Friday, September 28, 2007

Seattle Weaver's Guild features Sarah Swett

Well, this is not a tapestry by Sarah Swett but my tapestry exercise from a workshop two years ago with Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei. I would love to post a picture of on of Sarah's amazing tapestries but there are copyright matters to consider. Instead, I am posting Sarah's website in my Fiber Links side bar. Do yourself an incredibly inspirational favor and visit her website.
Now, the Seattle Guild program. Sarah is a very energetic and dynamic speaker. She brought several samples and gave a wonderful slideshow that used equipment from two centuries, as she sort of put it. She started out with traditional slides and ended the second half with digital slides. To use a few words to describe her program; inspirational, exciting, beautiful, spellbinding, and generous. Generous not only because she gave more than a full program but because she shared not only her triumphs, but her struggles and techniques. While tapestry is really a simple weave structure, it is anything but simple to weave. She is a storyteller. It shows in her art and in her presentation.
I have been admiring Sarah's tapestries for several years now. What a treat to finally see her in person. The bonus? She uses natural dyes, including Earthues, to dye all her tapestry yarns. I saw the same colorful, vibrant palette that I have been making over the past few months. It gave me the encouragement and inspiration I needed to run back home to my Indigo pot. Speaking of, I need to check it. Do take a look at Sarah's website, I promise you will be glad you did. -Renee

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Indigo at Last

Wow, after struggling for a couple of days I finally got the Indigo pot straightened out and going. To the right is all the skeins of yarn waiting to be dipped, soaking in water. Indigo is what is known as a substantive dye. There is no need to mordant, the color is permanent. I will go into a bit more in depth on Indigo in the next post. These yarns will be dipped once, some twice, some three times with a few being dipped more. You can see little blue squares in the pictures. That is the masking tape I used to label each skein. There is a number that corresponds to the identification tag and then there is a Roman numeral indicating the number of dips the skein will have. So far the system has worked well. The tape is folded in on itself three times for security and the info marked with a permanent Sharpie. Other than the soaking time, the skeins are not immersed in liquid for long.
I started with the lightest colored skeins so I am mainly getting blues, greens, bronzy browns, and a few purples. I am about half way through. It will take a few days to finish. I will probably do a bit more dyeing since I have the pot up and running. I am finding it fairly easy to keep it going. Today I started dipping the dark colored skeins and am getting some lovely purples. Suddenly I have seemingly endless shade of greens and blues. I like the browns so far too, they tend to be on the dark bronze side.
There are advantages and disadvantages to dyeing so many skeins in Indigo at once. I can only dip about ten skeins at a time. The advantages are that I am beginning to get a feel for the temperment of the Indigo dye process. I now can tell when I need to add more Indigo or when I need to add more chemicals. One of the disadvantages is I am doing so many skeins that quality control isn't what I would like it to be. Most are just fine but a few are dyed a bit uneven. I actually like the uneven dyes. I think it adds to the beauty of the color.
Tomorrow is the Seattle Weavers Guild meeting. I am looking forward to the program given by Sara Swett. She is one of my favorite tapestry weavers. I have a lot to go over in the next few days so hang in there. -Renee

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lessons from the Indigo Dye Pot

Well, my Indigo dyepot is still not quite ready to start dipping yet, in spite of working it all day. Here is a picture of what I am looking for. My dyepot is close but not quite there. Dark caught up with me so I will continue tomorrow.
I am at the beginning of some very big changes in my life. I love to research and read about any topic under the sun that catches my interest. Sometimes I just read a book or two, sometimes I spend years reading on a topic. Creativity and personal growth are such topics. With such big changes on the horizon I have been reading, no, devouring, a few books a week. All of them talk about slowing down and taking time to really look around and enjoy the process or journey. I have been jumping up and down with impatience for the Indigo pot to work so I can get on with the dyeing. I realized that I haven't been taking the time to enjoy the process. Indigo is not only tricky but intriguing. That is one of the fascinations. So, tomorrow I will enjoy the process. Dana left a comment about the chemicals. I realized the lye I used is old and probably not working well. I used every bit of it. I have plenty of thiox though. Lye is a challenge to find these days. I will keep adding the necessary chemicals little by little until the magic happens. I will also enjoy the challenge and the journey while I wait.
Have you taken the time to enjoy the journey in your life lately? -Renee

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Indigo Blues

Ok, got the yarns labeled (all 310 of them), sorted and soaking. Everything was staged in the dyeing area. I carefully measured out Indigo and appropriate chemicals to make my Indigo stock solution and....nothing. It just sat there being blue. This is actually a picture from a previous workshop. Dana may recognize it, we had a perfect Indigo pot. This is what the solution is supposed to look like. For those who aren't sure what they are supposed to be seeing, the solution is actually a greenish yellow with a coppery blue scum on the top. Mine just sat there and stayed opaque blue. Ok, no problem, I thought, I will just add more chemicals like the book said to do and wait another 15 minutes. It worked for me before. This isn't the first time I have done this but. alas, nothing I did worked, and I worked and worked for a few hours. So I am leaving it to sit overnight. I have drained the skeins and put them in giant Ziplock bags to keep them damp and will try again in the morning. To say that I am frustrated and disappointed is putting it mildly. I could have been through with the dyeing today. It would have been perfect as tomorrow will be a much more challenging day. Ah well, that is the way life works isn't it! Now that I have had my whinge, I will admit it really isn't a terribly big deal. I am most fortunate and appreciative to have the chance to do this. Sigh, stay tuned, if I don't burn the lot, I will have Indigo yet. -Renee

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Final Color Mix

Here is the final Color Mix batch. It looks much pinker in the photo than in real life. The color is more of a rusty red. It is the recipe for True Red using Madder and Cochineal BUT I used cream of tartar with the mordant* and it shifted the color. A nice trick to know.
I am busy labeling each skein with its own number and number of dips it will get into the Indigo. I will have a final count of the number of skeins I have at the end. I am figuring out the most efficient way to dye this amount of skeins in Indigo and not lose track of how many dips and what the original color is. I have a method and will be letting everyone know how it works.
Last night was the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting with JoAnne Hall finishing up the workshop she gave the guild with a program. The program was pretty much on rug weaving with people bringing a wonderful variety of handwoven rugs to be discussed.
Back to labeling! -Renee
*see glossary

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Glowing Yarns

To get my photos to my blog I run them through my i-photo, then Photoshop Elements to tweak them and save them to my desktop in the appropriate size and format for uploading. I give them quick descriptive file names so I can find them easily such as Lac, Madder, etc. This one I just called "glow" because these truly do glow in the light. From left to right is "Deep Orchid" which consists of Lac and Cochineal. In the center is Osage Orange. I will be dipping all of these in Indigo. On the left is "Garret Rose" which consists of Lac and Fustic. After consulting my notes, I realized that I got ahead of myself. The Madder combinations in the previous post used a mordant*of alum with the addition on cream of tartar. These dyebaths just used a mordant of plain alum sulfate. I have one more picture to post of the final dye batch in the Color Mixes category.
Skagit Guild meets tomorrow night so hopefully I will have a few things to post from the meeting as well. Stay tuned! -Renee
*see glossary

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Madder Mixtures

Oh boy! The Color Mixture category is officially finished. As I mentioned before, I will be labeling all the skeins in preparation for the Indigo dyeing. It might take a day or two to get the task done and the Indigo set up.
Here are three Madder mixtures. From left to right is Madder and Cutch, Madder and Fustic, and Madder and Cochineal. I have two more color mix dye batches to share. The mordant* is slightly different for the remaining batches. I used alum sulfate with the addition of cream of tartar. It shifted the colors slightly and was interesting to see. I will post them over the next couple of days while I am getting prepped for the Indigo. Colorfully yours, -Renee.
*see glossary

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The End is Near...Sort of

I am down to odd batches to try to replicate some of the color recipes in the dye book I am using. From left to right there is Rosy Beige, Old Gold, and Raisin. The Raisin color looks a lot greyer and bluer in the picture. It didn't have the brown caste to it as a previous batch I had done. What I like about the Raisin color is that when you dip it enough times in Indigo it makes the most stunning black. We will see how it does. The Rosy Beige is lovely and the picture here does not do it justice. The Old Gold is a bit oranger than I thought it should be. I am sure I could adjust the amounts to get the color right. Just goes to show you the value of sampling.
The colors in this next photo from left to right are Rouge, Poppy, and Wasabi. I wish the Wasabi came out more true to life than in the photo. It is the prettiest shade of green and uses Osage Orange and Logwood Grey in the mix. The Poppy was a bit too red I thought. To get Poppy I used Madder and Osage Orange. It is a lovely combination though. The Rouge is a lovely color too and I used Quebracho Red and Cochineal to get it.
A note about the Osage Orange. I really debated about using it in this project. It is no longer included in the Earthues kit because it has become so expensive. It isn't as lightfast as other yellows either. I used it because I had it from a previous kit I had purchased. I wanted to see how it interacted. I did do a straight single mix with Osage and it looks a lot like the Quecitron and Weld mix I did in terms of color. It is a lovely shade of yellow. I will be dipping it in Indigo to get (yellow plus blue =...) spruce, or green.
Now for the exciting news, in 20 minutes I will be turning off the final Color Mix category dye pot!!! I will be going on to the final category, Indigo. All of the colors I have dyed over the past 4 months will be dipped to see how they turn out. First I will have to label them so that I will know who is who and how dippy they are. That is, so that I will know what the original color is and how many dips into the Indigo bath it has had.
I am not sure how long it will take me but once all is labeled and the pot going I think it will go pretty fast. We shall see. I still have a few more skeins to post so check in over the next few days! -Renee

Monday, September 10, 2007

Madder and Cochineal

Oh how I wish the camera could accurately portray the colors. These are actually three very distinct shades of a combination of Madder and Cochineal. They are quiet lovely. I got another round of dyeing in today. I do believe that this is the last week I will be dyeing the color mixes. Next week Indigo. The mornings are definitely getting chilly but we are having some beautiful end of the summer days. It isn't quite fall yet but the Equinox is coming. I have several skeins to post so stay tuned. -Renee

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Small Breather

I have four batches of yarn to share but I don't have the pictures yet. I was out longer than planned today and ran out of the proper light to take the pictures. I will do my best to get them taken tomorrow but will be out most of the day then too. In the meantime, I thought people would enjoy a picture taken from the top of the bluff in Coupeville. This is where I get to go for the Whidbey Guild meeting. The scenery is worth the long drive for me. I thought I would also take a minute to add three more links. Two are in the Fiber Links and one is in the Personal Links. The first is WeaversHand. It is a wonderful website bursting with information for weavers done by my fellow guild member, Janis. She also has BraidersHand which goes into more detail on Japanese style braiding. Both are great sites to explore so please check out the links. The third link I am posting in the Personal Links is related to my commitment to empowering women. It is A Call to Power: The Grandmothers Speak. I highly recommend reading this book and checking out the link. It has enriched my life as a woman and weaver tremendously.
Please take time to check out the links. I love sharing them with everyone.
Joyfully yours, -Renee

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Logwood Grey and Cutch

This was a strange combination. With the one on the right I should have got coffee bean brown. It is brown but more of a latte brown. The others are mainly grey with a brownish undertone. I ran out of Cutch and have had to use Cutch that was not from Earthues. I haven't had a chance to get more and I needed to go on. The Cutch I purchased doesn't look as nicely prepared and I don't know the concentration of it. From these examples, I am thinking I may need to add more Cutch!
Today was the Whidbey Weavers Guild meeting. It is the first of the guild meetings starting up after the summer break. I packed up my dog and went off to the meeting. It was a stunningly beautiful day today. It makes for a lovely drive but it turned out to be just too hot for the dog to stay in the car for long. It wasn't a very hot day, in the 70's I believe, but it doesn't take long for a car to heat up, even a SUV with the windows generously cracked. I didn't stay long at the meeting but did take advantage of being on the island and went to my favorite beach. I will have to post one of the pictures I took. The views were breathtaking.
I had brought the latest dye batch for show and tell but did not get to show them. I will show them here tomorrow! -Renee

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Log Grey and Cochineal

This is a lovely greyed lavender dye combination. Logwood Grey and Cochineal both go a long way in the dyebath. Very small amounts are used to get rich colors. It is a good thing that a little Cochineal goes a long way as it is an expensive dye. Not surprising considering each tiny bug that must be harvested by hand and then processed. It takes a lot of bugs to make a little dye.
I am out of water again so I only got one dye session in today. I will have plenty to post as I push for the end. Stay tuned! -Renee

Monday, September 3, 2007

Madder and Cutch

Here is Madder and Cutch. They seem to appear more on the pink side than in the picture I took and certainly more pink than in real life. The colors are much richer but I think you can get the idea. Madder has yet to disappoint me. I have a few more dye batches to post but I will string them out a bit. Today I dyed with Madder and Cochineal. I really like this combination. It seems to bring out the best of both dyes. I am hoping the picture will do it justice.
That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. I should be through with all the Color Mix category this week and, if all goes well, I will get the Indigo category finished in a week. More skeins coming this way! -Renee

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fustic and Logwood

The skeins on the left were dyed with a Fustic and Logwood Grey combination. They look very green in real life but the colors didn't register well in the picture. I like the greens, they are olive greens to mossy greyed greens. It will be interesting to see how fugitive the colors are with the Logwood Grey being a component.
Dana left a question about the Quecitron on a previous post that I thought I would answer here. She asked about the proportions of the Quecitron. Quecitron is not listed in the dyebook like most of the others. I have been treating it much like Madder Root in preparation and proportion. I simmer the Quecitron saw dust, steep it overnight, and strain it out and add it to the dyepot. I use a percentage of the Weight of Goods to determine how much. In the case of Quecitron, I used 90% 50% and 25% WOG to determine the amount of sawdust. With the small amounts I am dyeing it doesn't amount to a lot. It would be interesting to do a dye sample using a range of percentages from 1 to 100 in increments of 5. That would give me 20 dye samples ranging from pale yellow to deep yellow. I would also be able to pin point the best percentage to get the color I want. There are times when I deviate from the dye book due to experience. I already know when the percentage listed will not give the rich DOS I am looking for. Most of the time I stick to the book. I have also found out the hard way that the book is right where I want to be most of the time. That is part of the learning experience. If I didn't venture from the tried and true path, I would never know. I keep notes and everything is meticulously labeled. This way I will be able to go back and either duplicate the color or decide it is not dark enough or light enough. I am really just scratching the surface here with this project. It will be a good jumping off spot, and totally fun of course!
I have Cutch and Log Grey, and Cutch and Cochineal and Log Grey drying on the line. I am about to go rinse the Cutch and Madder out and another batch is mordanting. Two more mordant baths to go! -Renee