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.

Cobweb felting…

I gotta say… This process was not at all, what I expected.  Usually, I take great measures not to felt my fiber. I’ve always been afraid of the dreaded accidental felting. I would let the raw wool sink on its own in the scour process, to avoid agitation. I actually bought a laser temperature gun to make sure the fiber I was transferring to a new tub of rinse water, it would be the same. 

I was really careful. I know the mechanics of felting… agitation, temperature change, soap (change in pH). I have watched several videos on the internet showing both how not to felt and even more on how to felt. 


I had my bubble wrap, mesh, pool noodle all set…

Imagine my surprise, when it took me hours and hours to felt a very thin layer of cobweb felt. No exaggeration, it took hours of full on abuse to finally get a result. I wasn’t even sure I had felted the piece when I stopped that days attempt, from pure exhaustion. I physically could not continue. I got on Facebook live to express my frustration and I said jokingly,

“Now I understand why people started violently throwing it at a certain point… because they really were pissed trying to make felt”

All the videos I had watched would say, ‘now is a good time to get out any pent up aggression’ and proceed to wad it up and slam it into their work surface. The only aggression I had was toward this scarf I was failing at felting.

Putting myself on pause was the best thing, even though I couldn’t have gone on if I wanted.


The next day, I went to check…

it was dry and damn if I wasn’t relieved, it was felted!!!

Let me just say wet cobweb felt does not feel felted. Or, maybe it does, but I just don’t have any clue what I’m looking for. I have to say I was really pleased with my result. It was light and airy and soft cobweb felt with teeswater locks dangling and silk integrated into the fabric.

Felt is the first ever cloth humans made. And I managed to make my own… barely. I didn’t know I had managed to create anything at the time, so there is still lots of learning to be done.

I really love the result. I didn’t expect it to be so soft and light. I’m into it… which is great news for all the wool waiting to be played with

Update on dryer ball usage in my home

My husband is very big on laundry detergent, liquid softener, and dryer sheets. The scent these products leave means clean. And despite directions, if one dryer sheet works well, then four is going to be fan-freakin-tastic. Meanwhile, I am allergic. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, I get red, itchy hives. While the hives can happen anywhere clothing items with this allergen touch my skin, for some reason, it always happens to the worst areas, my undergarments. So, bras, underwear, you get me? It’s the absolute worst!

the first time it happened, I was five years old, was at a friends house and decided to go into the hot tub. It wasn’t heated, so for a child it was like a fun mini pool. I didn’t have a bathing suit, so I borrowed her bikini. The next day, the hives were only on my privates,  in the perfect shape of a bikini. My mom, freaked. I can’t imagine what was going through her mind, having such a horrendous rash on her child’s body, in all the wrong areas. Immediately took me to a doctor who very quickly figured out, it might be, chlorine(but it would’ve been all over, not bikini shaped), and he suggested laundry detergent allergy as I told him I wore my friends bikini. Sure enough, they used a different detergent, then my family used. Mystery solved.

 

Here, my husband is doing the sweetest thing, cleaning the clothes, but I end up with this disaster. Granted, he (used to) regularly use 3-4 dryer sheets per large dryer load, I started getting the hives, and if he did my laundry following this only used one. Sometimes it still happened. The liquid detergent and the liquid softener aren’t a problem, but the dryer sheets were definitely hive inducing.

image

We have been using the new wool dryer balls I made, as seen in my earlier post. I put them inside the old dryer sheet box, pretty fancy, I know. I’m working on finding the cute basket they are supposed to be in. No, but seriously….What a huge difference!!!

Clothes are dry, literally in half the time. They come out smelling fresh and the balls are easier to find. We are no longer picking out dryer sheets hidden in pant legs. Have you had that problem with dryer sheets? Playing where’s Waldo, only to find them sticking to clothing like toilet paper to your shoe? Why isn’t everyone using these? They are amazing!

I’ve actually read the spiked plastic version of these dryer balls sold in the big pharmacy/grocery stores are also bad for us in their own way. That they are made with oil based products and that with each use tiny molecular bits fall off into laundry.

I don’t know the particulars about that, I didn’t read it on wiki, but I do know wool is an awesome, renewable resource that’s safe for our planet and drying our clothes. Felted dryer balls last years, and when the time eventually comes should they need to be tossed, they can be safely used as mulch in the garden. They breakdown in the earth quickly and safely. Somehow, I think we all know the plastic/rubber version will not breakdown so quickly.

Let’s face it a felted dryer ball is the safest, greenest, most renewable resource, money saving item, to use in the dryer.
If you are allergic to wool, find another felting fiber, like alpaca. Remember, most wool allergies are caused by the prickle factor when worn close to the skin, so this use of wool, may not cause any reaction. However, rather than risk it, use a different felting fiber. Far be it for me to be the cause of someone else’s hives, use felting material you aren’t allergic to, please. 🙂

Hubby, my biggest critic, absolutely loves them. We no longer use dryer sheets at all, and have had nothing but fantastic results with our laundry. My dryer sheet allergen hives are hopefully gone for good!

Image

My first attempt at felting – Dryer Ball Tutorial

image

Wool felted dryer balls were my first attempt at felting.

I got exactly what I set out to make! Success.

my husband said they look like road apples,

Road apples aka horse poop
Road apples aka horse poop
while everyone else saw snicker doodle cookies prior to the fork smash, and chocolate truffles, and cinnamon covered donut holes.

Either way, they turned out amazing and were so easy. This was an awesome project that will save money in future clothes drying while keeping the chemicals out of the clothing, hence, away from seeping into your skin and dryer sheets out of the landfills. These dryer balls also decrease dry time, saving on electricity.

Pssshhhh road apples….

I started out with a raw, horribly tender, old (decades old, no exaggeration) mystery wool fleece. It was very fine, next to skin soft, very crimpy, greasy, fleece.

image

Honestly, I considered throwing it away, or donating it to one of those places that uses wool to clean up oil spills. I hated the idea of not trying to make something useful out of it. So… I grabbed handfuls of this raw, dirty fleece and stuffed an old, thin from wear, sock.

image

One thing to note, I turned the sock inside out, so the wool would not incorporate and felt to the little loops, that looked like terry cloth, on the inside of the sock. Socks vary, but if one attempts this, I recommend, stuffing the sock with the smoothest portion inside. I stuffed it, to what I thought was pretty solid, shaped it from the outside of the sock, to a round, ball shape. I could actually see the fleece through the sock, again, I used a thin, worn out, old old sock, but I stuffed it good and tight. I tied it off with cotton yarn, and stuffed more handfuls of fleece into the sock making a second ball, tied it off with cotton yarn, repeated a third time. I now had 3 balls in one sock, and a good amount of fleece used. I filled up the second sock in the same manner.

image

With high hopes, I threw both fleece filled socks in my top loader washing machine, with 2 white bath towels. When I poured in the detergent, I poured it aiming across all 6 balls in the two socks. I set the wash for a hot wash and cold rinse. I also set it on the comforter, heavy duty cycle with an extra rinse and spin.

After I checked the load, I was very surprised to see how much they shrunk. My once full, tight balls, now looked saggy, with bits of brown fiber growing out of the socks pores. Lol, a picture is worth a thousand words. Sorry, but, as you see, the socks I used happen to be flesh color, while the wool, dark brown

image

 

In any case, they felt like hard, round balls inside. 😉 so I threw them in the dryer, with the towels. I was surprised how easy this was, and how perfect they turned out. Since they shrunk so much, my second round, I made two balls per sock, for slightly bigger dryer balls. Really, that easy… Stuff, wash, dry, and oh I did trim fuzzes to clean it up a bit. I probably didn’t need to but, I did. Once you start trimming, it’s kind of addicting, for me it was anyways.

Now, I have a set of 10 dryer balls, and feel I used an old gross fleece very wisely. From trash to money saving treasure. If I were to make some of these as a gift I might felt some swirly pieces of bright yarn or some wool nepps in a coordinating color for a cute polka dot look. Although, I kinda like the plain old road apple look myself. If you wanted to spruce up the gift, you can add a favorite scented essential oil, and a drop can be placed on the dryer ball prior to throwing in with laundry for the smell good factor dryer sheets have.

ill be honest I loooove the smell of my fabric softener. So I’ve made a spray bottle with a watered down version. Way watered down. And I spritz the dryer ball prior to use. Hey I’m still saving money and the environment.

next time you think a raw fleece is unusable give this a try before trashing it.

Image

Handspun adventures… 06/04/2014

imageThis is one of a kind, no one can ever reproduce this yarn exactly as it is… It’s 100% original

image

 

This is Malabrigo Nube in the Pocion colorway. I purchased this braid of fiber online at http://www.theloopyewe.com. It is 4 ounces of 100% merino wool top. Soft, oh, sooo soft. A very easy spin, although, I spun a very thin worsted single, so it seemed to take forever.

Merino can be difficult for some, as it’s got a shorter staple length, to those I would say, adjust your intake so it isn’t pulling the fiber too hard and you can take your sweet time getting used to drafting the fiber without having to worry about it breaking and making a run for it, away to the bobbin.

I loved the way this was dyed, with the short color repeats. Again, pretty much ensuring no 2 spinners will be able to duplicate this yarn. The way the colors mesh and meld together making new colors while one spins. I love dye jobs like this. I love Malabrigo yarn as well. I had picked this colorway in fiber to spin as I have the yarn version as well, which to me, looks absolutely nothing like the yarn does. Below is Malabrigo Arroyo in Pocion, purchased on my birthday from the LYS Fengari in Half Moon Bay, CA.

image

I’d bet the same colors were used when dying, but its a different medium, and a different outcome. I love them both. Just beware, when purchasing the same colorway in yarn and fiber, the two may not, and probably wont, look the same. I had hoped for a similarity at the very least, what I ended up with I love even more.

image

photo above showing from start to finish…. now what to make with the 477yards I ended up with…