Monday, July 31, 2006

Blame the DYEPOT (and the SPINNING WHEEL)

Wow...I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last posted! But...I sustained this hideous spinning injury and lost way too many days, which REALLY was a PITA. You can see the cause of the injury in my shop blog here. In a nutshell, I spun for way too long without proper breaks and stretching, which caused muscle spasms that were unbelievably painful. No sleep-crying-totally-pissed-off kinda pain. Of course, it really set in bad on the weekend but on Monday of last week, I went to the doc and with anti-imflammatory and muscle relaxing meds, I'm back to normal (yeah, yeah...I know...normal for me!) So please learn from me ~ I wouldn't wish that on anyone! Take my advice and if you have access to a copy of In Sheep's Clothing, read the section in the back about proper stretches :) I haven't spun on the wheel since then and totally crashed in the last stage of my Tour de Fleece challenge. Talk about a lesson!

I'm blaming the siren call of the dyepot for neglecting my housework for yet another day. I get to blame the dentist for it today...UGH. I'd rather do housework!

I finally experimented with the Low Immersion Dyeing process with wool. Very different than what I did with the Low Immersion Cotton Dyeing I posted awhile back. I think my first attempts were pretty successful (see pic above!) and I'll do it again and hopefully, with some tweaking, I'll get even better results.

I started out a very teeny ball of super soft wool/mohair that was just sitting in a bowl on the kitchen counter. In a weird kind of frenzy, I just grabbed it, grabbed some jars and some left over dyes that were hanging out in the fridge, a gallon of vinegar (which I used UP yesterday!), and went for it. I didn't wet the fiber at all, I used it dry in all the examples I worked up. Then I grabbed another counter-sitting ball of 100% mohair and did another little sample...then grabbed the FIVE POUND bag of mohair and went nuts:)

These jars were the first sample (wool/mohair). First, I mixed dye stock with vinegar and hot hot tap water, poured into the bottom of the jar, STUFFED in the dry fiber, then poured another hot dye mix on top, just covering the fiber. There really was very little liquid floating in the jar and the dry fiber sucked up a lot. I put the jar on a plate and heated it in the microwave (uncovered). The first stage of heat was 2 minutes, then I would let it rest a bit and keep heating in increments of about 1 min 30 seconds, but found that you really have to watch the jar because it WILL boil! The fiber will expand in the jar too (no matter what) and you'll get some dye overflow onto the plate, which is kind of OK because you can easily see if it's exhausting or not. Here's what it'll look like after heating:

The purple dye I was using was RIT and what made me pretty happy was that it REALLY exhausted using this method, and when I rinsed this fiber, there was zero bleeding in the rinse water. I'm sure the fact that it was mohair contributed.

The one thing I didn't do that I did in my next example was to fold the roving over several times before stuffing it in the jar. For the one above, I started stuffing one end in first and what happened was that the roving didn't have any repeats of color. One end was teal, the other end aubergine. There was some variation but not enough.
Next, I basically did the same thing, but folded the roving several times before stuffing and then did a side pour. This one turned out the best, resulting in more color repeats. (The finished roving is the one in the pic at the top of this post). The second jar above was an experiment which KIND of worked out. I poured dye in the bottom, stuffed roving, then poured more on top and left white space in the middle. This gave a nicely variegated roving. There wasn't as much white space after heating as I expected, but lots of variation in depth of color.

This roving was the first one, no folding of the roving...stuffing "end to end" and pouring dye first into the bottom, then pouring another color on top. Pretty, but not much color repeat.

This one was done the same way as far as pouring the dye but I folded the roving several times putting both ends together then folding repeatedly. Much better variation. I used a little less dye and ended up with some white space, which I like.

This is the one where I did the folding AND poured dye down the sides of the jar and is my favorite result. Some lighter spaces, which I like, and a more color repeats than the others.

This is the roving where I left the white space in the middle. I poured dye into the bottom, stuffed, then poured more on top. It didn't leave as much white space as I expected but still is quite nice.

This was the only "failed" experiment of the day. I tried to just pour dye stock with no vinegar in the bottom, stuffed, poured a different color on top, then filled the jar with hot water/vinegar. Almost zero color variation and while it turned out pretty nice, the teal totally took over the aubergine. Some nice depth to the color but no distinct color separation.

Here are some dyed fiber samples I spun & plied up last night on my lovely little Valkyrie Turkish Spindle. I love that thing! These are not the Low Immersion Dye samples. I did continue dyeing, using mostly RIT dyes because I have a bunch and well, I wanted to try something I read on a dye list. The Aubergine Mohair on the far left actually is a jar dye job...I poured RIT and vinegar dye solution onto dry roving in a jar and it came out great, with almost no excess dye in the rinse. Which, for RIT, is a bit of a miracle if you ask me! The second one from the left is a hot pour of green and aubergine (see photo below), the third from the left is actually the teal part of the wool/mohair first low immersion experiment, the Robins Egg Blue is mohair vat dyed with Procion MX and vinegar, and the last sample on the far right is hot poured RIT (wine, mauve and denim blue) I had a LOT of fiber in the pot (I put them all in dry, btw) and the dye didn't reach the bottom well before exhausting which left lots of white space. I really like this's very fresh spun up:) In the hot pours, I used a LOT of vinegar in the dye bath and poured sort of cautiously because in my past experience, RIT doesn't like to exhaust. The Robin's Egg Blue exhausted very quickly (again, lots of vinegar) and I sprinkled some Raspberry Blue Lemonade Kool Aid on the top to get a bit more color variation.

Here's the RIT hot pour in green and aubergine. It blended LOTS when spun up and is very dark and mysterious:) It's the second sample from the left.

And here's the hot pour with lots of white space which I love! I actually used denim blue dye but it turned a bit lavender with the wine and mauve in the dye bath and it really blended spun up. (sample on far right in photo above).

I don't have a scale at home so can't give exact estimates of the amount of fiber in the low immersion jars. I used quart jars on the smaller bits, which were probably about 2 oz of dry fiber. The larger jars are the kind of tall, bigger jars that pasta sauce will come in and in those I could stuff approximately 4 oz or so of dry fiber. Again, these are just estimations but you'll be pretty surprized at how much fiber can go into a jar!

I also dyed some yarn with the low immersion technique but was NOT so happy with it. I'll post about that another day. So...Pros and Cons of Low Water Immersion and Wool Fiber:

Pros: Cleaner & faster than handpainting on plastic wrap. Excellent method for small amounts of fiber. No presoaking of fibers necessary. Very VERY easy to completely exhaust dyes (even RIT!) One big plus: No felting/compressing of fiber because it's handled very little (you aren't meant to poke and prod very much at all in the jar!) and the resulting dyed fiber requires VERY LITTLE rinsing. I also found that it was easier to control, in a way. I didn't get the "muddiness" that I sometimes do with handpainting. Now, I don't use thickeners when handpainting at this point in time and I believe that I sometimes use too much dye but with this method, the color separation seemed clearer and with cotton yarn, it was MUCH "cleaner" as well.

Cons: I can't imagine doing large batches of fiber this way, unless you can get your hands on HUGE jars. Hard to get lots of colors. I think in regular sized household jars (larger jars) you'd be limited to about 3 colors at best. Kind of unpredictable.

What would I do next time? Try heating the dye/water/vinegar solution to a simmer before pouring. Maybe pre-wet the fiber to see if the color travels a little better. Perhaps experiment with pouring dye into the middle somehow...trying to coil around the sides of the jar, pour, and stuff more and then pour more.

So, those are my adventures of yesterday! All of the fibers you see are available for sale on my Yarn or a Tale Shop website (I'll be putting them up there this evening after the dentist and the housework and the critter care).

And I knit, honest I do! One day soon, I'll put some knitting content up here and some more critter content (Miss Phoebe the English Angora Fiber Factory ~ with temps predicted up to 97 today and tomorrow, she'll be coming into the house for a couple of days to live)



At 9:45 PM, Blogger Abigale said...

Wow Leah - you've been busy! Beautiful stuff, and thanks for showing us all the results. I did try to do a bit of the low water method with some silk - but didn't have my camera at home with me - I posted the finished product a couple of days ago (the blue and green silk yarn from Henry's Attic). I did get some very deep colors! I soaked my silk first - squeezed it out so that it was not dripping - then poured some vinegar dye solution in the bottom of a tall vase. Then I scrunched the yarn up, and poured more dye in the middle and then on top. I did have a few spots that did not really get any dye - but liked the results enough to give it another go (hopefully with camera next time ;-)



At 12:20 PM, Anonymous beverly said...

Wonderful dyeing! I got the roving yesterday--thank you SO much!xx


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