Making good on the blog name…

Dyed a bunch more roving this weekend.

Ok, so it’s a “bunch” for me. ‘Cause you know, I live in a small apartment, and do all my dyeing in one-and-a-half pots and one-and-a-half baking pans.

But anyways, a bunch of roving! I also got a yarn done, it’s set, almost dry. Will be posted soon. I hope to be ordering beads for more mythic yarns this week.

First, Sweeney Todd was ridiculously popular. So I dyed a couple more. But um… it appears they’re all already spoken for. I think I have one more 2oz batch of unspoken noiled silk roving, so I may dye still one more this week, we’ll see.

Along with Sweeney, in a similar method, I dyed Bronze Dream, Winter Walk, and two more plies for Yingarna (a Mythic yarn).

Then I messed around a little with my serendipity method, named appropriately by the lovely Laurie. I made Golden Serendipity and Spring Serendipity (also called Christmas Candy) and then decided to see what I could do with it on some baby alpaca roving given to me at Rhinebeck by Pixisis, and came up with Sunset Serendipity.

And, for those morbidly curious, here is my fancy schmancy washing/drying facility…

Very state-of-the-art, I assure you.

All the roving posted here will be for sale. The Sweeney’s, I think, are spoken for, so if you want some, drop me an email. The Sunset Serendipity will not be up on the site since I don’t really like posting roving I can’t make pretty there. I’ll spin it myself into yarn for the site unless someone emails for it.

I’ve also got a knitting project underway, a crochet project on the burner, and the new yarn to post about. I’ll try to get information up on those shortly.

Also, I posted about acid dyes before. Any interest in fiber reactive dyes?

~The Gnome

That other “job” thing…

::waves:: Hallo again!

A special hello to anyone who’s wandered over here from the fabulous Tsock Tsarina’s blog!

Last night I made a new page, with the stories of the Mythic yarns. Check it out. Some of the stories still need a bit more fleshing out, but you can see what’s been done and why.

I’m going to be dyeing (and spinning) a bunch more this weekend (yay! a rare weekend these days I can spend doing what I like), and as soon as that’s dry, they’ll go up in the shop. I really wish I had more time to devote to this, as I’m still recovering my stock size from Rhinebeck, unfortunately, there’s this annoying “job” thing which pays my bills.

Currently, I’m spending a lot of time in the lab, counting thousands (yes, thousands) of yeast (one at a time too), which takes away from the time I’d like to spend on Gnomespun. If things go well, I’ll be writing and publishing my paper come January/February, followed by my dissertation. When that’s done… I will be Dr. Gnome! Also, I’ll have a much more predictable schedule with (hopefully) actual free evenings and weekends.

So until then, please bear with me, check back regularly, and I’ll get as much stuff up as possible!

As for the blog, I hope to do a post about fiber-reactive dye chemistry soon. Because, despite spending all day every day thinking about science… it still interests me.

Rats. I just realized I forgot to pack my lunchtime knitting. I’m designing a scarf. Because, well, I’m never quite happy with the options out there, so why not make my life more difficult? ::chuckles::

~The Gnome

Oh right, that fiber stuff…

So I promised you a fiber post. And here it is.

I haven’t had near the amount of time for spinning that I would like. I have a deadline fast approaching. If I meet it, I get to start writing my dissertation. If I don’t… well… lets not think about that.

But I have had some time for dying. Been messing with a few new techniques.

Here’s one that didn’t even get a name, or get put up on the site before it sold! [Edit: I have been, correctly, informed that I did name it. Due to the way it looked when first dyed, this roving was named “Frog Guts.” Pleasant, huh? ::grins::]
Sold Roving

And, using a modification of that method, “Autumn Serendipity” which is now up in the store. I like what I can do with semi-blended color.
Autumn SerendipityAutumn Serendipity

It should allow for some interesting yarns with a unified project “color” but still variegated local color. Essentially a multi-color vesion of a semi-solid. This one, “Soft Serendipity” I’ll be spinning myself (for the site), since the roving got pulled apart during washing so it’s not braidable.
Soft Serendipity

Then I decided to try using the method I used for the Mother of the Twelve Moons yarn Twelve Moons on roving, instead of yarn.

Not as predictable a result on roving, but I think I’m figuring it out, and I got some cool effects.

“Sweeney Todd” (yes, the Demon Barber, but if you prefer, Nightmare before Christmas). Up on the site.
Sweeney ToddSweeney Todd

And, the first of two or three roving pieces for yet another Mythic yarn, “Yingarna” using the same method.
Yingarna Ply One

That’s all the new fiber for now. Except for the roving for a new yarn, “Moss Agate.” But I’m keeping that one under wraps for now.

And, totally unrelated to anything fiber (unless that’s what you search for), Google has teamed up with LIFE to bring, all of LIFE’s photos since 1970

~The Gnome

Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Spinners…

::waves:: Hi! I’m not dead yet.

I counted several thousand yeast yesterday (13 hours, woot!). And will do so again today, in between a lab inspection, making MORE yeast to count, and measuring protein concentration in still more yeast.

But, in the evening, I finally finished… the sock. And I did promise you a post about knitting and fiber, didn’t I?

You see, in April, I learned to knit, thanks to the wonderful women of my Knit Night. Because I’m like that, I decided to start with a pair of socks. Note this is not the sock of doom, but in fact, a sock (Thuja) that showed up on The Yarn Harlot’s blog (I’m the one in the kilt near the end of the post). That pair of socks came out just fine.

My First Knitting
My First Knitting

For my second knitting project I did a scarf, the One-Row Scarf by the Yarn Harlot with my first handspun, so why not try something harder?

Well the first problem was that I wanted to make socks for Dad. But not just plain socks. I wanted a little ornamentation, but the socks still had to be masculine and wearable. Hrm. So I got some Wildfoote sock yarn in Tom Cat, and searched for patterns in my new Sensational Knitted Socks book (Charlene Schurch) and found a nice, “looks like cables” pattern, ok some new techniques, toe up, cool… I got started.

Unfortunately, I discovered that this pattern makes small eyelets in the centers of the “cables.” This is bad when you have a Dad with hairy legs. Doh.

I know… let’s design our own sock! Why not, right?

Hmm… why not add real cables? What’s one more new method in your third knitting project ever?

The cables were my first downfall. A good friend (and yes, I still call her that after this) tried to convince me that cables are much easier if you “air cable.” Uh huh. Someone else, with thicker, more sproingy yarn maybe… me, not so much. I’d go to cable and ZOOOM! My stitch would vanish down the side of the sock and suddenly I’d go from a cabled sock to a Clapotis sock. ::grumbles::

So I frogged, cast on again, and started again. Rinse. Repeat. Twice. Why yes, I’m stubborn, how do you think I survived Biochemistry?

So I finally gave in and went back to the cable needle. Slower, but I didn’t lose stitches. Hurray.

But then… then… without warning, doom struck. I started… to spin. Like spin a lot. The bug hit, and hit hard. Why knit in the evenings when my brain could take off in wild flights of fancy making yarns?

And so, this poor sock, started in June, has only just been finished. Note that I said sock. Singular. Yes. It’s taken me from June until now to finish a single sock. Blame spinning. It is evil and addicting.

So, the sock. It’s an ankle sock because that’s what Dad likes. It has four 4x4x8 cables (4 stitches wide, cross every four, then eight rows) that are inset in the surface of the sock (in a field of knit, rather than purl stitches) so they won’t press on Dad’s shoe too badly. This makes them less obvious, but I’m ok with that.

Toe up, short row heel, 1×1 rib for the ankle. Sewn bind off (thanks to EZ) which isn’t the most even ’cause it was my first.

Dad's Sock
Dad's Sock

Detail of Dad's Sock
Detail of Dad's Sock

Hopefully, with the other things I have to get done, I can finish the second sock in time for the holidays. Or Dad’s going to have one cold foot. His shoe is off, his foot is cold, he has a bird he likes to hold… or that likes to play with his moccasins, I can never remember.

Anyway, this is why…

Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be spinners.

They’ll never finish your socks.

Fiber update post soon. I’ve got some new pretty stuff.

~The Gnome

Nerdity, part deux.

Right, so yesterday I told you why your red turns to glop and your yellow won’t dissolve.

Which, of course, left you saying, “Well that’s great, but now what?”

Ah, now what? Now we discuss solutions.

The “easy” thing to do, would be to replace the water. Because water doesn’t get along with our yellow (and to a lesser extent, the red), because magnets like magnets, and our yellow… well it isn’t a magnet.

So, what would be easiest would be to make the solution the dye is dissolved in also be a not-magnet, balanced, hydrophobic (water hating) molecule. Unfortunately, hydrophobic solvents are generally highly caustic and thus not available. Things like… phenol and formaldehyde and benzene (Benzene is just those rings I showed you yesterday).

Ew. Even if your average dyer could get those chemicals, you wouldn’t really want your yarn/fiber soaked in gas, or flesh dissolving goop. Neither would these chemicals play nice with your green and blue dyes, which are hydrophillic magnet molecules.

So, we can’t replace the solvent (what the dye is dissolved in), and we can’t change the dye itself (since then it wouldn’t be yellow anymore). What can we change?

The answer is, anything that doesn’t affect the dyeing chemistry itself. Which means we can add quite a bit of stuff to our dyepot without screwing up the dye.

The most straightforward things to add are things which will interact with both hydrophillic magnet molecules and non-magnet hydrophobic molecules. So, molecules which have a balanced end and an unbalanced end.

These fall into two classes: Detergents and Humectants

Detergents. Detergents are molecules which have a hydrophillic “head” and a hydrophobic “tail.” Your laundry “detergent” is a detergent (in the chemical sense). And the way it works is by forming little groups around your hydrophobic dirt particles, tails (non-magnet ends) pointed in at the dirt, and heads (magnet ends) pointed out at the water. This lets you wash the dirt off with water.

“Soaps” are a specific kind of detergent scientifically called “surfactants” or “surface active detergents” because they have a higher than normal ability to wrap all the way around those little hydrophobic dirt particles, even if that means pulling them off a surface (you, your clothes, etc).

So, you might be able to add some detergent to your dye bath to help the yellow go into solution. The problem is that most commonly available detergents are soaps, which means they are really good at sequestering things (wrapping all around and not letting it touch anything) which can inhibit your dye’s ability to, well… dye. So, go ahead and add a little detergent (the naturally less foamy your detergent the more likely that it will help) but it may or may not solve the problem.

Humectants. These are similar in overall structure to your detergents. They have a hydrophillic and a hydrophobic end, just like detergents. The difference is that their hydrophillic end is REALLY hydrophillic. They don’t just get along with water, they actually hold onto it. The other difference is that your humectants are less able to gang up and “wrap around” hydrophobic molecules, so they won’t stop your dye from interacting with things. Basically, they can make believe that your hydrophobic molecule actually likes water. This is why they’re often called “wetting agents.” (Humectant, from the same root as “humid”)

These are overall a better choice than the detergents, and are fairly readily available. Glycerol and urea are the two most common ones. Urea is generally cheaper, but smells funny and in very large amounts can screw with things. Glycerol is a little gunkier to deal with but doesn’t interact with just about anything (beyond the aforementioned humectant property).

Salts. If you have especially soft water (lacking in calcium and magnesium) then a small addition of salt can help to increase the disorder in your solution, but it’s not likely to help a great deal unless your water is REALLY soft (if you scrub forever in the shower and that detergent never comes off you, same reason).

The short answer:
So, if you’re having trouble with crashing or goopification, try adding a little detergent. If that doesn’t work, try adding urea or glycerol.

Or, use the tried and true method of increasing your free energy and system entropy… put it back on the stove or in the microwave, and heat it up again!

And yes, for those of you wondering, I will post about non-science stuff. Maybe even tomorrow. I might even talk about… knitting! Or you know, that spinning stuff I do!

~The Gnome