When I started this blog in January, my goal was to post once a week. I had been successful until a couple of weeks ago when things got out of control. We had a series of house guests for extended visits, including our daughter, our son and his girlfriend, and my sister. We felt this was safe with windows open much of the time, people assigned to separate bathrooms, and rolls of paper towel in the kitchen and half bath. During this time I participated in a modified covid appropriate annual reunion at our family cabin, attended outdoor group meals with chairs six feet apart, endured multiple severe storms resulting in 15 inches of rain and one tornado, picked up and hauled tons of brush, went swimming and bike riding, and did other activities that did not involve writing a blog.
In my “spare” time I have been carding the bison fiber that I wrote about in my last post, and knitting another pair of socks. Today’s post is about a sweater I made years ago, using photos scanned from an old fashioned scrapbook.
The sweater project was ambitious considering my spinning experience at that time. I wanted to card and then spin enough yarn for a sweater, using a blend of wool and alpaca, and then dye it all the same color. The two fibers would take the dye differently, resulting in a slightly variegated yarn. The experience I had with dyeing involved small batches of wool or yarn. In this case I wanted to dye all of it at once, after it was spun into yarn.
The Textile Center near the University of Minnesota has a dye lab where they offer classes. The space is also available for member use, so I reserved it for a couple of hours in order to use their giant pots and other equipment. It was a fun adventure with a successful outcome.
The first step of the project was blending together some commercially prepared merino wool with some alpaca fiber using my drum carder. The fiber wraps around the drum as you push it in the bottom and turn a handle. When the drum is full you peel off a rectangle shaped batt, as seen below sitting next to the drum carder. Some people spin directly from the batt. I prefer to peel strips from the batt for spinning. My notes in the scrapbook indicate that I carded 32 batts. I don’t know how many ounces that was, but in retrospect I have never carded that much of the same thing again.
Spinning from strips off the batts, I filled 16 bobbins worth of single ply yarn from the 32 batts. I have four bobbins, so I would have spun two batts onto each one, then combined two bobbins together into a two ply yarn. Then repeated with the other two bobbins. And then repeated all that three more times. The original 32 batts turned into eight skeins of bulky yarn.
I picked out some Cushing dye in a color called “peach”. It reminds me of a dreamsicle.
Following is a (blurry) photo of all the yarn in one large pot with the peach dye. I dyed some other yarn green at the same time.
There was a nifty tray for draining water from the skeins of yarn.
Back at home I hung all the yarn on a drying rack.
I used a pattern called “Foresta Round Cardigan” for the sweater. It is designed for bulky yarn. I must have bought it at the local yarn shop, but there is a listing on Ravelry. It says you can buy the pattern at schoolproductsyarns.com. .
This sweater is very heavy and warm, so it comes in handy on cold Minnesota winter days. I still have some of the peach yarn left waiting for another project.