Cherry Bomb Baby

I live in a pile of bricks with a fire puter-outer, a Halloween enthusiast and a pretend lemur, who sometimes admits to being my second son. I have a kitchen for flowers. I know all the lyrics to the Spiderman theme song and (am forced to) sing it everyday. I cook with color. This was a blog mostly about yarn spinning and natural dyeing. Now, it is fair to say, it lacks direction entirely.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FOs and My Favorite Thing

This is a rather tight squeeze and I think it might be making its way to a smaller baby soon. The striping is weird and the seaming leaves something to be desired. But he can wear it and I made it and I have less little balls of Blue Sky Cotton rolling around in my stash so, kind of a success right? Not an entirely satisfying one I'll admit. I'm not super happy with the weird white panels at the top but I really was trying to get rid of that white. The baby is still cute though.

Maybe once a week I get to do my all time favorite thing which is: sit in the yard with my wheel and a bag of wool and spin straight from the lock. This is romney I got from Homestead. Its nice, its not my absolute favorite wool ever. I have that order being built now-there are some amazing romney fleeces coming my way. I never thought I'd be a romney lover but they've made one out of me. A lot of their romney fleeces are towards the finer end and full of luster. I'm a total sucker for luster lately. I've got some merino and a lot of romney, most of it from one sheep that I have a total crush on now. So, here is what I do with my super special daytime spinning time, I don't have a flick carder so I just use my handcards and charge the lock on there:

Pull it gently through and the waste gets left behind. I put that into a bag for later felting usually.

Then I spin it, sometimes over the fold, but today with an attenuated long draw, straight forward from the lock. Its almost like combed fiber but without all the prep. I feel like spinning this way puts me in touch with the individual fleece and how it wants to be spun. The different parts of the fleece are very distinct and neck fleece is a totally different yarn than another area. The fleece in my bag has a lot of variation in color and texture, each lock is different. Some of these staples were shorter and it was easier to not fold them over my finger.

See, invisible spinning. I guess its tough to see the yarn being made and looks like some invisible force is pulling the fiber out of my fingers, but really there is yarn there.

This isn't today's spinning but it is Homestead romney again, a lamb's fleece from last year. Its small, a sampler skein and its a pity its so difficult to take pictures of darker colored yarns (for me it is anyways) because this is lovely. It is soft! I'm very sensitive to the itch factor and I'd think I'd wear this anywhere but on my neck. I actually cast on for another toddler vest, take two. In the mornings its still chilly enough for a light long shirt and vest. I may just find something else to use at the neck ribbing on the collar.

And I've decided I'm giving myself over completely to ribbed scarves. No more shame. I need absolute mindless knitting, something that can (and has been) ripped out twice in one day and not frustrate me. I need fascinating color or texture and I need fast results. Plus, I wear them, I love the vertical lines, the chunky, squishy texture that the combo of big yarn and 2x2 ribbing make. And I finished some things so I'm just going to own this painfully simple obsession.

Finally, I finished these and gave them away to my mother-in-law. They are some of the first yarns I spun and my first attempt at natural dyeing. I held onto this for a long time. When I began trying to knit with it long ago everything started turning purple, my hands, my needles and my couch! Madder has a purple dyestuff in it and I don't know the exact process to extracting it, I don't think many people do. Apparently, you can just come rub things on my yarn though. So, I knit and fulled these simple boots. During the fulling, which took FOREVER they reddened a bit. Then, the shape of one of them was funny (Mr. Partner thought they would be good in case one foot developed gout.) and I ended up having to cut and seam and then full the seam. During this hand fulling the water turned purple again and dang it, this time I threw in some alum mordanted wool.

Its turning a gentle shade of pink. I didn't heat it or anything, just letting it soak a bit. No purple but I'm still intrigued in this pink.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Slow Progress

Baby J was worried that he would soon outgrow his current colorful vest (knitted long ago in a rainbow colorway of Malabrigo). He begged me to please make another one. And quickly! So, as any knitting mother would, I obliged. But with a catch, because I have a vague goal of de-stashing, I have to use only the little bits. These are lovely leftovers of Blue Sky cotton, the colors look so rich in the knitted fabric and it is just cotton butter. These are colors I would NEVER EVER put together (particularly the bright white and weird off gold/yellow) and not in these proportions either, but I'm forcing myself to not buy more red yarn so I can have even more left over red yarn. It will just not be allowed for this project. It is a pretty mindless knit but in my distraction, I've managed to make several mistakes along the way. There has been some frogging and fudging but nothing I can't live with at this point.

I'm finding myself falling more and more in love with vests. Vests are fantastic toddler wear, it doesn't impede movement of their arms, it doesn't get unbuttoned or fall into a state of being only half on like cardis. It is a not bulky way of keeping their middles warm. I almost said "core." Core is such a trendy word now, no? I will not say it. Until the work out world stops trying to sell me sit-up videos with it. Or unless it is in reference to a fruit. I think a lot of Asian cultures have a major thing for vests. My mother is Chinese and is obsessed with the idea of Super M wearing a vest in the morning. She thinks northern Cali is really chilly and keeps harping on this vest thing. So, maybe she will finally be satisfied. (That was a joke for all of you with Chinese mothers out there.) Super M will have nothing much to do with the whole vest thing. Especially if it is a knitted vest. He did say with a touch of jealousy that he wanted the vest to be for him. When I asked him if he would wear a vest he told me that he would-"only if no one will see me." He can melt hearts that one. And this from the kid who is happy to wear his underwear on the outside of his pants. I've been long toying with the idea of knitting him a black cotton sweater with some Jolly Roger intarsia, but talk about trendy. Maybe I'll be able to lure him into some knit wear yet.

Here is some yarn hanging out in my backyard. This is a great blend, possibly my favorite, of Rita of Homestead fame and some silver alpaca. It is very softly spun, thick and thin and thread plied, the thread is very cool, I might be able to get a better picture of it when I knit this up. I think I'm going to knit it up in donation to the Walden fair, they have a great annual fair and always have a raffle with hand crafted goods.

My dye pots have slowed down for some spinning and thinking time. Long ago Cherry Bomb Baby was a small but growing business, that is until Baby J jumped on board. Then I spent a year floundering, spinning on the drop spindle here and there, just to keep my sanity. I've changed the direction of my crafting energies largely into fiber for spinning and natural dyeing although I still sew here and there. I've been rather bad at keeping track of all of my projects on this blog as I intended. I spin this and that with no mention of it, I've got more projects going at once than I've got fingers and toes together, which generally means slow progress on all of them and a fair amount of disorganization.

Hopefully, within the next couple of months I can focus energy on growing Cherry Bomb again, I put a lot of dye passion into this skein that I made primarily so I could take a picture of it. I want this skein to be on the home page of the site, I'm so tired of reading that natural dyes don't yeild bright colors or are not lightfast or require toxic heavy metals to mordant. Its pure misinformation being passed around by folks who don't natural dye and it scares other folks away from natural dyes. Natural dyes are certainly less accessible than many synthetic dyes, you can't just pour color on wet fiber and hope for the best. There are many variables that come into play like the ph of your water, the vessel you dye in, the temperature, the fiber itself, the dyestuff itself, where it was grown, the conditions of the soils there, and you could simply go on and on. There is the additional step of mordanting that is usually necessary and that is more water and more work. But to pass off natural dyes as being less professional dye or a less "green" dye, well, its just wrong. Natural dyes are finickier and more work but they yield deep complicated colors that are a part of ancient human history. To me that is the coolest part, I love to spin or dye and think of the women before me doing the exact same work, I feel like I am joining them and picking up where they left off. When I learned to spin it was as if my hands learned what they were meant to do, this was the work they were supposed to be doing all along. I feel similarly about natural dyeing.

This skein has a lot going on, it is blue faced leister, romney (a finer romney, from my cousin's farm) and merino tops dyed with cochineal, madder, osage, coreopsis, sunflower, marigold, indigo, fustic, logwood grey, logwood purple and wattle. There are definitely some color combos I wouldn't have put together in this one either, but that is what 2 ply yarns are for sometimes, random color changes that push you to see colors in new ways, I can't wait to knit a swatch up. Someday. I'm not starting anything new yet, but my couch would really love a colorful blanket. It has been asking for a long time now.