Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Graveyard Handspun Yarn...

I was challenged to come up with something similar to the yarn used in 'Ghost Town Zombie Hat' on page 29 of the gorgeous book 'Intertwined' by Lexi Boeger (aka 'Pluckyfluff' who creates the most amazing handspun art yarns). Its dark and gothic in style, quite the other end of the spectrum from colours I normally use. So I thought it would be good fun to give it a bash!

I also documented my the process.......

First I dyed some wool, using Ashford acid dyes (put wool, vinegar, water and dye into a pot and simmer on the stove - its really easy). I was attempting to make 'graveyard' greys and browns.

What I love about dyeing wool is that it never ends up like I intend. I was mixing the colours from red, blue and yellow dyes - so figured adding them all to the pot would make shades of sludge brown and some black. But the wool ended up quite a range of colours including purple!

Anyway, I remembered I had a bag of black and grey NZ wool stashed in my hot water tank cupboard. This wool is coarser than merino (probably romney) but the colours are definately 'graveyard' so I can mix those wools in with the above hand dyed ones and it all should be fab and gloomy!

I also dug out some throwster's silk (in earthy greens and browns) from Tree Tops in Oz and some natural locks to spin in as well. Look at the 'crimp' in the locks - its really cool like a crinkle-cut chip! I love how the ends of the locks are much lighter, like the sheep used Sun-In.
So then I got started with spinning an overspun single. It needs to be overspun (not a problem for me as I overspin everything!) because I'm going to ply it with some 'stuff' later. Here is the single on my Majacraft Pioneer wheel with jumbo flyer. The silk waste and the locks give it lots of texture. The yarn in the book had used strips of an old linen shirt, which I didn't have, so I think this compensates for that.


Now for the add-ins! The yarn in 'Intertwined' uses a load of old metal cogs, springs, gears and wooden skulls.  As luck would have it, I have some handcarved yak bone skull beads from Tibet in my stash and some 'steampunk'(ish) parts that I have never got around to using. I decided to ply the yarn with black laceweight wool and run a stainless steel thread along with the yarn while spinning. All the 'bits' get threaded onto the black plying yarn before starting to ply. Then I just pull a 'bit/bead' up from the floor (where it stays because its heavy) and up along the plying yarn, when I want to spin it into the handspun yarn.

I then realised why I had never used this stainless steel thread by Habu Texiles before - because its so teeny I couldn't ever find the end! So I just pulled a load of threads off the cone and started spinning with them and that worked ok. The effect was like a glittery spiderweb around the yarn - fitting in with the graveyard theme. Please forgive my PJs, I was doing this at night while there was some peace and quiet!

So then I soaked the finished yarn (I did two bobbins full) in very hot water for about 15mins to set the twist and then hung outside to dry in the morning. I spun a load of granny coils, supercoils and beehives in too, just to give it loads of uneven texture. The yarn in the book is actually a single but I prefer the curly look of a plyed yarn (plus then I get rid of my overspin!).

I'm really happy with the way it turned out! Definately gloomy graveyard gothic type stuff - no pinks in sight!
Its hefty and superbulky and so can be knitted up quick on big needles (or crochet hook) & its 60m (65 yards) long and weighing in at 310g (10.8 oz).


ArtSparker said...

Spooooky dreads. The text was kind of like trying to read quantum physics, except it sounded more athletic.

Jasmine said...

I am so glad I did not get a spinning wheel after all. I don't think my house could cope with another woolly addiction right now. The yarn looks great and I think the making of it must have been too :)

Fresca said...

This stuff is so gorgeous, it doesn't look like it needs any further transformation to be complete in itself.
What glorious work you do.

Ginga Squid said...

Thanks Susan, Jasmine & Francesca!

Its a shame that treadling a spinning wheel doesn't burn the same amount of calories as an exercise bike. But then again, if it did I wouldn't do it as I'm not at all athletic!

Sorry about the quantum physics!

Pam de Groot said...

I loved this post!! It is so good to read about your decision making and the happy accidents we all have.

The yarn is tremendous me dear! I hope the new owner will do it justice.

Ginga Squid said...

Thanks Pam! I love your latest 'Cyber Fiber' - you are really going great guns after that workshop! I know what you mean about just looking at the yarn and stroking it for a while!

That is why I love fiber stuff so much as (for me) the way it ends out is always full of happy accidents. Unlike metal work which is not so forgiving. If you hammer it wrong or saw it wrong it is kind of spoilt, etc.

It is like fiber has an independent life of its own and its more 'alive'?

ocasiocasa said...

I loved to be able to see a bit of your process; it’s incredible. Thank you, so much, for sharing it. You really have an eye for the wonderfully wild. How cool are those Tibetan skull pieces!