Spartickes Dyes: July 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Today's Alpaca Adventure was in Fiber Form!

I finished the order of yarn and promptly moved on to the three bags of fiber that I had from the mill.  I forgot to take a picture before I opened the bags, but here there are empty!

I put warm water and a cleaning solution into the big cambro then put the dry alpaca fiber into it for a nice bath.  Each cambro will hold about 5-6 pounds, so if I have a big order of one color, I have to split it up.  I took this picture halfway through one of the bags, so there is about 1.2 pounds in this picture. 

I then mix the dye solution and add the alpaca fiber!  Each one of my pots will dye a little over half a pound at a time.  The tricky part is making sure I put an even amount in each one because if there is too much fiber, it turns out lighter than the rest of the batch, or if there is too little, it is too dark.  Another concern is making sure I stir it so all of the surfaces are covered.  I can't stir it too much, though, because alpaca likes to felt!

Next, I put the fiber in the pot, turn up the heat, and put on the lid.  The lid is important because the steam helps set the color into the fiber.  I try to exhaust the dye solution (making it clear when I take it out), but sometimes I don't have time to wait for it if I'm dyeing a lot.  Or, sometimes the dye solution is just plain stubborn (BLUE!!!!).

This was a small order-there were three bags of fiber, two of them were 2.4 pounds and one was 2.2 pounds.  The usual turn around time is 2 weeks.  I received this shipment last Saturday, so it has already been 8 days.  Lucky, I finished almost all of the fiber today. 

I enjoy dyeing yarn a lot more than I do fiber.  I don't have very much experience dyeing any fiber other than alpaca, but alpaca sticks to my hands something fierce!  I don't enjoy wearing gloves (although I'm going to invest in some kitchen type gloves and see if I like those more), so my hands inevitably get stained when I dye fiber.  I usually use a squirt bottle to apply dye when I transform yarn, but when I take on fiber, I submerge it in a dye bath, and I always feel like I need to swish it around with my hands even though I have tongs dedicated to such purpose!  Also, when doing batches larger than this, I have to handle so much at a time, that it is hard to keep it off my clothes.  My husband has a beard, and even though he does not help in the dyeing process, he finds patches of alpaca fiber in his beard from time to time!  It literally takes over the house!  Don't get me wrong-I still love it!  I just love yarn more!

Since it is well past dark, I will take a picture of the rest of the yarn and the fiber drying in my backyard for y'all tomorrow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dyeing All the Alpaca

I am fortunate enough to dye for a local alpaca mill.  Although the mill is small, it keeps me quite busy.  They have over 100 alpaca on their farm, but they also process fleece for other businesses (and non-businesses as well).  Sometimes, they send me fiber to dye, then they take it and spin it into yarn.  Sometimes, they make the yarn then send that to me to dye.
Today's efforts were focused on yarn.  Wanna take a peak at what I did today?

"Soft Blues" In the Dyepot
Sorry it's dark and sideways, but here's "Kelly Green," "Turquoise," and "Soft Blues" hanging out to dry in my backyard.  (No-I will not give you my address!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Works in Progress Wednesday

For today's WIP, I've brought out a KAL from March.  It was hibernating because I messed up.  It's a lace shawl, and I kept counting wrong.  I tried tinking it back, but I still kept coming up with the wrong number of stitches.  I was most of the way through the second clue of this mystery KAL (of four).  Since I did not have a lifeline, I didn't see any other choice!

I'm really enjoying working with Picnic Knits' (Corina Ferguson's) pattern.  I think she is a brilliant designer.  I've been learning a lot.  I realize that there isn't much for you to see in the pictures, but hopefully you will get a better idea of the design next week!  

The yarn is my own.  I dyed my liberace base (75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, and 5% GOLD stellina) then overdyed it.  It is a one of a kind colorway from when I was trying to dye up the kits for the Zombie Knitpocalypse shawl that Swordofaknitter designed for the awesomely fantastic retreat put on by the Stockinette Zombies last month.

Evadine by Corrina Ferguson (excuse the hair on my keyboard-would you have noticed it if I hadn't pointed it out?)

I'm sure the beer will make this go around a lot more successful than the first....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wizard of Oz Yarn & Project Bag Club

Exciting things are on the horizon! I had so much fun and learned so much from my first club. I can’t wait to start another one!
I’ve been dreaming up the colorways for months, and I’m now ready to announce the Wizard of Oz club!
The club includes your choice of yarn: either my Will and Grace sock weight or my Joss Whedon worsted weight. Each month, you will receive 1 skein of yarn (you don’t have to pick the same weight of yarn the whole time). I will also make one project bag and send it along with the yarn one of the months.
The colorways will be exclusive to club members. I will not put them up in the shop, but I might make them available where I vend in person-3 months after the colorways are introduced.
Cost of the club, including domestic shipping is $105-that includes 3 skeins of yarn, 1 project bag, and shipping to the United States. Please contact me for international shipping prices. (15% discount for anyone who has been in the Winnie the Pooh Club or County Fair Club!!)
To sign up, just let me know here-or you can email me at I’ll send you an invoice when sign ups are completed. I want to keep it small, so I am limiting sign ups to ten right now. The first ten people to sign up are guaranteed a spot in the club. If more than ten sign up, I will use the random number generator to select five more people.
Check out to see examples of other yarn colorways and project bags.
Shipments will be at the end of each of the following months: August, September, and October. I prefer for the total to be paid up front, but I am quite happy for you to make payments.
Sign ups begin NOW and will close July 31, 2013.