Sunday, November 21, 2010

My 1960s Stove - Restoration Cleaning

Ohhh, man. Am I ever sold on power steamers! We have about a 275-year-old farmhouse that originally had no kitchen. Well, I take it back, the kitchen was in what we now call the family room. It has a huge fireplace with a swing iron that sticks out of the brick (it eventually fell out and is somewhere, I want to find it)! Beehive oven, the whole shebang. That's where the family pretty much did everything - hang out, cook, bake, and I'd bet that room saw kids playing games, mom spinning yarn and dad going over the books, or maybe playing a banjo if he was the type. The kitchen, as we know it, was either added in the 60s or renovated in the 60s. I can't imagine anyone living in this house in the 50's with no "today's kitchen," but who knows. At that point this house still had all its farm land, not a neighborhood like it eventually became.

Anyway, I suspect it was renovated then. But in any event, one of the things I loved about this kitchen was the stove. It's a "drop-in" with cabinets underneath. The whole stovetop and its 4 burners are in the form of a drawer! You can close that "drawer" and the stove front is even with the cabinets. You can open it halfway and the drawer sticks out into the room a little. You get 2 burners then. Or you can open it all the way, and you get 4 burners, and it sticks out into the room. If you cook a holiday dinner and you have gravy splatters all over the cooktop, whoooosh. You can just close the drawer.

Well, this stove has been in this kitchen since the late 50s or early 60s, best I can tell. And I've cleaned this sucker but there's just no way to get off 50 years of grease, etc. off the many (and complex) brackets and crevices that let a drawer slide out below, but also (it gets worse) - the oven doors don't open top-down, they swing out toward you, and slide up. We are talking a LOT of "bracketry" which, I think is a new word, as of now.

Two kinds of horribles. One is the baked on black, where you can't see the surface at all. The other is that tannish brown glazed covering that's sometimes dull, but sometimes also gets shiny darker brown spots on it. This had both.

Along comes a handyman I hired to do other things, and he brought over a unit made by Wagner - Power Steamer 705. The thing only costs $50 on Amazon, but ohhh man! Talk about effective! This whole stove is brushed or shiny stainless steel plus some black metal. Bakelite handles. You get the idea. Could be gorgeous, but after all these years?

I took the steamer to this stove, and it is a painstakingly slow process because you shoot a blast of steam, then go at it with SOS pads. But it worked!! Dang, I was seeing a beautiful surface under all that. And seeing my glee, the handyman saw the question in my eyes as he was preparing to leave, and said, "Hmmm, do you mind if I leave the steamer in your office? I'll need it tomorrow when I continue with your cabinets."

"Uhhh, okaaaaaaay. If you must."

These photos are the result of a cumulative total of probably 15-20 hours spread out over a week, and I'd guess more than that. Plus, I'm guessing 10 gallons of steam.

Mais voila!! (click twice on the photos and they enlarge)

Range top drawer closed

Range top drawer open to the halfway position

Range top drawer extended full kick.

Range top itself!

Bear in mind, I've gone at this top surface many times with just SOS and a whole lotta elbow grease. I wish I'd taken photos before, but there was a "permanent" circle of brown around the burners that no amount of rubbing could get off. It was in all those teensy microscopic crevices that brushed stainless has. With the steamer, that stuff melts! An SOS pad gets it off. Still need the patience, but you just keep seeing progress, and... well, you just can't stop until it's perfect.

Now I reeeally wish I'd taken photos of the brackets that swing out to lift the oven doors because two things. One, you can only get at all parts of it by working on it a section at a time (holding the door open just so far) and then go at it again (holding it open just a little more). These tan metal brackets had that impossible brownish shiny coating with the dark brown spots. Stem to stern! 50 years??

Voila a 3rd time.

Dang, I'm just so thrilled with the results that are possible with a power steamer. And what I discovered to be THE most valuable tool for getting into crevices, corners and teensy areas was a nut pick! The point is totally fine, but it's rounded so it digs, but doesn't scratch. So down to the nitty gritty edges, baked on grease, charred blackened areas where you can't even see what's underneath it... all G-O-N-E !!!

Apparently this stove has a small but devoted cult following. It's called the Frigidaire "Flair" Custom Imperial, and in small print on the front, it says "Product of General Motors." Well, I'm thinking they used the same chrome on this stove that was on the early cars (you know the ones, they were made of steel then, not freaking fiber glass and plastic!! Horrors, and I mean it.

My only concern is... one burner has a built in sensor. It senses the temp of the pot that's set onto it, and is supposed to self-adjust to maintain the temp you set. I wasn't going to touch that, I swore I wouldn't, but this morning lust got the best of me and I blasted that sucker with steam and SOS. At least the top of it. I'm figuring that steam can't be hotter than 212 degrees, and pots get hotter than that. Right?? Right??? I sure hope I didn't mess that thing up.

Monday, September 27, 2010

REVISED Fleece Scouring Method

I had one bag left. With a whole lot more than that, you kind of feel the need to chomp through it, but just one bag? After scouring three big Romney fleeces and two 8-lb. CVM/Corrie Cross fleeces? It's easy to shine it on. But it was becoming an eyesore because I couldn't just stash it somewhere (and forget it for sure), I had to keep it visible so it would keep staring at me. The "one last remnant" is really hard to get motivated about.

It did look like a good bag though, it definitely wasn't dregs. Somewhere around 4-6pounds, but a big bag. I decided to take some liberties with it and switch things up a bit, trying some of the things that had constantly occurred to me, but you know how it is, you read the same conventions everywhere, and you just follow them.

Never again! I'm only sorry that I didn't try this sooner.

No more lingerie bag washing for me. Not after trying it this way.

Fill your container with hottest tap water (I get somewhere around 125-135 degrees, hotter as I go). Put the non-enzyme Dawn dish detergent in it, enough so the water tints blue. Add fleece. But this time, I didn't use lingerie bags. I just plunked a big glob of fleece straight into the water. It floated freely. Lots of dirt, grease, what you'd expect. Except more than before, it seemed.

Scoop fiber out (the trick now is to not get only half, but the whole blob, because you don't want connected fibers pulling apart just over this).

Onto floor of sink, use a wooden cutting board or some other thing to press evenly downward to squeeze out excess soapy, dirty, funky, very hot water. No mushing side to side.

Into equally hot rinse water. Same exit, same pressing.

Into fresh equally hot rinse water. Ditto.

Toss the whole blob, intact, into a bucket and leave it there. Trick here? YOU WANT IT TO COOL ENTIRELY BEFORE HANDLING. (No hot fiber into spin cycle.)

Keep processing batches, keep adding blobs to the bucket to cool. Or take them outside. Just make sure they're cool.

Once cool? THEN pack them into the lingerie bags, and put through the spin cycle.

Doesn't sound very different? Well, it is. Scouring fleece in lingerie bags is just bad. Think of what happens inside the bag at every turn (literally). First, the fiber has nowhere to go, it's contained. So it compacts. Lock upon lock. Next, lifting that bag out of the water. No matter how gentle you are, you still have hot, wet, heavy locks that WILL shift around inside that bag. What's that the recipe for? Felting. Curling. Getting pressed by weight into those curls.

Variation discovered along the way: Line the vessel with tulle so you can lift out the fleece, rather than using a scoop colander.

Variation #2: (I liked this also.) After the fiber is totally (and I mean totally) cooled, do a final rinse, this time in cooler water. A little heat added, but not much. Cool fiber, cool water. Let it float around, and now you can swish it around also.

Cool fiber, safer handling in terms of contributing to the matting (which will happen, not might happen, with any handling you do while it's hot). The goal is the least amount of handling possible WHILE IT'S HOT.

NOW it's great to put it in lingerie bags. And into washer's spin cycle. Then lay it out to dry, as normal.

The final product doing it this way was
1. Lock structure preserved SO much better. Beyond just noticeably so.
2. Way whiter, cleaner (did I say waaaaay cleaner?) fleece.
3. Softer. No soap residue.
4. Tangle free, and I mean to the nth degree that wetted loose locks can be. Pretty much tangle free. I barely had to flick it prior to carding.

One thing I do know regarding human hair. When you wash it, in hot water, you are opening up the cuticle (scales). If you do a final rinse in cooler water, you close the cuticle. For one thing, you will damage your hair less, just in combing it, if the cuticles are closed (scales are snuggled down tight against the strand).

Same with fleece.

I've never seen a more gorgeous, clean, soft, shiny, tangle-free result from scouring fleece as I did with that last bag. I sure wish I'd departed from the "conventional wisdom" on fleece scouring a whole lot earlier, because this fleece is a joy to card. The other (all 5 fleeces) from doing it the conventional way, just doesn't hold a candle.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Turquoise-Periwinkle and Drum Carders

I decided to put my Strauch Petite drum carder to work and try processing some locks on it rather than combing. I also did some color blending on it. I'm not getting the effects I want for some reason with the latter, at least with this blending attempt. It's possible that's because the colors are too close for the to stand out. However, I'd also dyed up a bunch of misc. solids last summer, a lot of which were in these same colors, so even though those were combed, I decided to spin close to all I had, and Navajo ply it (also something that's fairly new to me).

Navajo plying is interesting. It's a way to keep color changes together when spinning from rainbow-dyed roving, but it took a fair learning curve. Whoever invented Navajo plying was a genius, or else she got tangled up at her wheel, and then discovered that if she spun the tangle, or part of it, her colors would stay separated and she could call it Navajo plying.

I learned the technique entirely from a youtube video. Thank God for youtube videos. I've been actually learning pretty much everything I know about spinning techniques on youtube videos. Here's the best one I found on Navajo plying, by Sarah Anderson, with good sound, good photography and clear, concise instructions.

Unfortunately, my first skein in this colorway and technique, I spun the singles so that with 3 ply (Navajo), it ended up as a heavy worsted weight. On the next little skein, I narrowed down some (23 plyed yards) and got more of a regular worsted weight, bordering in some places on finer. Then what I did today, I narrowed up even more, and although more consistent, it's looking like this little skein (56 yards) will almost be a DK weight. That's an odd breakdown, but once I figure out about how many yards a hat will take (forgot), I think that's where I'll go with it. I like both the colors (a periwinkle wannabee and a turquoise), and I'm totally open to doing a scarf or cowl in the same or pick up one or the other colors, but spin it out of the CVM/Corrie mix breed fleece I have, which is definitely next-to-skin wool.

So here's what I ended up with (2 of the skeins, today's is soaking to set the spin).

I'm sure glad I'm not yet sick of this colorway, or either part of it, because Monday, Labor Day, my spin group had their annual Dye Day, and they were trying out their brand new humungous dye pot (it does pounds, and pounds at a time, a gigantic shiny stainless stand-alone pot, 2-3 ft. deep, mounted on its own burner). What color did they put in it, for everyone to dump whatever yarn or fiber they wanted into it? Turquoise. I stuck in 5 oz. of really nice grade locks from my Romney fleeces, or maybe it's more. Still unprocessed (not sure if I'll card or comb), but it's turqoise. Or maybe closer to Aqua. But at least it'll fit in, that's for sure.

I still have quite a credit balance at a LYS, and have had this huge flirtation with a Louet Jr. (roving carder - narrow drum) so bit the bullet and ordered one. A 4" wide drum, the teeth on the Louets are longer and of all things, flexible. They intermesh also. A totally different animal than my Strauch. It'll be interesting to see how that fits into my world. I don't know yet, only that I just couldn't seem to get that particular carder out of my head. That's what trade arrangements are all about though, yes? Buying something you couldn't justify otherwise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

E-reader Mecca for Knitting!!

As a newbie to the e-reader/ebook/audiobook world, I had bought a Sony Touch locally, with a 30-day return policy in case I just didn't take to e-reading. Well, I did take to it, but with further research, as of yesterday I was going to take back the Sony and go with the Kindle. I didn't think much about the annotation feature that Sony has, but then yesterday I really started looking at that.

Whereupon the whole ball game took a turn.

I'm falling in L-O-V-E with the Sony Touch e-reader. While its screen needs the right lighting for optimal reading (a trade-offish fact of life with a "Touch" screen), what I've discovered is that the potential of the Sony Touch's note taking is phenomenally suited to me as a knitter!

It all started when I downloaded Berroco's free Nimbus pattern into it. Well, I don't know about other knitters but I've learned that before I even start knitting something, to go through the pattern and circle all the size-related instructions because... (yup, I have done that. Twice. It's a mistake I don't want to ever make again. I've learned to circle all size-related stitch instructions).

So here's what the Sony Touch Annotation features will let you do. From within the reader. On the pattern page itself.

NOTE: Screen looks way worse in photos than it is. Photographing my very clear, crisp Samsung TV screen does the same thing.

While at marking up the page, since I'm not yet used to the upper right corner "dog ear" icon signifying that Bookmark Notes exist for that page, I drew two big arrows pointing to the icon. In other words, you can circle text, write in margins, cross things out as you knit them... there's unlimited, endless flexibility. You can mark or write with your fingernail but a way more civilized stylus comes with it, and Sony placed it in a totally secure, very accessible slot.

Now, page 2 of this pattern was blank. What a perfect place for a sketch! So I drew a sketch on it.

But then I also wanted to try out the Bookmark Notes feature, and this time, use the keyboard. (Bookmarks can be brought forward by a soft tap on the dog-ear, then whooshed away again by a soft tap on the X box.)

You can also draw on the bookmark notes page. That or the keyboard, you have that choice.

So the usefulness of the entire annotation scope of this Sony Touch, to me, is fast becoming a dealmaker/dealbreaker thing. As a reader, not so much. As a knitter? Indispensible.

As for e-readers in general, I'm totally sold on them. You bring this one unit with you, and you have your pattern(s). You have your book(s). You have a stitch dictionary perhaps. This particular unit also reads Microsoft Word files, so what the hey, you might have a draft of something you want to keep working on. Have Touch/Stylus, will travel. Each brand of e-reader has a different amount of storage space built in. Sony has a respectable amount, but. BUT! It happens to also have two slots for SD cards. The normal camera type... up to 16 Gigs! I don't know how much the Duo Stick card can have, I didn't care at that point.

Finally, as some e-readers go, and the Sony Touch is one of them, if you want to listen to music or an audiobook while keeping any of those things on the screen? No problem. It's also an MP3 player. (And with 16G+ of storage space)... EGADS!

Kindle is coming out with a new generation, and there's no question its screen is going to be better. Its current model already is. But the more I've learned, the more I've found that I'm just a tad bugged by Amazon's proprietary format limitations. The one downside to this Sony Touch is that it's lacking in screen contrast definition, and the Touch Screen technology adds inherent glare. But hey, for me? As a knitter? For someone who wants to jot notes on things? The annotation/drawing potential that this thing has... it's just way too compelling. As for the screen issue, Sony makes an e-reader cover for it (opens like a book) that has a convenient, although not perfect, light built right into it. The Kindle has one of those also, but the Sony needs it in some lighting. I've learned to position it so there's no glare (a fiddly process currently, but I will get better at it) but it definitely helps the dull contrast issue.

So that's that. Whether I keep this one or return it and wait for Sony's new generation (which is rumored to have everything this does but improved screen contrast is hoped for), I don't yet know. I'll probably have to make up my mind before the new model comes out. But I'm definitely going with the Sony. The annotation feature (which had sounded so "pfffft, meh" to me as a book reader), is now a deal-making feature for me as a knitter. It's pretty much become a done deal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dye Station Setup (requested)

Sarah over at Greener Shades Forum on Ravelry asked if I would post my dye station setup, probably not because there's anything ingeniuous about it (there isn't) but because it's so makeshift, but it works.

I’m having pretty good luck with where I keep gravitating to for dyeing. I’m using side-by-side washer/dryer as my “table” and I had a yoga matt type thing (bought at Barnes & Noble some years ago) and that is working out fantastically as a platform. I cut it to a manageable length (plus reserved a strip which I put on my kitchen counter when stovetop dyeing). What you see here is a length that covers my washer plus about a foot or so that spans over onto my dryer. If you put a couple of flexible (cheap) plastic cutting board mats (sticking out in the photo) to span the few inches between washer and dryer, the matt can spread across them so in case there's a spill, it won't drip down between them (horrors). Just be sure you remember where that gap is and not set a jar of dye stock right there. It is totally easy to blot up spills on the mat. It's rubberized so dye stock washes right off of it, and it’s wide enough so it exceeds the depth distance of the washer/dryer. And stiff enough so it'll stick out (again good insurance in case of a spill). Plus if any stock DOES happen to splash onto the washer/dryer control panels, it wipes off that surface really easily. So if you have a side-by-side setup, it works. If not, the yoga mat is thick enough so nothing would penetrate through it if using a kitchen counter (all precautions observed, of course).

As for other tools that seem to be working well for me, The Dollar Tree store had these remarkably handy “Sure Fresh Mini Storage” containers - 10 to a package that hold 50ml each for working containers as you go. Also great for storing leftover working stocks that are in small quantities. The square ones seem to seal best, but when they were out of those, I settled for the round ones. (Also great for stitch markers!)

I also am in love with the 30ml syringes for applying dyes for hand painting. The 60ml ones (largest shown) are too unweildly and the plunger doesn’t slide quite as easily for some reason. I find myself using the 24ml ones for best control. Also shown are 10-ml and then for fractions of dye stocks (like 2.75ml) the little 3ml. ones are perfect. These really give you some mean accuracy! These are very cheap at a farm supply store, ranging in price from $1.50 for the 60ml down to 19 cents for the little 3ml ones. I have at least 3 of all sizes so I don't have to interrupt my applications to rinse anything out.

Then I also use the back of a solid (no cut-outs) spatula I picked up at the Dollar Tree (stainless so it slips easily on fiber). This works great for patting, pushing dye into the fiber.

But that yoga mat was my "recycle of the year" -- it’s stiff enough to span across the two machines and not shift around like a plastic tablecloth does, it's thick enough so it isn't prone to developing holes anywhere, but it's totally foldable/rollable. The final thing I like about it is that it doesn't have much memory. If you fold or roll it up, it seems to unfold flat, not curling up on edges or fold lines creating uneven surfaces.

I left the photos at a larger size in case you want to click on one to get more of a closeup of those cute little storage containers. Dang, those were a great find.

Mon. Experiment

Logistics and setup/breakdown get really streamlined when you want to do maybe one of these a day and not spend much time at all. This time I was experimenting with the amount of resident acid pre-soak to leave in the fiber. I also wanted pretty deep DOS. I was prepared for mud because the amount of liquid by the time I was done syringing on my dye stocks at the intensity I wanted, GIVEN all that resident presoak already in the fiber -- well, all was fine unless you pressed on the fiber (at ALL) in which case, puddles. But having the fiber that wet sure does help in migration. There's a sweet spot balance in here somewhere. I just haven't yet found it. I have a feeling I'm heading toward moisture control right on the table as an integral part of what I'm after.

Anyway, THOUGH the turquoise doesn't come through that well in photo, this is, so far, one of my favorites because this combo has been in my head. Very simple, just a royal blue and turquoise with some color change blendings. I will do this again, except work with 2% stocks to bump up the DOS with less liquid required. Plus 2% stocks is only one more math calculation, but it sure would conserve on storage space required. I may be abandoning all those mixer/shaker containers and going to squat, short pint mason jars for stackabililty. Those mixer/shaker suckers are just too damned big.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Morning Trial

Just a quickie, took no time at all. I wanted to try just squeezing out the acid presoak water instead of the salad spinner - leave more moisture in it, maybe that would give more control over DOS. My new suspicion is that I'm being too anal about not having puddles, hence mud. I think that's on the right track. I may do a few other experiments, specifically to leave it wetter and wetter until I see where the mud point is, because I see a direct relationship between more water resident in the fiber and a certain type of more control. Anyway, here's today's.

And yes, I know, same general colors. I'm using up some diluted stocks I have leftover in small quantities. This is more about technique at this point than colorways. But why not try a little variation there too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More Space/Handpaint Dyeing Experiments

Okay, some's good, mo's bettah. Experiments, that is.

I wanted to try doing a couple of other colorways, and in the process, keep testing out blending techniques. AND balancing DOS against liquid volume, both of which have to be balanced against the degree of wetness I leave in the fiber before even a drop of working dye stock is added. This will definitely take a lot of experimentation so there's no way I'm working with 4-oz. top lengths at this point. I'm doing 1-oz. lengths. Unfortunately for display or organized storage, those need to be serpentined in thirds AND, of course, you braid them in thirds, so my braids will not have the same appearance of variety that a different length top would give (purely by where a same color falls in the braid).

Eventually I'll have enough of these done so that four or more 1-oz. braids that are compatible can be combined to actually make something with. But at this stage, I'm not caring what might go with what. I'm just after technique.

First, a colorway that's been in my head. This is NOT it! I'm after a depth that just isn't here and my sage green? It got totally compromised and my deep turquoise washed out because that color needs way more time to exhaust than any of the others. However, there's a story behind that called "Could this have become a fire in the microwave?" I need to do this experiment again, except I'll steam it stovetop this time, and for as long as it takes. What I'm after is very different, but hey, I still haven't seen a fiber I'd kick outta bed.

That sage green just totally wiped out. It doesn't come through in the photo at all, but that's only partly camera/lighting. It wiped out.

And back to that peach/coral/watermelon/strawberry color that I gave to Jenny after my spinning group's "Dye Day" a year ago, when I first laid my eyes on a jar of acid dye powder, knowing absolutely nothing (less than now though I can happily say). I absolutely will want to make more use of that color. Here's a stab at it (parts). The yellow was only mixed at 0.3% DOS but dang, I gotta go even lighter with that one, it mounts up!

So the quest goes onward!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My first space-dyed top

Wooo-hoooo! Another first, meaning that this was intentional, not happenstance out of a mason jar.

Okay, space dyed roving can look gorgeous braided. I fear it's not as pretty in reality as it is in a braid, but undeterminable until it's spun. In any event, this was my first experiment with hand painted (a/k/a space dyed) top. I first did a 2-oz. length of this, then wanted it lighter, so I did another 1-oz. length. Yeah, it's a tad lighter but not enough to where they wouldn't just end up about the same way if all dyed together. I used the same working stock formulae, just a lesser DOS concentration. It didn't make much difference, but at least I know more now than I did when I laid out the first 2-oz. length. Including how to braid a continuous piece. Except this isn't, it's two pieces, and not the right lengths for braiding, so I had to bulldog clip ends together for the braiding, then tuck them in.

So here it is. I only used 3 colors, counting on some cross-over blending. On the 3rd try (a 1-oz. length, different colors entirely), I started getting the hang of this to the extent of discovering some tricks. It won't take long I don't think, to be able to come up with some cool things AND some cool color transition blends. (This is actually a little trickier than I thought.)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Perfect-For-Me Dye Record Keeper

Now that I'm finally getting my feet wet with actual dyeing instead of just absorbing the gestalt of it, I knew immediately that the one thing I'm going to want is a good record keeping system. In the last couple of weeks, as I've been getting a feel for various GS solids and how they behave, I've kept locks and/or bits of yarn spun from the colors and notes about them on index cards, folded in half with the fiber sample tucked in. That just wasn't going to work, so I switched to 3-ring pages in plastic page protectors with the samples stapled alongside. Well, my page covers were a pretty chintsy quality, so I hit Staples to find better ones. They had a sample book of all their page protectors and there were these amazing business card holder pages!!


Dang, this setup gives me everything I want.

The business card holder slots are two across, five down on the page. (Formula on the left on the back of a business card with its fiber and/or yarn sample right across from it.) You can make brief notes on the business card under your formula, or you can also reference where more extensive notes are for that color.

2. Colors are easily moved elsewhere on the page, or from one page onto another. Nothing needs to be stapled in, and while the business cards and fiber samples just slip out of one slot and into another if you want, the slots are tight enough so that normal page flipping won't spit out the fiber samples.

3. While I want to see a dyed lock for tip variations, I spun a short length of yarn from each dyed fiber sample so I can see it in yarn form too. There's room for both! Squeeeee!

4. More cool stuff. The center line on the plastic page between the two columns readily folds over (but not enough to interfere with the 3-ring part). So if you want to see one color superimposed over another, you can fold over everything between two pages regardless of where they are in the book, and see the bottom color showing through, and how it goes with the top one.

Here's blue over a green page that was 2 pages back

Here's that same blue over a gold page that was several pages back

Fortunately I'd kept a stack of outdated business cards. I now wish I hadn't thrown the whole box of 500 away, but business cards just aren't hard to find.

For now I'm using three 1/2" binders - one for GS dyes only, one for all other brands, and then a third one for CMYK match tests, wild hair ideas and even dye mixing errors--the good, the bad and the ugly.

I can already tell, this dye log format is just going to work really well for the way I do things. And maybe something similar would for you too! There were other formats, I think 4x6 or 3x5... for sure, one had 2 pockets per page. Those could be good for a narrow but long strip of a multi-colored roving.

So that's my new find of the week.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First CMYK Match Experiment

I finally got around to mixing what I'm starting out with as primaries for this purpose, so I can start testing formula matching. Several other people are attempting to do this as well, but so far I haven't found anything that improves on what I worked out. Several variables have to be ironed out still, but I'm more than happy with my first test.

I picked a deep wine plum because I thought it would reveal some likely glitches. I absolutely got the same tone/hue as my target color, but I need to tweak DOS. My target was the 2nd swatch from the bottom, and my fiber is actually a perfect match for the next shade down in this family, but that is minor.

I photographed it in different lighting and from different angles since seeing any color/hue on a monitor is iffy, at best. I'm sure I'll run across color families that won't be so cooperative, however I'm very happy with this first test.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some Initial Dyeing and Color Blending Experiments

While I drove people nuts with questions on Ravelry's Love To Dye thread last October, it wasn't until just this last 2 weeks that I actually made up some 1% dye stocks and started tinkering. I have a mishmash of dyes at this point -- about a dozen Country Classics, about a half dozen Cushings and a whopping 2 Jacquards.

I've always hated purple. Ditto hot pink. Something weird happens when you get into fiber though. Suddenly colors take on a new life. I'm now actually intrigued with purples. But only blueish purples. I still can't find love in my heart for reddish ones. And there's a particular color of purple that's in my head and I rarely see. It straddles blue so closely that it's a really fine line.

In search for it, the two Jacquards I bought were Purple and Lilac. I figured one of them would make a close base. In searching for the perfect shade, and to see how other colors might come into play in getting it, I've been test dyeing candidate additions in 20g lots of Romney locks. 1% stocks, and starting with 1% DOS. I did one blue at 2% and the Lilac at 1.5%, 2% and 2.5%. At some point I'll stab at mixing for it, now that I'm getting an idea of the colors I'm working with.

Also, while I do love combing because I tend to spin worsted, as long as I'm experimenting, I've been making friends with my drum carder too. Finally! Not just to see if I can spin more woollen, but also as a tool for color blending.

The fun of "surprise mason jar dyeing" notwithstanding, the beauty of working with 1% stock solutions is that you can dye on a moment's notice because there's no powder mixing PITA setup needed. Second, controllable and precise color mixing. But also, repeatable results. And I reeeeally want that shade of purple that's in my head.

Here are some random, related colors, the idea being to see what I had to work with in terms of DOS at "some" given stock strength.

In comes the carder. A couple of the bird's nests are my first stabs at color blending on the carder.

Focusing a little more on that side of the box...

And one of them, closer...

So I could see right away, I need to do a LOT of experimenting because I got different results loading an accent color through the carder's feeder slot vs. streaming it right onto the big drum. And there's a very fine line between overblending which gives nothing more than a new solid -- and stopping at the point where you have a heather. And also how to get spot color.

So that's what I'm starting with, just the typical beginning stuff.

What I really have some surprised joy about is that the Jacquard "Purple" (which produced exactly the shade of purple I still hate) gave me something I'm in love with! I used it as a base for my first (throwaway) blending test. I added some white, some baby blue, and then I got a little more aggressive and loaded some hot pink directly onto the drum. And that's another color I'm not in love with. I mean, Cushings named that dye "Cherry Red" and dammit, it's fuschia! Hot pink! Why didn't they just name it Fuschia? But it was high contrast, so I figured it would be a good choice for trying to get spot color.

I decided to spin it up, just to see how this would look in yarn. As I was drafting, my disappointment was growing because it seemed that any colors in the blend that had some distinction in the mini-batt just got mudded in the drafting -- to whatever extent they hadn't in the carding blending.

So fearing all I'd get would be mud, I spun about 6 yards, then plyed it. I thought MAYBE, just maaaaybe this would have some character as yarn, even though it wasn't what I was after at all. So I knitted a tiny swatch just to see what I got.

The hot pink did actually come through as a distinct color. Sort of. HOWEVER!!!
What surprised me totally was that I took the swatch outside and impaled it onto a nail so I could see it in better light, and OMIGOD, to heck with the pink part. I was smitten by the more solid sections at the top and bottom. This came out a really gorgeous wine shade. Not "purple." It's a color I don't think I've seen in yarn shops because I definitely would have noticed it. I think I'd have bought it.

So now, in addition to the magic purple I'm after, what I'm also now after is finding out how to get that same heathered wine shade again. I think I know what I used, but how I used it, not sure. And how much of it I used, doubly not sure. But also, I want to figure out how to get little spots of color here and there (I mean almost FLECKS!) against an otherwise heathered background. This pink presence

This is going to take tons of experimenting. Tons! Not only in the dyeing, but separately, in fine tuning the blending process on the drum carder. If there were a class around, I'd be having at it. But I don't know of any.

So goals:
1. Find the magic purple formula!
2. Be able to reproduce that wine color with a heathered texture;
3. Find how to create another color that was magic -- some sort of coral/salmon locks that I stumbled into last year at Dye Day (and gave to Jenny with great sacrifice, because as much as I liked it, she was almost crying with love for it. It just had to be hers.) But I think I can reproduce it from memory. The above includes a mini batt of my first "ground zero" stab at it. I think I know where to go from there.
4. Learn more about blending on the drum carder --
(a) to get "flecks" or inklings of color against a steady background;
(b) to get a true heathered yarn;
(c) to create new solid colors from blending