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Archive for the ‘dyeing’ Category

I set up my Weck electric canner last week for the first time – in my case it is a Weck electric “dyepot”.  This thing is wonderful.  It is heavy gauge stainless steel, has temperature control and a drain spigot:

Weck dyepot

The project at hand was to overdye a woven shawl and a handknit shawl.  Both were originally made using a colorway in the New Zealand handpainted yarns I get from Fiber Trends, in a colorway not too many people besides me seem to like.  The company has changed dyers now, anyway, and I am not sure this color will be available anymore.  So anyway, I overdyed the two pieces, which were a yellow-green-grey-taupe mix, with about 60% blue and 40% violet at a DOS i.e. depth-of-shade of 0.75.   I was aiming not to completely obscure the color changes in the original yarn, but transform it to a blue green overall color.

The domino wrap, before and after:

domino wrap before dyeingoverdyed domino wrap

The woven shawl, before and after:

Sagebrush with wool handpaintoverdyed shawl

On the knitted wrap, I really like the way the mohair boucle and brushed mohair domino squares took up the dye a little differently from the plain wool squares.  It’s just a lot more interesting looking, besides being a better color.

As long as I am tooting my own horn, let me add that the knitted wrap is my own pattern which I call the Fats Domino Wrap.  I have been selling it with the yarns, which I get wholesale from Fiber Trends, as a knitting kit, mainly up at the Ashford Gallery in Winthrop, WA.  Fiber Trends is also promoting it as the Fats Domino Wrap/Shawl Kit with Pattern.  Fiber Trends is wholesale only, but you can order it through this link and it will be fulfilled by one of their participating retailers – the one nearest to you, I believe.  Fiber Trends provides a wide range of knitting and felting patterns under their own label, plus the full range of Naturally yarns from New Zealand, including the handpainted yarns I have used in the kit.

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Dye Days in Preston

Last weekend I went over to the coast for a fiber dyeing workshop out in Preston.  The goal was to create a notebook of dye samples using Judith MacKenzie McCuin’s dyes (“Mother MacKenzie’s Miracle Dyes”).  These are professional quality acid dyes used to dye protein fibers – “acid” means they require a slightly acidic solution to work, not that they are acidic themselves.  Once in solution, they have no demonstrated health risks and require only common household vinegar and no other additive chemicals to work.  So these are the dyes I have been using myself, but faced with bottles of stock solution of the 9 basic colors, it is often hard to figure out how to get started in creating the colors I want for a particular project.

The idea was for each workshop participant to choose a selection of 3 of the 9 colors and then dye 36 samples with ratios of each color varying in increments of 10%.  This would show the range of colors possible using those 3 dyes, and as a bonus each of those colors seem to work well with each other, so it makes it easy to set up a palette for a dye project.

The leader of the workshop was extremely organized and had our workstations set up with fiber ready to dye, the stock solutions all mixed up, and any other tools we needed besides the bowl we each brought to mix colors in.  We had a chart that showed the 36 combinations and how much dye to measure out for colors A, B and C for each combination (plus water and vinegar) for the amount of fiber in each bundle.

dye sample skeinsThe fiber bundles contained 12 strands each of Cascade 220 (a basic wool knitting yarn), a laceweight wool/silk and a fine spun silk.  Each type of fiber takes up the dye a little differently.

Here we are spending the first day measuring out dye, water and vinegar, immersing our little bundles and mushing them around, wrapping them in plastic wrap ready to be steamed (the heat sets the dye).

dyeing the samplesAfter the bundles were steamed and cooled, we had to unwrap them and rinse them 3 times, then hang them to dry.

dye samples dryingYou think that was a repetitive task?  But wait, there’s more!  The next day we spent taking apart each bundle and tying 3 strands (one wool, one silk/wool and one spun silk) of each color onto 10 pre-printed cards.

dye samples pagesThis was a task that did not get finished.  I have some here at home that I am still working on, but eventually we will all get the finished cards with everyone’s samples.

Its was a great group of women, some of whom I have known for years, so as we sat there muttering “2.7 cc’s cyan, 0.5 cc’s magenta, 3.6 cc’s prime yellow” or the equivalent, we also enjoyed wide ranging conversations and lots of laughter.  Plus delicious potluck lunches.  And cookies.

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