Branden was out of town for work this weekend, which left me to my own devices. An empty calendar meant that I was free to play with fiber for two whole days.

It’s not unusual for me to have a lot of fiber time on the weekends, but this time I went even further. The house was not cleaned, I survived on scrambled eggs and whatever leftovers I could find in the fridge, and pretty much nothing got done except fibery things. That is very unusual. It’s probably been a year since my last do-nothing-but-what-I-feel-like-at-the-moment weekend.

And I felt like playing with fiber. On Saturday, I made color:

We’ll take some decent pictures this weekend, and I’ll tell you all about them then. But for now, look at the pretty blue-greens!

On Sunday, I made more color:

Those are the browns and greens for the fall colors sweater. I hope. They hadn’t dried yet when I took the photo, but I think the colors came out all right to match the red/orange colorway.

I had forgotten how much work it is to dye large quantities, and how much dye it takes. That was some thirsty fiber! I made more dye than I thought I’d need, and then I went back and made twice as much again. I even ran out of two colors in the process, which just doesn’t happen in my overstocked studio. Never fear, though – there is more on order. (And it turns out it’s a lot cheaper to buy the 8 oz tubs of dye than the 1/2 oz jars…I will never run out again!)

Ironically, I realized while calculating how much fiber to dye that I am probably going to have a lot of extra yarn for this sweater if I use the current design. I dyed a few ounces more than I expect to need in each color (better to be safe than sorry), and with a colorwork body I will probably have extra of the red/orange, too. I think I’m ok with extra yarn, though.

I’ll probably hold aside 4 oz of the brown and green, and post them to the shop if I end up not needing them for the sweater. That puts me at risk for another sweater of going back and spinning more, but I think I’ll make it without using up the buffer. I guess we’ll see how the yardage is adding up when I spin it. I am very pleased with how evenly the colors are distributed on the fiber, so I should get fairly even “dyelots” between skeins when it’s spun up.

Unfortunately, it takes forever for wool to cool after dyeing. After I apply the dye, I bundle the fiber in plastic wrap and steam it in the dyepots for 30-40 minutes. Then the pots need to cool. Slowly. Without being disturbed. I usually leave them overnight and rinse in the morning. If I finish dyeing by 1 or 2, I can sometimes get the rinsing in before bedtime, but it takes a very long time for the wool to cool completely. The only times that I have felted fiber is when I rush this step, and it is very hard not to rush this step. (You can’t see the colors until you take the fiber out to rinse, and it is very hard not to peek at the colors.)

Finn appears to be especially finicky in this regard; I have only mildly felted roving once in my dyeing career, except for Finn. I lose at least one colorway each time I dye, it seems, even when I treat the Finn exactly the same as all the other fibers that I dye in the same batch. Of course, what I call felted isn’t unusable. It’s more pre-felted, I guess.  The individual fibers don’t really stick to each other; they just get a little coarser, and sometimes catch a tiny bit while drafting. I suspect that the scales have started to open up, but that the actual felting hasn’t begun. It’s usually just a tiny bit around the very outside layer, but it’s enough of a difference that I won’t sell that roving, and it gets put aside for future use. (It also happens to mean that my private stash of Finn is doing quite well, which I suppose is a plus.)

Since I didn’t want a huge addition to the slightly pre-felted Finn collection, I left the dyepots overnight (I didn’t even open the lid to peek!) and snuck in a few minutes at lunchtime today to rinse the fiber. I finished dyeing at 3:00 yesterday afternoon, and I thought I could still feel a tiny bit of heat in the very center of the bundles today at noon. Wet wool is a good insulator indeed.

I’m itching to get started on the spinning, just as soon as the fiber finishes drying. Our basement dehumidifier does a pretty good job, so it should be done by tomorrow.

Since I need to get back to spinning for the fall colors sweater, I started looking about for another project to put on the needles next. I’ve begun sketching and swatching for a sweater from the yarn I bought at Stitches:

I am very excited about that, but it’s enough to be a whole ‘nother post, so we’ll get to that later.

The second sleeve of the Falkland sweater is halfway complete, and I finished charting it out so that I can use this sleeve to test the increase section.  It’s like real documentation…scary thought indeed.

And then, last night I began winding a warp for the next project to go on the loom. About halfway through, I realized that I’m going to run out of yarn. This really surprised me; all of my previous experience suggests that cones are magically endless sources of yarn. But not this time. Looks like I’ll need to order more before I can get any further on that project.

Turns out I got a lot done for a weekend of doing absolutely nothing. Now I just need to catch up on that cleaning…