Local Color

Hello readers, if readers there be. I’ve been quieter on the blog than I intended this month. October has been busy, work-wise. I have found some time for knitting and spinning, though. And I learned how to dye yarn!

On the 14th, my friend Lisa and I attended a yarn-dyeing workshop at Praxis Fiber Workshop, home to the drum carders that I use. Our patient and knowledgeable instructor Trey taught us four different techniques using acid dyes: immersion dying, hand painting, kettle dying, and gradient dying. We had a blast. And we learned a lot.

Here is Lisa skeining some of the yarn that we used in our dyeing.

Trey showed us how to measure and mix the dye powder and add it to the dye bath. You can see the hood in the background where, for safety, we measured the powders and mixed them with boiling water. You would not want to use this dye pot for soup!

As the fiber soaks up the color, the remaining liquid in the pot becomes clear. When this happens, the dye bath is described as exhausted. Lisa, fellow workshop participant Lori, and I found this phenomenon quite impressive.

Both of these skeins were dyed in the same dye bath. The skein on the left is 100% wool. The skein on the right is 50% wool and 50% hemp. The hemp does not absorb the dye like the wool does. Fascinating!

After our immersion dyeing experience, we moved on to hand painting. This is Lori working on some artistic dye splattering.

Lisa’s going for a mottled look here. She has just finished cooking her hand-painted skeins (encased in saran wrap) in the microwave.

And here’s another hand painted skein. It’s hanging to dry after being cooked and soaked (lots of energy in those strands).

And then we learned kettle dyeing, perhaps my favorite technique. Here I am adding some dye to yarn I brought from my stash: Guinevere, the grey short-stapled Shetland I spun last summer.

The dye bath was a subtle blue. I squirted blobs of purple into the pot.

Although I love the natural colors of undyed yarn, I have to admit that I find this dressed-up version of Guinevere to be quite appealing!

I was happy to dip a toe into the process of dyeing fibers (though I kept all of my toes away from the dye pot). I love that this passion of mine for knitting keeps expanding. While I don’t think I’ll be setting up my dye studio any time soon, I know that I will seek answers to some of the many questions that remain. I find myself looking at multi-colored skeins of yarn and braids of fiber, and I still don’t fully understand how a dyer accomplished such beauty. Thank goodness for libraries. And for YouTube. And for the wonderful community of fellow fiber lovers.

Thanks Trey, Lisa, and Lori for a great day!

 

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2 Responses to Local Color

  1. Lisa says:

    I still need to figure out what to do with all that hand-dyed yarn! I think perhaps a felted bowl of some sort.

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