Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm Dyeing

Don’t panic! It’s only the colourful kind of dyeing. See? My Spectrum study group spent yesterday in my dye studio turning 2 lbs of white merino sliver into pretty colours. Except for one that was supposed to be brown and turned out yucky yellowish-maroonish-something. I tried to fix it today but I don’t think I was very successful. I also attempted to use up some of the leftover dye on some Corriedale sliver but there’s still lots of dye left. I’m debating whether to throw it out or try to use it up.

The technique we used is kind of a hybrid of my usual dye-painting and low-water immersion. First we wound the sliver into “nests” of about 5 yards each and set them to soak in my acid buckets (90ml of 56% acetic acid to 4 liters of warm water). We mixed up little .5% dyebaths for each colour: approximately 1.5 tsps Lanaset (Telana) dye in 1 liter of water. We were kind of shooting for bright rainbow colours mostly judged by eyeball. Into each dyebath we put a squeezed-out sliver and let it sit while we went for lunch. After lunch, each sliver length was gently squeezed out again and arranged on plastic wrap and wrapped up into a package. Each package went into the steamer for 20 or so minutes of steaming. Some of the packets we nuked in the craft microwave for 3 – 5 minute sessions with a rest period between each session. Unfortunately it takes too long to do all of them that way since only 2 packets fit in the nuker at a time.

The first packets in the steamer weren’t quite steamed long enough because a bit more of the dye washed out than we would have preferred but they are interestingly light and dark variegated. We didn’t have time to let them cool down very much before rinsing. After a really gentle rinse, they went into the washing machine for a quick spin out (no agitation/no water spray). This last helps them to dry quickly and not drip all over the floor!

I did the same thing today with the leftover dyes and my Corriedale sliver which is a bit more coarse and the sliver is narrower than the merino. While I was at it I dyed 3 skeins of medium grey sock yarn in shades of dark purply-blue for my son’s birthday socks. I’m tired of dyeing now, so the rest of the dye will have to wait until I decide what to do with it. It will keep for awhile, weeks even, unless it starts to mould. You can still scoop the mould off and use it anyway. It does lose some strength over time though.

We are planning to do some felting with our colourful merino wool. At next month’s meeting we’ll try to make some beads and other jewelry components which we’ll assemble at another meeting after that. We hope to add glass beads to make something wearable. The book we’ve been using for inspiration is Carol Huber Cypher’s Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads. I’m sure we’ll come up with out own versions as we get into it. It’s a pretty creative bunch!

Meanwhile, I’m up to the feet on my SIL Socks. I’ve knitted swatch number two for the Serrano lace sweater, but I haven’t had a chance to measure and block it yet. The Addi Turbo needles do help with the splitting problem but this cabled yarn still needs some careful attending to. That shouldn’t be a problem because I can’t knit lace without looking like I can plain knitting. However if this isn’t close to the right gauge, I’m going to have to re-engineer Cosmic Pluto's very complex pattern to fit the gauge I do get. I’m running out of options if I’m going to use this particular yarn.

We’re still in the deep-freeze around here as evidenced by my water garden and it’s lovely ice sculpture that it created all by itself:

It’s supposed to warm up slightly (still below freezing) and snow some more. I was liking the sunshine even if it does show all the dust in the house and the dirty windows. But the furnace is going constantly trying to heat this old house up to 20 degrees Celsius and that gets expensive on the natural gas. The house temp goes down to 16 at night but the furnace still has to work hard to keep it there. The unfamiliar sound of it along with the creaking and crunching of the wood expanding and contracting while I’m trying to sleep keeps waking me up. Even snuggled way down in my layers of blankets and pillows with no hearing aids on, I can still hear it.

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