Monday, October 29, 2007

More Indigo Dyed Silk Fabric

This next piece of fabric was just plain fun to dye. This is silk chiffon so it is a sheer fabric. I used a Shibori method of resist to dye it. On the right is the fabric wrapped and tied around a large plastic pipe. I oriented the fabric so I would have vertical pattern along the lengthwise grain. After I wrapped and tied the fabric I scrunched it down as compactly as it would go and dipped it, pipe and all into the indigo. As you can see from this picture, I deliberately allowed shading to happen by not dipping all of it every time. I think I dipped this one 3 separate times allowing time for oxidation between each dip.

Here is the fabric after it has been dyed and opened up to dry.

And, here is a closeup of the effect. This will be a fun fabric to work into something elegant to wear. The sheerness of the fabric adds an interesting element to the pattern. I am quite pleased with the way this piece turned out.
As you can tell, I enjoy experimenting. Sometimes things don't work out the way you want them to but you always learn from what you did.
Do you enjoy experimenting or playing with the unknown? -Renee

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Indigo on Silk Fabric

After finishing up dipping the remaining yarns in Indigo, there was still plenty left in the pot. I had prepared a bit of silk yardage just in case and had it waiting ready to dip. This was the first bit of yardage. I did not want an even color. The picture on the right is what I did to achieve that. I dipped the fabric and held it for about 2 minutes. When I pulled it out I crumpled it up on my staging tarp. It was fun to watch the oxidation at work. I let it sit for an hour or two before opening it up and hanging it on the line to dry.

Below is what the fabric looks like now. There are lovely areas of mottling and color shading. It is somewhat subtle but will make a lovely background for further embellishment. The fabric here is silk charmeuse. I also dyed a silk chiffon using a shibori method. I will have the pictures of that on the next posting. Both fabrics were allowed to oxidize a full 24 hours before neutralizing. Now that I am back from our trip, I have been washing the remaining yarns and getting the tags back on. I am slowly getting back into gear to weave, spin, and do a bit of sewing in between all the other chores. Until the next post, -Renee

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On a Personal Note...

I am back from Hawaii and re-adjusting to our Pacific Northwest weather after a week of wearing shorts and swimming in a warm ocean. As I said before, I am very fortunate, I had the best Dad in the whole world. Saying goodbye so suddenly and unexpectedly is very very hard. I have a few pictures to post today from our trip and then will be back to posting about weaving, dyeing, and spinning.
To my family and friends, Aloha Nui Loa. -Renee

Friday, October 12, 2007

Triumph and Tragedy

Well, it is done. The final skein of yarn was dipped in Indigo yesterday. The dyeing process of the Whidbey Weaver's Guild Grant is finished. After a bit of a rest, I will be putting together notes and samples to present to the guild. What a journey it has been! I started working on the grant in May and spent nearly the entire time dyeing some 500 plus skeins of yarn.
I have often heard people complain that natural dyes produce disappointing colors. I am posting these pictures along with all the previous ones to show that it just isn't so. As you can see, even with my unprofessional photography, the colors just glow, and these are skeins that have been dipped in Indigo.
Unfortunately for me on the same day, along with the triumph of finally finishing this long dye process, tragedy struck. I finished my last bit of dyeing and called my parents. My father was in the hospital after suffering a very small heart attack. They pronounced him very healthy and fit and were going to release him with some medication. An hour or so after I talked to him, he was suddenly gone, the doctors puzzled as to why he suddenly died.
I am a very fortunate person. I had the best Dad in the world. The last words I heard from him were how much he loved me and my last words to him were how much I loved him.
Needless to say I will not be posting in the next week as we fly to Hawaii where my family lives to be with my Mom and brother at this time.
If it has been a while since you told your loved ones that you love them, do it now, you will never regret it.
When we return I will be working on weaving and spinning and will be posting more on those topics. In addition to the yarn, I dipped some silk fabric into the Indigo and have the results to show.
This final picture is one of the Vine Maples on our property a bit worse for wear after the fall storm but still showing its colors. A perfect setting for my feelings about now. -Renee

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Indigo Back Online!

Well, a lesson well learned. When using Indigo, use fresh chemicals if that is the route you are choosing. I will be talking about the different ways to make an Indigo vat soon. The Indigo pot is back up and I nearly finished the first round of the last giant bag of skeins to dip. It is good to get it going again. The fresh lye and Thiox made a huge difference. I will be at it again tomorrow to hopefully finish. The logging is done too as is the clean-up. Alas, we have a few piles to burn. We looked into chipping them but with 5 acres of slash, the cost was way beyond our means. The property doesn't look too bad. It is nice to be moving forward again on several fronts.
While I was waiting for the new chemicals to arrive the first dye batch had been curing for a week. I neutralized the skeins and thoroughly washed them. The lye is very caustic and needs to be neutralized with vinegar so the yarns won't be harmed in the long run. I will leave you with a couple of pictures of the Indigo dyed yarns. The colors are nice and bright before they go into the dye and come out muted in shades of green, blue, rusts, burgundies, and browns. Lovely. More to follow soon if all keeps going well, and a report on last night's Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting. -Renee

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Well, I got about half way through with the Indigo when I killed the pot. I thought I had turned off the burner but it turns out I didn't and the temperature climbed to 150 degrees F. Not good for Indigo. I tried a different approach to the Indigo pot outlined in a different book but it didn't work. So, I am waiting for a delivery of a batch of Thiox. I have fresh lye, plenty of soda ash, and tomorrow will have the Thiox. In my poor defense, I have to admit that I am dyeing in the midst of sheer chaos. We have lived on a heavily wooded 5 acre piece of land for the past 19 years. We decided to thin the trees out this year taking mostly Alder which grows like a weed. My dye kitchen is outdoors and there were chainsaws buzzing, trees falling, and tractors roaring practically in my lap for the past two weeks. It is nearly done now. Just the cleanup but the loggers are having equipment problems. Well, if you have ever experienced this kind of logging first hand, you will understand the distraction. There are many many trees still left and we will be planting 1000 cedar seedlings to take the place of the Alder.

The picture to the left is one of the side paths I took earlier and have revisited. The yarn is the Licorice Twist from Henry's Attic Yarns and I first dyed it using Madder roots. I wasn't entirely pleased with how it turned out so here it is being dyed in Cochineal. I wanted some variation so the skeins are hanging over a piece of PVC so that only part of the skein will be dyed. This yarn will be for my knitting friend, Elizabeth. Alas, I am still not happy with the color so I am going to dip it in Indigo when I get it up and running again. So very close to being through! -Renee