It seems a few of us have had the dying bug. I couldn’t find my green curls and I needed some for another little picture I wanted to do, so I decided to do 3 colours of green to give me some variety. I did them in large freezer bags so I would only need one pot. I know I could have done them in the microwave in the bags but I am not really fussy about microwave dying.
The curls I have already separated are small Blue Faced Leister curls, my favourites. I divided the curls into three bags and added some vinegar water and three different greens to them. I used Dharma acid dye 461 Avocado, Prochem 716 Moss, and Prochem 735 Shamrock.
I forgot to take a picture of the curls but you can see these bags haven’t been cooked because they look like white locks in a green liquid. The colours don’t look very different at this point. Makes you wonder if you have gone to a lot of fuss to make three bags of the same colour. Time will tell.
I didn’t want them to be sitting on the bottom of the pot because they might melt. To prevent that catastrophe I put some ramekins in the bottom of the pot to keep them up. Empty tuna cans would have worked too.
I cooked them at a low simmer for 30 min then checked them.
Two of them definitely needed more cooking so I popped them all back in for 15 min( I think, or maybe it was 30 min) and checked again.
The third one was clear. I decided to let them cool in the bags and only one had any colour left in it by then but it wasn’t much.
I rinsed them, spun them out in the salad spinner and put them out onto a wire rack to dry. and this is the final result; three different greens.
So had to get a good picture of the true colour. The top right and bottom left are the same curls but look so different as the sun came out from behind a cloud and the room brightened. Their true colour is between the two. I like the way the locks are not solid colours. It gives them more life and depth of colour.
Using bags in a pot of water is a great way to dye lots of different colours at once. It’s especially useful when you don’t want huge amounts of any one thing. Who hasn’t been tempted by those little bags of colour at a sale or in a store? They are usually expensive. This way you can make your own. It’s a great way to try making your own colours by mixing your dyes and you don’t have to commit to having a huge amount until you know you like the outcome. Use a permanent marker to write down your proportions of dye right on the bag so you can replicate the colour later.
So this happened at my house recently. When it snows, what do you do? Snow dye, of course!
Luckily, I had just gotten a bunch of silk scarves that needed dyeing. I put them in a large plastic tub with grates underneath to keep them above the muck that occurs with this process. The scarves were soaked in soda ash solution before I put them in the tub. I tried several methods of scrunching up the scarves so the dye would be unevenly applied, sort of a cheater’s shibori. This process is very serendipitous and if you want the colors to stay separate, use separate tubs.
Then I scooped up a bunch of snow and put that on top of the scarves.
Next I added fiber reactive dye powder (and a bit of acid dye). Sorry for the bad photo. I tried to keep the colors over where the two scarves were. Of course, it migrates where you aren’t expecting it. From left to right:
cerulean blue, turquoise, sapphire
antique gold, pewter
daffodil, purple haze (acid dye)
scarlet, cabernet, oxblood, fire engine (last three acid dye)
I always get excited to see what I have the next day. The snow melted overnight and I had already removed the scarves on the far right before I remembered to take a photo. You can see the dye in the bottom of the tub is very dark and that is why I use the screens. This process does waste dye powder and I think I over did it this time and used too much. But I don’t like a bunch of white in my scarves and I like deep, rich colors. That’s my excuse 😉
Then the rinsing and washing out of scarves happened. Followed by a lot of ironing. These never look very good until they are completely ironed. Then you can see the color changes, some of which are subtle.
There are two of each main color and I am showing these as they were in the tubs from left to right. I’m calling these two iris.
These are called Monet’s Garden.
These are a bit more golden then they show in the photos and I have named them Dawn Mist.
These two are from a combination of purple acid dye and yellow fiber reactive dye. I wasn’t sure if the acid dye would be strong enough but I really like these two, named Northern Lights.
The last two were mainly acid dye with one fiber reactive. I was a bit disappointed with these two but hubby says that he thinks some people will prefer solid colors. We shall see. I named these two garnet. I will be taking these to Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center to sell in their gift shop.
Which colors do you prefer? Have you tried snow or ice dyeing? Always fun to see the results!
I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.
I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt. I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it. If you know let me know.
I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.
Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.
Added the lighthouse and the path
Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.
And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide. you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise. I stretched it out.
Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.
I added some small blue dots for flowers.
Then the foreground grass
Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.
This is a close up of the stitching.
That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression. Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL
So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it, I decided to fiddle with it more. First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small. And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.
Mr. Mer had so much fun with last weeks’ stretching and mirror blog that, if you don’t mind, he would like to do another one. But he was very insistent that he needed to hit the wool before the next shoot.( He wanted to increase his bulk, especially in his upper arms and quads. I am not sure why a mer-man needs quads but ok, fine. I did some quick colour blending with the hand carders to help him out.) Unfortunately this past week in Ottawa has been overcast with grey clouds, drizzle and today, more snow. So not the best weather for colour blending but I did my best.
While I worked, I figured I should explain to him why we can have problems with the muscles in the neck and into upper shoulders.
“Think of your head as a bowling ball balancing precariously on a short Dowel. To help keep it from falling off there are two sets of cords at the front and 2 sets at the back.” I said as I brought wisps of the green colours from his fishy parts up to integrate it with his low and mid back. Then as I continued to explain, I added a yellowed skin tone base and more definition in his arms.
The front cords are called SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) which is one of my most favorite muscles in the whole body!! You have one on either side of your neck and they are amazing! Their name tells you where they are going and where they have been. They attach on the skull at the mastoid process, It’s a bump behind your ear, then head inferior to split and attach to the superior medial clavicle and the superior border of the Manubrium which is the top bone of the sternum. But wait, this muscle gets even better! When you use (Contract) only one of the two you get Ipsolateral contralateral rotation!!! Is that not the coolest thing ever!!! Ok that means that it tips your ear towards your shoulder and then rotates your chin in the opposite direction. Now you see how cool it is!!
Balancing with the two front cables (SCM) are the 2 back cables called Levator scapulae. They’re cool too. They are the elevators of the scapulae (shoulder blades). The inferior attachment is to the superiomedial scapula and the superior attachments are to the transverse processes of the upper 4 cervical vertebra. Think of them as like the Darth Vader of muscles. They can get the Suboccipitals or upper traps in trouble then look all innocent and claimed they didn’t start all the unhappiness.
Levator scapula is located under the upper traps muscle, which you can see draping over the upper back and shoulder.
The felting needle indicates the area of the superior attachment to the transverse processes of the upper four cervical vertebrae.
The felting needle is a little high but is trying to indicate the inferior attachment which is to the superiomedial scapula
Today we are going to look at Levator scapulae. Which is used when you stare (it stabilizes your head); at your artwork, the computer, a good book or where your needles are heading so you do not stab yourself. The longer you work without remembering to take a break, the grumpier they tend to get. Luckily, there is a stretch for them. Think of it as “visually checking to see if your armpit smells”. You are just looking out of the corner of your eye. You don’t have to get your nose into your armpit (that would be very uncomfortable). You may have to adjust the position a bit depending on the section of the muscle that is tight. Some patients find it feels like the correct stretch when they are looking out of the corner of their eye towards their thigh rather than their armpit.
Now if Mr. Mer will stop hamming it up with dramatic death scenes we can break down the stretch for you.
Make sure you move only in comfort. A feeling of pulling is fine but not a feeling of pain. If pain starts, back up just a bit on the movement. My teachers suggested it was preferable to do the movements separately, tip and then rotate. Add the pulling with the arm if needed. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds but stop if it is uncomfortable.
Mr Mer has been felting with his right hand and has been finding tension building in the Right Levator scapula so he tips his left ear towards his left shoulder. Make sure both shoulders are down and relaxed (they will sometimes try to help by coming up. That isn’t really helpful) If you need to keep the shoulder from cheating sit on your Right hand or hold on to the seat of the chair with it.
While keeping your ear close to your shoulder rotate your head so you are peeking out of the corner of your eye at your armpit. Sometimes you will find the feeling of the stretch by looking more at your thigh that is ok too.
If you feel like you would like a bit more intensity to your stretch, you can use the hand of the arm you are looking towards and gently rest it on your head. If you feel like you would like to increase the stretch try a gentle pull diagonally, down towards the thigh.
Adjust the angles until you feel the tugging of the stretch from the top of the shoulder blade to the upper neck. Sometimes you feel the edge of upper traps on the top of the shoulder. It’s still a good stretch but you’re one muscle over from the one you are looking for. Keep adjusting ear tip and head rotation and add a bit of a tug until you find that “AHHHH” spot.
Mr Mer says he is feeling half relaxed and will do the other side after the blog is done. “Don’t forget to use your Mirror to check your shoulder isn’t trying to be helpful and sneak up while you are doing your stretch”
Sometimes in the planning stage of a project we can spend a lot of time web surfing, looking at information for what must be only minutes but strangely seems to have been hours when I consult the clock! Mr. Mer and I hope this stretch may help if you too get lost in lots of great idea generating hours on the computer!
I got my ha finished…Yay… So naturally, it is raining. Oh well, I know the cold will come.
Rub, rub, roll, roll. You know the drill. once it shrank enough I popped it onto a hat form to see how it was doing size-wise. It is very hard to photograph because it is so dark and the silk by and large disappears once it is wet.
Top view, it looks a bit raggy around the brim but it isn’t. It has silk wrapped around it and it has shrunk up making wrinkles. Except for one spot at about 11:00. I will have to sew or needle it down.
Side-ish view, You can just see the silk colour.
It is on my high dome block. It is much too tall but I like the slope of the crown on this one better. the height I want is the block in the back but it is much flatter on top. It is loose on the block too. So more rolling. It didn’t take much rolling to get the right size around but quite a bit to get it short enough.
and then it was time to roll the flower
I pinned it in place so it will dry rolled up nicely.
…..two days later and it’s dry. I am taking pictures quickly because I need my table to wrap presents. I have tried to brighten them on the computer so you can see them better.
It looks good but trying it on it’s a bit tight. Then I realize why, my high dome is a 22 and my other one is a 23. I need the 23 to allow for my braid. So I turned on the steamer and got it hot and stretched it out to 23 using the right size block. Now it fits properly.
here’s the inside or underside however you look at it. again the dark colour is hard to see but I think you can see the texture of the silk with the Nuno felt.
the felting is finished but I think I will shave it to see if I can bring up the colour of the silk more. I still need to make a couple of leaves out of this felt and sew the flower so it stays rolled up.
I hope that for the next post I will have something else to show you but also the hat with the leaves and maybe even on my head.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. It has been great to be able to stay connected to you all through the internet. It has really helped keep me sane through this stressful year of the pandemic. I will see you in the New Year.
I finally started my new hat. first I had to make the template. I started with one I had then changed one side.
I was down to the last of my purple so I decided to use black for the middle layer. the purple is so dark black seemed the best choice. Now I will have enough of the purple to make some mitts after the hats done.
For some reason, I decided to fiddle with the silk for the inside next. It would have made more sense to do it after laying out the wool. the silk sticks out past the bottom. this is sow I can fold it back over the edge of the wool along the bottom. so the bottom will remain open.
Having done this first I had to leave it on because it wouldn’t go back on properly If I took it off. If I had wet it, it would stay without the clothes pins but I don’t like layout out on top of wet stuff.
So onto the laying out of the wool.
All done and ready to assemble.
After wetting it down and wrapping the sides around I added the silk lap.
That’s it for now. I am hoping the open bottom works. I haven’t made a hat that way in years. I should be able to tell you next week in my next post.
After a long pause from felting to work on the Guild Library survey (why did no one tell me data analysis was so much fun?) with interruptions to torture incent unsuspecting flax plants, I am now back to working on the Mer’s. Shark Boy is coming along nicely but seems to be missing something… hair!! They will all need hair, but I want it to work with their tail colours too.
Well, I should have some locks or at least some bits of fleece that might work for long hair, because what Mer would not want long hair? All that floating along behind them in the water, looking flowy, and lustrous. Gorgeous tresses, getting in their eyes when they are hunting. ok maybe a braid might be better or another somewhat controlled hairstyle but long, defiantly.
I am imagining picking up bits of colour from the body may be a base of black or dark gray with streaks and accents of some of the body tones. Since Hair should be different than skin, I want to use a different fibre than the Corriedale I have used for the body. Something with a bit more body, (without the use of styling products or heavy conditioners).
In 2019 I picked up a couple of “Coarse” fleeces from the Wool Growers Co-op. Both are quite soft but are more towards a wavy hair than a fluffy crimpy type of sheep. Both are off white to light gray. I also have a reddish-brown Shetland fleece that might be interesting overdyed. I collected a sandwich zip lock bag of each from my stash and turned to the problem of changing their colour.
I need hair dye! Well, I have threatened my hair with that if it didn’t do something interesting as it’s progressing back to the “blond” I was born with. (Ann says it’s a shade of light gray, I claimed it’s just transforming to blond a very light shade of blond that I hope one day will be white) so I don’t have any hair die and none in greens and blues. Humm.
1 I don’t have any hair die
I do have some old Ritz dies in the basement but they are for dyeing medieval gowns so a bit too much for small samples of fleece. I have heard rumours that you can use food colouring to dye with. Yep, checked youtube, they seem to show only dyeing yarn but it should work with what you make yarn with! Ok, check the kitchen, no food colouring. I have a plan! Ask Glenn to pick some up on his way back from work! Thanks, Glenn.
So I had collected samples of the two coarse fleeces and a bit from one of the Icelandic. My final fibre to add was horsehair to give a bit more body. I have some dark and light tail hair but unfortunately, it was clumped together and tangled. I was able to extract some and got them laying parallel, held together with a bulldog clip.
Now what do I cook all this in. it’s a bit small for even my smallest pot. Hummm. I am not using the plastic organizer trays I was using for saucers on some of the outdoor plants. I wonder if they would go in the microwave? They don’t say that they don’t go in the microwave!
2-3 Plan B
I am likely too impatient but I soaked the fibres in warm water and vinegar to prep them for dying. I realized I could fit most of my samples in one organizer and left one sample in the other. I let it soak until the fibre seemed quite saturated and removed some of the excess water.
4-6 Soaking in water and vinegar
When I could not stand the wait any longer, I dripped in drops of strait blue die on one end of the containers.
7 Dye just sitting there
Well, that was disappointing. They just sat there, maybe I took out too much water. I think it needs a poke to inspire the die to migrate a bit. (One of the YouTube videos poked at their skeins in the dye bath) where did I put the spare take out wooden chopsticks? Found them! Why are they with the plastic straws? (maybe filed by the similarity of shape?) Poke, poke, stab, poke and the die is migrating along the top. Ok, let’s add some green and see if we can get a bit of migration and mingling. This is starting to sound quite social. I should put out cookies and make drinks! Again, green drips just sat there. Maybe a bit more water, AH! Yes, now it’s mingling better. More poking but not stirring and I have a nice blue-green, not the Prussian blue I was hoping for but it’s not the right base blue I suspect.
8-9 Poked with chopsticks then tipped the container to migrate the dye
Next, I dripped in some yellow to both samples and worked that in with more poking. Finally, I tipped the containers and got the unattached die to migrate towards the undyed parts. I assessed how it looked and deemed the blue was not quite what I wanted. Maybe a bit of red to get the blue a bit more towards purple would be better? Let’s try that on the samples with the darker one. A few drops! Oh, my! Red is an aggressive colour! Well, I’m not sure you would call that blue but it is investing. Let’s see what it looks like when it’s dry.
10 3 drops of red
11-13 Heating it up, then letting it cool
Now on to the microwave, let’s guess a minute at a time. Two minutes total gave a nice hot dyebath but still a lot of suspended die. I cooked both for 2 minutes covered with cling wrap and remembered to take the mettle bulldog clip off the horsehair before I stuck it in the microwave. Now let it sit covered until it cools down on the stove and see if I have suspended dye left in the wool.
14 one leaked but it did seem to have survived the microwave
Usually, I am much better at this patents thing, maybe I will go make some oolong tea. In addition, one of the last of the season’s butter tarts made by Ann. She is amazing and her butter tarts are Really good!
15-16 Oolong with one of the last tarts of 2020.
17 Cooling fibre on the stove
Enjoyed the Butter tart, drank most of the tea and worked on the computer….. Then went to drain and rinse the wool samples. Looking good!! I added some soap and re-rinsed, seems to have mostly stopped leaking blue.
18-19 Rinsing in the sink
So a light squeeze and draped over a chopstick and paper towel to dry.
20-21 set out to dry
Went back to the computer (played Rune scape) then back to the kitchen to check on the wool and start dinner (miso and ginger soup with shitake mushrooms, onion and noodles). The wool seems to have left a few spots on the paper towel but is looking very colourful.
22 a bit of staining on the underside of the paper towel
23-24 dyeing made me hunger for dinner
25-26 Dry and ready to use
It was interesting to see how little die the white horse tail hairs picked up. I may get better results by letting them simmer overnight in a die bath but there is a bit of colour and they may still work.
It has been years since I got a chance to dye anything and this was a lot of fun. I will have to keep an eye out for variegated grey fleeces in 2021 and consider doing some dyeing outdoors next spring. (Glenn does have that second forge but it might make the dye bath a bit too hot. So maybe I can use the barbeque.) Have fun and happy felting!
The last time I wrote, I talked about dyeing yarn. As an indie dyer, my job is to create colourful yarn that someone else will turn into something beautiful. That’s pretty much the norm.
Now, what if I turned that regular idea around and dyed the finished item instead? What would happen? Let’s find out!
I had some very lovely 4-ply yarn at hand, plus some mohair lace that was just coarse enough to be uncomfortable if used alone. Paired together they would make the perfect DK weight yarn for a cardigan I wanted to knit.
Fast forward 2 or 3 days, and here’s the finished cardigan, minus the buttons.
Let the experiment begin! I wanted a red base. I had to add that to the dye bath first. It looks very much like a murder scene, so let me tone it down by inserting a cute photo of my cat Marshmallow next to it.
Since I wanted the red to be soaked up slowly and evenly, I started with cool water and no acid for binding. This will ensure the colour is seeped up gradually and has time to get to the whole garment. I then added the wet cardigan, turned on the heat to medium-low and kept an eye on it.
After 15 minutes, the water was warm and I could see that the red was all over the cardigan. Time to add citric acid gradually. Then turn up the heat, simmer for 10 more minutes, turn it off and wait for the water to clear up and cool completely.
A good sign that you’ve used the right amount of dye and acid is that the water clears up completely once cooled. This is also a great sign of minimal bleeding in future washes, the bane of any dyer.
(If your water isn’t clear, try adding more acid and simmering for another 15 minutes. Let the water cool completely and see if things aren’t better.)
I really liked this colour, but a rule of thumb is, if it looks perfect under water, it’s too light when dry. I also wanted a bit more dimension to the red, so some dark grey was needed.
I didn’t want this new colour to soak up evenly, so I didn’t remove the cardigan from the bath water as I added the new dye, and I kept the same acidic, fast-absorption water from before.
And here she is afterwards in all her glory!
I know the “scruffy look” might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I love it. It looks like a long-worn cardi, something my nan might have passed on to me. The vintage buttons complete the look.
Now, the important question: is the end result the same as dyeing the yarn in the skein? The answer is a resounding No. Depending on how tight you knit, you might end up with a lot of areas that the dye won’t get to because the stitches act as a resist. You can see lighter areas in the photo below, something I fully expected, even though I’m a fairly lose knitter. I actually like this feature because it’s very different from what you normally see.
I had never done anything like this before, and you might be horrified to know that after this, I’ve knit a shawl and now have a second cardigan on the needles, and both will receive the same after-completion dye treatment…
I wore it for the first time yesterday (at the time of writing) and it kept me warm all afternoon indoors.
I hope you enjoyed this experiment. Let me know if you’ve ever tried anything like this before, and what the outcome was! If not, what dyeing shenanigans have you been up to or would like to try?
As you recall I was dying some silk lap for my cowl. They turned out well. Silk always looks so raggy after dying. I think it’s the squeezing out of the excess water. They look a little better dry after a little shake and stretch.
With the cowl being different colours of purple I think either the gold/orange or gold/ orange/purple.
I decided on the gold/orange/purple. the gold/ orange was to close the leaf fabric. I cut a small amount from one side of the lap.
I stretched the silk over the back of the cowl leaving enough on each end to cover the front.
I flipped it over and then cut up the leaves to decorate the ends. I put some on the underside( the silk side) and some on the top.
Then the other end
You saw above I had about 10 grams of silk. After stretching it out to get the amount of silk lap I wanted, I ended up cutting about 1/4 of it off the 2 ends.
I covered it up and gave it a good rubbing on both sides and rolled it up. Next up, the rolling. I am starting to feel like this is the never-ending cowl but I hope to show you it all finished in the next post. Before I can do that, I have to make some more masks, my mom wants a couple and some more pie making. And of course, today is Halloween. No trick or treating for the kids but the grandkids are having a haunted walk in the field. The grownups have as much fun setting it up as the kids will have running around in it.
If you remember I started to work on a new cowl design for maybe teaching or maybe selling but at least one for myself. here the blog if you missed it or want to remind yourself. https://wp.me/p1WEqk-9Ha
Sorry to disappoint but it still isn’t finished. I did decide I wanted to put some autumn leaves on it so I made some prefelt to cut them out of. I started with green, I want it to be in the middle. I was thinking of having a little green showing at the edges might look nice.
then I added some reds orange and golden yellow. I did it in an odd pattern so I could cut out leaves that were not all one colour. The pictures are not great. No matter what I did they looked blurry. I think it’s too much light bouncing off the fibres it just can’t focus.
I flipped it over and laid out to “match” the other side. The green is thin so it wasn’t hard to see the colours through it.
Next, I got out my silk top and my silk hankies and put some on both sides to give it some shine. I tried to get pictures of it but it doesn’t show at all.
This is the finished piece. You can see the silk now.
There is only one more regular market day, this Saturday and then I get a break until the Christmas markets on Nov. 21 and 28. I plan to get the cowl done and to make some baskets to sell. So, fingers crossed, more to come.