Monday, September 27, 2010

Common Ground Madness!!!

Wow. Let me say that again. WOW! What a weekend! As a first time vendor at the Common Ground Fair let me just say was all I could hope for and more. The GREATEST folks on the planet run the Fiber Marketplace and I sincerely mean that!
Like any show or even season for that matter, I find it very interesting what colors and weights of yarn are the most popular. Red and Turquoise shades were in high demand at my booth but the Double Dips in worsted and especially the bulky were my #1 sellers.

Sooooooooooooo .......... I have decided to add the Double Dips to my Fall Line of yarns ( in fact I have several dyelots in the dye pots as a write this) ! The dye process puts a dark and light hue of the chosen color in to the yarn. I will knit up a swatch asap so you can see the result knit.
A weekend filled with wonderful people, good wholesome food, and inspiration. What more could you ask for. Thank you to all of my friends, family and fabulous customers - old and new for a very successful weekend. Next up ...Sunday River!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recycling Water PART II

Once the yarn has been rinsed free from the spinning oil, I prepare my dye. The yarn is then weighed and my personal dyeing process begins.

After soaking up the color for the amount of time you desire, preferably until the dye is fully absorbed and the water runs clear, test the water in a jar and on a dry paper towel. The water will be murky and will appear to still contain color pigments. It probably does, but not enough to affect the next color to go into the water.

The paper towel will be a good indicator of the pigment left in the water. This water, from Peacock Blue dye, is almost clear, but does not appear to be in the jar. The fibers of the paper towel do not absorb much color, and when rinsed holds no color at all. Now, I pull up a skein out of the water and watch that the water runs clear from the skein. Most of the pigment will have been absorbed my the fibers at this point. So I feel safe to pull all of the yarn out of the dye pot. BE CAREFUL! The water and the yarn is still HOT. I use salad tongs and sometimes wear gloves. Place the yarn in a drainer.

The water in the pot will be lowered, BUT you do not have to dump all of that water down the drain. It is still quite warm and ready to be reheated. Fill up your pot to the "fill line" that you usually use, and add whatever mordant ( if you use one) you might need. ( This picture is deceiving, as I only add about an inch to the fill line). Put the pot back on the stove, cover, and reheat the water. It should take very little time to be hot enough to add your new color.

Now, this is where you need to think out your next move. We all are familiar with the color wheel and what colors we can combine to make other colors.

In this pot I used Peacock Blue, a bright, "turquoisey" blue with green and gold tones. Because there is a slight bit of pigment in the pot. My safest choices of color to add next are in that family of colors. So a blue or green will work perfectly. If I were dyeing yellow, I might next change to shades of golds and oranges. Reds pretty much need to stay in the red family, as do purples.

This whole process is trial and error. Again, my methods will never be the same as yours. I usually try and run through 4 dyelots before I change the water. I figure that I save around 20 gallons of water per 4 dyelots using this method. So .... less water = less fuel to heat it. Rinsing the yarns in cold water saves fuel as well. Be sure and put covers on your pots when heating your water each time. The wide, open pots loose as much as 50% of the heat out of the top.


Recycling Water, Solar Drying & Minimal Packaging PART I

For a few years now I have been thinking about my dyeing methods and how to improve on them. It isn't that I wish to change the colors or even improve on the quality of my work. I am satisfied and confident that I am producing a high quality product, but the amount of fuel I have always thought I needed to heat my water and work with the fiber is not necessary.

Now, that being said, this may not work for everyone. My methods of dyeing are not conventional. I do not "follow the directions on the package" so to speak, but instead I have developed my own methods that accomplish what works for my types of yarns, the amount I dye, my water quality, and my time schedule. In fact there are so many variables that apply to this method, that it may not work for anyone else, but I promised I would post it in hopes it will be helpful to my fellow dyers.

First things first. If your yarn has been spun at a spinning mill. Most likely before the fibers were carded, they were sprayed with a light spinning oil. So before you dye your yarn, you need to remove the oil. For years I used very warm water to dissolve the oil, but I now have found that a diluted basin of cold water in the washing machine works just as well. So ....fill up the basin, add the soap, swish, then add the yarns. Let the yarn soak for 15 minutes, then spin out the load.

more in a bit!:)