Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A study in wool and water

My husband always gets a kick out of when I say "I think I'll dye today" so casually as he's leaving for work. Yesterday was Dyeing Day, and I dyed every fiber of blue faced leicester I had in the house -- about 5 pounds. I enjoyed myself. I was productive. See?

I've been really enjoying the dyeing, and getting better results, since I got my big square roasting pan that lets me lay the roving out in longish parallel strips. Because I'm dealing with a square, not a circle (as in my giant dye pots), I do a sort of hybrid between immersion dyeing and handpainting. The big advantage of handpainting is that you use less water and so you can use colours that ought not be allowed to blend, right beside each other. The big advantage of immersion dyeing is that it's like a one-pot meal -- less dishes, easier to prepare. So now, I can use some of the more high contrast colour combinations while still not using a ton of saran wrap (required for handpainting) or crouching down on my back patio for long periods of time (ouchy on the knees).

Anyway, lots of bfl. I especially like how this one turned out:

I can't say it's quite exactly what I intended -- I'm still getting some dye pot surprises, most consistently when I use green. I'm having trouble managing green. It tends to split rather badly, no matter how much salt I use in the bath, and I'm finding that the yellow component kind of intensifies in the dyepot -- or maybe the blue part just isn't quite striking? I know, more acid, more heat, I'm trying. I'll get it.

And here is yesterday's experiment -- pure tussah silk, two 4oz batches of it:

When it dries I'll pull out a few fibers just to make sure I didn't accidentally tangle them up in the dye pot, then I'm posting them for sale. Me, I like to spin a more robust fiber (notice how I don't offer merino? I really dislike the stuff), but I think there are some spinners out there who would love to have some silk to play with.

Wish me a sunny day, and the fleece will dry faster and get turned into sock yarn.


MariHana said...

Gosh and golly, Kirsten, wish you were my neighbour--I'd be peeking over your fence all the time. At least we're in the same city :) I look forward to checking in often to see the latest pretties (both intentionals and accidentals) to emerge from the dye pot! See you at the next Farmer's Market.

YummyYarn said...

Sometimes I look out on my back patio and think, if some thief happened to know enough about fiber to know what he/she was looking at, they could make off with a couple hundred dollars of wool on my dyeing/drying days. I mean, the stuff just sits out there unattended for about 48 hours while it dries. I suppose pawn shops don't really take yarn, though, so "fencing" the stuff could be a problem.

Chris said...

I know this is an old post so you may not see this comment (?) but I'm thinking of getting into dyeing and spinning and love merino, so I'm curious as to why you hate to spin it. Its fragility? Does it break more easily? I've heard corriedale is easier for a beginner to spin, but I eventually wanted to move on to merino, so I wondered. Does it take dye differently from corriedale as well?

Sorry for all the questions. I just discovered your etsy shop and plan to buy some roving and handspun soon as inspiration. Thanks!