Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Jasmine the Alpaca - Part 2, and more pathetic dyeing....

We've had a very busy few days what with the North Harris Agricultural Show on Friday (it was a really wet day so I only took Baggy the drake and his partner in crime as they don't mind the rain) and both won prizes so that was good and it also gave the ducks at home a day off from their amorous advances!

I also took picture of the alpaca blanket which I separated into 3 colours. The finest is the caramel colour, then there is a mid-toffee and finally a shade that looks very like the toffee popcorn we used to get as kids (maybe you can still get it now) - white and creamy with very light tan streaks. Yummy....
I have been spinning the darkest shade in the evenings, and took a rolag of it to our Crafts Fair at Tarbert yesterday where I had a relaxing day spinning, chatting and even selling things!!
The spinning wheel I'm using for this project is the Ashford with a jumbo flier. You may notice that I'm spinning with the large pulley which is more usually employed for twisting. This is because the tensioner broke off the wheel the second time I used it about 6 years ago, and there is a door-stop wedge jammed into the gap to keep the double-drive band at the right tension. It doesn't work on any other of the pulleys on the flier, so we just have to make the best of it. It does mean a few more treadles for the same number of tpi but that's a small price to pay for being able to spin such a large quantity at a time.
This is where I am up to now - I've two more rolags to go and think I might start another bobbin and make a three strand yarn. Ann said she was happy with a dk weight and since the quality of the raw fibre just screamed out for fine spinning I think a three ply might be just the ticket. It's very rare for me to do any more than a 2 strand yarn so I'll take some photos when its done. Of course, after this I've still got the medium and light fibre to do.. Then I'm just waiting for the post to bring a kilo of fabby pre-spun.... and then there's that kilo of gorgeous Falkland roving that arrived the day before yesterday..... oh yes, and the weaving - mustn't forget the weaving!
One thing I would rather forget is the dyeing. I am trying very hard to dye up some falkland roving to spin for samples for Breanish Tweed who are patiently waiting whilst I faff about in a most unprofessional way! I bought some slate black dye and followed the instructions to the letter and its come out a sort of very dark navy blue. Aaaaarrrggghhhh!!!! Joan, Help, help.
What am I doing wrong? Of course the photo is pathetic too, but you can take my word that it definitely isn't black.
Other, more cheerful, news on the poultry front. Our four little chicks who were hatched by the big Buff Orpington left home on Monday and are now at their new residence down in Luskentyre, South Harris. We wish them all the best. Then a Voorwerk sprang from the nettles the other day with two chicks in tow. They have moved into our final vacant run. The chicks are just cute - will get photos soon. One is grey with black wings and a tan spot above the beak.
Everybody else is thriving. Two of the chicks that went down to stay in the village earlier this year came back at the weekend - turned out they were cockerels! So they have joined the merry crowing throng at the Outend and are fitting in just dandy, especially around 5 am! We have promised two replacements from the current chicks - surely there will be a couple of hens?


dteaj said...

This is just hearsay, but what I've heard is that dyeing black is notoriously difficult and that any black dye will skew towards some color when in dilute form. Have you tried doubling or more the amount of dye you are using per weight of goods?

Thanks so much for your blog. Great pictures and commentary. It's a real insight into rural island life. Love the technical weaving details, too.

Scalpay Linen said...

Thanks for that dteaj - any help is very welcome. I will try some more tomorrow with double the quantities like you suggest. Glad you like the blog. S

Midsummer's Eve said...

If you want to dye black, and I mean really black, you should try the currawong from Landscape. That is really black black!!!!