My Speckle Dyeing Fail

I have a bunch of raw undyed white fleece that I have spun into yarn and I have decided I want to speckle dye my handspun.

I my first try was a total flop. I was going for neon rainbow speckles and first off I ended up with a kelly green, that brought down the entire neon rainbow feel… but also I had no speckles whatsoever! I had followed someone’s YouTube tutorial using plastic wrap in the microwave. Ultimately, I had ruined any chance of speckles from the plastic wrap touching everything and the steam inside the plastic wrap was too much… making water drip, which spread the color everywhere.

There is a technique and know how to get a good speckle yarn. And the dyers who make gorgeous speckles where the dark colors are sharp contrast and where the extra dye isn’t dyeing the bright or lighter colors in the rinsing.

I tried two skeins of handspun first and after my massive fail I thought, “ok…. I need to learn and practice on cheap mini skeins while I work this out…”

Here are the disastrous results of my first attempt on my handspun following the YouTube plastic wrap microwave method

Omg it’s hideous

It’s hideous!! lol It’s so bad, it’s embarrassing. One good thing about failing so miserably? I have wins in my future. I learn something every time.

I was not happy with the failed speckle handspun… it even fails as variegated yarn, IMO . I would not be moving forward with my speckle dyeing on yarn I had processed from raw fleece. I went to my local big box craft store, with 40% coupon in hand, to buy white basic wool/nylon yarn.

Fortunately, I have friends who are patient teachers, as well as, amazing dyers, to help me work through my speckle issues.

In the meantime, I made some squares for the long term project I’ve got going.

I’m making a blanket of squares from leftover yarn scraps. Part of a make along (knit crochet weave felt along) in the Redding Method group on Facebook. The make along is called the Redding Method block party. (hashtag #rmblockparty)

Anyone is welcome to join the group and play along. More on that in a later post.

I am very very pleased to report, I have been much more successful in my speckle dyeing since this first attempt… thanks to help from those with with knowledge and experience in these things..

No plastic Saran wrap or microwave involved.

These were my next few attempts.

I’m getting closer…

I’m taking an online yarn dyeing class in January 2018. I can’t wait…

Even with all my trials, I am not confident dyeing my good yarn and especially not my handspun…

I did dye some solid neon minis. These just make me happy.

Tail/lock spinning with a small orifice

I made this video to show how I spin locks and leave dangling curls with my small kiwi orifice and 4ounce bobbin.

Before I had any wheels that had the specs for more bulky and textured yarns, I really wanted to try spinning locks and having the curls dangle. I wanted tailspun. While I couldn’t have a yarn any thicker than my orifice, I made it work with thin yarns. I spun it just like I would spin a traditional yarn. I didn’t core spin or anything fancy. I just spun it the way I knew how like it was a traditional yarn. I did spin much longer locks but lamb locks and thin locks worked the best for my orifice. I made this video to show a friend how I did it and thought I’d share it here..

As far as plying, sometimes I would make two bobbins full and then ply them together for twice the dangley locks, or I’d thread ply but most often I’d leave it as a single, and it was fine as a single. You can see in the video even the smallest orifice can fit this size art yarn. So give it a try. I’m spinning blue faced leister lamb locks. And the orange locks are mohair.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkOWi_jlcwE&feature=share

my first sheep to shawl

I think I was avoiding my oldest work in progress (the daisy square afghan), by way of, starting another project from deep stash. 

My husband gifted me a drum carder and raw merino fleece the first Xmas after I started spinning. I was only spinning a couple months by this time and had no experience with raw fleece. I was so lucky that I didn’t felt/over scour/ruin the fleece during the washing process. After washing, I tried spinning and koolaid dyeing a few skeins but several pounds went into stash. And there it waited.

In my avoidance of the WIPs I already have going (daisy afghan, viajante, socks etc) and should be doing I went to my stash.. just window shopping, really. I came across one of several bags of this merino fleece.


This fleece is just gorgeous. Incredibly soft, from a coated sheep, crimp to sing about, and bright white. (Many of the pictures have a yellow cast from the lightbulb, but it’s a true white)

I’ve had this fleece for years. I really wanted to try spinning a textured single that would show off that crimp. It’s such a good thing I had stashed this fleece long enough to learn Laura Spinner’s magic thumb technique.Magic thumb video

That technique is so cool for long locks but it also works for fine wool.

Specifically, magic thumb is able to save lock structure and crimp like no other. It made this airy woolen coreless corespun. Keeping the crimp throughout the yarn was important to me.


It’s those curls I wanted to save in spinning the yarn and hopefully try to keep in a finished project.


I would grab a handful of the clean locks, and lightly hand pick and spin magic thumb. I had spun 3 skeins when I thought how awesome a blanket would be. That was the plan when I warped the loom. 

Hahahaha. That’s too funny!  I settled for a shawl since a blanket might take another 20years. But initially, the grand idea was making several strips that would be whip stitched together for a blanket. I started spinning the yarn on May 22,2016 and pulled the finished piece from the loom on June 4, 2016. 


The loom was warped with 2 skeins of a white commercial yarn, made of, 50% alpaca, 25% merino, 25% silk. Since the weft was bulky, I warped every other slot. This being only the second attempt weaving, I wasn’t sure how this would work out, but gauge works the same in weaving, as it does with knitting and crochet. I wanted a fabric that was soft and drapey vs something stiff and able to stand upright by itself.

I wouldn’t have had enough yarn to warp had I gone every slot, so every other slot worked perfectly.

Pulling little puffs of the weft through the warp threads that had my favorite crimpy bits I wanted to show, as I went. Trying to keep things loose, airy, drapey, by not beating too aggressively.


The crimp I love was being maintained. The edges stayed relatively even. Puffs happened on both sides (front and back) equally.

With all the white, the curls and crimpy texture was the fun part of this yarn. I’m surprised I was able to power through and not get bored with all the white. When I look at all the progress photos they all look the same. I can struggle to get through a project that is all the same blah color.


I went through the handspun pretty quickly, and would stop weaving to spin a couple more skeins.

It is unreal to me how much yarn weaving takes up so quickly. I warped the loom on May 29. This shawl is 2feet by 6ft and used over 10skeins of yarn. 

This has me thinking about future projects and really needing to be sure that I have enough to get through a project.


By the end I had started weaving much tighter in comparison to the looseness in the beginning. This is ok by me, as it is able to slide around to even out. But I can’t really tell. My husband pointed it out to me.


I tried a “new to me” way to end this project. Instead of a Damascus edge, I used hemstitching.


I much prefer hemstitching. This method is much easier for me. It’s easier because it’s still held tightly in place on the loom. Whereas, the other method I tried, it had to be cut first and then tied. As soon as it’s cut its floppy and moving around. I am really interested in all the different ways the ends can be done.


I also prefer the way this looks compared to the Damascus edge or the grouped tie off. This gives that little design element for a cute edge. 


I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It would be pretty cool to have a blanket like this. I just don’t think it would get finished.


For my first sheep to shawl I think it turned out really nice.

It does feel like an accomplishment to take raw wool and process it, spin it, then weave it. Weaving is so easy and so fast compared to my knitting/crochet it almost feels like I’m cheating.

My husband said he really likes the way the loom looks when it’s all warped up with a project on it. I have to agree it looks almost like a musical instrument. 

Oldest WIP… 

My oldest project that got me into fiber… Deep deep into fiber…

Was a crocheted afghan. 


The Daisy Square Charity afghan. I have crocheted all the squares I’m going to do. I need to wrap this bad boy up. Because I was just starting and knew nothing about gauge, the squares are made of different weight yarns, and at different tensions, possibly different hook sizes, some are cotton some are acrylic?? The squares are different sizes. I don’t know how much blocking will accomplish, but who cares it’s a mess anyways. It will always be special because this is where it started.

I’ve laid out my squares, now if I could just buckle down.. I’ve laid the squares out this way before, at least two other times. I’ve made the first join… Dear sweet fiber fairy give me the strength to finish this project!!


Let’s do it!! It’s been I don’t know 5 or 6 years?

 I need to finish this damn blanket already. 

I’m a Weaver!!!!

It was bound to happen. I mean, this is everything fiber arts, right?

My husband bought me a Schacht Flip loom for my birthday… Wait for it.. 

2 years ago!

I kept putting it off because I had only ever heard how hard warping would be. In the long run, believing this, may have helped.  This idea I had built up in my head, of how difficult this was going to be, that when I mustered up the courage to take on the massive job of warping, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it actually is. I did have some help from the people in Fibery Goodness group on fb. They talked me through any troubles. If you don’t know about them they are a great community.

And Fibery Goodness Facebook group can be found on Facebook Here

I had never taken a class on weaving. Everything I learned about weaving had come from YouTube. But the questions I still had, I was given answers in the Fibery Goodness group! Such great resource and people and classes in Fibery Goodness. I still don’t know the proper terminology for weaving. But, it is so much easier than I thought. Although, I have a lot to learn.

For whatever reason I had these preconceived ideas which I have since learned are not true, for me.

I thought I’d share those with you.

The following are myths I believed and what I have learned.

 Myth – Warping is really hard 

I followed directions from a video for direct warping with a peg. I’ve learned that warping is really easy. Considering it was a first time, I found it was pretty straight forward. Cutting the string at the end once removing it from the peg, was the tiniest bit nerve wracking, but they were already safe in their slots. The next time I have to make this cut, I won’t think twice about it.

Myth – warping will take longer than the actual weaving  
The warping process took me 45 minutes to an hour. I have been weaving a bit each day for a week and I’m still not halfway. The steps that take the longest are bringing the yarn through each slot to the  warping peg, and then when I was finished with the warping peg removing all those loops held by that warping peg, and cutting them.  Rolling the warp threads closer to the loom, then taking one of the two pieces of yarn in the slot and hooking it with a special tool through the hole. It’s not fast, it’s not difficult, once you thread the first few holes, you get into a groove. Stick your hook in the hole, grab one thread from the slot next to it, pull it through the hole, NEXT! It becomes a process of doing one after the other and before I knew it I was at my last slot/hole.

Myth – lots of adjustments tying it on make sure it’s tight

img_1428 

It doesn’t have to be tight, it has to be even. The second you need to roll it on, you have to release a latch that completely loosens everything, but it will be rolled to the other side and that can make it as tight as you want. That’s why being evenly tensioned is more important than tight. Initially, I kept tightening each group of threads but I realized that tightness can be dealt with by turning the warp beam. It’s making sure it’s even so that when it’s turned it all turns together.

As far as I remember, I didn’t have any misconceptions about the waste yarn. Although, I am glad I used separate pieces. At the end after taking it off the loom, when waste yarn is pulled out, if I had to unweave one long string that would have been a pain, vs pulling out short bits, one row at a time

img_1429

I enjoyed adding the waste yarn because I could see the warp yarn align itself to its proper place with every beat. I’ve seen regular yarn used for this but I wanted something bigger thinking it would be easier to retrieve at the end. People use cardboard strips, or rolled up paper towels, strips of fabric, I used a yarn that I made from cut up cotton tank tops.

Myth-Weaving goes by quicker then the set up aka warping


I thought warping was pretty quick and easy. I varied the thickness of my weft threads. Some were lace weight and some was chunky. Obviously, the lace weight goes a lot slower. The above black lace weight weft was only 2 inches of weaving and took longer then the whole warping process.


Even when I switched to a thicker weft it still took longer for me. Which I am pleased to have discovered. Weaving is definitely the fun part. I got a good week almost two weeks of weaving time everyday.


I also discovered how many different colors actually go with green. Weaving allowed me lots of color play that I never experienced with crochet or knitting maybe because it blends the color evenly throughout. Being over and under every thread. Whereas, with knitting or crochet it’s more color blocks.


I played with different textures, as well. Leaving favorite bits of handspun out of the woven fabric. Switching from silk hanky and silk noil, to mohair, to wool and tencel blends. From lockspun, to thick and thin, to a traditionally spun smooth single. It all worked.

I did end up signing up for a weaving class and wow!! I’m so glad I did!! I learned a bunch of fun techniques from an online weaving class given by Stacey Budge-Kamison of

Urban Gypz website she teaches a lot of cool tricks for art weaving, using handspun and art yarns, but actually showcasing them. The class was very affordable definitely worth every cent. She gives both written and video. Plus has a group on Facebook that is private in case people may have questions or want to share.  It’s not your average weaving class. It’s the fun stuff. It’s art weaving tricks. It tips on adding certain things to showcase anything that might be important to you. She gives so many ideas. One can use a small loom, add things to weaving I’ve never seen, weaving to wear, wall hangings, pictures, not just yarn in  a woven piece (get creative) and add it. That class got me really excited about the possibilities. I’m filled with new ideas. The same way art yarns have add ins…

Weaving can too.

We have basic spinning that can be learned and art yarns  that can be learned. 

Well this is fun and showcases ways to use art yarns for those special one of a kind woven pieces.

So far my knitting and crochet have been pretty vanilla but I want my weaving to be as free as my art yarns. For wearing, for fabric for accent pieces, and wall hangings. I already feel like weaving gives me a kind of freedom. 
Again this is something I didn’t do much with crochet and knitting. Weaving gave me a new outlet and I didn’t start thinking his way, weaving spoke to me. I felt different when I was weaving m, I felt more free. I did use the same black silk lace weight thread all the way through my project to somehow tie everything in from beginning to end. But I’m not convinced it did. And that’s ok too.

Myth-as long as you have even tension and you use that angle before you beat, you will have even edges.


Well I really tried to do exactly what was shown in several videos and got nothing close to even. Now to be fair, I haven’t washed it at this point, but the pictures show how my edges go in and out. I don’t know if this is truly a myth yet. I’m ok with my edges for now. Being a beginner, it’s a weaving right of passage to have wonky edges. I have a feeling, that using thicker yarns, then thinner, then thicker yarns may cause different widths in the fabric and thereby uneven edges. I need to weave more and find out how that works. I’ll learn with each piece if there is any truth to my thinking regarding this.

I love the way weaving can showcase yarns!

I really had no rhyme or reason to this project. I wanted to weave my first project and experience what it was, to weave. I didn’t worry about perfection.


I didn’t worry about anything except carrying that black lace thread in certain places, throughout the project, to tie in the  beginning with the end. I found that as soon as the fabric was wound onto the beam and I couldn’t see it, even with pictures, I wasn’t sure what it looked like. I couldn’t remember how thick each section was before I used my black thread again. At the end, I know I was using the black thread less often. 

Another thing I did, was have any lock tips only poke through one side. So the side facing me is fluffy, and has fluffy, lustrous locks and sweet little lamb tips coming out. On the opposite side it’s smooth. 
The same is true for any bits left out of the weave. These things only happen on one side. Leaving the other side to look smooth and pretty straight forward.


This piece is kind of like a mullet. All business in front and party in the back. 

As it turns out, one end has more crazy lockspun where the other end has more smooth handspun.

If worn as a scarf, depending on which end you have in front or in back, it can look more business or more party.

Myth- weaving uses up a lot of stash yarn quickly 


THAT IS NOT A MYTH! This is so awesome for busting through stash. If you have a crap ton of yarn, and crochet and knit as slow as I do, this can overnight make you realize….you just might not be at SABLE, like you may have thought you were!!! I know any one thinking about the possibility they are at SABLE, if you are without a loom, I can’t suggest enough to give it a try.

They have many looms that are pricey. But even trying a smaller inexpensive loom to see if this might be fun. An ashford sampler loom, a Schacht cricket loom,

Not to mention many people destash their looms at great prices when they upgrade. Look for those. Some Lys like mine even rent looms out when classes are taught. If you were in the slightest bit interested see what’s available to you.

SABLE = stash acquired beyond life expectancy

A loom is a gift for you but it’s also a major gift to your stash!! This scarf used 14 skeins of yarn!!!

Fourteen skeins of yarns!!!

Think about that a scarf! 

I get to continue spinning, crocheting, knitting, to my hearts content, and weaving took 14 skeins from my stash in under 2 weeks! Next. Project I will take pictures of all the skeins I went through I had no idea how much I would have used!! Stash people that don’t have a loom… You may love this. I don’t have the saori, I didn’t make the big investment until I knew I’d enjoy it. For now this works I want to make fun stuff. 
Ok so… I got to the end of my warp. I cut the edge free and did half of a Damascus edge (just one way across), and tied groupings of warp threads into a sort of fringe.

I have yet to wash it. Full it, get it wet, or whatever.

It feels rough and looks kind of  a mess. I’m hoping for the magic that happens with this step everyone talks about.

Here is the woven piece before fulling.

The fluffy side front

The smooth side back

Closer of the smooth side

Yea I don’t know how much fulling can/will help this much wonk but while I won’t expect much, I’m hopeful. 😊
All in all, weaving is pretty cool and my stash is thankful! And so am I for an awesome birthday gift from my husband!

I hope this will encourage people to try weaving. I know my first try at weaving isn’t a masterpiece by any means but have you seen my first handspun ?

Here she is in all her glory.


No it wasn’t meant to be art yarn 

This was my trying to spin a normal yarn.

Those aren’t coils. That is so overspun it won’t straighten at all and it is a hard rock.. If I threw it at someone’s head, they would be concussed. It could cause damage to sheet rock if thrown at a wall.

Even weighted after a soak and thwack…. Nothing. It doesn’t straighten out, it’s not usable. Can you believe that’s just wool? It is wool.

Some people saw it and say look at those coils and other art yarn techniques I’d never heard of at the time. That was not what I was going for. I thought I was spinning something I’d use hahahaha 

 It’s hilarious. But I could only improve from there and it’s funny now. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a first handspun quite this bad. Especially when I was hoping for a regular usable yarn. It was a great starting point because I could only go up. 

I hope the same with weaving and I hope others will join me. Especially new weavers or yes experienced weavers. Fibery goodness has been wonderful and also if you are interested check out the art weaving class I took listed above.

I’ll post the woven piece once it’s finished. It needs those finishing touches. 

Handspun Adventures 07/31/2014 Editions explained and moving the stash to its new home

Everytime I spin something new, I will make a handspun adventure post. Some posts will be “an edition” as they are part of a certain collection, or from the same vendor, or same prep, or maybe a club. When I find something I adore, I’ve ended up collecting quite a few. To give examples of said collections, there will be Namaste Farms Scrapbox Editions, Loop! bullseye bump editions, Corgihill Farms editions, Beesybee’s Bfl/seacell edition (I have a thing for the seacell and properties of fiber made of seaweed-which of course I will expand on in that post) etc etc.

Case in point there will be a loop bullseye bump edition
Case in point there will be a loop bullseye bump edition

Handspun adventures are just that, my experience, the fibers used (if I know, sometimes, it’s a complete mystery), the fibers prep. The method it was spun, to achieve desired effect.

This handspun was a new to me method, out of the book, The Spinners Book of Yarn Design by Sarah Anderson, with the method called the crepe chain ply. Fiber used was Politically Incorrect Fibers -std ball
This handspun was a new to me method, out of the book, The Spinners Book of Yarn Design by Sarah Anderson, with the method called the crepe chain ply. Fiber used was
Politically Incorrect Fibers -std ball

If it’s a longterm project, such as spinning a fleece for a sweater, these will all fall under handspun adventures, but to help clear things up, I will add “the edition”, as well as, the date.

My newest “handspun adventure” was, I recently moved, and my nicely put away stash, was revealed to me. I’ve amassed quite the amount. I insisted it be the last thing to be packed and leave, and the first thing to be unpacked at the new destination. I drove my spinning wheels one at a time, they always called “shotgun” and were given special treatment, as any life-force needing protection would in my car.

Ashford Country Spinner, who had called shotgun, buckled in safe for the road trip. Can you believe this wheel also in it's life traveled from Montana to Las Vegas, and when I took it from Las Vegas, it was dismantled and taken as a carry-on... Do you know the size of this wheel? This was no small feat
Ashford Country Spinner, who had called shotgun, buckled in safe for the road trip. Can you believe this wheel also in it’s life traveled from Montana to Las Vegas, and when I took it from Las Vegas, it was dismantled and taken as a carry-on… Do you know the size of this wheel? This was no small feat

Lol. Remember, these wheels get named. I love my stash dearly, so naturally, I would not let anyone else “haul” it to the new location, except myself.

I was heckled a little bit. I was asked, “was I afraid they’d break my wool?”

What can I say, the stash told me it wanted to ride with me. Don’t take it personal. So, that is exactly what happened, I packed, hauled and unloaded my stash and fiber tools with the utmost care, and made damn sure, none of my wool “was broken” in the move. It did however, make me acutely aware of how much stash I have. And umm, it’s definitely not all up in ravelry. It’s more than I expected, I will say this though…. The hidden stash, or rather, the stash that wasn’t where the normal stash was…. Well,  It fit in, where the rest of the stash was, no need for hidden stash locations and guess what.. There is still more room… Hee hee, that’s right, so I can tell you, I know I will get more, there is no denying it. Being I have space yet to be filled. Awesome, awesome news, for any fiberholic.

I would love to thank Judith Mackenzie McCuin for her tip on storing fleece in 5gallon buckets. Such an awesome tip!

Most of all, I’d love to thank my husband. He has a hobby as well… Music. Which he has quite the stash of his own, several guitars (a hundred million guitar picks), a few bass guitars, drums, electric keyboard, pedals, beat machine, recording unit thing. Whatever… I totally get it!!  The understanding why he needs 4 plus guitars, even though he can only play one at a time.? I soooo get it. They each have a different purpose, so he doesn’t question why I need several different wheels and spindles, fiber tools, fibers, they do different things. I’m fortunate he has a passion, much like myself. He built me handspun and bobbin wall display/holders. That happened to clear up a lot of fiber stash storage. Allowing me to store resting/waiting bobbins, and to display finished handspun, probably clearing up the most space in my stash storage.

Hubby building me bobbin and handspun wall unit - he is the best. Wait until you see all the other fiber tools he has made me
Hubby building me bobbin and handspun wall unit – he is the best. Wait until you see all the other fiber tools he has made

Its a a perfect match. Him and I and our passion for our hobbies. Music and fiber are a match made in heaven. Everything was moved safely, and we are making the most of our new home and the space we have. Although, this handspun adventure was of a different kind, it was an experience that needed to be documented.

Very soon I will be posting another handspun adventure… Of the edition kind. My first Scrapbox.