Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wet-felted slippers

At the Great Lakes Fiber Show this past summer, I bought two bags of alpaca seconds (the part of the fleece that's not first quality). They cost about $3 per bag. I wanted to use the fiber for felting because alpaca tends to felt up really nice and thick.
After de-hairing and washing close to six ounces, I carded it into bats. I had  about four ounces of black fiber and close to two ounces of brown fiber.
Initially, I wanted brown on the inside and black on the outside, but the black ended up pretty much taking over everything during the felting process, including the white wool accents I had placed around the edges of the openings and as design elements coming down off of the rims.
I felted around a resist (template) which I removed when the felt started to shrink and then continued felting the slippers around my feet for a custom fit.
Here are the slippers as they were drying over a heat vent, note how hairy they are:


Once they were dry, I shaved off the fuzzy, hairy-ness with a disposable razor. Below, the slipper on the left is still hairy, the slipper on the right has been shaved:
Below you can see both slippers, dry and shaved. I've ordered some soling material from this Etsy shop - - to put on the soles. I don't want to slip in my slippers!:
You can see how much the fiber shrinks in felting, the big white thing is the resist that I felted the fiber around at first. The slippers ended up much smaller: 

I can't wait for my soling material to get here so I can finally wear my slippers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Naturally Dyed, Handspun Yarn

Inspired by a yarn featured in Rebecca Burgess' book on natural dye plants called, Harvesting Color,  I dyed up some wool with three of the more striking colors that can be had from natural dyes: steel-gray, burgundy and orange. 
The wool is Corriedale, some that I processed from a raw fleece I had. The washed wool was combed with wool combs before dyeing. The steel-gray is from both staghorn and smooth sumac berries; the burgundy is from pokeberries; the orange is from tickseed (bidens) flowers. My husband helped me collect the sumac berries and the pokeberries, and I collected the tickseed flowers. In the picture below, you can see the three colors on the dyed wool after drying.:

I often line up my puffs of colored wool in the order I want to spin them:
 Here is on of the three skeins of yarn I spun up from the dyed wool:

I'm making a scarf with two of the skeins. I looked through a lot of pattern ideas before I settled on a scarf. I then looked at a lot of scarf patterns before I finally decided I wanted a simple garter-stitch scarf: 

I'll use the remaining skein to make either a pair of fingerless gloves or a pair of fingerless mitts. I expect that the pokeberry burgundy will fade to a dusty version of itself with time. I have a skein of yarn that I dyed with pokeberries several years ago and this year is the first time I've noticed that the fading has really picked up. The first year or so it remained vibrant, after that it retained a dusty sort of version of the color, and this year it is now officially fading, although still a beautiful color. I think, although I'm not positive, that the other colors will remain vibrant longer. I guess we'll see!