I picked up the Majacraft Suzie yesterday! and have been practicing spinning on a wheel. It’s like learning how to spin all over again–learning how to balance the brake band against the wheel speed against the diameter of the yarn. I’ve been working at it a little while, will work on it more this week. I want to get to the point where I can control the wheel well enough to make the yarn I want.
I have also been making some modifications to the Suzie, mostly along the lines of bending the delta orifice to be more centered along the shaft. It was pretty badly off-center when I got it, and it took some work with a vise and pliers to get it mostly back on center. But the wheel now spins MUCH more smoothly.
I am also playing with natural dyes! I bought some marigolds on impulse yesterday, which of course meant I had to go buy some alum, and while I was there I might as well pick up some cochineal…well, you get the idea. I have skeined off about four ounces of yarn and am going to mordant, dye, etc. today.
I must say that I’ve gotten spoiled by synthetic dyes, though…the whole mordanting and dyeing process now seems so bloody involved that I almost didn’t even get started. Having done a lot of work with synthetic dyes now, I’m not convinced that the colors are really richer and more complex than with synthetic dyes…but we’ll see. I did go through an extensive natural dye “phase” back about ten years ago, so I do remember the beautiful shades you can get–I’m just not convinced they’re any more complex and beautiful than well-blended synthetic dyes. But we’ll see. I plan to do one skein of marigold, one skein of cochineal, and one skein of marigold + cochineal, to see how the colors blend. If I like the look of it, I may do some more extensive experiments, including (perhaps) some fleece dyeing. I have yet to figure out how to dye merino in the fleece without felting it, so the fleece dyeing is apt to be pretty limited.
I have also picked up a book on designing Celtic knotwork! I plan to use it in my Celtic-knotwork eggs, if I can find the time to work on them in between the other stuff. Fortunately work is pretty slow (and even slower now that I’ve given notice 😉 ) so I can probably break out more time than usual, the next two weeks.