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Fun in the sun

I was wandering the Internet on Saturday morning, and ran across Pippi Knee Socks, which led me to an article on dyeing in the Summer 2007 issue of KnittySpin, in which the author used a solar oven for dyeing, which led me to plans for a solar oven (by way of a page or two on solar cooking. This is a very simple solar oven constructed from two cardboard boxes and a few odds and ends. Highly inspired, I ran right out for black paint and oven bags! I did manage to resist the urge to buy something large so that I’d have a bigger cardboard box. (But see, there is an advantage to not taking the cardboard to the recycling depot often enough. Right?)

Making a solar yarn cooker is really quite easy. I spent about an hour and a half putting it together, including the time spent looking for a bottle of glue. The body of the oven is two cardboard boxes, one smaller than the other so that it fits inside leaving air space all around for insulation. Both boxes are lined with foil. The inner one is reflective, which makes sense. The lining of the outer one never shows, so it must be for insulation or reinforcement.

Solar oven boxes

The flaps on the outer box are trimmed so that the inner box will just slide in. Box one goes into box two, and the flaps are all glued together. Some crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the outer box provides a bit of extra support for the inner box.

The bottom liner is a separate piece, coated with foil and painted matte black.

Solar oven bottom

The top is removable, so it is made from a separate large piece of cardboard with the center cut out, and an oven bag glued on (because it can stand high temperatures).

Solar oven top

There’s also a foil-lined reflector plate. Mine is perhaps a bit too floppy to be very useful. The whole thing assembled looks, well, like I put it together in an hour and a half from random odds and ends. But it gets hot!

Solar oven assembled

I put an oven thermometer in with the roving. Within half an hour it was up over 150F. Then the reflector blew closed. What with the shopping and all, I didn’t get it finished until 4pm, missing prime solar radiation time. I left it all together overnight, and set it up today. In full sun, the temperature easily reached 200F. I was out all afternoon, but I think it probably got quite a bit hotter. The roving certainly got hot enough to set the dye (pics tomorrow).

This is how I spent my birthday.

Spun Gotland top

I got nearly half of the Gotland top spun. I’m going for fairly high twist worsted singles to be plied into weaving yarn. This is the most spinning I’ve done since moving back to Pennsylvania five years ago, and I have no idea why I haven’t been doing any since it’s so much fun!

2 Comments on “Fun in the sun”

  1. #1 Laura
    on Jul 3rd, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I keep wondering why I’m not doing more spinning, too–and I have to do something about that, so I have yarn to dye at the upcoming workshop.

    Solar oven–pretty neat. Can you cook in it? (I just got back from a weekend of lethargic camping.)

  2. #2 pippi
    on Jul 4th, 2007 at 7:11 am

    So very excellent!
    In all the roving cookers I’ve seen since the article went live, yours is far and above the best!
    All the time and care you put into it will pay off!

    YAY! The SUN!