I have been having a great time lately dyeing roving and spinning – here are my latest creations:

Both yarns are quite similar – they started out as undyed polwarth which I bought at Birkeland Brothers Wool here in Vancouver.  I dyed them both in using Jacquard acid dyes, by putting my big dye-pot into the oven on 150-200 degrees for 1-2 hours.  The purple roving required more heat and time than the multi-coloured one did – I believe this is because the magenta dye has a higher strike point.

The purple yarn is a much belated christmas gift to my knitting friend Helen – I hope she likes it!  The multi is for me,  but I’m not sure whether I will use it for a hat… though it’s likely not enough… or I could use it in this crocheted afghan that I’ve started, and which is my current obsession!

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So after a bit of a break from spinning, I’m back to it!! And I’ve finally made friends with my spinning wheel – that took me a little time, but I think it’ll just get better and better from now on.  These yarns are from hand-dyed polwarth roving.

And here are some more details of the yarns:
1. A 2-ply:

2. Single-ply spun from a variegated roving with blues / greys

3. Single-ply spun from by combination drafting the variegated blue/grey roving with a charcoal grey roving:

There are a few knitters who I’d like to spin some hand-spun up for in time for Christmas, so I’m excited that I’m building up my skills and learning to make nicer and nicer yarns! I bought 2 lbs of the polwarth roving that each of these yarns are spun from, so I’m just going to keep on practicing and practicing with it!

I’ve started a pi shawl, that I intend to eventually be blanket-sized. I’ve wanted to start a GIGANTIC project like this for some time, and I finally cast on. The yarn is a recycled 100% merino which is absolutely lovely; it’s about DK weight or so; and I’m knitting with US#6 needles. I was mostly inspired by the pi shawl blanket that Brooklyn Tweed made; once I saw it, it stuck in my mind and eventually I had to make one! The pattern is by Elizabeth Zimmerman.

On the rawer fiber front, I’ve been up to my elbows in dye, and the results are these 3 colorways of polwarth roving, all dried out and ready to spin. And on the spindle are some initial tests of how the colors might spin up if I draft them together. I am especially happy with the reds/pinks/mauves/browns/blacks I achieved in one of the rovings. The others didn’t really turn out as planned at all; the BRIGHT orange was supposed to be mostly deep reds with a bit of orange, and the intense blue/green/yellow roving was to be a fairly consistent turquoise… well that didn’t happen. But the orange is very exciting, and the blue-greens will likely make a beautiful fabric once spun.

I’ve just spun enough yarn to actually MAKE something!  The yarn is spun from a polwarth roving that I hand-dyed in my dyepot in the oven. I actually wasn’t happy at all with the result of the dyeing – I hadn’t intended any white spots to remain in the roving, and in fact there was quite a bit of white in the finished product. But as with many things that I work on, it has grown on me, and I love the final product. It reminds me of a blustery day sailing, with whitecaps and spray flying off a brilliant blue ocean under deep blue sunny skies.

Process shots: [click for larger image]

Roving — > spun single on niddy-noddy — > yarn in skein form — > balls — > knit garment!

I spun approximately 170 yds from around 55 grams of roving. It’s pretty inconsistent & thick & thin. So now I need to decide on a project; I’m thinking either scarf of toque will be most forgiving of the thick-thin nature of the yarn; plus they’re small. I’ve got Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns out of the library, so I’m trying to find an inspiring stitch pattern that will work with thick/thin. I’ll be checking out ravelry too…