Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Friday, 24 August 2012

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Part 3: Sometimes You Win; Sometimes You Lose

I'm happy with the second rainbow dye pot; the colours are richer and more to my liking. The Greener Shades acid dyes work well, both for conventional, controlled dyeing and random pots.

The weather turned to cloudy and cool, so this pot went on the stove.  I brought the water to a full simmer, then turned off the heat and allowed the fleece to cool before rinsing.  There was a lot of red dye run-off in this bath.  Even with repeated rinsing, the final rinse water had a tinge of red to it; however, there is no crocking or bleeding of the dyes.

Here is the second pot soaking:

The final results are rich and vibrant:

Yesterday was sunny and hot again, so I put all my dyed fleece on the front step to dry, teased and sorted it into colour batches, while Mickey stood guard:

The small skein on top of the fleece is my first sample of yarn from this Romney.  I spun the yarn on my Lendrum wheel, directly from teased fibre and plied the singles back on itself.  I then fulled the skein in a hot, soapy bath and hot rinses, and finished the skein by whacking it across the metal railing on my front step.  The skein is quite coarse and textured.  I'll knit a sample later, but it appears that yarn made this way will be suitable for bags or outerwear. The colours are much more lively than they would have been had I dyed them with a single, controlled dyeing technique.

Buoyed by my successes, I decided to experiment with some natural dye liquids I'd just purchased.  I mordanted 100 grams of Romney fleece with 30 ml. pickling alum (aluminum potassium sulphate), added a dash of dish washing detergent to a bucket of hot water, packed in the fleece and gently poured the dyes (indigo, carmine and fustic) over the batch. The pot looked lovely:

As it sat, things changed, and not in a good way.  Instead of setting, the colours appeared to fade.  After a day in a covered pot set in the sun, I decided to heat up the dye bath on the stove, as directed in the instructions.  The whole bath turned to a muddy red.  When I rinsed the fleece, this was the result:

All the dye washed away, leaving only faint tints of yellow and a hint of pink on the wool. On the bright side, I now have a batch of premordanted Romney fleece waiting for my next (traditional) natural dyeing session.

I'm not naming the natural dye extracts, because the problem may not have been with the dyes themselves, but with how I used them.  While the final dye pot was a big disappointment, it was also a good lesson-I won't use these dyes in this way again.  I'm happy with the first results of my dyeing and I now have a large batch of fleece with which to play.  I'll keep you posted on the fabric that comes out of my rainbow pots.


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