Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Dye Day 2003 Part 1

I wonder how many posts over this blogging world are labelled the same thing! Every spinning group eventually gathers for the specific purpose of playing with the dyepots, and my local group is just the same. The theme this year was dyeing silk scarves. We got interested in this when one of the internet groups we belong to had a silk scarf swap, and we were able to see all of the entries. No restrictions were put on just how the scarf was to be made, so we saw hand-spun, knitted scarves and woven silk scarves, and a few hand dyed silk fabric. Those were what was the inspiration for the dye day this year.

Then my daughter Andrea developed an interest in belly dancing and veils, and wanted to try the same techniques for those. She researched dyes for me, and we ordered silk (8mm habati) and dyes from Tweenway. She used her wonderful new serger for a nice fine hem, and we had plenty of scarves and a veil for her.

Her veil project turned out to be the practice for the dyes. She tried to 'crinkle' the silk on a soda bottle, but it would not really gather right and stay in place. So she went on to just play with different ways to apply the dyes. The hardest thing to do with these projects is STOP! It is so much fun to just try one more thing to see how the colors react and show on the fiber. It was a good learning experience, and really taught us both how the dyes work on silk fabric.

The big day arrived, and everyone at my house had worked hard to make it look wonderful for company. We had tables and chairs set up under the big maple trees, and even a 'country sink' nearby for rinsing. This was an old unused sink, set on a plastic pipe stand, with a hose running to it Worked just fine, and was a source of great fun for the kids, who later in the day took to playing in the water instead of dyeing.

Folks began to arrive, and many dyeing supplies were brought with them. Anita brought two tie dye kits, and already made up acid dyes. She also had plenty of fiber to dye, a roving of cotton/wool, a suffolk washed fleece, and tussah silk roving. Theresa, a non spinner but new knitter, came with a bag full of wool yarn to dye. Viki and her daughters came ready to work with silk and tie dye.

There was no way around it, we had to let the kids start with the tie dye first, they were all bursting with readiness to play with the dyes. So the soda ash water was mixed up and the t-shirts and socks were rubber banded and given a soak. Then the fun part of squirting the red, blue and yellow dyes at random on the clothes. It absorbed the kids interest for awhile, but later they disappeared to explore the creek and other nooks and crannies of my land.

Meanwhile, I was ready to dye my scarf. Andrea was the teacher now, helping us with techniques we could use, and how to mix the dyes. We could paint on the scarf wet, for a very watercolor type look, or on a dry scarf for a bit more control on the color. I say a bit more, because in truth the dye will run easily even on dry fabric. To get a true painted look, one has to use resists, and we were not getting that involved in this project.

My plan was for a vine design to run around the edge and for there to be leaves all over the scarf. I had thought I would even use leaves as stamps. I found instead a rubber stamp of a leaf from a previous project. It worked pretty good, if I put dye on it, and then wiped it almost dry. I got a very impressionistic looking vine around the edge, and some more distinct leaves over the rest of the scarf.

Others were busy painting away on their scarves. Teresa did a bold flower garden looking one, that was much admired. Viki found a solid peachy blend of color that was very lovely. Anita did a wonderful fushia swirl. As they were completed, they were hung on the clothesline, and were picture perfect, every one.


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