Making new yarn: la fiesta

March 4, 2008

So, one of the sweaters which I thrifted was a gently white long sleeved pullover by a company called Casual Corner, and it was made from 70% lambswool, 20% angora rabbit hair, and 10% nylon. Here’s a picture:

crappy picture of thrifted sweater before i unraveled it.

I thought it would be a good candidate, because of it’s cushy squishy yumminess, and it’s color, to make some sock yarn from. My plan was to unravel, skein, dye, and then reskein, and then knit up into socks. It got a bit more involved, as you will see..

First I unraveled two arms worth of yarn. I thought that would be ample for a sock for me, plus a bit for some fingerless gloves. As I unraveled, I concluded that I would want to somehow knit with two strands of this yarn. The yarn as I found it was built from two strands held together and machine knit. I think that any twist was incidental; the yarn was not plyed prior to being knit. Here is the yarn wound from my nøstepind onto my mosa-pseudo-noddy device –I’d designed it as a thrifted yarn washing device more than a niddy noddy (skeining device), but I still don’t have an actual niddy noddy, and so I chose to use this.

A photo of my faux niddy noddy --a short length of PVC with short 90-degree pieces on each end

I looked at that yarn, and it would have meant a very fine gauge, slightly finer than I was looking for. So at that point I got the idea of taking two strands of yarn (i.e., 2 sets of 2 strands) and plying them, and I decided that I would do the plying after the dyeing..

I kind of fell in love with my freakishly tiny, kinky, poofy skein once I tied it off and slipped it off the mosa-noddy:

A photo of a very small and very poofy and very kinky skein of yarn, slipped off the mosa noddy.

It’s the cutest torus I’ve seen EVER. I should note that it’s kinky because I chose not to wash the yarn prior to dyeing it since dyeing it would involve several washings anyway.

It took me a few days to gather enough get-up-and-go to get this skein dyed, but finally the day arrived. I was excited; this was my first time dyeing any yarn, much less thrifted yarn, but I’ve spent months and years imagining doing it, so I was primed & ready to start.

I used a combination of food dye (the little squeeze 4-packs) and some other no-name frosting food dyes. I began with a vision of red curry yarn: that bright deep pimento red, rich golden saturated saffron, and a darker burgundy red –the red of dried smoked ancho chili peppers.

I did the dyeing in several stages –first the yellow, then some red for the vibrant orangey bits, and then a somewhat haphazard blend of dyes. I was aiming, for that third stage, to use a blend of 4 yellow to 4 red to 1 blue, but my measuring got a bit sloppy, and I tried randomly darkening the results I’d gotten with some sketchy cake frosting dye which broke, predictably, in bizarre ways. Not necessarily bad ways, but in ways that were not, in fact, predictable 🙂 Still, the skein came out looking pretty to me. Not as much actual red as I would have liked, but still, pretty. Right now it feels like 1 part red 1 part yellow 1 part brownish-red 3 parts orange. I was looking for more 1 part orange 1 part yellow 1 part brownish-red and 2 parts red.

A photo of a scrunched up yarn swift with my skein of dyed yarn kinda mounted on it

I must say: the swift wasn’t working well. It’s a bit broken, and my skein was way small, and it was all a bit goofy. But it did what I needed it to do, which was to allow me to wind that skein into a center pull ball on my nøstepind.

Here’s the nearly finished yarn cake:

A photo of the yarn from the swift almost entirely wound onto my nøstepind

And the finished cake of yarn:

A photo of the finished dyed yarn cake sitting on a Chinese newspaper.  Lookin' good.

I don’t have any pictures uploaded of the Turkish Drop Spindle plying, but I know I have one, at least, somewhere. I’ll upload it when I find it. I can tell you that this hand plying process was long and somewhat arduous. My left arm and shoulder in particular got a workout over a couple of days. I worried a bit because the plyed yarn twisted back on itself rather a lot, I thought.

Once the plying was finished, I washed the yarn one last time, and then hung it with a can of Mangosteen fruit hanging from the bottom of the skein, in hopes that the skein would balance, and it worked like a charm. No more twisting back on itself, but still springy and cushy and squishy and fabulously colourful. Here it is, ready to be knit up into the Master Coriolis sock from Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways sock book.

dyed & plied.  Very pretty, I think.


7 Responses to “Making new yarn: la fiesta”

  1. Tracy Says:

    Woman this looks FABULOUS!!!!!!

  2. Kt Says:

    So much fun! I love seeing the step-by-step pictures, combined with your quirky names for things that already have quirky names. You did make thus up didn’t you?

  3. yay for recycling!

    love how this is looking so far… and it’s great to see all those progress shots along the way

    I’ll be keeping an eye out for the finished socks now 🙂

  4. Heather Connolly Says:

    Lovely yarn, you will doubly enjoy the socks each time you wear them.

  5. Doug Says:

    I am most taken with the language: cushy, squishy yumminess….mosa-pseudo-noddy device, rich golden saturated saffron, niddy noddy, mangosteen fruit, poofy skein and so on…Turkish drop spindle plying is an anathema to the Greeks! I have been reading “European, especially Mediteranean (sp?) history in a 1931 edition school book.

    No wonder my best friend, Nenos, a Greek, threw stones at a bus load of turkish students, when he was a kid in Thessaloniki.

    Thank you, Doug

    Gadzooks! How you accomplished this is quite amazing to me. You have the patience of Job and the luck of the Irish. Thanks for sharing your adventure. You inspire me! Rosemary

  6. mor Says:

    Kœre Mosaica. Du er meget dygtig Mosaica, mormor sidder paa en sten ved vandet med et stort smil , og meget stolt af sin datters datter.
    Jeg lœrte meget af hende, og noget af hvad jeg lœrte er givet til dig langs vejen, og du har perfected og bragt nye kreative skills til vor 3 generations kvinde familie.
    Din oldemor Agnes, hun var en meget selvstœndig dame i hendes tid. Hun solgte Cigarer og Tobak på bygge pladser rundt omkrting København. Her mødte hun Papa Dean som arbejdede på Frederiksberg Svømmehal, mosaic vœg billeder af Gogain’s badende kvinder fra Nogle sydlige varme Øer.
    Han skulle rejse til Montral for at møde sin bror guiseppe, de ville tage ud vestpå i Canada sammen. Men din søde oldefar kunne ikke glemme sin Agnes så han rejste hjem til Danmark igen og de blev gift i Ansgar Kirke. Jeg er ikke helt sikker på navnet, men vil finde ud af det. Glœdelig søndag, hyg dig mor

  7. Silverstah Says:

    This is utterly astonishing. I’m totally going to the thrift store this weekend! *grin*

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