Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Blitz of Summery Colours..

The winter coloured tea towels are done!  I wove each one about 35 inches to allow for hems and shrinkage.  They are currently about 19.5 inches wide.  The last one was a bit iffy.  I'd already realized that I'd likely get only a square from the last of the loom waste.  As I approached the square measurements, I still had thread in the shuttles, so I just kept going.  I'll admit there was a bit of clearing the shed with my hand before each shot by the time I got to the end of the towel.  I almost made it.  By 34.5 inches, I'd had enough and left it at that.  I had only about 6 or 7 inches of loom waste left behind the heddles.  Not my favourite way to weave but at least it was an economical use of the yarn!

Then I started to prep for a guild presentation on natural dyes.  I wanted to show that natural dyes could be exciting for the modern weaver and spinner.  Two days before the presentation an idea of doing a natural dyed painted warp had my thinking cap on.  I knew how to do it, but didn't have the right equipment for steaming it, nor enough suitable white wool yarn with which to experiment.  As well, lets face it, it was two days before the presentation and planning a new project and winding the warp would add more time than I thought I had.  Instead, I took the last skein of yarn from the Jessie fleece that I spun and two skeins of natural white superwash sock yarn.  The Jessie skein was just a normal skein from my niddy noddy.  The sock yarn was wound into two separate long skeins, using two chairs placed 6 feet or so apart.  (Note to self...more figure 8 ties!)   I also grabbed the embroidery thread skeins I'd spun up last fall.

After mordanting everything, I had to decide on colours.  The method I tend to use with Madder, requires a long soaking unless I'm using an extract - no extract on hand right now.  Logwood is a never exhausting dye bath and I didn't want that.  What I wanted was warm and sunny, summer colours.  I hunted through my dyes and found a jar of Black Oak bark that I'd purchased last year and not yet tried.  This was the perfect time to try something new.  So Monday afternoon, I simmered the Black Oak, then not having a strainer fine enough to remove the bark shavings,  I started dyeing.   Oohhhh a lot of nice yellows which are supposed to be very, stable and fade resistant.  I dipped in only part of the Jessie skein.  When it came to the sock yarn skeins, I folded them in half and then in half again, to make a manageable skein and dipped only the ends of the skeins in.   I would use Indigo as the second colour, making green the secondary shade and certainly, those would be the colours of summer!

Yesterday, a phone call got me off to a bit of a late start, but after lunch, I was waiting for the final reduction of the Indigo vat.  All afternoon I was reminded why Indigo dyeing is so much fun.  Put the yarn and fibre into a vat which doesn't look like it should dye blue.  Pull it out and presto, as the air hits it, it turns from green to blue.  It never fails to excite me.  I realized after my skeins were dyed that there was still a lot of pigment in the pot.  I measured out 100 grams of white superwash Merino and tossed it in the pot.  Two dips later, it was a lovely shade of blue.  100 grams should be enough for me to spin up for a pair of socks.
Sock yarn, dyed with Black Oak and Indigo
Superwash Merino dyed with Indigo
It was certainly a colourful day yesterday!  I was able to use the dyed yarns as part of my presentation.   The guild members were find the humour in my passing around still wet skeins as they hadn't had a chance to dry before I left the house. 

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Good job on the tea towels. I agree about not wasting any yarn!

I'm impressed with the yellow from the black oak! Lovely. And of course indigo is always a winner. :)