Saturday, February 5, 2011

So, I had a day to myself...

...and while I could have used it to do a major cleaning job in the house (because, woooboy, it could use it!), or I could have just sat and knit and watched Bones episodes on Netflix all day, instead, I chose to do this...

Deep Space Drama

and this...

Love, Lola

and this...
When Buttercups Play Dress-Up
Yes, I pretended I knew how to dye again! You may recall my first foray into dyeing last September, which went OK, aside from the fact that I wasn't crazy about the fiber I'd used and I'd used way, way, way too much dye in the process. That time I'd kettle dyed. What I really wanted to try was handpainting, and that's what I did today on a bagful of a Rambouillet-Soy Silk blend that I picked up at the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival last May.

Honestly, I have no idea if I did it "right." I read up on it, and while the general process is the same, just about every place I read had some sort of conflicting information about the various steps in the process. Gah! See, it's that kind of thing that can leave me paralyzed and make me want to do nothing. But today I decided the heck with it, I'm going to just give it a try. What was the worst that could happen? I could ruin a bag of wool that has been stashed for months inside a suitcase in my basement? Yeah, that would have been a bummer, but not a huge loss, compared to the alternative of just leaving it in it's dark little home for eternity.

I will say it took me most of the day to do these three batches of fiber, just under a pound, all told. Clearly, there's a learning curve which takes time to master, and there's the set up of mixing the dyes into a concentrated form to dilute as I go (and each pack of dye makes enough concentrated solution to be used for many more dyeing sessions to come), and then there's the issue of figuring out my own process, which will hopefully become a little more streamlined as time goes on.

Handpainting itself is definitely a way slower process than kettle dyeing since you are putting the dye in specific places on the fiber, one color at a time, instead of just pouring it into a kettle with the fiber. My process was made even slower because I was only able to steam one batch of fiber at a time due to a lack of multiple steaming baskets (and the one I had was the result of MacGyvering my old metal colander with some floral wire).

Over all, though, I am really pleased with how this went and with the outcome of the fiber. The colors are fantastic, and when it came time to rinse the fiber, I was pleased to see that the rinse water had very little dye left in it, a far better outcome than when I kettle dyed. And I really enjoyed the process of the handpainting, having more control over where the dye goes. It felt more creative to me.

I have to admit, probably the most fun thing about this project today was naming the resultant colorways! I know, it's silly, because I'm not selling them or anything (at least not yet...hopefully some time this year, though!), but with each batch, as I was unrolling it from it's damp, plastic wrap encasement after it had cooled, and the newly dyed fiber was plain to see, a name popped into my head for each one of them. It was really pretty cool! It felt...biblical!

Adam: You will be called...goat. You will be called...penguin. You will be called...velociraptor--hey, ouch!

Me: You are -- Deep Space Drama! You are -- Love, Lola! You are -- what buttercups would look like if they played dress up, so I shall call you When Buttercups Play Dress-Up!

Yeah, that last one sort of explains why the fiber companies of the world aren't banging on my door asking me to name their colorways. (Haha...reminds me of when I worked at the LYS. A customer came in one day looking for yarn in a specific shade of red. After much discussion, I said, "So, you want sort of a spawning salmon red?" We at the shop came to the same conclusion that Debbie Bliss probably wasn't going to be phoning me up asking for yarn color suggestions anytime soon. ;))

At any rate, it is going to take forEVer for this stuff to dry, as I have nowhere to hang it, and laying flat doesn't seem like the best way to dry it. Though, this roving is pretty fine -- almost pencil roving in some spots -- and I'm not sure hanging it would have been great either, at least not when it was really wet. I've been mentally engineering a rack of sorts that would be good for drying roving. I may need to enlist Kevin's help to make that a reality!

1 comment:

A :-) said...

Hmmmm - looks like you're going to be having some fun spinning up your own colorways! Very exciting!