Monday, April 28, 2008

My hands will never be the same.

See, I kept forgetting to wear gloves all weekend, so my hands are now an absolutely lovely shade of blackish purple. :)

I finally have begun to play with dyes! This was my first foray into the world of handpainting roving and top, and I am really loving the fact that I can do EXACTLY what I want to do with color. My nifty little collection of dyes ranges from Aztec Gold to Fire Red to Chartreause, and I had a blast mixing and concocting over the weekend.

I started off with 5 dyes I bought at Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins here in Boulder, and supplemented it with 8 Jacquard Acid Dyes I bought from Hello Yarn online. Two sets of instructions equalled perfect step-by-stepness...everything came out great!

Since I didn't really know what I was doing, I started with Falkland's not quite as expensive as merino or BFL, but is still soft enough for me to want to spin it. I soaked three ~4 oz. bundles of Falkland for an hour in warm water, then went outside to set up my dyeing area on the picnic table by the creek. Mixing the dyes was dubious. I looked like a unibomber, with my facemask and rubber gloves, but seriously folks, you can't take too many precautions with the unmixed dye powder. It is scary stuff if you breathe it in. I mixed up the three primaries (fire red, brilliant blue, and yellow), jet black, hot fuschia, chartreause, and turqouise. (So did I spell those correctly? It's too early in the morning. ) Once the powder is mixed with a little hot water, all is well and the mask can come off. At that point, the sprinklers came on and I was insanely happy I'd chosen the picnic table that was on the flagstone rather than the one out in the yard, because...well...I don't want to think about the obscenities that might have echoed down the street. :)

So the dye stock was mixed and ready for further diluting. I spread out el cheapo plastic wrap and carefully unfolded one of the wet Falkland bundles so that it was neatly arranged on the wrap. I mixed about 1/4 cup of dye stock with 1/2 cup of warm water per color, then liberally applied the dyes to the (not soaking) wet wool. With my first try, I applied the dyes a little too liberally. When rolling the wool up into a little plastic bundle, a ton of dye squirted out the end. Hooray for non-toxicity! So I dyed up three bundles worth, then packed up the gear and went back upstairs. The plastic rolls went into a large stockpot with a steamer in the bottom over an inch or so of water. Covered, the wool steamed for 40 minutes. Then I let 'em cool for several hours before unrolling the wool into a sink full of water with a little squirt of Eucalan wool wash. 15 minutes of soaking, then I drained the sink and refilled with slightly cooler water. 15 more minutes of soaking. Then I squeezed the water from the wool and plopped each bundle into a salad spinner to help further extract water. Then up to dry they went! The dyed roving mostly dried overnight, and I have to say that I'm pleased with the results!