Monday, July 27, 2015

We should have worn gloves

Dear Mom,
After reading about ice dyeing as an alternative to traditional tie-dyeing tee shirts, I decided it was something that needed to be experimented with, only on wool. I immediately emailed MelissaWhoSpins and we marked our calendars for July 25. Along the way I invited my friend and watercolor teacher, Cindy, to join us.

The theory behind ice dyeing is to cover the to-be-dyed item with ice, sprinkle the dye powder on top, and as the ice melts it carries the dye into the item in a random tie-dye affect. I experimented on both commercially spun yarn and roving. Melissa brought a wool blanket and scarf, too.  We used Kool-Aid and Greener Shades dye powder, and some of the Greener Shades dye stock I had already mixed up and frozen in shot-glass sized plastic cups.

As our fiber soaked in a vinegar water solution, we spread out old sheets all over the side yard. We then plopped our wet fibers into piles and covered them with ice. I think at this point I asked Melissa if she wanted gloves. I believe she said something like "gloves are over-rated" and we plunged right in.

Once the fiber was covered, we then sprinkled the kool-aid and dye powder onto the ice. I used the frozen dye cups on the commercially spun yarn.

commercially spun yarn with dye-cubes
First thing we learned: Aldi's brand of Kool-Aid does not work as well as real Kool-Aid for dyeing.

Next thing we learned, which was very surprising: 66 lbs of ice is not enough ice. We made a quick run to Target for more ice. Total ice consumption= 100+ pounds!

We took a lunch break while the ice melted. When we went to check the progress of things, we started making adjustments. I think I poured some of the vinegar water pre-soak on to the non-dissolving Aldi's drink mix. Cindy had the brilliant idea of rubbing ice cubes across some of the dyed fibers to blend the dyes. BRILLIANT! At this point our hands and nails were pretty much black and blue. Bruised looking. As I write this, my nails look like those of an auto mechanic. 

Once the ice had melted we set the dye by steaming the fiber in crock pots. I did have to do quite a bit of rinsing, too, to remove the excess dye. A quick spin in the washing machine and then out to dry. 

As you can see, the sheets are evidence of some of the wonderful tie-dye results we would have had if we were dyeing shirts. And if you look closely at Cindy's hands, you can see how black her fingers are!

Here are the results of the day:

This is a 70% merino 30% mohair blend. I used Greener Shades powder on ice.  

100% alpaca with combination drink mix and dye cubes, I think.

Merino/mohair blend with dye powder on ice

Commercially spun yarn dyed and "painted" with frozen dye cubes.

Close up of the dye-cubed yarn

These next two photos are of the dyed roving and then after it was spun and ply-ed with some of the same, but un-dyed.
merino/mohair blend, dyed with drink mix

We had fun. And mixed results. I don't know that I will do this again- if I do, it will be with yarn, not roving. Through this process, the roving had to be handled a little more than I would have liked. I am very happy with the results of the frozen dye cube dyed yarn, but I think similar results could be achieved by painting the yarn with dye stock and skipping the melting ice part. Still, it was an adventure and worth trying.