Posts tagged ‘dyeing’
After my children dyed the eggs, they poured the leftover dye randomly over some wool roving that I had. I then smooshed it down (wearing gloves to avoid colorful hands) and set the dye in the microwave (8 minutes on high… rest for 10… another 8 minutes, then leave until cool.) The water ran clear, I rinsed once and let it dry. Here is a picture of the results, posing with a few of the eggs that we dyed:
Easter egg dyes aren’t as colorfast long-term as the professional dyes I usually use for my wools, but they’re certainly safe for use with children. You can also use wool yarn or fabric — or any animal fiber like silk, alpaca, etc. It won’t work with cotton or synthetic fabrics (with the exception of some nylons). Plenty of fun, and we have something to show that will last longer than the eggs (most of which are already eaten). Now to find a suitable project for the wool!
Have a most blessed Easter, everyone!
Spinning doesn’t usually top the lists of portable activities, but that’s starting to change with the increase in the number of portable spinning wheels that have become available in recent years. My personal choice is the Bee, by Spinolution, which was designed to fold down and fit under an airline seat! Lightweight in size, but not features: the Bee has a full range of ratios (1:4 – 1:36), and 3+oz bobbin, rocker-treadle, and open orifice, all weighing in at 13 lbs!
I recently returned from a wonderful mini-vacation, spinning and dyeing with Carol Lee at the Sheep Shed Studio in Wyoming (that’s Carol in the dyepot picture). I took my Bee along, tucked inside a 20″ rolling duffle along with my clothing. I made it through airport security without a hitch, and it fit nicely in the overhead bins as I flew from the east coast to Dallas, then in to Denver. I did gate check it on the final leg of the journey home in order to get a stand-by seat on an earlier plane. That went fine too, although I did have the bag packed tightly, with lots of padding around the flyer assembly. There is a custom-designed bag available for the Bee that will allow it to fit under an airline seat, but I wanted the wheels (and room for my other clothing), so the duffle worked for me! If you want more info on this wheel, please send me a note (I’m a Spinolution dealer and would love to help you out!)
Here are some more pictures of all the fun Bee and I had in Wyoming:
Last weekend’s shearing was just in time! The first two of this season’s baby lambs have arrived at Forevermore Farm! Debbie sent me pictures to share. Here’s Stephie II and her new little one:
And here is Brownie and her newborn lamb:
No, the babies aren’t swapped up – and I don’t have details on the daddies, but aren’t they both cute! (I may have to lay claim to that cinnamon-colored lambs first fleece!).
I have wool from both these mother sheep (last year’s shearing), already processed to roving. Brownie’s is already in my shop in it’s natural color, and I spent last Sunday dyeing up a some of Stephie II’s wool for my shop. Here are some dyepot pictures of her wool:
And do you remember back in October when I blogged about washing those two raw fleeces that I got from a different farm at the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival? I finally decided what to do with the white one (from a ewe named Maddie). I divided it up into small batches and dyed it in different bright tropical colors, to use for blending and lock spinning. Here are some of those fresh from the dyepot:
Here’s close-up of the chartreuse locks soaking — so yummy!
And that’s all for now!
Wool, silk, mohair, cashmere — all those lovely animal-based fibers are primarily made of proteins, and dye deliciously with acid dyes. Not horrible nasty acids that burn and corrode, but milder everyday acids like vinegar and lemon juice. Easter egg dye, powdered drink mix, food coloring — all are examples of acid dyes that work the same way that acid dyes for textiles work. Now, we all know that these everyday kitchen colorings wash out of our cotton and linen dishtowels easily, but stain our hands (’cause we are biologically animals just like those fibers that dye with acid dyes).
So, if you’ve got cotton or another plant-based fiber and want to dye it, whatta ya gonna do? The acid dyes will wash right out. These plant, or cellulose-based fibers, call for a different solution. These fibers require an alkaline environment for the proper chemical reactions resulting in permanent dyeing to occur. They types of dyes used for these cellulose fibers are called FIBER REACTIVE dyes.
A few years ago I was fortunate to stumble upon a source for 100% cotton children’s fabric remnants from a boutique line of children’s clothing (now defunct) that silkscreened their prints on the fabric, which was left white. The white fabric could be dyed without effecting the colors in the printed designs. You could even tie-dye it. It was a lot of fun – my children got some unique home-sewn clothing out of it, and I also sold the fabric on ebay. So I got a fair amount of experience dyeing fabric with fiber reactive dyes in the washing machine. So, I recently decided to get those dyes back out and try my hand at handpainting some cotton yarn.
First, fiber reactive dyes need high alkalinity to react and become permanent with the fabric or yarn you are dyeing. For this purpose, soda ash is added to the dyebath. If you want a uniform color (as in most of the fabric yardage I used to dye), you add this after the fabric has absorbed the dye uniformly. If you are tie-dyeing or handpainting something, you want the dye to immediately grab the color, and so you soak whatever you’re dyeing in the water/soda ash solution first. That is what I did with my yarn. I then squeezed out the extra water, laid the skeins out on plastic, and applied the colors with my trusty turkey-baster. Then, to give the dyes time to react with the fiber, I wrapped it all up and set it aside overnight.
The next day I unwrapped the skeins, which looked perfect, and began to rinse out the excess dye. The yarn should have taken up and reacted with most of the dye, but alas, I found that there was more dye to rinse out than I expected, and my final yarn was not as vivid as I hoped. I did some more reading on the topic, and I discovered that soda ash, if not in a tightly sealed container, will absorb moisture from the air and lose effectiveness over time. Aha – my soda ash was stored in a bag that was not well sealed — that would explain it!
I also found in my reading that the soda ash I bought through a dye supply house is chemically the same as PH-UP sold in pool supply stores – it’s sodium carbonate (not to be confused with sodium bicarbonate, which won’t work). So, a trip to the pool supply store is in order before my next cotton dyeing day. In the meantime, those first skeins, while not as vivid as I intended, aren’t half bad:
Don’t you think they would make pretty decent market bags?
There’s something magical about dyeing with acid dyes — it’s all in the chemistry (and I’m no chemist!), but it’s such fun to see the fibers transform, and watch the color disappear from the water. Done properly, you can dye all day, with a myriad of colors, and end the day with virtually clear water. Really.
Acid dyes are used on protein fibers – wool, mohair, and all the other animal fibers as well as silk. Nylon dyes with acid dyes as well. Acid dyes DON’T work on cotton, linen and most synthetics. There are plenty of directions and tutorials out there for how to dye with acid dyes, so I won’t go into exhaustive detail. I’m a rather free-handed, intuitive dyer, so there’s not a recipe for how I do it anyway. I will say that I use a turkey roaster as my dyepot (not one that I also use for turkey). I find turkey basters useful too, and I like to let colors exhaust sequentially, and layer color on color. It’s done when I say its done. (I cook this way too). The last two days I’ve cooked up a few goodies in my kitchen that I now share:
That’s a sweater’s worth of handpainted wool boucle hanging to dry, and shown close-up. Soft and fluffy, some of my favorite colors, this batch might end up as a sweater for me.
These next two are experients in overdyeing stripped, or brindled rovings. I’m calling these “sylvan” and “bonfire” — no doubt about which is which! My 7 and 9 year old boys just love the “bonfire.”
Then I did a test of overdying a roving with bits of silk yarn carded in. Here’s the roving – the silk bits, of course, took the dye too, so I’m interested in seeing how that translates into yarn:
Some of this might end up on my etsy shop, but I’m also gearing up for several festivals/shows that I plan to attend this fall. More on all that in a future post – in the meantime if you fall in love with anything you see here, let me know – I’ll list it, or make more!
Several months ago I heard of a new spinning wheel called the Mach 1, made by Spinolution in California(http://www.spinolution.com/Page_2.html) that seemed to combine all kinds of wonderful features that I’d been looking for, like huge bobbins and no orifice, with some new features like a rocker-style double treadle and toe brakes (brakes?) that were really intriguing. The reviews were great, the price affordable, and so I thought, “I’ve got to have one” — and even more “I’ve got to become a dealer if these wheels are as great as people say they are!” And so that is what I did! The wheel comes unfinished or with a basic finish, but the sellers like dealers to get the unfinished one and have the experience of finishing themselves. And so that is what I’ve been doing:
Here you see the partially-disassembled wheel drying from it’s second coat of tung oil. When that was dry, I got out the artist paints and dolled it up a bit. Those additions are still drying – you’ll have to wait for another day to see the final result!
I’m working on developing a line of spinning fibers with upcycled/recycled content, and today I spent part of the day dyeing roving to coordinate with a recyled add-in. While I have a drum carder, I want to have several pounds of four different fibers to offer, and so I’m getting it all ready to send off to be blended and carded into roving. I’m excited about the concept and the colors/blends that I’m putting together — I can’t wait to get it back, spin it up… oh wait, I haven’t even packed it up to ship yet!