Dyeing Days

There has been an explosion of color chez UDS.  Above is 2kg of fiber dyed during one day.  The day before I dyed 2kg of rainbows.

I’m being very systematic about this – dyeing with only one method and one or two types of fiber in one day.  Before dyeing I’ve pulled off 105g pieces to dye and soaked them overnight in water.  I’ve also bought a small centrifuge machine to spin all the water out of the fiber before laying it to dry.  That makes a huge difference in drying time!

This might sound like work but I really love doing it.  I love seeing the colors emerge and how the fiber feels after dyeing (SOFT!).

I’ve also been busy spinning up 150g of Blend A to make a shawl.  I finished the spinning and plying last Wednesday, gave it a good soak and let it dry. It’s not perfect spinning, but pretty darn good for a beginner.

I’m going to make “Love on the Edge”, a shawl pattern by Monique Boonstra.  (Ravelry link) I don’t know if I will have it finished in time for MidWinterWol, but I will do my best to have it on display.  Here is Monique’s version.

Meanwhile, the dyeing continues.  More color will be posted in the coming weeks.

Also in the meanwhile, Fall has arrived and I’ve taken a few photos of local color.

Cat out of the Bag

UDS_MWW_logo

I might as well let the cat out of the bag (or, as the Dutch say, “now the monkey comes out of the sleeve”).  Above is the logo image that will appear in the program for MidWinterWol 2015.  Ta Da!

Between now and 11 December I will be busy dyeing spinning wool to sell during MidWinterWol (along with keeping up my regular day job of course).  This two day event, in the far north of the Netherlands, has been going for 5 years already and gets bigger and better every year.  I’ve been there as a shopper for the past 2 years and really enjoyed it.  It’s quite a long drive to get to Winschoten from Haarlem, but it’s worth it.

The event is organized by those friendly people Hans and Gerrie from LowLandsLegacy but the vendors come from all over Europe.  Last year I bought a Shetland woven blanket from the UK and a kilo of BFL top that came from Germany.

Between now and then you can follow along on the blog as I dye up a storm.  My house is filling up with bags of un-dyed fiber:  BFL, BLF/silk, Texel, Shetland, Blend A, and some raw fleece I might also throw in to the pot (Polwarth from England and CVM from Washington State).

The lamb in the photo above, by the way, is a Texel sheep.  I took the photo a few years ago during a weekend on Terschelling.

Introducing Blend A

I’m very happy to introduce you to Blend A.  On the left is the un-dyed fiber, worsted spun and 2-plied.  The skein on the right was spun in the same way after dyeing in a succession of color from dark green, light green, yellow, orange and finally dark pink.

What is the blend? BFL, Oatmeal BFL, Merino, Silk, Mohair.  I love the shine and softness of this combination!

Now that the yarn is finished, what should I make with it?  I want to make something to use as a sample for this blend.  I’m thinking that a cowl would be nice. With the un-dyed background and color work green leaves and above that, flowers.

What do you think?  Any other ideas?

White is Boring and Other Experiments

Wednesday I finished with mordanting all the yarn and fabric for my workshop next week.  Mordants are chemicals used to prepare materials for natural dyes.  They change the chemical surface of materials so that they more readily accept dye and different chemicals are used for different materials – plant or protein fibers.  So, since we’re going to dye both plant and protein fibers next week, I had to do two types of mordanting.  It’s tedious.  It’s not interesting since you don’t see anything really happening.  And it’s just white.  Ho Hum.

So after I finished with that and since I had all the dye pots out, I thought I’d do something fun with the rest of the afternoon, using acid dyes and wool.  Of course the weather did not cooperate and it started to rain so I had to do it in my kitchen sink.

My aim was to end up with speckled yarn like those commercial brands that are so popular these days.  I think it came out pretty good!

Then I wondered how this would turn out if I dyed spinning fiber using the exact same technique.

Not the same!! The dye really spread around and left no speckles at all.  The colors blended and I lost all the pop of the bright colors.  I thought this might happen.  After all, since yarn is twisted it tends to resist dye more than fiber.  Fiber is open and welcoming and soaks up dye easily.

Still, I like them both and it’s amazingly quick and easy to get these results.  Beats the heck out of plain white.

Color Chemistry

The above yarns were all dyed from 200g of ground madder root and all started in the same pot.  How did I get so many colors?  This is the fun of dyeing with natural dyes – many colors depending on what else you throw into the pot.

The 2 skeins on the left plus the little ball at the bottom were treated to an ammonia rinse which turned them from reddish orange to pinkish orange.  The skein on the right and the larger ball were left to sit in the dye bath after vinegar was added, which turned them true orange.  The pH of your water changes everything.  Even after rinsing in pH neutral water they stayed these colors.

Preparing the madder for dyeing looks like cooking chocolate and not at all like the dye it gives to the yarn.

The type of fiber you are dyeing and how you mordant it also make a big difference to the results of course.  The two balls of yarn above are non-super wash wool.  The others are super wash and take up more dye quicker.  All of the yarn was mordanted in alum the day before I did the actual dyeing.

I also dyed 2 pieces of cotton in the same dye pots as the wool.  They came out much more subtle in color but still very nice.  I have to use some other mordants for cotton to get darker colors.

Several weeks ago I bought a bag of small black beans.  I put them in a big dye pot with about 1″/2.5cm of water over them and heated them just to a simmer.  I did that for 4 days until they started to stink a bit and then poured off the liquid into 3 jars and put them in the fridge.  On dyeing day I threw the bean water, 2 skeins of yarn and a piece of cotton cloth into the dye pot, all mordanted the day before.  I cooked all of it at just below a simmer for an hour and then let it sit in the pot over night.  Here’s what I got.

The grey yarn on the left is super wash wool and the one on the right is non-super wash BFL/Alpaca.  What a difference!  I was very surprised at that difference.  In fact I took the lighter one and threw it into the pot of madder exhaust that I had not thrown out yet.  I’m going to let it sit there until Wednesday and see what I get.

Now, this is the first time I’ve dyed with black beans and I’ve read that it is not light fast under any circumstances.  I’m testing that by putting most of the skein away in the dark and putting a bit of it in a sunny spot in the house for a month or more.  I cut the fabric in half and am doing the same with it. I’ll let you know what happens.

I do like the grey skein. It’s a lovely color.  I was kind of hoping for more blue in it, but to be honest I didn’t check the pH of the pot and maybe playing with that will give me more colors.  It was an experiment.  And also, really, I’m not too excited about spending a lot of time on something that is going to fade away easily and quickly anyway.  I’ll see what the light experiment brings before I spend more time on beans.

It was a fun dyeing day and madder has proven itself once again to be the workhorse of dyes.  Easy, reliable, beautiful.  I think madder and logwood are my favorites for those reasons.

Stay tuned for the results of the  bean to madder multi-day-dip!

 

 

 

Color by Numbers

There’s been a lot of dyeing going on chez UDS these days.  I’ve decided to split up the news into a post about acid dyes and a post about natural dyes.  First up, acid dyes!

I recently bought a small amount of Greener Shades dyes to try out.  I bought 10g of each of the 9 colors they sell, plus I bought the pdf download of their color book, which shows examples of dye percentage combinations at various DOS concentrations.  I bought these dyes because they are supposed to be easier on the environment, claiming to have no or fewer heavy metals than other acid dyes on the market.  If you search Revelry or online you’ll find some detractors who think the dyes are less “green” than claimed, but if using them allows me to dump water into the sewer system with a clear conscience then I’m all for it.

Of course using only 9 colors requires you to work a lot harder to get interesting colors than just buying them already mixed and tested for you.  I’ve used Dharma Trading dyes with great success and they have even more colors than ever, so it’s a big jump backwards to DIY color mixing.  I was skeptical.  But not any more.  Look at what I did!

I’ll take you through a few photos of dyeing in progress and then the final results.

The weather was fine, so I was able to put one pot outside.

This pot turned into these:

Merino/poly super wash sock yarn.

Dorset Horn fiber.  I dyed them as braids because I was curious how much dye would reach into the bound up parts of the fiber.  I was actually kind of surprised to see so much white.  I have no idea why I decided to dye BOTH braids like this.  Now I have 200g of fiber with big white spots, which is not my favorite.  Maybe after spinning it will look good/interesting?  Not sure what I will do with these.  Maybe over dye.

The above is some BFL dyed with red and black dye.  I expected the dye to mix more, but I like this affect.  I’ve already spun it up into a 3-ply worsted weight yarn sample.

I was really excited about dyeing some of the special blend of fiber I recently ordered.  It is 20% white BFL, 20% oatmeal BFL, 20% merino, 20% silk and 20% mohair.  It’s almost too soft to spin.  Several spinning friends have given it a try and most of them found it easiest to spin woolen.  What I found is that after dyeing the crimp returned to the wool and it was much easier to spin.  Here are before and after photos.


Last but not at all least, the series of gradients dyed on 3 different kinds of fiber.  First I dyed 100% merino, and after that success I decided to replicate the colors on 50/50 BFL/silk and Super Soft Shetland (from J&S).  I mixed up 5 bottles of dye and hand painted the fiber and steamed to set it.

Merino above.

BFL/silk blend.

Two 100g braids of Super Soft Shetland. I can’t WAIT to spin these! They feel fantastic!

And the whole family together.  I’m really happy with the dyes.  So happy that I’ve ordered more from Greener Shades!

Tomorrow I’ll have photos of the natural dyes. So much color from one pot!

Dye Day

I need the perfect storm in order to dye yarn: money for un-dyed yarn, time to spend dyeing yarn, and good weather to be able to rinse and hang dyed yarn outside.  This past Saturday was one of those perfect days.

I had on hand 4 skeins of BFL lace weight yarn (400g total), non-superwash.  And the last time I was in the U.S. I bought a bag of 10 100g skeins of BFL/Silk (55%/45%), DK weight (super wash).  And I have still 9 jars of various colors of Dharma Trading acid dyes.  AND clear blue skies and warm temps.  Perfect!

First of all, I have to tell you that this DK weight BFL/silk IS TO DIE FOR (to DYE for? haha :-P).  It has a nice even twist to it and shines like silk ought to.  It feels like butta in my hands.  I was a little bit afraid of dyeing it – what if I ruined it? It would be a pretty big investment to f-up.  Oh, by the way, I bought it from wool2dye4.

First into the pot though was the lace weight.  I was going for dark fuchsia blending to light fuchsia/pink.  I thought I’d be clever and mix dyes based on CMYK color percentages in Photoshop.  I had magenta and cyan (fuchsia and true turquoise) dyes on hand.  I decided to do 2% DOS, which was, in hindsight, probably too much.  I mixed 85% fuchsia and 15% turquoise in a jar with very hot water.

I let it sit a few minutes, then stirred again and added more water.  It seemed to be mixing really well.  I filled my big dye pot with hot water and citric acid and stirred that til dissolved.  Then in went the dye solution.  I only ever dye a certain weight of yarn so always mix dye for just that batch of yarn.  I only dye yarn 2-3 times a year so there’s no point mixing up dye solution and storing it.  I mix what I need on the day and that’s it.

When I put the yarn into the pot I held the 4 skeins together at the top and slowly lowered them into the pot, a couple of inches, then wait a couple of minutes, repeat.  The last bit of yarn that went into the pot got the least amount of dye.  Now, this is non-superwash yarn but man did it soak up the dye!

While it cooked, the turquoise started to foam up! That was a surprise. Was it separating? Was it soaking in at all? Or crocking?

After 40 minutes I took the pot outside and gently poured out the skeins into a sieve to cool off.  Then I hung them up on my nifty yarn draining bar.

At this point I was disappointed.  They were a lot darker than I wanted.  But also still wet. I let them cool off and drain a bit, then took them down and rinsed them out.  I lost none of the magenta in the rinse water but indeed, turquoise washed out a little bit!

On to the blue.  I decided to dye just 7 of the 10 skeins – enough for a sweater but not committing myself completely to a new dye method and yarn base.  I used Sapphire blue dye at 2% DOS.  I already had really nice results with this dye at this DOS so decided to do this again.  And besides, from experience I knew that silk takes more dye than wool to get the same saturated color.  I also mixed up a separate pot of black – a very weak solution, just 2 grams of black dye powder.  This time I put the damp skeins in the pot all at once and gave them a little stir.  I didn’t want completely even color, but not the huge variation like the purple either.  Since this yarn contained silk I cooked it at a lower temp, about 80 degrees C, for 30 minutes.  Then I took the pot outside where the hot black dye pot was waiting.  I dunked the skeins into the black (wearing heavy rubber gloves), dunking in and out a few times.  I had no idea how black the yarn would become or how it would take up the dye.  It was great! All the dye was soaked up after 4 dunks.  Back into the now exhausted blue dye pot to cook for another 20 minutes.

When I hung the blue skeins up I realized two things – 1. I should not have depended on the skein ties that came with the yarn.  I have 7 tangled messy skeins to deal with now. I should have tied my own separating ties.  and 2. I have about 50 different shades of blue in these skeins! Amazing!  See the top photo for a close up of a section of the skeins laying on a table, all dry.

Here is my morning’s work hanging to dry.  Oh, and when I rinsed the blue no color at all rinsed out.  Perfect uptake of color.

And here are the finished skeins, all dry.  First the purple/pink.

The 3 on the right are pretty even in the amount and brightness of the pink section.  The outlier on the left has very little pink.  Oh well.  I only need 3 to make a nice sweater and the 4th can be a shawl. 🙂  You can see that they did lighten up after they dried.  I’m pretty happy with the results, although I was aiming for less variation in the color and not such a deep purple at the other end of the skein.

Here is the blue while still damp.  You can see what a tangled mess I have on my hands.

And now dried and laying out on a table.  The color is as true to real life as possible and looks pretty correct.

Look how many different blues there are! I’m really amazed at the lighter areas.  Why didn’t that get more blue dye? It will be hard to tell how well they match each other until I either skein them up nicely or wind them into cakes.  I find that comparing cakes of yarn is the best way to see matching or not matching colors.  Better even than comparing skeins.

I’m so happy with the blue that I’m itching to knit something with it right away.  Probably a cardigan.  But first I have to finish my green lace pullover (more about that in a few days).

My NEXT dyeing experiment is already in the planning.  I’m going to try yet another completely different technique – something I’ve never done before.  DB had the brilliant idea of testing it on a swatch first.  Smarty pants.  I would have just jumped in with a whole skein or a sweater’s worth of yarn!  But he’s the sensible one and so I will try first with a swatch.  But first I need some spray bottles….

 

 

 

Wood into Color

Well, it’s been a while since I posted here.  This is what happens when you start a new job, then go away for a week, and come back to that new job.  I feel like everything is turned on its head and I don’t have the time to catch up with myself.  But let’s start again, shall we?  And let’s start with some color!

A few weeks ago I dyed some yarn using logwood and oak.  I got the dye stuff from De Kat windmill, the same place where I’ve bought dye stuff before.  I did a mordant of alum (15% of weight) a few days before and let the yarn dry with the alum in it, then rinsed it well before dyeing.  That’s all the prep I did ahead of time.

On the day of dyeing I used 50% WOG (weight of goods) dye powder.  Both the logwood and oak were very fine powders so I just threw them into the pot and filled the pot with water and cooked them both just below the boiling point for an hour.  Looking back, I should have then strained off the dye water and left the sludge behind, but I didn’t because I was afraid I’d lose some of the dyeing power behind.  I wanted good rich deep colors and was afraid if I just poured off the dye water I wouldn’t get that.  Boy was I wrong!

I had 6 skeins of 100% merino, fingering weight, to play with.

With the logwood I was going for deep dark purple.  With the oak I was hoping (yet again) for yellow.  Even though the books all say that yellow is an easy color to achieve with a variety of dye plants, I have a completely different experience.  I find yellow difficult to get.  I first put 2 skeins of 100% merino into the oak dye pot.  It became pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to be yellow.  It was tan.  Even a little brownish.  Bummer.  After leaving in the pot at well below boiling (about 75 degrees C) for an hour, I took it off the heat and let it sit outside in the pot.  No change.  More on this one later.

For the logwood, the dye pot was a lovely reddish color.  I put my 3 skeins into the pot and the color changed and struck immediately to a dark purple!  Wow! The alum really changed the chemistry in the pot and was immediately visible.  I left them in there to cook, at about 85-90 degrees C, for an hour and then let them cool outside.  After they cooled down a bit I hung them up to dry.  I didn’t rinse them yet.

Here’s the pot before putting yarn in:

And here’s the pot with yarn in it:

Then I put in another skein, into the dye pot, to see if there was strength left in the dye.  Wow! A lovely lavender color came out and STILL I think that pot would have produced some great lighter colors.  Unfortunately I was out of yarn and out of time.  I kept the pot around for a few days hoping to have time to play with it again, but I didn’t.  In the warm weather we were having, it started to look a little icky so I ended up dumping it out.  What a shame!

But before I dumped it, I decided to stir it up and throw in one of those tan skeins.  What the heck, right?  I let it sit right down in the bottom of the pot, where the sludge of logwood was, and let it cook for an hour.  Then I left it to sit over night in the pot.  It came out nearly black!  Fabulous!  The logwood just kept giving and giving.

What did I learn from this dye session?  First, logwood is strong.  I could have dyed 5 different shades of purple from that one 200g bag of dust.  Second, yellow is trickier than you think.  I’m happy with the tan/blonde skein that I got, but it aint yellow.  I’m going to try again with Weld and hopefully I WILL end up with a yellow skein.  Third, if you want to get a consistent color, you HAVE to strain the sludge out of the dye pot.  If your skeins are stacked in the pot, the skein on the bottom will get more color.  Either stir them often (which might felt them) or take the time to make a clearer pot, free of heavy color in any one place.  Here are the results…

The photo is a little bit lighter than in real life.  The far left skein is the one that was first tan, then overdyed and is now nearly black.  The middle 3 skeins were the first 3 into the logwood pot.  They are dark purple, and two of them have streaks of black in them too.  Lovely.  The far right skein is the one that was dyed in the pot after the first 3, with leftover dye.  I’m just thrilled with all of them!

And here is the tan/blonde skein.  It’s nice.  I like it.  But it’s not yellow!

Since this dye session I’ve bought some more indigo (the easy kind that only needs a little reducing to work) and weld and the chemicals needed to dye both.  So, yellow, blue, and some overdyeing to make green.  Wish me luck!