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MX dying silk scarf blanks.

MX dying silk scarf blanks.

Sorry to say I have been too busy to felt again. I am hoping to have a little more time now my mom’s house is in possession of the new owners. I thought people might like to see this post  I made in 2012 about dying silk blanks with MX dye. this method works with big things too. I did a dress for my much skinnier self once and some boxer shorts. something else I learned since I posted this the first time is that you can use these dyes as acid dies by using a mild acid and heat. the colours aren’t quite as vibrant but if you can only get one kind of dye this will do double duty for you.

 

I dye my own silk and one of the ways I do that is with MX dye. MX Dye is a fibre-reactive dye and works on cellulose or plant fibres like cotton, linen and hemp. It also works on silk. As far as I know, silk is the only fibre that you can use both weak acid dyes that are for protein fibres and the MX dyes.

Scarves blowing in the wind.

I like to use the low water dye method. With this method, you use a jar and just a little water. What I do is scrunch or twist or pleat up my silk to be dyed. In this case, they are all about 2 feet wide and 8 feet long. Then you pack it into the bottom of a jar that is big enough to hold the silk and the dye (1/2 a cup) and the fixative (1/4-1/2 cup). It is important that it be a snug fit for this method to work.

I mix up 2 colours of MX dye in 1/4 cup of room temperature water. Pour them over the silk in the jar one at a time making sure the silk is covered with liquid. If it floats, as you can see a couple of my jars did, you need to carefully weigh them down with something non-metal. Metal will affect the dye. This is another reason you want them tightly jammed in the bottom of the jar but sometimes it happens anyway. Once the dye is in the jar you don’t want to disturb them. You don’t want the dyes to mix completely and give you a solid colour.

dye in jars

I am very impatient. So I usually go do something else for 20 min to an hour then I come back and add the fixative. With MX dye you have to raise the PH to get the dye to stick. The cheapest thing for this is PH up from the pool store. You can use washing soda not baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) or order it from your dye supplier but pool chemical is cheap, especially at the end of the season. I add a tablespoon for each cup of water including the water you’re mixing with. Stir to dissolve and then pour it into the jar. You should leave it for an hour to react but I am impatient as I said and usually dump everything out after about 20 min. Rinse the silk in cold water then hot soapy water then one more cold. Here are some results.

I am sorry the pictures aren’t better but the wind wouldn’t cooperate. They were dry in about 10 min.

Here are some others I’ve done over the years. It is a really fun and easy way to play with dye. You should give it a try.

 

If you want really good detailed instructions I would read about it on Paula Burch’s site. http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/lowwaterimmersion.shtml

 

The never ending silk recycling is finally woven

The never ending silk recycling is finally woven

The silk recycling is woven, it’s all done, finished, tutto finito bandito! I actually ran out of the red and orange silk so for the last little bit I had to dig in the bag and retrieve some matching silk with blue, red and orange. It looks just fine. Once the weaving was done I hem stitched the edge, wove in any loose warp threads and washed the yardage.

The whole mass went into the washing machine on a regular cycle, in cool water with my usual detergent. This is the way I plan on washing the finished jacket. I also did this to release any dyes that are lurking in the silk. The jacket will probably bleed dye for the rest of its life because some dyers do not set the dye in silk. The cotton warp took on a slight pinkish tint, so that helped to level the overall look of the fabric.

I plan to hang dry the jacket, so the material was taken outside to hand dry and freshen in sunlight. This proved a tiny bit problematic. The fabric was really, really heavy when wet. This is also when the light began to dawn that this was not, I repeat not, just a four yard warp. I left the fabric to dry on the railing overnight, where it promptly froze into position. Freeze drying works too, so two days later, in it came.

I was able to measure and confirm that this was clearly a massive piece of fabric. Originally, the warp was estimated to be ‘maybe’ 4 yds or 3.5 meters. It was purchased at an estate sale from one of our guild’s best weavers, but the labels fell off and things got a bit muddled when best efforts were at hand. I knew I was taking a risk, even getting it on the loom was a challenge, but I have no regrets. The length proved a great surprise and reward at the same time. It also explains why I ran out of weaving material. There are 8 yards or 7.5 meters, plenty here to make two jackets if I’m careful!

The final product is gorgeous. It just shimmers in the right light and I really want to do it justice. Even though it is a recycled product, or maybe because it is recycled, it’s important that the final result show the very best characteristics of the fibres that have gone into making it.

Our guild has an amazing resource for researching just about anything fibre related. Jan is our librarian. She is the lead book slinger in our heavy rental group called Jan and the Librarians; they have sessions once a month at the guild. I joined in last weekend and Jan supplied me with my requests for information on Japanese clothes, braids and ‘Saori’ weaving.

Japanese clothes design save weavers from the angst of having to cut their beloved fabric. The patterns are usually straightforward, basic, and interesting. I qualified this statement with ‘usually straightforward’ because I had never seen Saori weaving before nor the clothes that have been designed to use the material woven on a Saori loom. the book is in Japanese, the patterns are like origami on crack and they fascinate me endlessly. Until I can figure out the patterns I opted for a very conservative jimbei pattern from the jacket my son lent me. There are examples of simple patterns in one of the books.

This jimbei is meant for hot summer days. The sides are not stitched close but fastened with a cable stitch or stitched close with a decorative embroidery stitch. The underarm is left open, again for summer comfort.

The front is loosely tied or left open as preferred. I was interested in the reinforcement used at the bottom of the sides. These were the same reinforcements I found on the kimonos, so they clearly work.

The female version of this simple jacket has a closed wrist. It’s called a hippari. I might do one of these for winter if I have enough material left. The photos of the jimbei and hippari are from “Make your own Japanese Clothes” by John Marshall ISBN 0-870110865-X, I really enjoyed reading this book, lots of ideas for ways to incorporate the Japanese style into my life.

There are so many new things I will need to explore once I decide to start sewing this jacket. I’m really looking forward to getting the sewing machine out again.

 

Some strange silk.

Some strange silk.

You saw Jan’s post about the group silk order our guild did after we had a presentation about silk at a meeting. If not or you need reminding it is here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2022/02/05/group-order-of-sanjo-silk/  I have not seen her silk yet. I hope I get to see it the next time we are together. Perhaps she is hiding it from me, afraid I will try to make off with it after seeing what I got.

I have lots of nice silk so I decided to go the other way, I bought the strange stuff. It will be interesting to have at demos.

I got these Tussa silk cocoons. They aren’t like the regular ones you see. These are from wild silkworms and are much bigger than regular ones.  I have never seen them for sale before. This is what the site says about them:

If you think Bombyx cocoons are fascinating, then you’ll be gobsmacked by these. The Tussah silkworm is wild, which means it eats in the wild. The cocoons are harvested from the forests where they feed. They’re huge compared to Bombyx cocoons; each one is about 1 1/2″ (almost 4 cm) long, not including the pedencal stem. This stem, with the ring at the end, is what the silkworm attaches itself to the tree branch with. Each of the cocoons has been cut, and the pupa removed.

tussa silk cocoons tussa silk cocoons

I also got some of this, Kibiso. It might be interesting to use. I am not sure how but we will see. It feels very much like skinny carrier rods if you have seen those or paper.  The website says:

100% Silk Kibiso, which is the outer part of the bombyx cocoon, the less refined part.  It’s a bit like Excelsior, which is the woody fibre used in Easter baskets, but this is 100% Silk. It’s a nest of fibre, unprocessed, stiff, and lofty. It takes dye spectacularly,

 

Kibiso Kibiso Kibiso

 

Last is strangest. they’re 2 thicknesses of the same I am not sure why I got both. The excitement of the moment perhaps.

The finer stuff it says:

This yarn is 100% Silk – Tussah, which has been cajoled into this wonderful yarn. It’s stiff, quirky, and will add lots of texture and personality to your creative pieces. It can be woven and knitted – think about 3-dimensional pieces. Use it along the edge of a knitted piece. Incorporate it into your weaving to add body and texture.

strange silk yarn strange silk yarn strange silk yarn close up

 

And the thicker one says:

This is the yarn that gets the most attention when seen in person. In a whole display of beautiful, luscious silk yarns, people will zoom in on this one and say, “Wow, what is THIS???” It’s 100% Silk. We call it dreadlocks because that’s exactly what it looks like. It’s thick and glorious. It’s quite firm when you get it, but it softens a bit when soaked in warm water. This is a yarn that requires imagination. Think about 3 dimensions when using this yarn – it’s thick, has loads of body, and has the most intriguing texture. Make baskets with it. Wall hangings. Sculptural pieces. It’s truly magnificent.

super thick strange silk yarn

comarison of thin and thsuper thick strange silk yarn

super thick strange silk yarn close up

“Yarn”., I put that in quotes because it is technically yarn but would not say it was spun. Looking at it I would say someone rolled some wet gummy scrap fibre in some mud or a barnyard and called it done. Calling them dreadlocks is an insult to dreadlocks and calling it glorious or magnificent, is just wrong. Interesting, intriguing, sure but glorious, no. I can’t help feeling like there is someone somewhere havering a great laugh at my expense. I can’t say I blame them. LOL

At some point, I will soak some in hot water and some with hot water and soda ash to see what happens to them. What would you do with them?

 

 

 

 

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