Fun in the sun probably doesn't mean the same thing to me as it does to most people. This summer my fun in the sun has been to play around with solar dyeing. Usually I dye with Country Classics, which I love, but I have to take all the normal precautions: rubber gloves, special equipment, dyeing outdoors because of fumes, careful disposal of waste water. This year I wanted to try something a bit more natural and I also wanted less work. Call me lazy.
So I collected some pickle jars and tried Wilton Icing Dyes. You can eat them so no special precautions necessary. I have had SO MUCH FUN!! I've gotten some great colors too. I've even tried painting the dye on rather than soaking it and that worked too. Fortunately for me the sun has been cooperative this year, meaning we've actually had some. Here are pix for you...one shows some of my fawn angora in its natural state. Next to it is the same color dyed buttercup yellow. I thought it was pretty spectacular. The angora takes the dye even better than wool does.
That's my Nepalese drop spindle you see in the pic. It's a Golding Rob got it for me for my birthday this year. I've been spinning Merry up on it. The other pic shows the yarn in relation to a penny so you can judge the size better. It's not quite thread weight. I'm going to ply it to lace weight and make a shawl, I think.
This angora was shorn because I started off shearing my rabbits. But I discovered that shearing leaves a thick butt end that I don't like. It's hard to spin. Plucking, on the other hand, leaves the fiber in the perfect state to just start spinning and it spins like a dream. No prep required. Fits my lazy streak to a T. As a bonus I get to spend more time with my rabbits because plucking is time consuming. There are always one or two rabbits ready to blow their coats. I only have six right now but I pluck for an hour or more a week usually. Rob is always picking on me because I'm constantly covered in fluff. But I love it and I get to know my rabbits very well. Shearing is fast, but then there's no real need to handle the rabbits for 3-4 months.
Next year though I've decided to shear everyone no matter what state their coat is in at the beginning of the summer. (Or, rather, bribe Lucas into shearing them.) It's madness for them to carry heavy coats all summer because most of them don't pluck naked so their shortest coat is 1/2 inch or so. If they are sheared at the beginning of summer they will avoid carrying a thick coat through the summer and be much more comfortable. Then I can pluck all fall/winter/spring and still get lots of great fiber. And the shorn stuff makes lovely, soft corespun without a lot of fuss.
So, you know, just in case you were wondering about how I handle all that fiber. Yeah.