Saturday, January 26, 2013

Melon Burst

Offered for your consideration: a "beautiful oops".

I had this idea to make watermelon rolags.  The theory was that I'd be able to spin a self-striping yarn in a colorway that would look watermelonish.  It's definitely "ish".  I may or may not tinker with it later; I'm kinda grumpy with it right now, so I put it in a time out.  I figured I could blog about it here and share what I felt was right/wrong, and maybe someone out there could build on this and take it somewhere 20% cooler.

Here's what I did.  I dyed up a bunch of watermelony greens and reds.

There's a crazy blend of wools in both colors, including Polwarth, Merino (64s and Superfine), Romney, Shetland, Wensleydale, Leicester, BFL, Jacob... Not pictured: the silk noil I dyed black (holy WOW does true black take a lot of dye!).  I also blended some undyed Merino/silk, Targhee and Shetland rovings (which looked like undyed roving, so no pic).

I know myself well enough to know that I WAY overestimate how much fiber I'll use for any given project, so I divided this lot in 2 before I even started.

Believe me, there was PLENTY!  I wanted a ratio of about 1/3 green and white, and the other 2/3 red.  I carded up the green first, being careful to make very thin layers so it would be well-blended and not too streaky freaky.

And then I did the same with the red in two batches (with a little help, of course).

And the white, which isn't pictured.  Oops.  Anyway, here's the prepped fiber, ready to roll:

Next, I prepared my blending board.  I had this idea in my head of matching rolags with equalish color blocks.  Since I wanted a good size yarn, and had prepped a substantial amount of fiber, I knew I'd be rolling several boards worth of rolags.  My eyeballing skills are pretty decent, but my "accept your imperfections" skills?  Not so much.  So I tried to preserve my sanity by marking the board where I thought I wanted the color changes to be.

I used waxed dental floss so the fiber wouldn't stick, and masking tape for easy removal.  I think I'll pick up some green dental floss next time so I can more easily see the lines.

I put a thin layer of "melon" down before I added the silk noil "seeds".  I figured this would help the noil stay in place when I rolled the rolags (and it did).

Once the noil "seeds" were placed, I filled in the rest of the melon.  I filled a bit too much, so I decided to just roll the whole thing off as a mini-batt instead of fighting with it.

Kiddo is not a fan of clothing beyond undies, even in the dead of winter.  Adds to the summery vibe, I guess.

The next few boards were more of the same, only less packed on.  Here's what I came up with in the end:

Not bad, and they spun up beautifully, but... not exactly what I had in mind, either.  The ratio of green to white to red is wrong.  The noil doesn't look seedy enough on the rolags, but I can't figure out what else would work (and it looks great when it's spun).  Oh well!  Process is important, too- not just product.  I will keep telling myself that until I internalize it.  ;-)

If nothing else, I learned.  I learned more than I'd expected, actually.  In addition to getting some longdraw spinning practice in, I gave that mini batt what for and threw it in the tub for a crash course in wet felting.  Silk doesn't wet felt, and neither does firestar, and it was not at all properly prepped for the task, but it made a fun, funky watermelon mat for the kiddos and redeemed what I consider an oops of a project.

Pics of spun yarn and felted mat to follow when they're dry.  Overall, not a bad day.  :-)


  1. Would love to see the spun yarn!
    What kind of carder do you have? Your bats are HUGE!
    A new follower,

    1. Hi, Martha! Thanks for joining me here. :-)

      I have a Fancy Kitty "Kitten" carder with medium (72/90 tpi) cloth. Depending on what I'm carding and what I'm trying for, I can get 4+ ounce batts off of it without much trouble. I have a great burnishing brush, and I'm not afraid to use it! :-) I've also found that applying fiber directly to the main drum rather than feeding it through the licker-in can make for bigger batts. Less "floofing", I think.

  2. I would love to see the yarn, maybe it looks better than you think! :)