Monday, July 30, 2007

Faulty Phone Lines and Distractions

There is something wrong with our phone line and service comes and goes. As a result, I am not able to get online as often and sometimes am forcibly ejected when the phone goes out. In addition to this challenge, we have also started painting our house. I didn't get to do any dyeing today as my dye kitchen got moved away from the house to paint. That said, I do have two new dye batches to share.

Both of the batches used yarn mordanted* with alum sulfate. The first batch is Cochineal and Weld. Somewhat different than the batch mordanted with alum and Cream of Tartar. I really like the bronzed purples I got with this combination. The Cochineal/Weld with the Cream of Tartar is pinker. That seems to be consistent with my results for Cochineal in general.

This batch is Madder and Weld. The colors are exquisite. The orange is a rich beautiful orange with the other two skeins being more red/orange. Again, slightly different than the Madder/Weld batch with the Cream of Tartar.
I am out of Weld extract so the next batch will be Lac and Weld flowers. Stay tuned for more oranges golds, red/oranges, and bronzed purples.
Posting will be a bit sporatic this week but the dyeing will continue! -Renee
*see glossary

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lac + Weld

I am about in the middle of the dyeing process for this project. The middle can be challenging as the excitement of the beginning has worn off and the end is still a ways away. This is where I need to really lay on the rewards and incentives. I must admit I am more than ready to see some blues and greens too. Ah well, I will get there, I promise. This is Lac and Weld. They appear more toward the Burgundy color, with a slight brown undertone, than what appears in this picture. Again, the camera has evened out the shades. Even though I do my best to adjust it in Photoshop there is only so much that can be done quickly. Tomorrow will be a day of washing and mordanting the next batch of yarn. I am slowly getting down to the end of all the skeining. The long term rewards of this project will be great, I know. In the meantime, I need to figure out a short term reward. Stay tuned!
I will ask you all the following question today; What rewards and incentives do you give yourself to keep yourself moving when in the middle of a long and consuming project? -Renee

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Madder + Weld

Fiery, No? Madder is a nice warm orange-red to start with. Add a yellow, even a cool yellow/green like Weld and you get glowing red/oranges. There are actually three lovely shades in this picture. Unfortunately the digital camera evens them out. So why try Weld with all the reds like Cochineal, Lac, and Madder when I know I will get orange or red/orange? Just as when you mix cool yellows with cool reds and cool yellows with warm reds to get different shades and tones of color, mixing these different reds gives you different shades. The differences are distinctive and I find that exciting. I could happily spend another couple of years getting all the different shades.
Today I dyed with Lac and Weld. I am getting yet another shade of red/orange. Definitely more on the cool side as both Lac and Weld yield cool colors. Tomorrow I need to replenish my water and propane supply before washing and mordanting the next batch. Remember, all the color mixes I have done so far are with yarns mordanted in alum sulfate plus Cream of Tartar. The next batch will be mordanted in just alum sulfate and I will try the different colors again as long as my Weld holds out. It will be interesting to see the differences. Can you see why it would take a few years to try out all the possibilities? Years actually. This project will merely give my a starting point. It will be an excellent base to draw from. Now to get another section threaded on the loom. -Renee

Monday, July 23, 2007

Weld + Cochineal

Here are the results from the two dyepots that didn't burn the other day. This is Weld/Cochineal color mix. I got a lovely burnished copper and an orangy-pink that looks like it could be from India. The dyebath that burnt was the dark DOS* Cochineal and light DOS Weld. I will have to repeat that one. Today I used Weld and Madder. I am liking what I see so far. I have already said several times that Madder is one of my favorite red dyes and it hasn't disappointed me yet.
I am almost through getting the next warp on the loom. It is the last warp in my Great Yarn Stash Challenge and it has been a problem to get on the loom. I have set a date for getting back to sewing and I have several spinning projects lined up. It is time to get busy to finish items for all the guild sales. July is almost gone! -Renee
*see glosssary

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dye Disaster!

In case you are wondering what you are looking at, you are looking at a burnt-to-a-crisp dye bath. Sigh, well there is a first time for everything. I am usually very attentive to the dyepots. I keep a timer clipped to me at all times and it goes off every 10 minutes. I call it my beeper. I had finished the dyeing and turned off all the burners to let the yarn sit over night, or so I thought. Apparently in my haste, I did not turn one of the burners off all the way. I went out before bed to make sure the propane tanks were closed off and that I didn't leave anything important out when I was confronted with an ominous stench. Stench it was too. The smell of burnt wool, cochineal, and weld was hideous. Needless to say the yarn is ruined and hopefully my pot is not. This was sort of a freak accident but you can bet on it that I will double check the burners next time I turn them off! Tomorrow I will be starting a new color combo and will have what is left of the current color combo posted. -Renee

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cutch plus Cochineal

Here is the first color mix and, as usual, it is a challenge to get the colors right. One of these days I will have to find where I put my camera manual to see if there is anything I can do about it. Starting with the skeins of the left, I used a dark DOS* for Cutch and a light DOS for Cochineal. The middle skeins are both medium DOS, and the dark pink skein on the far right used a light DOS for Cutch and a dark DOS for Cochineal. The pinks I got with this mix have a lovely brown undertone. I just finished another dye batch today that used Cochineal and Weld. I had planned to continue with the Cutch mixtures but I am low on Cutch and will need to get some more.
I must confess I am quite tired of the pinks. The blues and greens won't be coming until I do the next and final section, Indigo. I am pleased with all the variations I am getting. I also can see that I could spend another year creating colors!
Tomorrow I will not be dyeing as I am a hard-core Harry Potter fan and the final book comes out. I will be spending most of the day with my nose in the book. I will post the Cochineal and Weld photo this weekend. I will be back to the dyepots on Monday. -Renee
*see glossary

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revising the Storyboard

I took a good long look at the storyboard and decided to revise it a bit. Now that I have some dye experience under my belt I can tell what will be a bit more realistic and what is more likely to work the best. I took out a couple of the single colors with the alum mordant plus Cream of Tartar due to the fact that those particular dyes are low and I want to same them for the Color Mixes and I have plenty of Single Color skeins. So, yesterday I started the Color Mixes section! I am excited, this is where the real fun begins. The Single Color section was a good warm up. Yesterday I dyed with a mix of Cutch and Cochineal extract using the alum plus C of T mordanted yarns. Here is where I did another revision, I streamlined each color mix so that I am dyeing a Cutch/Cochineal ratio of light/dark; medium/medium; and dark/light DOS*. I realized that I could easily spend another three months exploring all of the DOS ratios for each combination. I don't have the time or the yarn supply and the ratios I decided to use will suit the purpose well. So, what do you get when you mix Cutch and Cochineal? Pictures tomorrow but here is a preview; Cutch is a brown dye and Cochineal when combined with the Cream of Tartar is pink. I got a beautiful rose color that is slightly on the brown side. I would call it rosehip. I will be combining Cutch with madder next. Check back tomorrow evening for pictures of the Cutch and Cochineal combo. -Renee
*see glossary

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cranking Up the Dye Kitchen

I forgot that getting the dye kitchen back up and running takes a day or two. I got another batch of skeins wound, using the Dream Skeinwinder of course, washed, and am now mordanting*. I like to let the yarn soak in the mordant bath overnight so I won't be getting to the actual dyeing until tomorrow. Once I get it up and running it is easy to keep it going so that I usually can dye every day. I have just three dyepots left of the Single Color category which I should get done this week, then on to the Color Mixes. This week I have had a guild board meeting and then there is the Whidbey Weavers Guild picnic on Thursday. This in between all the other things we are trying to catch up on after being gone for a few days. Thank goodness the summer days are long. Back to the dyepots! -Renee
*see glossary

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Highland Games

Today I spent the day in the Weaver and Spinner's booth at the Highland Games in Mt. Vernon WA. We had the best spot as we could see the main stage and the Games, as well as being just a step away from the Beer Garden. It was a bit hot and dusty but, as always, it is a wonderfully wild time.
Here is just a sampling of what was going on in our booth. We had fiber preparation with wool combs...

Spinning, this was Llama wool...
And weaving. I finished spinning and plying my Potluck roving that was mentioned in a previous post. I am glad I got it finished as I just received a pound of roving from a Full Belly Farm (see Fiber Links) which raises organically grown sheep. The sheep are not dosed with antibiotics or other drugs, are humanely raised, and the fiber is processed using environmentally friendly techniques. I thought I would try it out. It is a bit expensive, which I expected, and is a brown/grey color which will be hard to dye if I choose to. I am looking forward to trying it out.
Tomorrow is the sheep to shawl demonstration. Those of you who have participated in such an event know how popular it is. It is always a good day of hard work and answering lots of questions. Alas, I will not be able to attend tomorrow. I think it is the first time I have missed it. I certainly enjoyed the day today with my fiber friends and the Games.
Tomorrow is a day of rest and catching up on my thoughts which have been in quite a whirl with all that has been going on. Monday it is back to the dye kitchen. It will take a day or two to start cranking out the dyed skeins as the yarn needs to be washed and mordanted but, hang in there, I will be moving into the Color Mixes category by the end of the week! -Renee

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back Home and Back to Work

We have returned home today, got Twill from the kennel and reassured the cat that we were still alive. I have a couple of pictures that I mentioned earlier that I took as inspiration sources. This is the Museum of Art building on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. The build was one of many that are rich in detail. These pictures were taken around 7:00 pm so the light was interesting. One of the things I liked about this arch was the way it looked like many textured cords. I thought it would make an intriguing design detail.
I loved the ornate metal work of the doors. This is a small detail that features a squirrel in the center motif. Quite appropriate as there were many squirrels running around the campus and scampering among the oak trees.
I keep a folder of images I have taken with my digital camera for inspiration. Occasionally I like to put the images on slideshow and just let it run randomly. Depending on my mood or what I am looking for, different things pop out at different times. Between the digital images, magazine clippings, post cards, and my own design journals it is pretty hard to run out of ideas.
The change of scenery was nice although a bit exhausting. It is good to be back home. This weekend is the Highland Games in Mt. Vernon. I will be participating in the spinning and enjoying the wild energy that the Games always have. Come Monday though it is back to the dye kitchen!
What journeys have you taken lately? Have they been physical journeys or journeys of the mind? -Renee

Monday, July 9, 2007


I am using my husband's computer to post while on the road. My computer needs to be upgraded so that it has WiFi capabilities. The drawback to using my husband's computer is that I can't transfer my pictures that I took today. I had a couple of photos to post to talk about inspiration for design and weaving. Instead I will talk about a new link I am about to add in the Fiber Link section called Pluckyfluff. I recently discovered this wonderful wacky website about wild handspun yarns. Even if you like your handspun precise and even, check out her website. If you want to try your hand at spinning artisanal yarns she has published a wonderful little book called Pluckyfluff: Handspun Revolution. The book is about breaking all the spinning rules and having a great time doing it! Her wild one-of-a-kind yarns are for sale if you do not wish to create your own. There is even a few supplies to help you along. Her links will lead you further on down the road of the Handspun Revolution. Check out Pluckyfluff! -Renee, posting from a hotel in an undisclosed location.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Guess what dyestuff this is? Cochineal! Same water, pots, process. The only difference is the addition of Cream of Tartar in the mordant process. Who says natural dyes are dull? If your natural dyes are dull, check your water, and then the 100 or so other variables that go into the whole fascinating process. This is in your face, Race for the Cure, PINK. I kept looking at the skeins thinking they didn't even look real, however, like all of the natural dyes, they have a life and glow to them. The other dyestuff I used with the Cream of Tartar addition was Lac and here are the results:
The dye kitchen is being put away temporarily while we go on a road trip for a few days. I will try to post from the road as I have a few new links to talk about. In the meantime, I will be out with my digital camera capturing images that inspire or intrigue. So I will leave you with the following question, Do you have a stash of images that you use for inspiration? Are they from magazines, postcards, art exhibits, or your own photos? -Renee

Friday, July 6, 2007

Buttons and More Madder

Here are the Tagua nut buttons I dyed in the Madder plus alum acetate mordant. I love how they turned out. I like the idea of dyeing buttons for an outfit as well. It is just plain fun. The buttons can be purchased at Earthues. I have a link on the Fiber Links bar. There are a few kinds and you may have to contact the store to get more info. The buttons are a creamy white color in their original form. I put them in a bag made from an old nylon stocking and tied the bag to a ring that holds the skeins to move them around in the dyebath. The buttons should not rest on the bottom of the dyepot while cooking. I mordanted the buttons before dyeing as well.
To the left are the skeins I dyed in Madder with the addition of Cream of Tartar to the mordant bath. I love the color that results. I have done it before and got a much more golden orange. These are a rich, burnished red. Of course, I love the color as it is one of my favorites. One problem though, even though I used 1%, 5%, and 10% dyestuff to get light, medium, and dark DOS* the shades all look nearly identical! In fact, I really can't tell them apart. I know I used significantly different amounts for the dyestuff. I will have to look over my notes to see if I can find an error in calculations.
Finally, I placed the Madder skeins that were mordanted with alum acetate next to the skeins that had Cream of Tartar added so that you could see the difference. So strange that the camera changes the color of the alum acetate Madder skeins. They look more toward burgundy to the eye in person. However, you can tell the difference in color just by using a different mordant technique. Same dye, different mordant!
This is a good example of one of the many reasons I really like dyeing with these dyes. More dyeing tomorrow. I will either post tomorrow or on Sunday. -Renee
*see glossary

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Madder plus Alum Acetate

Some colors can be so difficult to capture with a camera. At least, with my skills with a camera. This is madder dyed on skeins that have been mordanted with alum acetate* instead of the usual alum sulfate that I have been using. Alum acetate is usually used for mordanting cellulose or plant fibers such as cottons and linens. The colors came out rusty reddish brown and look far richer than what is represented here. The purplish skeins are the ones modified with iron. It is the last iron modifier I plan to use. I may throw a skein or two in iron on a whim while dyeing the rest of the colors. Today I used madder again but went back to an alum sulfate mordant with the addition of Cream of Tartar. It pushes the red in madder towards orange. One thing I haven't taken a picture of yet is the Tagua nut buttons I dyed in the dark DOS* of the same dyebath above. They turned out lovely. I had actually tried to dye them earlier but mordanted them in alum sulfate, my reasoning being that nuts are a protein source. The dye didn't take so I re-mordanted them in the alum acetate with the above skeins. That worked much better. Fun too!
I will have a break in a couple of days as we will be on a road trip. I will try to post on the road with inspiration for weaving, dyeing, and spinning. To the weavers out there, please hang in there, I will be getting to the weaving part soon! I have yards and yards of handwoven cloth from my Great Yarn Stash Challenge that will be converted into various things quite soon. I will be carding up the fleece I dyed the other day and spinning it at the Highland Games in a couple of weeks or so. I have a fun discovery in spinning to share too so please stay tuned! -Renee
*see glossary

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cochineal Experiment

I used the leftover Cochineal dyebath to dye some fleece. I mordanted the fleece rather hastily. I usually like to let the fiber soak in the mordant after cooking overnight. I only waited about a half an hour after the mordant bath was finished to pop the fleece into the Cochineal. I put the fleece in mesh bags first. I didn't get that much felting as I was careful about temperature changes and I didn't agitate the bags, just gently rolled them over. The fleece dyed lighter than I had hoped. It is a light mauve/lavender color, again, my least favorite color. I am thinking that I will go ahead and card and spin it up and then have fun with some overdyeing. I spent today mordanting yarn for an alternate Madder dyebath and skeining and washing the next batch to be mordanted tomorrow. Tomorrow I plan to dye with Madder on skeins that have been mordanted in alum. acetate instead of the alum sulfate I have been using. The other dyebaths will be mordanted with alum sulfate and cream of tartar to push the red colors in different directions. Tomorrow is the 4th of July so I will not be posting as we will be celebrating with friends. Happy 4th! -Renee

Monday, July 2, 2007

Cochineal Redux

Ok, I used filtered water to wash and mordant the yarn. I used distilled water for the dyebath. I used brand new pots to process the yarn in and a brand new thermometer to monitor the temperature with. My results, drum roll please.....purple yarn!
Well, not quite as purple as the first two batches but pretty darn close. If you want to see how cochineal is supposed to look like on cellulose fibers, go to my Fiber Links box and click on Dana's blog. She did a lovely batch of napkins that is closer to the color I am looking for. I must admit, I had planned to use distilled water to mordant the yarns but I was multitasking a bit too much and stuck the yarns in a mordant using the filtered water that I buy. That is the only factor left that I can put my finger on. I am going to toss in the towel here on the cochineal. If it wants to be the color that keeps coming up under these conditions, then I will let it. It is a lovely color, definitely on the red side of purple. I will confess I made more than one mistake here. My scale doesn't weigh tenths of grams very well so I thought I would try the measuring spoon equivalents in the book. I forgot they were for dyeing one pound of fiber and that I needed to calculate using my WOG*. I had some pretty deep shades but you can see the light, medium, and dark. I decided to use the leftover dyebath in another experiment. I have a bit of fleece that I thought I would try it out on. I want to see how the fleece handles the dye process. I bundled the fleece in mesh laundry bags to dye and washed, mordanted, and popped them into the combined cochineal dyebath. We shall see tomorrow. In the meantime, I am leaving the Cochineal extract behind and moving on. I have completed one category, the "Modifiers"! A few more dyebaths will see the "Single Category" completed too. Can't wait. -Renee

*see glossary

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Logwoods

These skeins are the most challenging of them all so far to get an accurate color representation, however, here they are. The first picture is of Logwood purple. The dark intense purple is sort of my fault. I pushed the DOS percentages up a bit to try to get a better contrast in shades. It didn't work. You can tell the shades apart in person but they pretty much look the same in the picture. Logwood purple goes a long way. Unfortunately, Logwood purple is not one of the lightfast dyes. It will be interesting to see how much it fades.

Logwood grey is Logwood purple with iron added to it. The lighter skeins are dyed with Logwood grey. The color is more of a lavender with a grey undertone than a grey or true purple. It is a lovely color. The iron gives it a bit more lightfastness. I didn't use an iron afterbath with the Log. grey. I had the Log. purple ready to take a picture of yesterday but my camera was being temperamental and I wasn't able to take a picture so I didn't post.
I have yarns mordanting to attempt the Cochineal extract one more time using distilled water. I am getting near the end of the Single color category. I am ready to move on! -Renee