Dye Playtime

I’ve just finished the dye experiments that are taking me through chapter 3 of Color in Spinning by Deb Menz. I’m carefully documenting everything, taking lots of notes, but it’ll be a few months before it’s time to share that with you. But, after 53 oz of carefully controlled 1-oz exercises, I still had some dye left to use up. I don’t know when I’ll get around to dyeing again, and I had some leftover Polwarth top, so I took the opportunity for a little bit of play. I was inspired by the School of Sweet Georgia class “Dyeing Complex Colour” by Felicia Lo, and I did the exercises rather in reverse order.

Inspired by that quintessentially Sweet Georgia colourway, whose name I cannot discover, I gathered up all my pale dyes from yellow through the reds to violet. I weighed them carefully, and worked out that on 3 oz of fiber, I would have about .7% DOS. Perfect. I folded 3 oz of wet Polwarth into a small pan, twisting it in places so that different areas would face up, then poured on citric acid and mooshed it in. Then I squirted the colours on in order.

I love this. So much! Those colours will attenuate with the white and become all light and creamy, but just beholding their bright spottiness in the braid is so pleasing!

Then, I took all the intense and dark colours in that same spectrum, this time enough for 2% DOS. I got another 3 oz of Polwarth really wet, again applied citric acid, and a little more water this time. I poured all the dark colours on one side, flipped the whole thing over, then poured the intense colours on. I didn’t really smooth the fiber, I just poked it a little bit, so there are still some white spots.

Looooove. So much love. And I love the two braids together! I am obsessed with them together!

How to use them together? Spin them into two separate chain-plied yarns, then use them together in a shawl or something? Ply them together? I don’t know! I don’t care! They’re just so pretty.

Finally, I took all my dark yellows (which read as olive green) and dark greens, with a bit of dark blue in there too. Should have been enough for 2% DOS again. I added even more water this time. I poured all the colours on one side, in strips like before, flipped the whole thing over, and gave everything a good SMOOSH so that there didn’t look to be any white left. Then I splattered some purple on that backside.

Unfortunately, by this time, the disposable pan I had been using gave out. There was just one little hole, but there was a lot of dye that leaked out, and so did not end up on the fiber. Yuck. But the results are just everything I love. Dirt stick leaf colours, with a few hits of blue in there. My favorite.

From left to right: 2% DOS low water immersion with flipping and smooshing; 2% DOS low-water immersion with flipping and no smooshing; .7% DOS very-low-water splashed on with no flipping or smooshing.

That used up my Polwarth. I also had about a pound of non-specific roving, destashed to me from a friend, which came from Custom Woolen Mills in Alberta.

I used a few oz of this during my first dye session to clean off my syringes, and use up the extra bits of dye after I was done with the initial testing phase of working with my dyes.

As I got into handpainting, I came up with better ways to clean out my syringes that put more dye on the fibre, and less went to waste. Still, I collected any wastewater from the process into one pot. Then, as I was using colours up to make the polwarth braids above, I rinsed out my little dye bottles into that same pot. By the end, there was a lot of dye in there! I put maybe 2 oz of white roving into the pot to soak it up, and came out with a very uniform dark chocolate.

I still had about a third of my dye bottles left to use up, so I decided to try a layering technique from the School of Sweet George class. It’s not really recommended for roving, more for yarn, because roving is usually too fragile for such a process. But I wasn’t too attached to this roving, so I gave it a go. First I dyed it with all the purples at .6% DOS. Then I took them out, added enough green for another .6% DOS. Then I took them out again – realized I hadn’t remembered to add citric acid, so added that – added enough blue-greens for another .7% DOS, and in they went. Again, they came out with that sort of muddy green with hits of blue that I just love.

I have about 12 oz of this dyed here, and they do seem to be asking to be used together, don’t they? I’ve got another 4 oz or so of white, so I could add another colourway to the mix. Regardless, these are some really fun results from what was essentially cleanup time!

It will probably be June or July before I start releasing “official” dyeing content as part of our Year of Colour. But in the meantime, I just couldn’t resist sharing this bit of fun. Toodles!

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