Episode #3 Viking Crafts and My Dyeing Process


Welcome to Ancient Threads Podcast, episode 3.  Today is Sunday, February 7, 2016


The past few weeks I have been taking a break from knitting to concentrate on some other crafting projects. 

Viking knitted or wire woven jewelry also called trichipololy). http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2010/03/tutorial-viking-wire-weaving.html

 Wire woven wrist cuffs made of a silver wire (not real silver) with a copper wire core and dragon ends. 

Sorry for the out of focus photo, it was the best one I had.  



 I then pulled the chin through a drawplate of progressively smaller holes to “hammer” down and draw out the chains.    We then took the condensed or drawn tubes and put dragon ends on them and used an adhesive to glue on the ends. 

Since the event last week, I have been working exclusively on the Kilvarnen kilt hose and those are finally making some progress.  The knitting is much easier now as I have moved off of the top bands and am into the leg with the ribbing and the cable. 

Next I want to give my color affection some love and attention, it is going very well and I’m enjoying the knitting, but I’m just trying to get those kilt hose done as fast as I can so they are off my plate and I don’t have to worry about those anymore. 

Last Monday I was off from work and took the time to take out all of the stash and take some photos and start making some decisions if some of this can be destashed.  I have over 23,000 yards of yarn, or 13.355 miles of yarn.  I have over a half marathon of yarn.  About 14,000 of that is sock or fingering weight yarn that is 8.39 miles of sock yarn. 


Another project I have some plans for is some nuno felting.  Nuno felting is when you take wool roving or fiber and felt it onto or into a sheer fabric like silk. During felting, the wool fibers migrate through the weave of the cloth.  When the wool fibers shrink, the other fabrics shrink with them. The result is a wonderfully textured fabric that is light weight, drapes well and provides a beautifully finished cloth -- like nothing else you have ever seen.   I purchased a number of silk chiffon scarves that I will dye with a base color and then nuno felt them for gifts and personal use. 



 My first nuno felted scarf!



Dyeing content

1.      Use natural fibers-  natural materials, wool, alpaca, angora and other animal fibers.  Cotton, linen, bamboo and other bast fibers and silk which I always put in its own category. 

a.     silk and wool yarn I dyed years ago that had two plies, one silk, one wool and you can see what I mean. 

You always need to keep your dyepots and implements, measuring spoons etc away from your cooking materials.  Never dye in a cooking pot.  My process is as follows and it works for me:

2.      If the yarn comes in cones, I use my electronic skeiner to make 100 gr skeins and I tie them off using at least three ties in a figure 8 pattern. 

I then mordant the yarn, usually 8 at a time and I try to mix up the yarn if I have different types in a batch, so I will try to do either 4 of two kinds or two of 4 kinds. 

3.      Next I remove the yarn and let it drain out in the dish drainer until it is no longer dripping.  I then add the yarn to a gallon zip loc freezer bag. 

4.     When I am ready to dye the yarn, I’ll mix up several dye extracts (we will talk about those in the future), or make up a dye bath depending on what the dye in and I usually mix dyes in mason jars. 

5.     I may just pour the different dyes right into the Ziploc bag, mixing and adding different colors as I feel it.  Ill then add other colors in other areas to fill in the white areas, and Ill let the residual dye disperse as it pleases throughout the yarn. 

6.     Other times, if I want more control, I’ll lay the yarns out in a plastic underbed storage bin and control exactly where I pour the dye and control how the colors mix.  If I want something specific like blue as a major part of the skein mixed with yellows and greens, I’ll do it this way so I have great control on what goes where and how the mixing should happen. 

7.      Another way is for me to take the yarn out of the Ziploc bag and put the yarn in a pot of hot water on the stove and set it to simmering.  I can then add the dye around the pot in different areas and see what happens.  If I need to overdye I will often do it like this.  If I put in three colors at say 12 noon, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock, and let the pot warm up slowly, by the end a fairly uniform color will develop in the middle of the pot, where the outside will show a brighter more vibrant color where the dye hit it first.  You don’t want to do this with very hot water to start as the yarn will just suck up the dye where it hits in the beginning and the inside or underside of your skein will still be mostly white.  If I have been dyeing all day and I’m getting tired this is my go to

8.      Next steps.  If the yarn was removed from a bag, replace it in a bag.  Then in the dyepot put a few inches of water.  If you remember, I have a steamer basket in my dyepot, so I’ll add the insert basket and then place 5-6 bags of dyed yarn to the insert.  Put on the lid and turn on the burner to med high and let it get to a steady boil.  You want to steam the yarn and keep it steaming for about 45 minutes.  You can check on the water if you like to make sure there is enough, but I have never had a problem with that in this case. Usually one or more of the ziplocs springs a leak. 

9.      Once it has steamed for about 45 minutes remove the bags from the insert and put them in the dish drainer.  Once cooled enough to handle, you can remove the yarn from the bags making sure the number tags stay in place.  At this stage you can rinse it with cool water until the skeins run clear. 

10.    I then put them in a washer with the agitator removed to remove any excess water and then they get snapped out and somewhat organized making sure the skeins are tidy and the figure 8 ties are all lined up and then they go into the wool dryer until they are dry.  Every twelve hours or so, I will open the dryer and rotate the yarns to help facilitate faster drying. 

11.    Once the yarn is dried, it is resnapped out and labeled.  This is also when we name the yarns. 


Reading content-  Friend me on Goodreads link- https://www.goodreads.com/friend/i?i=LTM2MDE0OTc0MzM6MzYy


I finished off the last podcast with my end of year Goodreads list, and it has been a while, so here goes,

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith-

Through the evil days- Julia Spencer Fleming- #8 in the Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ VanAlstyne series. 

In the bleak midwinter- Julia Spencer Fleming- #1 in the Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ VanAlstyne series. 

Dashing Through the Snow- Debbie Macomber-

Purl up and dye- Maggie Sefton- this is 13 in the Knitting Mystery series (this is the accountant who knits- sort of knits anyway) 


The Silkwork-Robert Galbraith #2 in the Cormoran Strike series-

Pattern of Lies- Charles Todd- Bess Crawford #7-


Abandoned Books

Perfecting Fiona- Marion Chesney (MC Beaton)- 

The Monster in the Box- Ruth Rendell- Inspector Wexford #22-


Currently reading

To Darkness and Death- Julia Spencer Fleming- #4 in the Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ VanAlstyne series. 

Dead Certainty- Glenis Wilson-

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street


Atholl Brose





Episode 2- Will Winter Ever Come? & More Mordants



Welcome to Episode #2 of the Ancient Threads Podcast.  

Well, I finally finished the top of the Kilravock socks.

I also finished a hat for myself. The Claudia hat from http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Highlyn/claudia MJ Kim.


This gave me a little trouble until my friend Lorrie helped me out.

I’m continuing to work on my vanilla socks and I have cast on the Color Affection shawl from Veera Valamacki. I’m making this out of stash yarns, Madeline Tosh merino light in Neon Peach, a very bright orange with pink highlights.  

I’m also making this with a robins egg blue fingering from Mrs Crosby Hat Box in Spangled Cotinga, and a dark sapphire blue fingering weight in malabrigo sock, Cote D. Azure.

I’m looking at knitting a sweater for myself out of some light grey Shetland that I overdyed while on a dyeing retreat last Fall. This is a black and black cherry color and I only dyed 7 skeins of the yarn, so I have just over a 1100 yards in the dyed yarn, but I also have several thousand yards of the yarn in the original grey.


This yarn is a not a smooth yarn, but is rather neppy and a bit of a mess, very slubby. I made a cable knit sweater out it originally (the Portland) and I’m not thrilled with it as the cables just don’t show like they should. It was not a good choice of yarn at the time. With the yarn being so neppy, I really can’t sell it. The processor warned it may have issues and we had her go ahead anyway- what else could we have done with this?

I’m thinking of the Converge Pullover, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/converge-pullover, and making the sleeves out of the grey

The acer http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/acer

Or the Baseball jersey, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baseball-jersey-4

I’m leaning towards baseball as it was designed to have different colored sleeves.

I would go for stripes, but I just don’t do stripes, but there is Carabe http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/carabe

Or go totally outside the box for me and make boreal from Kate Davies http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/boreal-2

New Years Goals- knit a sweater. Other than that, I need to get some spinning done so I can make some naalbound projects for my Viking sponsors. Naalbinding

Another resource for naalbinding information, http://www.scarlette.net/sigridkitty/

The Dyeing Corner-

So, this week I wanted to talk about other types of mordants and assists their uses in natural dyeing. Today I talk about Copper, chrome and tin. Safety Note- always use separate pots and utensils for dyeing and be careful not to breathe in the fumes from dyeing, only dye in a well ventilated area and wear gloves.

Tin- Tin can give you clean and bright colors that are color fast. Tim can be hard to work with though as overuse can make the yarn hard and brittle. To mordant with Tin, add the wool to a cold water bath with 4 percent tin and 2 percent oxalic acid, then slowly raise the temperature to boiling and keep it boiling for an hour. If we are going my 800 gram example, that is 32 grams of tin and 16 grams of oxalis acid, or about 2 1/8 tablespoons of tin and 1 tablespoon of oxalis acid. Once the hour is up, remove the fiber, let it cool and then you can dye as you wish. You can reuse the mordant bath by adding back in ¾ of what you originally used.

Copper- Copper isn’t typically used as a mordanting agent, but it can be done. You can take about 2 cups of pennies and soak them in 3 cups of vinegar and let that sit for several weeks in a gallon water. I would then strain this through cheesecloth or a papertowel just in case the pennies had anything on them. Safety Note: The fumes are toxic, so it is suggested you do this next step in a well ventilated area! Take the copper “tea”, a tablesppon of citric acid and heat it on the stove and bring to a boil for 30 minutes, add your fiber, let simmer 10-15 minutes, drain (not down the drain) but into another safe pot or bucket for safe disposal.

Plants like azaleas and rhodendrons will love it. Let your fiber cool and then rinse it with vinegar. Your yarn may have a seafoam blue green cast. Then dye using your natural dyes - you can add a teaspoon of salt if you like, early dyers used this trick.

Or you can use those copper pot scrubbers form the market. Take 3 copper no soap scrubber s and simmer on the stove with 2-3 teaspoons ammonia and water (in a separate dyeing pot, not one that will be used for food). Simmer the scrubbers with the vinegar for a couple of hours , and remove from heat and let it sit for several days. Then add that tea to your dye pot along with citric acid and dye the same as above.

You can also just purchase copper crystals to use at 3% of your finished weight of goods. If we use my example of 800 grams of fiber or yarn (8 100 gram skeins), I would need just over 1.6 tablespoons of crystals, and then I would again add about a tablespoon of citric acid.

Chrome- Safety warning- chrome is known carcinogen and is not safe to handle. Chrome can add golden colors to your dyeing and does not affect the hand of the yarn, it leaves the yarn softI will only use chrome outside. Chrome allow you to get real blacks.

To use chrome, add chrome at a 2-4 % ratio, so again in the 800 gram example that is 1-2 tablespoons of chrome, and let it boil, add your fiber and let it boil for about an hour. Remove from mordant bath and let drain, and immediate dye immediately. The wool at this time should not be exposed to light as it will cause uneven dyeing. Special note, you cannot dump chrome mordant water down the drain, and you should not dump it in your back yard either, as it will remain in the soil. You should contact your state environmental authority on how to dispose properly in your area.

Cooking and Baking-

For our solstice Celebration I made:

Martha Stewart’s Cookie Press Cookies. These were ok, not great but ok. http://www.marthastewart.com/318844/cookie-press-cookies.

Lemon crinkle cookies from Laurens Latest, http://www.laurenslatest.com/lemon-crinkle-cookies/, these tasted really good, but they spread out too much, so if I make these again, I’ll ignore her advice on how to measure out the flour. I think adding in some white chocolate chips would make these even better.

Books I’ve read-

Recently finished

The Cukoo’s Calling by Robert Gailbraith, This book was quite good

I’m now listening to The Silkworm, the second in the series and I like this one too-

I also finished reading Front Runner by Felix Francis, this was also pretty good.

And, I just finished A Dangerous Place, a Masie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear. I don’t want to give out any spoliers here, so if you want to read the description, you can do so on goodreads yourself. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22693178-a-dangerous-place?from_search=true&search_version=service

It was quite good, but I missed the cast of supporting characters Masie usually has with her when working a case.

I also finished Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidant by Susan Elia MacNeal.

I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, worth the read. I like this series, not as much as some other ones, but enough to keep reading it.

Next on the list is A Pattern of Lies, by Charles Todd, a Bess Crawford novel.

Ups and Downs

Ups- it is Christmas week and so I will have multiple days off and will have lots of knitting and crafting time. My success in the 2015 reading challenge- according to goodreads, I read 33 books this year, and I know there are some books that I didn’t log, some because they just weren’t worth talking about and others I forgot about. My goal was 26 books and I am 8 books ahead of schedule. Also, Downton Abbey is returning for their last season On Sunday the 6thof January.

Downs- the weather! The weather in the NE US has been warm and wet, so we have not had any snow, and the temperature on Xmas eve is supposed be close to 70

I also found out recently that the Shetland murder series of books was made into a tv show that was on PBS last spring, and I totally missed them! So, I have been trying to find the DVD locally.

My GoodReads list of books for 2015-https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2015/5606513

Mr. Darcy’s Diary- Amanda Grange

Wings of Fire- Charles Todd

The Maharani’s Pearls- Charles Todd

An Unwilling Accomplice- Charles Todd

A Fearsome Doubt-0 Charles Todd

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century- Peter Graham

The Cater Street Hangman- Anne Perry

His Majesty’s Hope- Susan Elia MacNeal

A Test of Wills- Charles Todd

A Fine Summer’s Day= Charles Todd

The Prime Ministers Secret Agent- Susan Elia MacNeal

The Black Ice- Michael Connelly

The Search for Anne Perry- Joanne Drayton

The Great Escape- Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Call Me Irresistible- Susan Elizabeth Phillips

His Good Opinion- A Mr. Darcy Novel- Nancy Kelley

Royal Wedding- Meg Cabot

One Dance with a Duke- Tessa Dare

The Girl on the Train- Paula Hawkins

Death of a Liar- MC Beaton

City of Bones- Michael Connelly

Murder in Retribution- Anne Cleeland

The Burning Room- Michael Connelly

Concrete Blond- Michael Connelly

Paw and Order- Spencer Quinn

Lost Light- Michael Connelly

The Boy in the Suitcase- Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis

Murder to Go- Chloe Kendrick

A Bargain for a Bride- Amelia Rose

The Once and Future Duchess- Sophia Nash

The Cuckoo’s Calling- Robert Galbraith

Front Runner- Felix Francis

A Dangerous Place- Jacqueline Winspear

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante- Susan Elia MacNeal

Malice at the Palace- Rhys Bowen

Episode 1

Welcome to Episode 1 of the Ancient Threads Podcast! This week we will do introductions and begin talking a bit about what the podcast is going to be about.

I am Lynda Holt and my husband Tim and I own Ancient Threads Farm in Upstate NY. I talk a little bit about our history of farming and where we are now. We own about a dozen Shetland Sheep and really enjoy the breed for their easy care and maintenance, and the great spinning fiber.

This podcast will be a little about farm life, and my knitting endeavors, but really it is about natural dyeing and the tips and techniques that I have learned over the years in my dyeing business.

Lynda's knitting-

Currently I am knitting a plain vanilla sock out of a self striping in greens and pinks. I picked this up in the back room at Webs. I like to have a easy sock on the needles, and this is the current project. I like the toe up formula from Knot Another Hat. The yarn is Berocco SOX 1468 in pinks and greens. 


I also just finished the Saroyan scarf for a birthday gift for my sister. This was a great pattern and was a lot easier than it looked. I used Brooks Farm Yarn Riata in a beautiful variegated blue. Photos of my finished scarf can be found at http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Highlyn/saroyan-2.

I am also knitting a pair of Kilvarock kilt hose for my friend Kat. These are out of Knit Picks Stroll in a mousy heathered brown. I like the yarn, but the knitting is taking forever.

I talk about my dyepots, and what they look like, so here is a photo.


I also talk about how I keep track of what I am dyeing so here is a photo of my messy notebook (complete with dye stains!)


I'm playing with a few new dessert recipes to try and win the upcoming dessert contest in my office

Slutty Brownie Pie from Something Swanky. I did try this and it is really easy and really good, but it took a long time to bake and doesn't present well. Next I'll try Nutella Magic Bars,from Roxana's Home Baking, I jut have to pick up some hazelnuts.

Last I shared a few comments about Atholl Brose, I love Atholl Brose, a little sweet, super creamy and oh so good. Give it a try. I go this from Outlander Kitchen, a great site for traditional Scottish foods.

Talk to you soon,