Over the last few years I have been dyeing with natural dyes. In addition, NOBO has had an annual Dye Day in which participants bring different natural dyes and pre-mordanted yarns and we all dye skeins of yarn, dipping them into different dye pots. I almost always use Harrisville Shetland yarn for my dyeing. I love it!
So there I was with a pile of hand dyed, naturally dyed, Harrisville Shetland yarn. Plenty for a warp (which at the time I saw as being 5 yards long and 37 inches wide.) Besides, I was starting to have a problem with wool moths getting at the fiber. Below is a pile of my naturally dyed yarn, mostly Harrisville.
To prepare the yarn, I had to wind the skeins into center pull balls (cakes). That became quite a challenge. I would put the skein on my swift, and connect it directly to the ball winder. Then I would winding away and hit a weak spot (due to moths) or a spot where the yarn had partially felted while I was dyeing it and it would be a bit tangled. It took a while to do the first ball and lots of swearing and time outs to gather my patience back together. I finally changed my MO. I put the yarn on the swift and wound it onto the Weasel, from there I wound it into a ball. Though it was a lot more winding, it worked out better in the long run. Still it took nearly a full day to get all the 8 colors for my warp all wound up. One color just was too damaged and I rejected it – actually, I tossed it aside, aggravated (if you look below at the pictures of my sample, it’s the yarn on the far right selvedge that I ended up tossing aside).
The colors I chose for the warp were all light colors, mostly dyed at the end of the dye pot or with a weak dye solution. Many were dipped in Indigo after the initial dye – everything can be dipped in Indigo!! So, in no particular order the dyes were Tansy (from my garden), Cochineal (from Dye Day), Black walnuts (from a friend’s yard), eucalyptus, and I’m not sure what else since I took lousy notes.
Sarah Fortin had recommended a sett of 15 for the Harrisville, but then I got to thinking – always a danger! I had, by now, wound about 10 wraps of a 5 yd warp, and I got to thinking. She bases 15 epi on unwashed, un-wet finished Harrisville yarn. My yarn, had been washed and soaked in hot water and simmered and washed and rinsed; in essence it was already wet finished, it was already fulled. So, maybe a sett of 18 epi would make more sense. Maybe that’s what un-fulled Harrisville shrank to once it was wet finished.
It was now around May 25th or so and I decided to weave a sample; a 1-1/2 yard sample of the fabric. So I wound off 180 ends, using the warp yarns I intended for the final project. I chose some yarn I had, also hand dyed, for the weft, warped the loom and wove a sample.
Here are a couple of shots of the sample in weaving progress (note, I had a threading error). I had a few issues with broken warp threads (sigh).
This sample did 3 things for me:
1. I took one of the warp threads out of rotation for the final war since I didn’t like it in the sample warp.
2. I loved the weft color I used.
3. The sett of 18 was actually too tight, the sample felt more like upholstery fabric than jacket fabric.
I would love to say that I am now a convert to sampling, but, in this instance I sure am glad that I took the time to do the sample; albeit at the last minute.
Next – winding the warp. Yikes, it’s now May 31 – only 12 days left until the workshop.