Friday, July 30, 2010

Wool/Silk Dye Class - July 2010

One of the students from my last dye class, Debbie Harpe, has agreed to write this post about her experience...
"Being a highly visual person, I enjoy experiences in life that heighten my awareness of the beauty found in the world around us. Last weekend I took Kate Smith's dye workshop on dyeing wool and silk, and it was indeed one of those experiences, Using the roots and flowers of plants, insects, and extracts we created dyes: indigo (blue), madder (red), cochineal (pink to scarlet), cutch (brown) , osage, yarrow and more (yellows), alkanet (purple), Saxon's blue, Saxon's green, bottle green silk and more.
When the indigo dye is ready to be added to the vat (photo above) , it has a mesmerizing purple and copper colored scum swiming on the surface.
Lowering the skein into the can see it turning green.
Upon emerging from the vat, it is a yellow green color. The air hits the wet skein and it oxidizes and turns blue almost instantly.
First dip skeins airing.
Although I found the indigo process the most fascinating, the other colors we created over the course of the two days were just as beautiful. Here is vibrant bottle green silk.
Yarrow flowers ready for the dye pot.
Muted purple from the roots of the alkanet plant...shown next to the plant.
Beautiful Saxon's Blue pulled dripping from the vat...
....and cheerful yellows which were overdyed with indigo to creat vibrant spring greens!
Kate and Debbie the end of two days hard but satisfying work!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kitten update by Lila

Elena was here to weave an alpaca huk throw, and Izzy decided to lend a helping paw...
Nothing better to do during lunch time than play with your sister, even if she does try to wash behind your ears.
Uh oh, Bob has come for a visit... now what? Initially, Rosie and Izzy didn't think much of Bob, and would hiss whenever he got near, but eventually he charmed them enough so that they just ignored him.
Rosie decided to take a nap on Saul's dishtowels. What? Looks comfy to me.... except for the tenterhook... and shuttle.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ye old Sig Vat

This winter there was a group decision amongst my weekly weaving students about the idea
of starting an authentic old-style indigo urine vat. I had first learned to dye indigo this way with
Norman Kennedy in 1975 when I was weaving traditional blue and white blankets. At that time
I was committed to using all handspun yarns and it seemed also appropriate to use the most traditional method of dyeing with indigo. Over the years I have switched to synthetic indigo, lye, and hydrosulfite but I had always hoped to one day go back to dyeing with the urine vat.
With so many willing collectors of the essential ingredient it was hard to pass!
Here is Alison adding her husband George's contribution. We decided to do a 30 gallon vat
so that we could dye substantial quantities and that is alot of urine! It took about three months
of six willing husbands peeing into plastic containers; by May we were ready for the next step.
I had saved about 4 pounds of a very fine lump indigo and for this vat we used about 12 ounces.
The indigo was put into a sock with a rock tied to the bottom so that the sock would sink to the bottom of the vat.
Here is Jackie adding the sock and indigo to the vat. At this point the smell is pretty strong (as shown by Pat holding her nose). Actually once the urine ferments the odor is basically ammonia.
The indigo then sits in the vat for a week or two. Notice the color is still very amber.
About every three days I would go and squeeze the sock to disperse the slowing dissolving indigo into the vat. The heat of late June and July here this summer was really ideal for getting the vat to work.
After another few weeks we were ready for the first dip. The amazing thing about a urine vat, as compared to a hydrosulfite vat, is that you can get a much greater range of colors...from pale blues to the darkest navy.
Here are our first skeins after only three dips. Now they just need to air out for about a month to get rid of the smell!