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January 16th, 2008 Layne Stratton | Fashion
 

Project No. 14: Making Yarn—Part 4

     
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Last week was do-or-die in my yarn project, where I dyed two balls of merino wool in my kitchen with natural plant dyes. To speed up the drying process, I transferred the dyed coils from the basement to the backyard the following morning. This gave them a little taste of sunshine and fresh air.

The safflower petals I used in the dye bath were rusty-orange and red in color, so I assumed my wool would end up red. What this means is that I maybe DID just fall off the turnip-truck— my fresh cooked merino wool was yellow. With their bits of tobacco-y looking safflower mixed in, the coils resembled a pile of dirty blonde dreadlocks.

The wool also looked and felt suspiciously like, well, felt— wool that's been matted together by heat, moisture, and pressure. I shook the coils and beat them against the fence to get the safflower bits off, eventually resorting to picking them off by hand. I left a few of the shriveled leaves in for a "natural" look. It still looked nothing like the loose, fluffy wool people were spinning at the festival that started this whole thing.

I pulled a coil apart and it began to fluff up, but doing this by hand would take forever. I recalled a trip I took with my fellow Bluebirds; we visited a Navajo Indian Reservation near the Grand Canyon and learned about weaving. I probably earned a patch that day, although it'd be more helpful to me now if I had actually retained some knowledge about fiber and weaving. Honestly, I don't remember much, except it was hot, and we combed the wool with what looked like a dog brush. I very much needed a dog brush.

I made for Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks (8524 SE 17th Ave., 258-9276, abundantyarn.com) to get a professional opinion, and hopefully a "dog brush thing." I asked the owner, Heather Saal if I had made felt. She said my wool looked lovely and that it would spin fine. She also invited me to Open Spin, which they do every Wednesday, for a little help with the next step. Being so entirely focused on the dyeing so far, I had forgotten everything I learned from Meri at the Fiber Festival about spinning. I made a date to come by the following week.

Next Week: VIVA Industrialization!


Made is a weekly how-to advertising-sales feature that focuses on D-I-Y projects and the local businesses that can help you make them.
 
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