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Archive for September, 2008

“Red” Scarf

It was a grueling work weekend, but here and there I’ve been able to make good progress on my “red” scarf for the Orphan Foundation of America.  I’ve chosen a plum colored yarn instead of red to make a scarf for a young person who has moved out of the foster care system into independence and college or a technical school.  I think this is such a great way to extend love and care to a young adult who is having to make it on his or her own.

It took one frogging and a few tinks to get the Tudor Grillwork pattern in place, but I love the way it turned out.  Now I get to knit about two balls worth of this lovely, soft Debbie Bliss “Sublime” yarn in the simple twisted rib pattern before I do the grillwork again at the other end.  It moves quite quickly, so I should be able to complete the scarf in plenty of time to get it in for the October 31 deadline.

This yarn is a joy to knit with.  It’s so soft and silky:  75% extra fine merino wool, 20% silk, 5% cashmere. And the color is just, well….the perfect shade of plum, although it’s supposed to be “burgundy” and is actually called Beetroot.   

BTW I’m using Sandi Wiseheart’s Cabled Scarf pattern that was published on Knitting Daily.com a couple weeks ago.  

I also completed one of my Christmas gifts that I can’t show, and hope I’ll be able to start on the next one this week.  My plan is to do one a month and I’ll show them after Christmas.

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Bow Tucks Tote #3

Now that my sister’s birthday has passed and she has received her present from me I can show it.

I made another Bow Tucks Bag, this time in bright blues and greens.

I’m still not very good at the machine quilting, but I’m getting a little more confident with it.  What I find really difficult is deciding what pattern to quilt with.  I think I over did it a bit on this bag.  But each time is a learning experience.

Cindy likes the bag, and that’s the important thing.  I really had fun with these colors.

Anyone who missed the first two bags can see them here and here.

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All the Yarns

Today’s post will show all the yarns along with the dyestuffs used.  Keep in mind that the photos will not show the colors exactly, but they’re pretty close.

Here are the finished yarns hung on the garden fence.

These are the cochineal dyed yarns.  I forgot one when I showed them two days ago.  They are from left to right:  Cochineal with tartaric acid; with tin added; with tin and amonia added; with tin and iron added.  The iron immediately darkens whatever you put into it, but you have to be careful because it also is hard on the fiber and coarsens it.

Next are the Brazilwood dyes.  The first is Brazilwood on wool treated with alum.  The second is wool treated with alum put in the dyebath after the first two skeins were taken out, so it is lighter, although the photo doesn’t show that too well.

The Coreopsis makes a wonderful “pumpkin” color.  These are, from left to right, all on wool treated with alum:  Coreopsis; with tin added; with iron added; coreopsis dyed yarn put in the cochineal w/tartaric acid and tin “exhaust” bath, which means much of the dye had already been used; and coreopsis dyed wool in the Brazilwood exhaust bath.  You can get some really nice subtleties of color by placing the dyed wool into exhaust baths.  We were doing a lot of experimenting here.

Goldenrod on alum treated wool created this first (on the left) brilliant yellow.  Next is Goldenrod plus copper and Goldenrod plus iron.

Finally, we took undyed alum treated wool and put it into the exhaust baths of Goldenrod plus copper and Goldenrod plus iron to get lighter versions.

Overall a very satisfying and long day of dyeing.  

Now to make up sample cards so I can remember how to make the colors and then to decide how to use these yarns.

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Watching Colors Bloom

Today I’m going to show the remaining dyebaths and tomorrow all of the yarn!

Here’s the coreopsis dyebath.  From bright yellow flowers to a gorgeous shade of “pumpkin.”  There are still lots of little buds and such in the dyebath so it looks like soup with noodles.

Here’s the Goldenrod dyebath which makes a very nice bright clear yellow.

 

And the Brazilwood dyebath–a gorgeous shade of rose.

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Patience Pays Off

When we take the yarns out of the dyebath, we see that our patience has paid off.  The yarn is rinsed and we can see the colors come into full bloom as they dry in the air.

Rather than dyeing only with the specific dyestuffs we also added other elements to shift the colors.

Here are the yarns dyed with cochineal, after being rinsed, washed and rinsed again:

Starting from the left:

Cochineal with tartaric acid (cream of tartar);

Cochineal with tartaric acid and tin, which gives a vivid red;

and Cochineal with tartaric acid, tin, and ammonia, which then turns the vivid red more blue.

It was absolutely fascinating to watch the color changes as we placed the yarns into dyebaths with the additional elements.

It’s hard to believe these gorgeous colors come from bugs.

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More Dyestuff

While we were waiting for the mordant to “cook” into the base yarn and the cochineal bath to do its work, Kay and I went to work cutting the blossoms off of a bag full of wild coreopsis that Jennie had collected out along the roadsides.

We set it all to soak in some water to prepare it for making a dyebath.

We also set out to dry some Brazilwood that we had chopped up and soaked in alcohol to help release its color.

You can see the dye in the alcohol in the bowl to the upper left and the cochineal mixed with tartaric acid and a little water in the jar at the right.  I’m actually a little out of sequence here as we put the Brazilwood out to dry before we made the cochineal dyebath, but you get the picture of how the morning progressed.

Once the mordanted yarn was taken out of the pot we put the coreopsis on to simmer into a dyebath.

Then we took a break for lunch.

If you love color and you like to cook, dyeing yarn and fabric with natural substances is a great way to get in your cooking with no caloric intake.  LOL!  

Working outside Jennie’s late 18th century schoolhouse home next to Tim and Mary Ann’s Williamsburg style garden Kay and I were imagining what it must have been like to do dyeing of yarns and fabrics over wood fires that would have to be tended.  We were using propane gas burners.  And we were also wondering how anyone ever discovered which plants were good for dyeing.

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A Day of Dyeing

What a fun day I had Saturday spent outside Jennie’s home, which is a converted late 18th century schoolhouse, in Murfreesboro, NC.  Jennie teaches classes for The Woolery, and her home is about a block away from the shop, so we did the dyeing workshop there.

 

My new friend Kay was there, too, as we learned how to dye wool yarn with a variety of natural dyestuffs. I’ll be showing pictures from the workshop throughout the week.

First we had to prepare the natural colored yarn for dyeing.  

This takes a LOT of patience, as most of the dyes require the yarn to be prepared with a mordant that helps to bond the dye to the fiber.  Alum is mixed with the water in a large pot and heated.  The yarn is added and you are supposed bring it slowly to a simmer over an hour, then simmer the yarn for another hour.  It looks like a big pot of noodles.

You have to use patience not to stir the yarn too much but only to turn it occasionally and carefully so you don’t end up with a felted mess.

While most of the yarn was in the mordant bath we started on the cochineal dyebath.  The yarn used with this dyestuff does not require alum.

Cochineal, simply described, are little bugs that live on a certain type of cactus.  They provide one of the most beautiful, clear red dyes, but as you can imagine are quite expensive.  Someone has to collect all those little bugs, after all, and then dry and package them.  

The dried bugs are ground fine with a mortar and pestle.  Jennie did that for us in advance.  Then the powder is mixed with tartaric acid and some water and blended well.  That mixture is dissolved into warm water and the yarn is added.

I wish I had thought to take a picture of the dried bugs.

Did I mention that dyeing takes patience?  I’ll show the results of this “bug” dyebath later in the week.

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