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Crafting For Those Dedicated to Experimentation

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Dying

First Class Down, 13 more to go!

My First Dyeing class was a runaway success.  The techniques and materials were simple enough that the students had no problems following along.  Everyone’s wool turned out bright and beautiful, the results were phenomenal.  I hope that every class is as enthusiastic, cheerful, and helpful.  The questions being asked proved that the patrons were there to learn.  I am so excited for the rest of the Classes.  Dyeing Wool Handout contains the methods that I taught to dye fibers easily using materials found in a kitchen.  There are a million other ways to dye fiber, so do not take this as gospel.

 

First Class, First Week in June

For the first class I am teaching in June, 2 hours long, I hope to mention how eco-friendly wool is (sheep are not harmed in shearing); and cover some aspects of color theory while emphasizing that this is only the beginning of our wool journey not the end by any stretch of the imagination.  Since I am also planning on the students dyeing some wool and having a blast this is a lot to cover in just 2 hours.  A lot of preparation has gone into this class, so wish me luck!

I’m Such a Card

I, very happily, carded a couple of batts from the fiber I dyed.  I have named the Pink Batt ‘Stormy day in a rose garden’ while the other batt is ‘Sunrise’.  Both batts are entirely compromised of wool.  Stormy Day was carded once while Sunrise was carded twice.  I love the look of each batt.  I am planning on spinning the batts and wet felting small portions of each.  I will show off my progress as they are completed.

Happy Crafting

Easter Egg Dyeing

I had an absolute blast with my leftover Easter Egg Dye!  Since there was so much color left over in the cups I decided to use that water to dye some fiber.  My black turned out phenomenal and the others gave me such beautiful marbled effects.  I am very pleased with how everything turned out.  The eggs turned out well too, you can see the black one next to its corresponding fiber.  I had such a blast, Happy Easter!

Dyeing with Depth

I am having so much fun with dying techniques!  These are my first  4 attempts at dyeing with depth, using more than one color before putting in my main color so that the main color stands out more than it would have.  The first two braids, that I think of as Crows and Ravens are red & blue with black as the main color.  The reds and blues struck the fiber more than I thought they would leaving little room for the black to attach, I think I will have to use less of the first two and perhaps a professional black if I want to try this again.  The yellow is a light yellow overdyed with a stronger golden yellow.  I like the effect, it gives the yellows some depth without muddying things up too much.  The reds were an interesting experiment, between my cake frosting dyes, and my regular dyes I had about 3-4 shades of red/pink.  So I used all of them, the end result was supposed to be a strong red with pink undertones/depth.  Things didn’t seem to be working too well until I remembered a piece of advice where they said to use a contrasting color to emphasize the main color, so with a hope and a prayer I put in a drop of blue.  Much to my shock the red started to pop and the overall effect is that the colors deepened quite a bit.

I am very happy with these results and look forward to my next dyeing day!

Happy Crafting!

Dyeing For Color

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I have to confess, this wool is so much softer than it looks.  All of these pieces of wool are dyed using either Liquid or gel food dyes as well as a combination of Alum and Cream of Tartar as a mordant.  I do enjoy how the colors have turned out, they are not as brilliant as I would have liked.  I did find out with the last batch of yellow I did, if I pre-mordant the fiber and cook up the dye bath in the mordant and use about half a container of the color then the colors come out very rich, the bottom two golden yellows.  The yellow right above was first dyed in Hibiscus Tea (a variety that was quite sharp though I usually prefer hibiscus tea).  This particular blend of tea is a very sharp red and initially turned the fiber a beautiful Burgundy…alas all of that color just ran right out of the fiber when it was taken from the bath.  The result was a very faintly beige color, you know that shade of eggshell where you are staring at it and saying “it isn’t quite white but it isn’t really anything else either.”  So I overdyed by plopping this fiber into a pot that I thought was exhausted (it wasn’t) and turned out to be very pretty and rinsed clear.

I am really happy with my experimentations.  If I get particularly brave this afternoon I might try to fill out cards with what information I have for them and start a dye dairy.  At the absolute minimum I intend to finish dyeing my fibers using the Wilton Cake Dye kit I obtained and Alum Mordant so that I have a wide Pallette of colors to play with.  If sometime this summer a yen takes my fancy I might look into obtaining some Jacquard dyes to get more colors.  I do hope to spend some time this summer and fall experimenting with plant materials and the dyes that they can create, how exciting!

Happy Crafting!

Progress, or not

So spinning every day was a great idea.  Unfortunately it did not take into account my being sick enough that dragging myself to work was about all I could do.  Therefore my spinning has fallen off track a bit, not irreparable though.  While I will not actually get 365 days of spinning this year, my goal was to take each month as it comes and deal with it that way.  January is sort of shot, I missed about 3 days, but I will finish strong and start up with February.

Speaking of starting up, Mom is almost fully recovered from her previous illness.  She has decided to see how many crafts she can finish with the supplies we already have laid in.  Essentially she has declared this her year of Stash Busting Crafts!  So far this month she has crocheted up 2 cowls from yarn she had on hand, I will put up pictures of those in my next post.

I have decided to accompany her on this quest, though for my major tapestry project I will need to purchase more wool in periwinkle, though I will admit to a desire to see how much of that project I can get done with the supplies I had already laid in.  (Warp threads, white weft, and some singles spun in periwinkle, with an addition of gold silk I hope to use to accent a particular portion).

I must freely confess I fear I am already making excuses for not following through, since my next thought is that I wanted to purchase some white wool to test dying techniques.  I suppose the best way of doing that would be to dig out what white wool I already have (alpaca, sheep, etc) and plan on using that to dye with until I have figured out which, if any, of the natural dyes get me the colors I want.  If the natural dyes don’t work the way I want then I will have just used some of my wool-stash anyway.  My next experiment is probably going to be centered around washing the batts that I carded containing ‘sticky wool’.  I am hoping that there is some lanolin or other processing oils contained in the batts that is making them sticky.  If that is the case then a good hot soak should loosen up the oils enough for me to wind up with a fluffy batt.  If not then washing with Dawn, if they start to felt then I might try to spread it thin and experiment with felting.

I am sort of excited to let the wool speak for itself and decide what it will become.  I am still spinning thin with the blues, now that I am feeling better.  So many exciting things going on!

Happy Crafting!

Dying Experiments Continue

I am not sure what is wrong with my water/wool/microwave but the methods that everyone else swears by don’t work for me.  During the summer I used Kool-Aid to dye some fiber.  Everyone swore that you had to use heat to set the color (which makes ice dying very confusing to me…), however I rinsed my fiber extremely well and have had no problems with the color running.  With my Drum Carder coming soon I dug up some left over white fiber and decided to pick up some dyes to experiment with.  There was a Black dye calling my name so I purchased it in addition to the same food coloring dyes I usually use.  (I do plan on getting some Wilton Dyes soon).

I went through my method of soaking the wool in hot water and vinegar.  The wool is wrung out, the water dumped from the bowl, the fiber put back in.  Next the dye, more vinegar and very hot water are added.  The wool is left to soak up as much dye as it can.

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In this case I decided to microwave the fiber for the five minutes recommended, however the fiber began to boil before it was well into the third minute, when it began to splatter in my microwave I decided to discontinue the experiment and pull the fiber.  After it cooled down and took as much dye as it seemed it would I rinsed the fiber, and rinsed the fiber, and rinsed the fiber.  After a great many rinses the dye stopped coming out and the results were…well disappointing.

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The coiled Brown/Purplish things at the top right are my ‘black’ fiber.  Oh well, the fibers that I overdyed with Yellow are beautiful, since I skipped the microwave the colors seem more vibrant.  The multi-colored batt at the top left should make a beautiful base for my first ‘official batt’ and I am very excited.  That piece was hemorrhaging dye until I soaked it with some pure vinegar, after that the color decided to stay put.

I am positive that most people have great success cooking/boiling/steaming their fiber.  I am certain that they have tried these methods without the heat and have had the fiber return to white, retaining little to no dye, (still can’t understand how they ‘need’ heat when they dye with ice cubes, have to research that more).  My experiments have lead me down a slightly different path.  Perhaps when I wash a finished piece, not finished yarn I’ve done that with no color leaking, my experience will be different, but for right now, when I’m dying with those little bottles of ‘easter egg’ dye, I’m not going to use any extra heat.  Perhaps a bit more vinegar, but I’ll use hot water and vinegar to see how things turn out.

When I move onto ‘professional dyes’, RIT, Wilton Gel, I will revise my experiments.  Until then;

Happy Crafting!

Christmas Presents

I have ordered a Brother Drum Carder for myself for Christmas.  (mom is getting a set of stacking boxes with clear doors for her yarn stash, shhhh don’t tell her).  The Drum carder I have ordered will have 90 tpi, suitable for carding finer wools without damaging them yet coarse enough that I can card almost anything else I desire.  In an effort to get into the carding spirit I also ordered a pound of undyed wool.  I have played with Kool-Aid Dye in the past, causing the co-president of my guild to think I only like primary pinks and blues, but I have been hearing a lot about dying wool with Wilton and Rit Dyes.  Due to this desire to experiment, I am doing some research about other peoples experiments with this dye.

The first mentioned Rit dye and a few ‘glugs’ of vinegar.  Her experiment went well!

Love Knitting has an article about Wilton Food Dyes; Start by soaking the fiber in a vinegar bath, 1/4 cup to about 4 oz of fiber, for at least 20 minutes.  Pour the fiber, vinegar, another 1/4 cup of vinegar into a pot.  Add the color a tiny bit at a time and agitate to disperse the dye.  Start on low and heat up your pot of fiber, when it is at a simmer just before boiling take it off of the stove and let it cool down.  Rinse with lukewarm water until the water runs clear, then hang up to dry.  There are also some tips about painting yarn, I particularly find it interesting that sponges (along with a vinegar dye mix) can be used to paint the yarn/fiber to create gradients and variations.  Heat is still needed to set the fiber, so the author steamed the yarn for about 40 minutes in a steamer basket.  Though they mentioned that it is possible to microwave for 1-2 minute bursts for about 5 minutes to set the yarn.

Both the RIT Dye site and Wilton Food Site have information on how to use their dyes for coloring different materials.  I cannot wait to begin experimentation!

Happy Crafting!

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