Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Blue Afternoon

It was a little frustrating yesterday. I'd gone to town for a few supplies and totally forgotten the most important one, which was Rit Colour Remover so I could do an indigo dye vat. Normally I have an extra packet or two in my mordant box, just for those "gotta dye something blue" emergencies, so I wasn't too worried. I am generally in the practice of replacing the packet before I use it, so as not to ever run out. Of course, I didn't do it last time. What I had in my box was a half packet of clumpy Dye remover and an ancient little box of dye remover from a different company that I've not seen product from in years. I decided to work up a vat anyway, knowing that there was a good chance it would fail. I was desperate for blue yesterday, what can I say? My big jug of lye (sodium hydroxide) was in the garage and I didn't feel like climbing over the old stove, lawnmowers etc to get to the appropriate bin, so I used soda ash (sodium carbonate) for the starter compound. It worked a treat and somewhat less dangerous too boot!
The ancient colour remover box did nothing - no reducing what so ever and after 45 minutes of waiting around, I tossed in the clumpy Rit. The indigo dye vat started to reduce almost immediately, although after the required waiting time, it wasn't fully reduced - obviously not enough colour remover or it was too old - but I used it anyway. It worked acceptably and I was pretty happy. Seeing the green to blue change when the dyed item hits the air is always exciting to watch. It was a very small vat, so I don't imagine that much indigo was wasted in the whole scheme of things, regardless. The greens are the overdyed yellows from Dyer's Greenweed, done a couple of weeks ago. Some are embroidery threads and the rest are for a future weaving project. It is good to dye things blue!

It dawned on me while I was spinning the grey wool for the embroidery thread project, that if I did a bit more, I could use that as a base for the blue as easily as the white, which I inadvertently tossed into the yellow vat. I ended up with 4 skeins of the grey, so 2 went into the indigo vat. It was a good idea which worked exactly as I'd hoped. The blue over grey skeins are the blue threads sandwiched between the green in the photo above. Obligatory dime on grey threads for size comparison.

On Fanny is a new project - a rather pushing the boundaries type project for me. I'm making a simple tencel scarf. A long scarf, using a variation of M's and O's - Primitive Linen - from Marguerite Porter Davidson's A Handweaver's Pattern Book. Tencel is a type of rayon. It's slippery, unlike wool, cotton or linen. It was a bugger to get just tied on the front beam as the knots kept slipping. I've found it way too easy to overbeat it without trying. If I were to redo this project, I might change up the threading abit, but I'm pretty happy with the assymetrical look. I may not have used black for the weft though as it makes the scarf quite dark. Using the red or the purple would have highlighted either of those colours better. Still, it's quite pretty and an interesting project. I'm contemplating getting some undyed tencel and dyeing up a painted warp for a shawl or another scarf. Just contemplating right now though.. there are several wool weaving projects in the wings before another modern tencel one :)


Leigh said...

I've only dyed with indigo once but I loved it. It's on my "to do again someday" list.

I like the colors and look of your scarf. I've never woven with tencel but rayon yes. So it's good to know that it behaves similarly.

Tammy W. said...

Hey Nina - can you contact me.
Your e-mails are bouncing. I assume you have a new e-mail since you moved.