Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm Dyeing Here!

Dear Mom,
If learning to spin wasn't enough, on Saturday I learned how to dye all that wool. I took a beginner's dye workshop with Rita Petteys. The class was held at Tabby Tree Weaver.

Rita's company is Yarn Hollow, and much of the hand painted roving that I have purchased to spin has been hers.

I am glad that I didn't know ahead of time that I would be called upon to:
use the metric system
weigh and measure stuff in grams
do math 
because I might have talked myself out of the class.
As it was, Rita did an excellent job explaining the process and we all carried on with no tears, tantrums or nasty dye accidents.

In class we learned both immersion dyeing and hand painting. This workshop was focused on protein based fibers which include animal fibers, nylon, silk and soy. We started with immersion dyeing and a skein of yarn. The hard part was choosing a color. Rita suggested picking the OPPOSITE of our favorite color, which in my case meant that I would be using a green dye. I chose "Golden Pear". Because if it has to be green it may as well sound tasty. Plus, the Young Lady likes green.

We weighed and calculated and measured. Our yarns were soaked and the kettles were simmering.
Here is what my yarn looked like in the pot, after it had absorbed all the dye and while it was cooling:

The only good thing about our unseasonably frigid weather on Saturday was that it helped to speed up the cooling process.

Next up we learned how to hand paint a skein of yarn. This time I chose colors that make me happy.  We covered our workspace with plastic wrap, arranged our skeins into ovals and set about painting the yarn with our chosen dyes. Literally- sponge paintbrushes were dipped into jars filled with dyes and applied to the yarn at whim. I already have a plan for my bright red and orange yarn!

Then we moved on to hand painting on roving. I tried duplicating one of my favorite YarnHollow colorways, and then painted another roving working with colors I would not normally choose. The last bit of dyeing I attempted, because I thought that it would be what I will most likely try at home, was immersion dyeing the roving. This may be my favorite result of them all, and I can't wait to spin it and see how it looks. I dyed the superwash merino roving in "Turkey Red" - a very cranberry red.

Once cooled, the dyed fibers are hung out to dry. Here is a good sampling of most of what the class produced on Saturday-

Even after spending the day on the porch on a drying rack, my fibers are still damp. I hope that tomorrow they are dry enough that I can take a good picture and show them to you. Needless to say, I am catching myself daydreaming about dyeing enough roving to spin into enough yarn to make a really special sweater. And more.....