Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Part 2

I let my rainbow dye pot sit in the sun for 4 hours yesterday.  Here's a photograph of the Romney fleece and the dye water before I rinsed the fleece.  That's dirt and grease in the water, but there was no dye colour in the bath:

Here's the fibre after I washed and rinsed it in hot water, until the water ran clear:

It's now drying on a rack in the shade.  Here's a close up.  The colours are more accurate in the previous pictures:

What I can't show you about this fleece is how it feels.  Meagan's Romney fleeces are lovely, with little to no vegetable matter in them.  They have long, crimpy locks and are wonderful to spin in the grease.  This dyeing method leaves just a touch of lanolin in the wool, which enhances its hand.

I've been asked why I dye this way, as the technique is unpredictable, uses more dye and more vinegar.  Here are several reasons to try a rainbow pot or two:

  • It's an easy introduction to dyeing.  You don't have to measure, mix or pour.  
  • Rainbow dyeing gives you different colours than does conventional dyeing.  The dyes mix in unusual ways, giving you everything from vibrant colours to pastels. Because each colour contains a bit of each dye, all the colours blend well together.
  • Rainbow dyeing works well with acid dyes, drink mix powders or vegetable/animal dyes.  As it does with traditional dyeing methods, rainbow dyeing works on white or coloured fleeces.
  • If you dye on hot days, you don't need any source of energy rather than the sun.
  • The technique uses less water than conventional dyeing.  If you're using only acid dyes and vinegar or drink mix powders and you exhaust your dye bath, you can use the dirty water in your flower bed.
  • Rainbow dyeing in the grease leaves the wool with a softer, more pleasant hand than using scoured fibres.
  • It's fun to go with the unpredictable once in a while.
This pot had roughly equal amounts of blue, red and green dye.  The resulting green wool is a nice, acid colour, but green isn't my favourite colour.  I'd prefer more purples and reds, so I've set up a second dye pot  using mostly red and blue with just a spot of the yellow dye.

A note to dyers in other countries:  if you use food colouring or drink mix powders as your dye (and I'm not a fan of those dye sources, unless I'm dyeing with children), be sure to use something which contains an acid dye.  Some foodstuffs rely on fugitive agents for colours; they're much safer for you, but won't colour your fibres.

In the mean time, the temperatures hit 30C and Morris really, really wanted a drink (and a bucket of cold water poured over him):

He got both.


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