Monday, September 10, 2007

the dyeing

Yup, dy(e)ing comes right after the cannons post! Thanks, by the way, for all your suggestions and sympathy regarding Sally the dog and the scary loud noises. The best idea came from my uncle, modified by the professor. Pointer-sized ear muffs that deaden the sound. When those are produced commercially, y'all just let me know! I'm sure Sally will love wearing them! (hah!)

I've also heard from loyal readers that on Macs, some fonts are harder to read than others. I will try to remember that, but sometimes I alternate fonts to give my eyes a rest since I look at Times Roman all day long. (it's standard for my work stuff.)
Another informal tutorial:
On to the dyeing. I dyed some yarn. First, I weighed it. I had 8 oz of Icelandic singles, and 8 oz of bulky weight Romney-cross singles. I was aiming here for uneven yarn. Handspun's texture can make it very nice to work with-and it's not perfect because it's not from a machine. I can make perfect, but I usually just buy that in machinemade yarn.

Next, I immersed my yarn in a soapy water mixture. I used an old canning pot for this, because I am saving some of my Gray Water for our garden in this pot, since we've had such a bad drought. When the pot is full, I dump it on the garden and start again.

Next, I popped the 8 oz skeins into the dye, which is technically for 1 lb of material. I wanted rich and dark colors. I boosted absorption with 1 cup of white vinegar in each dyebath.

While it simmered, I ate lunch. Yes, in the same little kitchen. Many dyeing manuals prohibit things like this, saying to watch out for poisons in dye, etc. This is entirely true. It is one of the reasons why I don't dye with the more poisonious mordants (copper sulfate, for instance) or things that might spill and contaminate anything else. I generally enjoy these little solid packets of dye that dissolve in water and produce strong color without fuss. I do not use the water from the dyeing for my garden! For entertainment of the foodies who don't dye handspun, I ate:
leftover pasta, zebra and oxheart tomatoes, cucumbers from the farmer's market, marinated artichoke hearts and kalamata olives, along with a topping of fancy tinned tuna and a sprinkling of olive oil and lime juice.

It was good.

Next, I checked my pots, and to my complete surprise, the garnet red yarn's dye water ran completely clear. (this doesn't always happen.)

The mahogany dye wasn't clear, but the yarn was about the right shade. I took out the skeins of yarn, rinsed them, and spun them in the spin-cycle of the washing machine before hanging them up to dry.

I saved the rest of the mahogany dye and threw in a couple ounces each of white Romney cross roving and white alpaca. The colors I got there were stunning, but the photo just doesn't show it. The roving came out a deep brownish mauve, and the alpaca is a pinkish mauve, like the color of a gray-pink blossom. As you can see in this photo, I just can't catch those mauves well with my camera--I tried. I even adjusted the colors, but didn't work out!

Counter clockwise from bottom left--alpaca, Romney roving, Mahogany Icelandic singles, and Garnet Romney singles.

As you can see, dyeing isn't rocket science. We have enough science going on here that I'm very casual about my dyeing. Yes, I have special pots and a special wooden spoon just for dyeing. I wear an old flannel shirt of the professor's as a smock so I don't spill on my clothes. I put down newspaper or magazines to cover the counters so I don't spill dye and mark up the kitchen permanently. Otherwise? It's a fun afternoon of experimentation with vibrant color and vinegar odors in the kitchen.

PS: The follow up news about hate in our neighborhood is this:Leaders dismayed by recent signs of hatred Stream of graffiti aimed at Hispanics, Bosnians highlights cultural tensions felt across America

I'd like to celebrate the start of 5768 (the Jewish New Year) with a big sign in our yard that says "Hate is NOT an American Value..." but even the sign would draw negative attention. Please, everybody? Love your neighbors...and remember, unless you're a full-blooded native American? Your family were immigrants once, too. I know I may be preaching to the choir here but Oy. This scary and unkind stuff makes me so sad.


Blogger Peggy said...

Lunch looks awesome. Maybe I should have let you feed me the day I was over. :) Wow, the dyed yarn is gorgeous!!!! I love how it all turned out. What type dye do you use?

September 10, 2007 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Peggy, I use this Putnam dye which I'm not sure is being made any more. The professor buys it for me from American Science and Surplus (it's online)--you can get a color assortment there. Other kinds I like? Cushing's dyes are good, and come in a lot of colors, but they are powdered, so there is a moment when the powder isn't dissolved yet...slightly messy. I'm not very high tech about this! I also do a few natural dyes, but I'm no dyeing professional!

September 10, 2007 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Laura A said...

That is a gorgeous red!

One day, I'll be brave enough to dye. I really, really want to.

September 10, 2007 at 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you know, if you want pointer sized ear plugs, go to a good tack store (horses) or go online and look for horse ear plugs. There are closed cell foam ones made by Cashel that are shaped like test tube stoppers but are a bit larger and squishier, and there are the puffball ones that look like, well, pom poms. They both have strings, so there's no worry about them going down the ear canal. They're made for poor sensitive little horsies that are afraid of applause and such at competitions.

September 11, 2007 at 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy jewish new year to you my friend ( a bit early i believe, but heart felt anyway ). and this should teach me not to skim entries...i saw the dye pot, then the food and almost choked! thanks. i needed a laugh this morning.

September 11, 2007 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger SueJ said...

This sounds like a really enjoyable morning playtime! I must have a go -my adventures with dye these days tend to stick at re-dying favorite t shirts back to their original shade! I dont understand the language of spinning -what are 'singles' for example? Can you suggest a good web site or book to improve my education in this yarn related area? Your lunch was better than mine!

September 11, 2007 at 4:42 PM  

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