Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Virgo Heaven

The dyeing is done, the packing has begun. For some reason, this organizing into neat little packets is very pleasing to me. Take a good look, because they are on their way to their new homes:

silks2 Oct. 2005

This is 45 packets of silk, all that stuff I dyed in this post and this post and several others if you care to revisit. I started dyeing in January, and set them aside until the day they were all done, and I could package them up. It really is something I enjoy, look forward to , and have to put off until everything is ready, lest I sneak a few packets together *before their time*.

I also like the finished box of warp yarns:


but not so much the process of running these off. I had to do a few each day, sort of penance before the reward. I do like their neat little rows, all lined up and ready, there are 30 of them.

Then there are the auxiliary yarns:


Some of which I dyed, some are left natural (but thoroughly washed and de-gummed). Again: it's the pile that is so satisfying.

The last box is packets of tools and supplies:


Not nearly so photogenic, but definitely fun to pack up and stow away.

All this goes East in a few weeks. It has taken nine months to gather, dye and package it all, the birth will be at SOAR, and all the nurturing will be up to other people.

But oh! the pleasure of them now, all together, neatly bundled and ready to go, is mine (and yours! feast your eyes).

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Little More Help from My Friends

Last Weekend, our guild had a fun dye day. Two of the participants dyed some knitted fabric, inspired by my friend Nancy Roberts. Nancy was our guild presenter in September, and not only were people inspired, some bought fabric kits to dye from her, and one even bought a knitting machine to really immerse herself in knitted, dyed and then reknitted fabric. What am I talking about?


Sue's fabric

My neighbor Sue knitted this fabric (on her brand new knitting machine!) and then dyed it. The resulting fabric is fast becoming new socks:

Sue's socks

Sue also did some experimenting:

Sue's experimental fabric

She overdyed a bit of handspun Shetland grey fabric, which will become a swatch for a future mosaic knitted sweater. The grey yarn she will use with this is handspun Coopworth from her own flock. Yes! I have sheep living right up the street!

She also knit fabric for another pair of socks, but since it turned out so *huge*, it may become legwarmers (!):

Sue's big sock fabric

Nancy has been an incredible inspiration to our guild: several members have begun to experiment using Nancy's techniques. Nancy left us with so much to think about after her presentation; in fact, she's still experimenting too:

PC Scarf Cropped (2)

Here's a black and white knit scarf (she used a punchcard, whatever that is!), that she overdyed:

Punchcard Scarf Dyed 008 (2)

Cool, huh? Nancy's teaching at SOAR in two weeks(!), and I can't wait to see what the people in her class come up with!

Friday, October 14, 2005


Blame it all on Marcy! After her comment on this post, we had a conversation about eating foods to match color preferences. My usual color preferences are blues, golds and reds, and it can be challenging to find blue foods.

We came up with Nachos: blue corn chips, cheddar cheese, and salsa. So here are the nacho silks:

nacho silk

And the nacho foods:


(I did have to hunt for cheddar cheese with color added. The co-op just sells it unadulterated, plain, white).

So some lucky souls will get the *nacho* color selection at SOAR! Wonder what their finished pieces will look like. . .

I'd love to stay and chat, but I smell lunch!

Thursday, October 13, 2005


For Claudia, ever faithful commenter on this blog, orange silk:

orange silk

This ought to pop a few retinas, eh?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Back to Brights

Isn't this just gorgeous?

cheezits silk

I couldn't resist. Not a thoughtful post, nor a long one, but a colorful one!

I'm off to go find something for lunch, I'm thinking Cheezits(tm). . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Back to Dyeing Silk

I've been dyeing Bombyx silk top, to fill in a few color gaps in the packets for SOAR. The process is easy, thanks to Turkey Roaster Extraordinaire, a 1956 Westinghouse model, once in regular use at our summer cabin, but having since been *liberated*:


The first step in the process is de-gumming. The sericin needs to be removed so the dye will penetrate. I use a soda ash bath, with a bit of detergent (the exact recipe is *about* 2T soda ash and a *squirt* of Dawn dish detergent in the roaster, fill to about 3" depth with water). Then lay the silk top on the water:


Turn the roaster to 250ºF:

roaster dial

put the lid on and walk away for three hours.

When I come back, the silk looks like this:


fully hydrated, and theoretically relieved of sericin. The silk is pulled out using the very rusty old racks (yes!) and left to drain a bit, no rinsing, while I prepare the dyebath (several t. of citric acid and a cup or so of dyes, color or colors of choice, in this case violet). The silk gets re-entered, the roaster is still set at 250º:


At the end of three hours, the silk has taken up much of the dye. The roaster has an element that runs around the sides, not the bottom or the top of the unit, so *most* of the dye is taken up where the heat strikes first, at the edges:


There is dye left in the pot, so the silk remains while the pot cools, taking up the remaining dye:


At this point, it gets a rinse, I spin out the excess water, and drape it over something to dry.

Color after color piles up, and then I ultimately divide them all into packets for the class. I started the dividing yesterday, and realized I needed more brights. So next, I'll be dyeing orange, yellow and gold (yay, my favorites!).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Colorful Idaho

It's definitely Fall in Idaho: the trees are golden, the fields of cut wheat are brass and gold, the burning bushes are flaming and the weather alternated from drizzly rain to cloudy/bright sun. I so like the Fall, and the weather was perfect for me: just enough of a chill to be invigorating, not enough cold to be bitter. All in all a delightful time to visit, and delightful people to visit with (ending preposition notwithstanding).

We were inside most of the time however, making colors:

dye samples4

This is the full table of over 500 colors. These are Lanaset dyes on wool. Some close ups:

dye samples3

dye samples7

And the final pile for each person:

dye samples2

Now they have the daunting task of organizing these samples into some sort of useful form. I keep mine in a binder:

dye sample book

But there are lots of other ways: slide pocket files, rings with labels, or (the easiest) a box. As is. Labeled, sorted, but not mounted. I suspect that after the grueling class (I crack whip), the box method predominates.

I hope the samples are as useful to the dyers as they are to me. I think the most useful part of them is in the doing though. Much about color and the dye used is learned in the process of making the samples, including which colors are stronger and dominate a blend, and just *how many* samples we could continue to make for a really complete set. But we stopped, exhausted, after two days. Part of the second day was taken up with painting warps and skeins, to be sure, and I live in hope that I'll get to see some of the completed warps once they are woven (major hint, eh?).

These samples were made by members of the Pullman/Moscow Weaver's Guild (alas, no website), and I believe there were extra samples made, with the intention of selling a few books for a fundraiser. If you are interested, I'll send you contact information (but give them a week or two, they are tired!).