Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Warning: This Bunny Hole has LONG Tunnels

That should have been on the entrance to this weaving bunny hole I fell down some years ago.  I've been wandering around and getting into mischief here for quite some time but really, somebody should have warned me about the wretched side tunnels...

I started weaving to work with my handspun.  Thus far, only a very few of my woven projects have used handspun.  I found that I like to weave with cotton, but I don't like spinning it.  I also like new challenges.  Recall the conversation with Mandy on the way home from Ogdensburg when we picked up my Swatch Maker loom?  I decided to try Tencel.  Seems fairly straight forward.  Except, I never, ever, seem to take the straight forward route, do I?  ADHD has it's "creative advantages", ahem.  I decided I wanted to make painted warps.  But I know very little about fibre reactive dyes for cellulose fibres so I did a LOT of research.  I may be impulsive, but I am also a perfectionist, so when I get an impulse there is usually a lot of research before I actually dive in.  And, oh my, I have dived in DEEP this time.  This post covers barely the entrance to this particular tunnel, so stay tuned.

I learned from Paula Burch's excellent site "All About Hand Dyeing" a LOT about procion MX fibre reactive dyes.  Paula is a tie-dyer, not a yarn dyer, but she still had plenty of information to get me started.  What she didn't have was numbers.  I am a numbers person.  I like to measure and I don't like to waste.  For that, I found Diane Franklin's Dyeing Alchemy.  The book is very good, though again, it's about fabric dyeing, not yarn.  The spreadsheets are AWESOME!!!  I love a good spreadsheet and I will be able to adapt one of them for painting without much trouble, I think.

I ordered 25g jars of 8 colours of MX dye from G&S in Toronto, choosing the colours based on Paula Burch's table of "pure" MX dye colours.  There are 14 pure colours, the rest are mixes made by the various suppliers.  And I enlisted my friend, Sandy, to go on this adventure with me.  There was going to be sampling, a lot of sampling, a crazy amount of sampling.  I did a bunch of playing with the spreadsheets and made a plan.  2g samples of Tencel (I bought some from Brassard, then my friend Judith gifted me another pound cone to play with) are 15 yards long on my niddy noddy.  I made a lot of skeins of Tencel and some of cotton for comparison.  The first Friday we got together at the Guild Studio Sandy made a lot more skeins and we did value runs for Hot Pink, Orange, and Fuchsia and we did a mixing gradient of Hot Pink and Orange which was reported to give a truer primary red.  The skeins tangled rather terribly, but otherwise it went very well and we were pleased with our results. 
The trouble with fibre reactive dyes is they don't keep in solution very long, so I did some more at home that weekend to use up what we had.  I did the Royal Blue value run and the mixed runs of purples using the Royal Blue against the Hot Pink, Fuchsia and a mix of Hot Pink and Orange.

I made a lot more skeins of Tencel and cotton and figured out a way to tie them that I hoped would result in less tangling.  Fibre reactive dyes need a lot of stirring and washing and rinsing, which means a lot of moving skeins around in water.  We got together again on a Friday, this time our friend, Catherine, joined us.  We made more value runs with Bright Yellow, Golden Yellow, Ceruleun Blue and Black and we did the mixing gradients of greens with the blue and both yellows, and of oranges with Fuchsia and the yellows, and Fuschia and the blue.  That was plenty for one day.

At home, I finished the oranges, greens and purples that weren't done yet.  I thought I was doing it alone, but, true to form, Hobbes turned up to be the day's Helpy Helper.  He thought maybe he'd like to try purple highlights on his ginger.  I convinced him that he is gorgeous the way he is and, after checking the set up thoroughly to satisfy himself that I could manage, left me be to get on with it.

Now we have a set of samples to evaluate and work from and we have learned a lot.  I need to get them into a sample book so I can show them to you in an organized way.  There will still be more samples and then we will start sampling actual warps.  But first, Jan is going to teach me to use a warping reel!

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