent a totally enjoyable weekend being taught by Fiona McKinnon, a well known botanical artist. Fiona is an entertaining and skillful teacher who works with the Botanical Art School of Melbourne.

The workshop was organised by South West TAFE. My only complaint is it didn’t go long enough.

Below is some of the resulting art works by other students.

Intro to Botanical Illustration - 1 Intro to Botanical Illustration - 2
Intro to Botanical Illustration - 3 Intro to Botanical Illustration - 4
Intro to Botanical Illustration - Fiona McKinnon Intro to Botanical Illustration - Pamela Knight

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Creative Space

Dining room

It should be “My Main Creative Space” as I have little pockets of space all over the house. One day I hope to have a studio separate from the house – my retirement fantasy.

Using the dining room table is not ideal. Usually there is much more ‘stuff’ piled on this space. We rarely get to eat here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Space dyeing rovings


“SPACE DYEING is a technique used to give yarn a unique, multi-colored effect. While a typical skein of yarn is the same color throughout, a skein of space dyed yarn is two or more different colors that typically repeat themselves throughout the length of the yarn.”

“A ROVING is a piece of fibre which has been combed, drawn into a clump, and then twisted slightly to hold the fibers together and to prepare them for spinning and/or felting. SLIVER and TOP have a similar meaning to rovings.”

After confessing to Jude about taking a tiny piece of her space dyed roving ( and spinning it ) I received a slight dressing down, and then she agreed to try and replicate the same colours in some of the commercially spun alpaca fibre.

 hand spun wool - dyed by Jude

The end result of the furtive spinning of pilfered roving. A tiny piece of roving goes a long way.

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Judy, the master dyer at TAFE, at work.

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The alpaca yarn soaking in hot water.

pic 008

The first addition – black.

pic 0009

The second addition – red.

pic 012

The third addition – yellow.

pic 013

Just a slight stir to meld the colours.

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Let it simmer gently until the water runs clear which means all the dye has been attached to the fibres.

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Almost the end result. It was decided that it needed a bit more oomph so it was returned to the pot with a little more black dye.

Still to take the photograph of the finished product.