Sunday, September 26, 2010

Different fibers, same dyes

I've been very busy these past few weeks.

I did go out of town for a nearly a week with Gale to go to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. That was a lot of fun. I really like that show.

I've had some administrative tasks for Fiber Charmer, such as registering the name as a trade name and getting my business license.

I got sneak attacked on etsy the same night I got back into town from the show. I was so excited to pack up all those orders and get them mailed out. In fact, go check out Handmade Movement and join in a sneak attack or two. It is an amazing boost to the new artist or crafter to get those sales.

I dyed up enough yarn to send out 71 samples to the Phat Fiber Box for their October Steampunk themed box. 70 are mini skeins ranging in length from 15 to about 30 yards long. Most are 25 yards. I'd started with 15 as it was the minimum suggested, but they looked too skimpy, so I only did a few of them before boosting it to 25 yards. If I was near the end of the skein from which I was winding, I just kept going which is why there are a few that are larger. I had one short skein that was about 200 yards, so I just sent it in as is.

I just started getting back into gear and dyeing again a day or two ago. As you can see from the photos, I tried Steampunk on two other bases. I'm nearing the end of the Chris Sock yarn. On the left is a 100% merino, worsted weight yarn. I didn't really like it in the skein, but once it was dyed up and bloomed, my goodness! The one on the right is that seductive blend, MCN, which is superwash merino, cashmere and nylon. Let me say that yarn is a dye hog. It didn't look quite so splotchy when I was dyeing it, but I had run out of dyes, so I decided to just see what would happen. As you can clearly see, it needs a lot more dye. It's getting more, and luckily I have some time to decide on whether I'll overdye it by immersion or handpaint it some more.

I do have another skein of the MCN which I dyed with other colors, and while it's not so splotchy, it's not good either. The not so good experiences do tend to teach us more, don't they?

I'm really hoping to have my logo next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I will be selling at the Atlanta Knitting Guild each month, starting in October. I'll have one of a kind yarns there from test dyeing, or yarns that I'm having a lot of difficulty getting the colors to photograph well.

I'll be working on getting my Artfire store up and running later this week too. I'll post the link when I've got it set up.

Have a great weekend, what's left of it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How a color is born

You may wonder how a dyer comes up with color ideas. I can only speak for myself in this department, although I have been reading up to see how other dyers' minds work.

I'm joining the Phat Fiber Box, and if you're a knitter or spinner who doesn't know about this, go check it out. Now! I'll still be here when you get back.

See, here I am. Still sitting here with my coffee, in front of my computer, which is under an open window that has a cat sleeping in it. It's actually a lovely day here in Georgia after a summer of most miserable heat, but I digress. Back to how ideas occur.

The Phat Fiber Boxes have themes each month, and while a dyer doesn't have to slavishly follow the theme, it does give you a jumping off point. I've spent some time researching October's theme, Steampunk, online and getting ideas about the sorts of colors to use. Taking that information, I decided to use Gale's way of testing new colors, which is mixing tiny amounts in an ice cube tray. She says to use small pieces of silk to dye, but I've also read where you can put dots of color on a paper towel or coffee filter. And that's what I did. I mixed colors and put spots on a paper towel. I wrote my formula for each by it (again on the paper towel), then came and held them by the computer to see how close I was getting. When all was said and done, I had an ice cube tray with tiny amounts of dye that I could a)throw out, b)mix together and use later, or c)apply to one of the short skeins I had sitting around just for that purpose.

Needless to say, I went with c, and painted up the short skein. I painted it, put in into to steam, and after some time, perhaps 40 minutes, turned off the heat as I had somewhere to go. I left it in there to cool while I was gone.

When I got home, I rinsed it and hung it to dry. It's one of those yarns where I can't decide if I like all the colors or not, but as it's just a sample, it doesn't matter.

I'll admit that when I take something new from the pot, I look at it a lot. Every time I pass the bathroom where they are drying from the shower rod, I go in and look. While I know that's about as helpful as watching and waiting for a pot to boil, I haven't been able to stop myself.

Now, this sample yarn was just to use up all the test dyes, and it let's me see that this particular batch of black has a blue cast to it (great), but looking at it as I went to and fro this morning led to an idea popping into my head. I had glanced at it, and the words "blue ring octopus" popped into mind.
Let's be honest, the colors aren't that much like a blue ringed octopus. I think it was a combination of things. The white areas as I didn't have enough dye to totally cover this skein, and I sure wasn't going to mix any more just to do that. After all, this is merely a color study for me.
As I mentioned, and you can see here, I was aiming for a grey color, but my black has blue/lavender undertones. Most of my greys had some blue in them, although that could also be from the fact that I didn't clean syringe I was using to apply colors between colors, so maybe some of the blue was just contamination.
Frankly, that doesn't really matter. Just something about that particular yarn made those words pop into my head, and now I'm wondering about basing a yarn color on a blue ringed octopus.
Or maybe not. The point of all this is you have to be open for inspiration to strike you when you least expect it. It can't be forced, but it's out there, waiting to surprise you.
Let me close with a gratuitous cat picture. Here is Lily, aka Lilydammint!, photobombing as I wasn't petting or feeding her. You can also see her paws in the middle picture in this post.