The Muness Shawl

Big Project, Small Footprint

The Muness Shawl pattern by Sharon Miller is simply put: amazing.

It’s amazingly beautiful. Amazingly complex. Amazingly out of my comfort zone.

Covid has reared it’s ugly head again (re-reared? re-re-reared?) Bob is still working in the studio. Construction is still delayed for my folk’s house. I needed a project that won’t explode across the house which I am sharing with three adults. Three adults who like the option of sitting in chairs, cooking in the kitchen, and eating at the dining table.

So- processing my 2021 flax inside- nope. Weaving my sample sail at a loom in Bob’s temporary office- nope. Spinning up Berta’s flax using distaff and saxony wheel- nope. I needed something that could fit in a small carry-on bag, not add to clean up, and that could be temporarily exploded and then tucked away as needed. A unicorn project- tiny, neat, and challenging. Also- something that would hit up the happiness receptors in my brain because I feel pretty well blenderized by 2020 & 2021.

In November, I started messing around with samples for the Muness Shawl. In December, my holiday cookie & fudge addled brain latched on to making an heirloom knitting project as a 365 day project. Never mind that I’m 53 and have never completed a 365 project. New year, new tears. (I don’t think that’s how that goes- but it it may come to that if this all goes sideways!) I’m knitting the Muness Shawl from handspun. Suffice to say, it is January 6th, and I am just now getting the first blog post written. That bodes well…

Muness Shawl: The Big Swatch

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Swatching spun yarn, swatching needle sizes, and swatching for yarn consumption- this project is all about swatching.

Step One: Swatching yarn.

I created different yarns to test- some semiworsted, others worsted. The goal was fine yarn with some loft and a faint halo. I tried BFL, cormo, merino, and shetland top. My BFL spun nicely into a fine yarn, but it was slightly hairy and didn’t have enough loft. The hand of the knitted fiber was harder than I wanted. The cormo had so much crimp and bloom that the yarn looked exploded when I spun to the crimp count. So, that left merino and shetland. I preferred the shetland yarn to the merino because the merino was a bit too springy. The knitted swatch felt soft but a bit spongy. The fine shetland top spun into the perfect yarn for this project. Light, airy, fine with a touch of a halo.



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sample yarn width
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Spinning requires negotiating chair access with Sam the Cat

While sampling yarns, I tested different spinning tools for the best fit with my timeframe and space constraints. Between my spindles, the minispinner, my cpw, and matchless, I chose the minispinner with the lace flyer. As always, the spindles were my favorite to spin, but they add extra steps for storage. I am hoping to spin all of the yarn onto one bobbin to avoid extra ends in the knitting. I needed something that could hold more yarn and would be a bit faster than joining all of the spindle cops. The cpw and matchless were wonderful to spin, but not wonderful for portability. My spots for spinning are on three different floors, and I’m uncoordinated when carrying wheels! The minispinner fits in my project bag and, with the battery pack, can spin anywhere.

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Step Two: Knit up the better suited yarns and check for the hand and general look. I made 2″ mini knitted samples to feel the hand and see the general look. The shetland swatch was exactly what I wanted in hand feel, but a bit dense in fabric. I could fix the denseness by changing the needle size. So, I went happily off to order my fleece.



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TRAIN WRECK!
Who orders fleece in December?!

Ordering a specialty fleece in December is- well- not advised. Especially on a year where many growers decided to go straight to yarn and roving rather than sell at fiber festivals. I found a lovely fleece that wasn’t fine enough and some loose fleece that was fine enough but very tender and with some shearing issues. I tried ordering fleece from abroad, but the shipping times and costs weren’t helpful. So- I put aside the idea of the perfect spin. Sort of. I set aside the plan for using a Shetland fleece- yes, there was a teary eye- and I did some stash diving. I have a fleece- a perfect merino fleece.

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OK, not perfect. It was super greasy and rammy, but the fiber is perfection for a merino. Fine, sound, nice staple, textbook crimp, bright white, and close to zero vm. Plus- and this is a big one- I washed the fleece last year and then decided to save it for the “right project.”

I spun a sample into a soft yarn starting at cobweb and then inching thinner until I had the yarn I liked. RIght on the edge between cobweb and gossamer, I was able to keep the loft and manage the poof. It’s spun at the point of twist from combed top so that under tension it makes the ‘string of pearls’ look but when relaxed has a touch of halo and some squish. I tried to match up to the loft of one of the samples that comes with the book: a heavier gossamer 100% wool yarn. It’s a bit finicky to keep things at that point, but hopefully it will become muscle memory!

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About 480 m/25 g here. I may take it a bit finer but the test knits of the fine gossamers were so fragile! I don’t want a shawl that requires too much special care

Notice that there hasn’t been a big swatch yet? We’re getting there.

Step Three: Choosing a needle size

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Fortunately, this is pretty straightforward. I cast on some stitches, knit a bit, made a row of eyelets, knit a bit, then changed needles and repeated until I found the look I wanted. I’m trying the 2.75mm needles for the Big Swatch, but I won’t be sure until I see the big swatch wet blocked. The stockinette is loose rather than slack. The eyelets stretch open nicely. Fingers crossed, because if I make the wrong call, I’ll be knitting the border swatch over again.

Step Four: Starting the border swatch.

It feels a bit understated to call this a swatch. It’s 65 st x 110 rows of patterned lace knit

It feels a bit understated to call this a swatch. It’s 65 st x 110 rows of patterned lace knit onto a sample of the edging. The edging is a quick knit that is surprisingly pretty for such as simple thing.

Heads up: The swatch has a change to the edging pattern:
I tried it as a solid pattern joining to the border to see if I liked that look better than the eyelet join. I don’t. 🙂 The actual shawl will have the pick ups in the yarn overs.

The border swatch (aka The Big Swatch) is the starting place to figure out how much yarn to spin.

row 70 on the swatch. I made an error at the top of the center diamond, but I’m moving on anyway.
Before Blocking
Note to self: don’t pin anything out after midnight. Not only did it turn out incredibly cockeyed, I broke a thread in the edging by cutting through it with a pin- twice! Thank goodness this is just the swatch.

The swatch has 7150 stitches. It weighs 4.83g. So, using 310,000 as the number of stitches in the shawl (the number was provided by the designer for the pattern as charted with no modifications), that means I’ll need just under 210g of yarn.

Off of the pins, the swatch measures just about 12 x 13, so the finished shawl will be about 72″ blocked but measured untensioned.

Combing the fiber

I had planned to use shetland, but unfortunately, I waited too long to get fine shetland fleece. So, after much sampling, I decided to use merino. I had a partial extrafine merino fleece from a ram named Jean van Ram at Ewe and Us Farms. The wool is perfection. Bright white, crimpy, sound 13-15 micron fiber that combs like a dream. It wasn’t quite enough, so I am mixing in some other almost as nice merino that is in the 15-16 micron range. It’s not quite as bright and the staple length is a bit longer, so I am blending them on the combs as I go.

I did put a reservation in on a shetland fleece or two for the next shawl!


The Road to the Muness Shawl

November 2, 2021

I started out thinking- oh, I’ll just blast out a bunch of cobweb weight yarn and knit up one of Sharon Miller’s gorgeous shawls. Then I got the pattern book.

The fabulous study book for knitting the Muness Shawl
Yarn samples sent along with the study book

This is more than a pattern. It’s a masterclass in spinning and knitting. The book lays out a variety of choices- all of which have strikingly different outcomes. I’m deep in the yarn choice weeds.

So, swatching. Swatching is my friend. It wasn’t that long ago that I declared that I would spin first and choose a pattern to match the yarn. Then, I started knitting more sweaters. I tend to knit fitted sweaters, so swatching isn’t optional. And once I started swatching, I realized it is a rabbit hole all on its own!

I’ve become a swatching demon. I don’t just swatch for fit. If I mess around with my project specs before spinning for a project, I can look at a range of fabrics and pick the one I like best. Swatching makes me a better spinner and knitter- in part because I’m actually paying attention to the small choices which add up to big differences. I also can spin my projects more quickly because I am choosing tools and methods that suit the finished product rather than using my default wheel set up. I can get most yarns from my default setting. It just takes longer and puts more stress on my hands and arms. This past year was a nightmare of repetitive stress injuries. A lifetime of “good enough” set ups caught up with me, and it hasn’t been fun.

With RSIs in mind, why on earth would I pick out a crazy huge cobweb/gossamer lace project?

Now is the perfect opportunity! I am limited in the time I can work and tools I can use. I need to pay attention to form and settings. By making swatches, I can test my choices and then make one large piece rather than three! The shawl is made from approximately 310,000 stitches. That’s a lot of stitches. If I need three tries to get the right yarn match, adding on the minimum swatch needed to select the pattern set up, that’s just shy of a million stitches… Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

Until recently, I was very much a “when in doubt, knit another one” person. That option is off the table. It’s amazing how you can find more discipline in the face of a million stitches!

The Muness shawl will test my project management skills as much or more than it will my spinning and knitting. Should be interesting!

Swatching in prep of swatching? Pre-swatching? I need a better name for this other than messing around with fiber

I have two guides. One is a sample of cotton sewing thread. I did a quick knit with the thread to get a rough idea of the knitting skills needed. It isn’t terrible to knit. But it’s not a great sample of how wool thread will knit. I’ll do a proper mini-swatches from the spindle spun yarn and the CPW yarn to make sure I like the weight and to see how it blooms and wet blocks.

In the first bummer of the project, I discovered I made an ordering error when I got a new scale last year. It only goes to .01g. That’s not going to work! So a new scale is on the way. I’ll check and make sure I am staying on track for meters per gram as I move from bobbin to bobbin/spindle to spindle. I don’t want to slide into super fine gossamer or ethereal weight yarn!

My favorite yarn guide is the one below. I put two strands in a piece of packing tape, stretch them across, and then seal the opposite ends into a second piece of tape. This lets me twist them to see and feel the ply and then untwist to feel the singles. I have crummy vision, so I do a lot of my fine spinning by feel.

November 4, 2021:
The new scale arrived. I checked two samples:

  • a 2 ply 1 meter sample which weighed 0.036g, making it a 694 m / 25g gossamer yarn. 80 wpi
  • a 2 ply 1 meter sample which weighed 0.048g, making it a 520 m / 25g cobweb yarn. 73 wpi

Both were spun on Russian spindles from Shetland wool combed top using long draw. I like the feel of the cobweb yarn better than the gossamer. Both are soft and flexible, but the cobweb has a bit more loft and has a nicer hand overall. I can try for less twist in the gossamer and see how that works, but for now, I’m leaning towards the cobweb.

In the close up, you can see the faint halo from the long draw. It’s fairly smooth because I’ve split the top lengthwise into a fingerwidth of fiber that is about 4″ long- not much more fiber than I would have if I was spinning from the lock. Having a small bit of fiber to draw from lets me make a long, narrow drafting triangle that keeps the combed fibers in alignment. I do find my spin creeping thinner these days. My spinning reflects a lot of my day to day life! More than it should. If I’ve had a day, I flick that spindle like it’s a prize wheel- and no one can draft that fast. I’m lucky the whole thing doesn’t take flight!

I’m slowly rebuilding a happy, mellow spinning zone in my head, but in the meantime, there are days when I should switch to a slower spindle!

Side note here: While talking to Bob (my DH), I mentioned the whole Muness shawl has over 310,000 stitches. He happily pointed out that at 1,000 stitches a day, that’s just shy of a year of knitting. You’d think after 30+ years together he’d have better survival skills! But, it did make me think. I’m going to need a daily stitch goal or this could end up in a basket for years. So, I’m adding stitch goals to the project planning board.

Did I mention I have a project planning board! That’s a conversation for another time.

Seed to Sail: Dressing the flax

Flax stem cross-section, showing locations of underlying tissues. Ep = epidermis (glossy outer protective layer) ; C = cortex (harder outer layer under the epidermis; BF = bast fibres (bundles of soft, flexible fibers); P = phloem (plant material); X = xylem (plant material); Pi = pith (spongy area that disintegrates when dry and creates a hollow space in center of flax stem)

After harvesting and retting, we still need to find a way to separate out the fiber from the rest of the plant. The process to do this is called dressing. The process developed taking advantage of the structure of the flax stem. Inside a dried stem of flax is a hollow tube that runs up the center. When the plant is alive, it’s is fille with a spongy material, but that disintegrates as the stem dries. On the outside of the stem is a waxy, protective layer covering a stronger thin, harder layer. Between the two is the plant tissue which holds the bundles of thin, flexible, fibers we want.

To get what we want, we have to do two very different things. The first is detach the fibers from the tissue around them. We can do that with a chemical process- retting. Retting dissolves the pectin & lignin that “glues” the fibers to the plant material. Then it’s just a matter of getting fibers separated from the stuff we don’t want. That’s a physical process- basically bashing and scraping. Bashing and scraping doesn’t sound very dignified, so instead we call it dressing the flax.

But wait! This is flax, which means there’s always another step! Before dressing, we need to think about the seeds. At the top of each flax stem is a small pod containing seeds. Rippling removes the seed heads which are then crushed to get seed for the next crop. The seed pods can come off before or after retting depending on if you plan to use the seed and if you are water or dew retting. If you aren’t planning to use the seed, you can just pull them off anytime. If you are water retting (pond, pool, tank, etc) and you want to collect the seeds for planting, then people suggest removing the seeds before retting. If you are planning to store your straw over the winter, removing the seeds helps keep the mice out of your flax.

I ripple before retting because I don’t want to risk water damage to the seeds. I also have found my retting tank smells less if I remove the leaves and seed heads before retting.

One way or another, we have to remove the seeds before we can dress (process) our flax. If you don’t remove them first, you’ll clog up your hackle. I use a metal tined comb to pull the seed heads off, but it can be done by hand or by crushing.

rippling removes the seed heads
seed heads after rippling

Dressing Flax

Dressing flax takes 3 steps: breaking, scutching, and hackling. There are lots of specialized tools you can use, but it is possible to process flax with a mallet or rolling pin and a metal toothed dog comb. I found some wonderful antique Pennsylvania Dutch hackles at a fiber festival, so I use them and channel some historical fiber mojo as I go.

PSA

This is probably a good time to mention tetanus shots. If you process flax using hackles, stay current on your tetanus shots. The flax dressing gods are bloodthirsty, and hackles are their favorite collection method.

Also, have a good pair of tweezers on hand. Flax slivers are no joke. They get infected and hurt. At the end of a dressing session, make sure you haven’t got slivers. Also, resist the urge to run your thumbnail down the fibers to pull off boon. Bamboo under the fingernails is a torture technique…

Braking (Breaking)

Breaking is exactly what it sounds like. I break up the stem by putting the retted flax between the boards of my flax brake. If I hadn’t built a brake, I could also break up the stem using a mallet or a rolling pin. For very small amounts, you can also just use your hands to crack the stems. The goal is to crush the hard parts so they fall away from the flexible, softer fibers you want.

I take a handful of flax stems at a time and pull them first from one end, and then flipped from the opposite end. It may take several passes through the brake. I stop when the the bundle is flexible and soft.

Scutching

Scutching knocks off the waste material. You can use a flax sword or knife by draping the flax over a flat board and running the edge of the flax knife along the fibers. Some historic processing mills set up rotating wheels of wooden boards similar to the steamship wheel. Or, you can just bash the bundle of flax against a flat surface. I also use the flax brake as a scutching tool by closing it only part way and pulling bundles of broken straw across the boards. This knocks out the majority of the boon (waste) quickly.

Hackling

The next step removes the outer sheathing and separate the fibers. I use three sets of hackles. Coming soon is a video of pulling fibers through the hackles to remove the waste. I start with the coarse hackle (back row) to remove the majority of debris, to pull out any weak or broken stalks, and to align the bundle of stalks after braking and scutching. I hackle one side up to the 1/3rd point where my hand is holding the bundle together. Then I flip the bundle and hackle the other end of the bundle.

After the coarse hackle, I move to the medium hackle (center row). This one will begin to open up the fiber bundles, pull off any sticky boon, and remove the shorter lengths of flax. I don’t lose that flax. Once I am done processing the line flax (the longest fibers), I’ll come back, pull out the shorter fibers (tow), and process those. By the time I have finished the medium hackling, the fibers are nicely aligned, the waste has been removed, and the bulk of the tow has been separated.

The fine hackle does the final separation of the fibers. If the ret wasn’t complete, these can be sticky and harder to pull apart. They need to be as close to fully separated as possible so that the fiber spins smoothly.



I’ve only documented two flax patches. Both the 2019 and the 2021 patches were “lisette” variety and grew to about 36-40″ from root to seed pod. I harvested 2021 at exactly 90 days, and the seeds weren’t viable. I’m hoping the 2021 crop will be finer.

My next patch with be the “Natalie” variety, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that does in our wet, windy climate.

Next up: Dressing 2021 flax & then spinning

Shetland Wool – Sonrae Sweater

The yoke in progress
From my handspun stash

October 16, 2021: I was deep in a Shetland knitted lace project when we got the news that my dad needed treatment for some heart issues. I needed something that I could knit while distracted, so I grabbed a pattern from Jennifer Steinglass. You can pretty much pick any of her sweaters at random and have a gorgeous pattern. I chose the first one for sportweight yarn that came up on search. I love her designs because the colorwork is very intuitive. Once you’ve knit the first few rounds, the rest follows. It’s easy to see if (when) I get off because it shows right away.

During Tour de Fleece 2019, I put up about a pound of shetland roving into a worsted spun, sportweight yarn with plans for a sweater. 2020 was not a good knitting year for me. I managed one sweater and the test knits for my Lake Effect hat/mitten pattern.. Fortunately for 2021 knitting, this meant that shetland was sitting all balled up and ready for knitting. I knew it was meant to be when I found the swatch and it was on gauge!

I went stash diving into my demo yarns for the contrast colors. I found a woolen, sort of sportweight yarn that was supposed to become thrummed mittens about 5 years ago. If I remember correctly, it was spun on a great wheel from shetland rolags. I dyed it after spinning using a mix of Greener shades dyes. The shetland was had a great luster, so the teal just glowed.

I also pulled out a skein of seriously wonky bluefaced Leicester that I spun up from test dye scraps. I spun this at a festival with the help of any little one who wanted to try treadling a wheel and helping me draft. It is all over the place, but it’s mostly sportweight. The grist drifts. The kids picked the color to spin from a basket of pink, blue, turquoise, and purple, the color layout is completely random. Lots of barberpoling after plying.

The teal shetland is heavier than the grey shetland in addition to being a completely different texture. I put it at the neck which I like for the color choice, but I’m not sold on the texture. The texture of the multicolor BFL isn’t showing as much as I’d hoped. I was counting on the irregular texture to balance out the fuzzier shetland. I’ll have to see what happens when it is washed.

As I knit, I’m waffling between keeping it as a sweater or converting it to a jacket. Right now, the jacket is the favorite.

Update: Nov 2, 2021
Still working along on the body. I’ve joined the next cake of yarn. This cake is 10 1/2 oz, so it’s time to make some yarn balance choices. I’d like to make the sleeves with yarn spun at the same time. So I can use this for the sleeves and then pick up the body again- or I finish off the body, use this for the steek/button band and spin fresh yarn for the sleeves. Fortunately I found another ball of this shetland fiber in my stash, so I can stop worrying about having enough yarn. Now it’s all about making sure the grist matches when I spin.

It’s time to fish or cut bait on the garment length/steeking. I haven’t found any extra decision making willpower in the wake of Halloween candy and binge watching Dr Who (9th Dr for other Whovians wondering.) Unless I have a flash of inspiration, I’m going to make a low hip length, steeked cardigan. AhhH! Waffle waffle waffle.


This yarn is a tough one to photograph. The color of the grey in the sweater is pretty close- it’s a bit washed out,. The cake is only that dark grey in low light. I love how the sweater colors change with the light.

Hey, I found a picture of the plied yarn on a bobbin. Looks like I spun this on my Hansen minispinner in July 2019

Shetland Bound Shawl

The write up of the Shetland Bound project will come together after I finish knitting and blocking. In the meantime, I’m adding project notes to the photos.

The color is funky in this photo, but is shows the striping in the yarn. I’m not a fan, so there’s overdyeing in my future. I’m going to do a quick dip in turquiose to even things out. Fortunately, my turquoise is really fussy about attaching, so it should strike mainly on the light sections. I’m sad to mute the darker variations, but the striping is fingernails on a blackboard! I should handpaint out the pale stripes, but this is just a test knit before going to the lighterweight yarn. Most likely it will end up in the spare scarf bin.

Southwick Beach

The Southwick Project
AKA- relearning how to weave for the Seed to Sail Project

Back in the mid 1990’s, I took up rigid heddle and tapestry weaving.  I loved it, but I had two young kids and minimal safe spaces to leave projects. I chose spinning over weaving, and that offhand decision shaped my fiber arts journey for the next 20 years!

I’m circling around back to weaving. It’s been a long time, so I feel like I’m starting from the beginning again!

I found a used 15″ 4 shaft Dorothy loom that needed some revitalizing.  It’s from the 70’s, so the new LeClerc Dorothy parts have to be reworked to fit.  We’re a good fit.  Rusty, a little tired, but still getting along!

A friend kindly warped the loom for me with one of my favorite colorways.  I’ve spent many yards relearning the basics- how to change yarns, how to alternate yarns, how to get a clean selvage, how not to pick up stray warp threads, how to back out mistakes.  I have gotten really good at backing out mistakes.

So, now I’m ready to start my first full project.  I’ve got a cone of sock yarn that turned out to be lousy for knitting but hopefully good on a loom.  I have a dyeing sketch inspired by a spring walk on Southwick Beach.  I have a project plan, a helpful book, and a bottle of irish whiskey to both celebrate and console.  

The colors in the warp are based on a fall walk alongside gorgeous leaves intermixed with pines and cat tails on the dune side and a fabulous bright blue sky with dark clouds and moody water on the lakeside.

We walk the beach throughout the year, and on each walk I say- I need to dye today’s colors. There’s a project! 365 Yarns of Beach Walks

I dyed up the warp in 6 sections that will be 3 inches wide on the loom. Each section is a gradient with a section of mixing in the center. The green and blue section is a bit different because that color run came from the inlet area where the colors shifted from trees across a pond and then back to trees. The gold section was supposed to have more brown in in, but the nylon in this yarn grabbed the yellow pigment and punched it up quite a bit more than I expected. This is a golden cream dye and brown thinned out. In person, the yellow is lighter and has more reflectivity.

I’m waffling on color placement. The color placement matches how they fall out in the world. In fabric, it would probably be better to separate the lighter blue and the gold to increase the contrast.

Here are some winding photos for fun:

I’m not sure of the warping order yet, but I decided to match the colors for the weft. I made 8.5 yard skeins on my warping board and dyed them with the warp colors. The two skeins are similar but the color order, lengths, and values are different. Hopefully that’s a good idea and will make some funky pooling effects against the more orderly warp.

I warped the loom, started weaving. Hated the pattern I chose. Decided to switch to a straight weave and then, well, life. Cat, Dog, A convenient place to put packages. The warp became a table. And then a hammock. And finally, a trash can filler. That’s ok. I saved what I could and started using it for inkle weaving:

Building a Flax Brake

12″ x 38″ overall. Breaking area approx. 26″

When I wrote up the plans, I didn’t worry about the lumber lengths. When it came time to build it, I reworked the lengths to work with the lumber left over after Bob built a strawberry tower. It worked out nicely because the shorter length is easy to handle & store- and most importantly, it still breaks flax nicely.

Part NameDimensions# pieces
Top rail1 x 3 x 30″2
Top rail center/handle1 x 3 x 38″1
bottom rail1 x 3 x 28″4
Bottom cross piece1 x 3 x 12″2
Top cross piece1 x 3 x 4″1
handle cross piece1/2″ x 4″ oak dowel1
hinge1.2″ x 6″ oak dowel1
end caps1 x 3 x 2 1/4″1
wood screws2″22
wood screws or finish nails1 1/4″8
metal washers1/2″ i.d. 2″ o.d.6

Assembly directions:
set up the rails with the 1″ dimension on top and the 3″ vertically. Place the rails as follows: a base rail, a top rail, a base rail, the handle rail, a base rail, a top rail, a base rail. While it’s set up, mark up the wood for cutting and drilling.

Mark the top edge of the 4 base rails and the bottom edge of the 3 top rails. These are the flax breaking surfaces of the rails. On the handle side of the brake, the boards are all different lengths. On the hinge side of the boards, they are flush. Take a minute to mark the hinge side of the boards.

From here on out, I’ll refer to the wood as having handle side ends (the ones shown in the picture) and hinge side ends- the ends that will be fixed in place by the dowel hinge.

Measure in 1 1/2″ from the hinge side end of one of the base pieces and put a mark centered on the board for drilling hinge hole.

Hole for the dowel hinge in the roughly shaped base rail.

Measure in 1″ from the handle side end of the 2 top rails and mark along the center line to indicate where the upper dowel will go. You can see where the handle dowel will end up in the picture to the left.

Shaping the ends of the base rails:
The base rails need to have the corners taken off of the boards where they rotate around the hinge. Otherwise, they will hit the table and prevent you from opening the brake fully. I went ahead and cut a curve around the entire end because I was playing with my saw. You can just chop off the lower corner at a 45 degree, and all will be fine.

Shaping the sides of the top and base rails:
Either use a sander or a table saw to take the corners off of the flax breaking surfaces of the rails. We used a 40 degree angle on the table saw to cut the corners off of the boards. A belt sander is also a good option. You just need to create some space between the rails and to remove the sharp edges of the lumber so you don’t cut your flax rather than crush it.

Another option is to add more washers or some slightly wider spacers between the rails. I didn’t have any more washers on hand, so decided to shape the rails. In testing, wider spacing kept the rails from cutting the flax but it also made the break points further apart. It more blows to break the flax.

Hinge side view of the flax brake. From L to R:
End block, base rail, top rail, base rail, center handle rail, base rail, top rail, base rail, end block
The dowel runs through all of the pieces except the end blocks

Shaping the handle:
If you’d like, you can shape a more comfortable grip for the handle. I was playing with my new scroll saw, so I did a quick shaping. It will work just fine if you use it without shaping or with a different shape.



Drilling out the hinge holes:
Make a pilot hole in the center of your mark on one of the base rails using a 1/4″ bit. Clamp your base and top rails together and use that hole as a guide to drill a pilot hole through all of the rails. Depending on your clamp and drill bit, you may need to do this in two or three sets of boards rather than all at once.

Using the pilot hole, drill the first rail using a 3/4″ forstner bit. Then, using that hole as a guide, drill out the remaining base rails so all seven holes align- 4 on the bottom rails, 3 on the top rails. If you slide the dowel in, it will fit loosely and the pieces will rotate easily around the dowel.

Drilling out the handle holes:
Using a 1/4″ bit for the pilot hole, drill out a hole where you marked your top rail. Stack your top rails and handle rail together, and using that hole as a guide, drill a pilot hole through all three pieces. Then use a 1/2″ forstner bit for the main hole. The dowel will be a tight fit if you test it.

Note: For an alternate drilling pattern, read the notes at the bottom of the directions



Dry Fitting:
Inserting the washers: Pass the 6″ dowel through the hole in the first base rail. Then, to the end of the dowel, add a washer, a base rail, another washer, a top rail, another washer, a bottom rail, etc- alternating top and bottom rails spaced by washers, making sure the handle rail ends up in the center position. End with the fourth bottom rail. Make sure the top rails have their shaped side down. Bottom rails have their shaped sides facing up.


Screwing on the base pieces

We flipped the whole piece over and screwed the base pieces on to the base rails. Make sure you like the spacing before screwing things together. It would look much nicer if the screws were sunk in a bit and then the holes plugged with some dowel pieces.

I lined the edge of the base with the edge of the rails. This base provides stability for the rails and a place to clamp the rails to the table. The hinge side base piece is set 2 1/4″ in from the end in this one, but we just eyeballed it. I wanted it far enough forward so it wouldn’t interfere with opening but far enough back so that it would stabilize the brake and provide the second clamping point.

We marked out the center of each rail and used a 1/4″ drill bit for pilot holes before driving the screws.

We flipped it base side down and attached the top piece to stabilize the top rails and handle rail. Getting the holes in a straight line would have helped too! Project Building Rule #1: Stop when you get tired.


Attaching the end caps:
We put endcaps to keep the hinge dowel from working its way out. Next time, I will try drilling the holes in the outer two base rails to 1/2″ and if the hinge stays loose enough (it should), then I’ll put a bit of wood glue on the outer rails. Finish nails would look so much better. These are the only screws we had on hand of the right length. They will get replaced at some point because yikes! Ugly!

The test run:




Notes:
You can drill the holes in the outer base rails to 1/2″ and skip the end caps. As long as you have enough space between the boards and use washers, the top rails should be loose enough to pivot on the dowel. I’m going to give this a try when I build this from nicer wood.

Instead of screws, you can use dowels to attach the various parts. Or, if that is too fiddly, you can countersink the screws and use small bits of a dowel to hide the screws.

This is a prototype built using leftover and scrap lumber from building a strawberry tower. Bob had a 1″ x 6″ x 12′ leftover, so we ripped that in half. We made the other pieces from ends and discards. The top piece doesn’t need to be 1″ thick, though it adds a nice weight to the top of the brake.

I thought about putting spacer blocks instead of the dowel in the handle, but I liked the look of the dowel and had leftover dowel material on hand.

When I drew this out on paper, everything was 4″longer. The shorter brake works quite well, and I am glad that it is smaller for easy storage.

Seed to Sail: Growing the flax

In 2019, planted a 10 x 10 plot of flax as part of a longterm project to weave a sail. I am starting from a very soft learning space so the number of steps ahead is huge. This project is both a work in progress and being written up as I have time. Sections with bold headers are typed up.

Growing Flax 2019
Growing Flax 2021
Processing Flax (Retting, Breaking, Scutching, and Hackling- in progress for 2021)
(Spinning Flax – in progress)
(Test Weaving Flax)

Growing Flax 2019

Bob built two 10′ x 10′ garden boxes in 2019, but I had a thought. How many tomatoes can one household eat? The second box was a natural place to test out growing flax. The seeds came from the Landis Valley Museum on Pennsylvania which sent me “Lisette” variety (Sourced from Holland.) https://www.landisvalleymuseum.org/

The pictures below are from the 2019 flax patch. I will use the same seed for 2021. Don’t look at the date on the bag. They were past their sell-by, but so am I! At least the seeds were kept cool and dry!

I’d been warned that before planting, make sure the seeds are a fiber variety instead of an oil seed plant! Check. Got that right. Then, if you think you’ll need it, make sure you create a garden with some cross support for the plants. Oops…

The plants grow 3′ tall or more and support each other in the bed. Everything looked good, so I didn’t put in strings to support the plants. We had an early summer hail & wind storm that knocked down most of the bed. I also had some happy pets sleeping in the flax. My 2021 crop will have cross stringing just in case!

After planting there wasn’t much need for weeding. Mainly, I needed patience. I waited. And waited. And watched the stalks get taller and taller. Eventually beautiful blue flowers appeared. Then the seed heads started to form. For finer flax, harvest earlier- general wisdom says when the plant has turned yellow somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3rds of the way up the stalk. For 2019, I wanted the seeds, so I waited for the seed heads to fully develop.

Fun Historical Fact: The American colonies grew flax for both the seed and the fiber. They sold much of the seed to England and Ireland which allowed growers there to harvest before the seeds fully developed- which meant the fiber harvested there was finer, and by extension, the cloth made was softer and finer than the rougher cloth available in the colonies. (link to more about this at the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia)

Not the greatest photo, but the bottom 2/3-3/4 of the stalks have turned a greenish yellow. The seed heads are nice and plump, and some have started to dry on the plant. That’s a bit too long, but I went to an Irish music festival instead of tending my gardens.

I pulled up the flax, roots and all. I tried making towers, but Fergie the dog couldn’t help but knock them over. I lashed them to the fence for a while until the bundles were mostly dry. I’m on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario, so mostly dry is the best I could hope for. At last, we got one of those super hot, dry spells. I laid out the flax behind a temporary fence and let the sun bake things for a while.

It seems like this should be the end of it, right. Yay, I have flax. Nope. We’re barely getting started! The next step was taking off the seed heads. I used a fiber hackle which did a great job.

I waited for a windy day which made life easier. A lot of the waste blew away as I pulled the tops of the plants through the hackle. Then I gathered up the seed heads, rolled them between my palms and let the wind carry away the chaff.

I put the seeds in a ziplock for the next garden and then, sadly- but probably predictably-, lost the bag of seeds while moving my studio. Fortunately, I have plenty of seeds left from the first planting. I’m sure I’ll find the 2019 seeds in time for the 2022 planting!

Next Step: Retting

I would have loved to dew ret but it was approaching the end of September and starting to get nippy at nights. So, I pulled out what we call “the Coffin” It’s a big black wheelie box that usually holds stuff in the garage. Now it’s my flax bin. It’s a fabulous flax retting bin because it is over 4 feet long and gets nice and hot in the sun.

Writing this makes it all sound very seamless. Not so. Here’s how things go:

Figuring out when to stop retting is hard for me. I was trying to keep the lid on the box as much as possible because the black top helped keep the water up to a good retting temperature. After the first week, I checked the retting progress every afternoon. I should have split up the flax into two batches because the flax retted at different rates. The books and articles say that the thicker flax should ret faster than thinner because there is more material to feed the retting organisms. I found my thin flax retted faster. My best guess is the thicker flax provided the good growing environment, so the thinner flax was able to ret more quickly. A few articles talk about the final fiber and the organisms involved in retting reflecting the ecosystem which grows the flax. I love the idea that flax has terroir like wines.

Once it was retted, I laid the flax in the yard to dry, and then put it back into the coffin until I had time to build a flax brake. Life got strange, and the COVID pandemic put a spike in my plans to process the flax in 2020. So, here we are- 2021. I finally had time and energy to build some tools. Building a Flax Brake will take you to the plans and step by step directions.


Have you noticed there hasn’t been any talk about weaving a sail yet? It’s coming! There will be a sail!

But first, grow more flax!

Growing Flax 2021

Flax patch 2021 had a rough start. Shortly after I sowed the seed, a thunderstorm dumped over an inch of rain, left divots in the soil, and knocked my carefully strewn seed all over. It happens. I threw a bit more seed at the bald spots and waited for germination…. and waited…. and waited. Our temps were all over the place- 40s up to 90s and back down again. Then the real rain started. Build an ark kind of rain that went on for ages.

Below is a video of the flax going from seed to harvest in 2:33. I pulled the flax at 90 days- just as the earliest seeds were maturing.

Here’s a slideshow of the flax being prepared for retting. I dried my flax for a while because it was going to be a week or two until I had time to oversee the retting. You can go straight to dew retting or tank retting if you are ready. I would remove the seeds from the plants before tank retting if you want to use them to plant the next crop.

Retting flax day 3

Retting 2021
The first two days were mid 70s during the day and 60s at night. With the rain, temps have dropped into the 60s with prediction of mid 50’s at night. This may take a little longer than I’d hoped. I pulled back the sheeting so the rain could top up the water level in the retting pool. The foam on the top of the water is a sign of fermentation taking place which means the microbial colonies that will break down the pectin have formed. Now, I just have to give them time. I’m going to ret further than I did last time. Everything I read talked about the dangers of overretting- and they are real! I can always double ret if I find I didn’t let things process enough the first time. To double ret, I can either put the flax back in the pool- or I can follow up the pool retting with dew retting. Our temperatures drop pretty quickly once October rolls in, so it will be better to get things right the first time.

Some reference material:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7652851/#B170
https://www.jstor.org/stable/2469798?seq=12#metadata_info_tab_contents

https://www.mdpi.com/2079-6439/1/3/59/htm (interesting list of flax uses- strange error in the conclusion putting yarn apart from textile applications and appropriate for non-retted use. Wonder if it is a translation error for rope?)


https://bioresources.cnr.ncsu.edu/resources/characterization-of-flax-water-retting-of-different-durations-in-laboratory-condition-and-evaluation-of-its-fiber-properties/

https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-361.html

Acorn Dyeing

Acorns are extremely versatile.  They are full of tannins which will dye plant fibers a pinkish-brown.  With an iron dip, the pinkish-brown turns a pretty grey-black.  The color you get will depend upon the fiber you are dyeing.  In this project, I’m dyeing a 60% linen/ 40% cotton blend.  Linen takes a bit longer to dye and seems to need more dye stock than cotton.  I used a cotton twine to tie up for my resist, and the twine became jet black.

How to dye with acorns:

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Step One:  Gather ye acorns while ye may

I use 3 pounds of acorns to 1 pound of fabric or fiber.   There are roughly 50 acorns in a pound, though of course the size of your acorns are going to play a part there.

Step Two: Soak the acorns

You’re going to need to mash up the acorns so you can extract the maximum amount of dye.  You can try to bash them up while they are hard, but it is so much easier to soak them first.

I took off the caps and soaked the acorns for 2 days in the solar oven.  We only had good sun for one of those days, but it was enough to lightly soften the shells.

Step Three:  Mash the acorns.

You can use a rock, a mortar and pestle, or a hammer.  Whatever you have on hand will work.  Mine were a bit too hard for the mortar and pestle, so I took the very satisfying hammer short cut.

Mash the acorns and put them back into the jar.  You’ll see the brown liquid already forming as you work.

Step Four:  Let it steep.
You can’t rush a good cup of tea or a strong natural dye bath.  All for the same reason!  It takes time to pull what you want from the plant matter into solution.  For acorn dye, you want a dark brown liquid which will be full of tannins for dyeing.  We had a mix of cool, rainy weather and hot, sunny days, so I just left the acorns in a black mason jar in the solar oven for about 10 days.  I know at least two days the bath reached 165F.  Some other days, it probably never got above 60F.  The cooler the temps, the longer the soak.   After ten days, I had a dark brown dye bath that smelled like a forest pond.

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Step Five:  Prep the Iron Dip
Do this alongside soaking your mashed acorns.

I put a rusty piece of metal in a mason jar with 50% water & 50% white vinegar.  The metal soaked for a week on my countertop.  I meant to put it in the oven, but well, life…  No matter.  At the end of the week, I had a nice dark gold solution.

I poured off the solution and left the metal and any flaked bits in the bottom of the jar.  I’ll keep reusing this metal until it stops making the bath.  Then I’ll just put the piece of iron somewhere to get rusty again and start over.

Time to Dye!
Step Six:  Prep your dyeing pot.

I like to use stainless steel hotel pans for dyeing, but you can use almost any big stainless or enameled pot that will fit your dye stuffs with room to spare.  Stainless steel or fully enameled pots will let you control the color most.  Iron saddens dye colors, so iron pots or inexpensive pots that rust easily will change the color of your yarn.  Similarly, aluminum pots can change your colors.  Good if you want to do that.  Less good, if you don’t.

Below are pictures of the two baths.  On the right, I diluted the dark brown acorn dye solution with enough water so that my fabric would be fully immersed.  On the left, I did the same with the iron solution.

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Step Seven:  Scouring the fabric and prepping the towels to dye
I washed a set of 4 white linen & cotton hand towels in synthropol, washing soda, and hot water.  They soaked for 40 minutes in the synthropol and washing soda hot bath and then were rinsed thoroughly in hot water.

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I wanted to make some resist patterns on the fabric, so I wrapped them on pipes and wrapped some random patterns of cotton twine.

Step Eight:  Initial dye

I simmered the fabric in the acorn dye bath for 40 minutes until the fabric turned a mid tannish-brown.   This is always the hardest part because it looks like I’m not getting enough color.  But it’s just the first dip.

(Sorry- I missed this photo.  I’ll take it with the next batch)
Step Nine:  The iron dip

I moved the brown fabric into the iron bath (195F) and let it rest for 20 minutes.  The color darkened but not as much as I wanted it to.  Take a look at the dye bath.  A dark brownish black precipitate has formed in the pan.  With stirring, it will go back into solution.

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To darken the color, I moved it back into the acorn dye so that iron that had penetrated the fiber could more easily interact with the tannins.   I let it sit until the color deepened more closely to what I wanted

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I wanted even more color, so I let the fabric continue to simmer in the acorn bath for another 30 minutes, repeated the 10 minute iron dip, and then put it back in the acorn bath for the final soak.  After 20 minutes, I had the color I wanted.  It’s a dark purple-brown that is almost black.  On 100% cotton, this would be pure black.  On linen, I’m hoping the purple and grey undertones show through.   Because of the resist I should have a wide range of colors from the plain linen/cotton white through the brown, lighter grey-brown, and darker purple-grey.    I love this moment in natural dyeing.  Because I don’t know how much iron and how much tannin I had in each bath,  I have a good but not exact  idea of the colors I’ll have on the fabric.    Add to that the ever changing nature of my tap water, and things can surprise me.

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Step Eight:  Cooling in the bath
It’s really tempting to pull it out and immediately rinse to see how things turned out.  For full color, I leave it in the bath, turn off the heat, and walk away until the pot is completely cool.  This can take several hours, so it really helps to have another project in the works.  When in doubt, go out and gather more dye stuff.

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Step Nine:  Rinse and wash

Once everything has cooled, a thorough wash with some gentle dishsoap will take out any unfixed dye and acorn bits and make sure there isn’t a residue left behind.

As you are dyeing,  don’t forget that things look paler when they are dry.  Here are the towels.  The one on the left is wet.  The ones on the right are the same towels after they have dried.

Romney to Sheep Heid: From Fleece to Finished Object

Fleece to Finished Object: The Sheep Heid Kep designed by Kate Davies

Original write up: May 9, 2019

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The Fleece

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Romney fleece from Lochan Mor Farms. Photo taken mid-skirting

In April 2018, I bought a beautiful Romney fleece from Lochan Mor Farms in Cato, NY.  It was a bit muddy, but we’d had a “build an ark” rain all spring, and it rained in the days before shearing.  The shearer did an amazing job, so there wasn’t much I needed to do before washing.

I laid the fleece out on the barn floor and pulled anything I wouldn’t want to process.  It wasn’t much- maybe 8-10 oz from the britch and rear legs.  My plan was to take this fleece home, sort it, & sample the different areas of the fleece.  Life got in the way, and the poor fleece sat, unwashed and ignored for 3 seasons.

Romney Fleece
A chunk of Romney fleece being prepped to wash

SORTING:
I made several false starts.  The weather wasn’t cooperating, and I didn’t have a good space to fit the fleece under cover.    Washing a large fleece can feel like a monumental task, and I spent a fair amount of time mentally willing the fleece to wash itself while I wasn’t looking.  Amazingly, this didn’t work.

Finally, I scolded myself for being wimpy and grabbed fleece from the top of the bag.   I didn’t do much sorting.  I just broke the fleece into 6-8 oz sections and put the wool into mesh bags with the tips facing the same direction.    I have a LOT of mesh bags, and I think I used them all!

THE WASH PROCESS:
Overnight soak in room temperature water and a bit of soap

First wash:  20 minute soak in 140F water with Power Scour (Full strength)
Second wash: 15 minute soak in Power Scour (1/2 strength)
I followed the washes with two hot water rinses.
I spun out the bags of wool in spin dryer and then laid the fleece out on towels and mesh racks to airdry.

The fleece wasn’t perfectly dirt free after washing, but I chose to flick the tips as needed rather than wash more.  I prefer a bit of lanolin when I spin.  I also didn’t want to risk overscouring and losing the shine from the locks.

Overall, I lost about 30% during washing which is pretty fabulous considering that I could have planted in the sink after the first soak!

The wool is on the soft side of romney- I’d guess in the 25-28 micron range. Within the areas of the body, the fleece is very uniform in length and is well within 10% across the whole fleece with the exception of some of the shorter, extra crimpy leg and some coarser, less crimpy britch wool.

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COMBING:
Fiber Details:
5.5 staple, 6.5 crimps per inch
Bright white, strong locks with well defined crimp
Small areas with weathered tips

I combed the fiber with extrafine Valkyrie combs using some combing oil on my hands and the fiber to keep the static down.    This green herbstripper/diz is one of my favorite tools. 

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THE SPIN:

Spun forward draw from the cut end on a Hansen minispinner and on a Schacht matchless. Plied on the Hansen minispinner. Soaked in warm soapy water to remove any spinning oils before dyeing. Rinsed in warm water. Hung to air dry.     3 ply; 14 wpi; 6.5 tpi

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ready to wash
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A cool water wash


I made a test sample of Kate Davies Sheep Heid hat in some Shetland 2000 from my stash.  The hat was too small and a bit too thin for our weather and for the way I treat my hats.  Upping the needle size to adjusting gauge as suggested made a slack fabric that let too much wind through.   I spun some samples of the white Romney until I found a sport weight that increased the gauge swatch enough to increase the hat size to match my head.


I wanted the colors to have more pop and definition similar to a Scandinavian colorwork rather than Fair Isle’s softer colorwork.  I also wanted a more durable hat that would stand up to getting snagged by trees and being left in the backseat of the car.   I decide to spin a worsted, 3 ply.  The firmer fiber led to some puckering in the long float areas, but some of that was the way I wrapped the long floats.  I like the shine and the way the colors stay distinct in the final project.   I spun 500 yards of a lightly compressed worsted 3 ply &  separated the yarn into seven hanks for dyeing.

I also spun 25 grams of a naturally black Romney cross to use for the sheep legs.  The black Romney cross was spun in the same manner as the white, but it bloomed less during washing.  I decided stay with the slightly thinner yarn rather than spin a thicker yarn because I was worried about how floats from a rougher, firmer body yarn would sit.

 DYEING:

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I needed 6 dyed colors for the hat plus the two naturals

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Silver
Oak Acorns collected at Great Bear Park in Fulton, NY in November.  Put in jars to ferment.
1 liter of fermented acorns simmered in tap water for 4 hours then left to steep overnight.
Presoaked the 25-gram skein for 1 hour in room temperature water.
Simmered the skein in the acorn bath at 85C for 30 minutes, then added 100 mls of iron oxide water to shift the color to grey and simmered for 10 more minutes.
After cooling, washed the yarn in tap water and dish soap, then rinsed.

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Old Gold
Marigolds collected from my dyeing garden in Scriba, NY in October 2018.  Frozen until needed.
100 grams of marigold flowers simmered in 2 liters of tap water.
Premordanted the Romney skein using 4:1 alum to cream of tartar solution at 16% WOG

25 gram premordanted skein simmered for 40 minutes at 85C.

This made a bright gold which I toned down by overdyeing it with the acorn exhaust.  The yarn simmered at 85C for ten minutes.  Cooled then washed and rinsed.

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Check out this nifty paint strainer that fits in a 5 gallon bucket.  It makes a perfect strainer to pull out most of the dirt and debris as well as the plant material.
Brown
Black Walnuts collected from Greenwich, NY in October.  Put in plastic bags to ferment and decompose.
2 liters of black walnut sludge to 2 gallons of water. Simmered for 4 hours at 95F, heat reduced to 80C and simmered for 6 more hours.  Left to steep for 24 hours.  Dye solution poured off from the dye stuff and filtered to remove particles.

Yarn premordanted with alum using 4:1 alum to cream of tartar at 16% WOG
Yarn presoaked for 1 hour, then simmered in dye bath for 1 hour at 85C.
After cooling, washed and rinsed.

I’ve read that the dye is darker with more browns if the walnuts are green/brown when processed.  Other people suggest letting the walnuts breakdown before extracting the dye.  My guess is that if you pick up brown/black nuts, they have lost some of their color to weathering.  Some folks who use black walnut for dyeing leather go to walnut processing locations and harvest directly from the spoil mound which is quite dark and slimy- much like my fermented sludge above. 

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Celery Green
Queen Anne’s Lace- Green Mist

200 g of flowers and leaves simmered in 2L of tap water for 1 hour at 75C, steeped for 3 hours.

Filtered the dye stuff from the bath.

Presoaked a 25 grams skein which was premordanted with 4:1 alum to cream of tartar at 16% WOG

Simmered skein in bath for 45 minutes.  Let cool in bath, then washed and rinsed.

Wine

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Cochineal
Ground 3.75 g of cochineal and mixed into 2L of distilled water.  Simmered at 90F for 1 hour.  Filtered bath to get dye stock.

Presoaked 25 skein of  premordanted wool with 4:1 alum to cream of tartar at 16% WOG.  Used first liter of the dye bath to simmer premordanted yarn for 30 minutes at 90F.  Heated and then added second liter of dye bath and shifted the pH to 4.  Simmered for 20 minutes.  Added iron oxide water to the bath until the bath shifted to the wine color needed.  (125ml)    Simmered an additional 10 minutes.
Skein cooled, washed and rinsed.


Bright Gold

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Dyer’s Coreopsis collected from house garden in Scriba, NY in October 2018.  Frozen until needed.

100 grams of flowers simmered in 2 liters of tap water.  Filtered plant material from dye stock.
Soaked the 25 g premordanted skein for 1 hour.
Premordanted skein with 4:1 alum to cream of tartar solution at 16% WOG

Simmered yarn in dye stock for 40 minutes at 85C.  Allowed to cool in pot.
Washed and rinsed.

KNITTING:

I needed a larger hat but I also wanted to have the hat more fitted than the slouchy tam shape.  I went up a weight in yarn and kept the needle size as called for.  Additionally, I added two extra rows to the body of the sheep and an extra row in the brim.  This made a nice, beanie shaped hat with a soft rather than fitted top.

Notes for next time:  keep the floats even more irregular behind the ewes.  

COLOR CHART:

Edging:  Silver – acorns Band:  Old Gold –   Marigold overdyed with acorns Sheep legs: Black-   Natural black Romney cross Sheep bodies: Black walnut brown Sheep faces:  Natural white Grass:  Queen Anne’s Lace Chain outline, Rams, & Diamonds:  Wine- Cochineal
Star on crown:  Bright Gold- Dyer’s Coreopsis

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Braid:

Used 2 strands of each color then tied the braid into a barrel knot.