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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dye Day @ Leslie's

Great blessings were heaped upon my undeserving, but welcoming, head yesterday.

Leslie Shelor hosted a dye day at Greenberry House and Linda and I were the happy dyers. I've used natural dyes but never Jacquard dyes and it was great fun as well as a learning experience.

Linda had her first two skeins of handspun (one being Coopworth and I can't remember the other) and I had one skein of farmspun (blend of 50/50 wool mohair) and one of millspun Suffolk, a down breed. The wool mohair blend is 240+ yards and the Suffolk is 200 yards. The first will be used for a hat and fingerless mittens and the Suffolk will, probably, be overdyed and sold for socks. Suffolk makes a fabulous yarn where great warmth is needed as the high loft traps warm air and holds it close to the body. Linda and I make the decision to spot dye one of our skeins and to immerse dye the other skein. Leslie has a hand spun, hand knitted scarf she'll immerse dye and she graciously allows Linda and I to choose the dye colors of the day.

The three of us have a lot in common and one commonality is we all three love purple/violet. After all, it's the color of royalty and we three are Daughters of the King so purple/violet it is. Turquois and a pale yellow round out the selection.

Leslie uses Jacquard dyes which allows one to control the concentration of the formula. She uses about one tablespoon of dye powder in one cup of hot water and then mixes this in a sports water bottle with a nipple. We're hoping the nipple will make for more directed spot dyeing as we all forget to bring those little plastic ketchup bottles with a narrow top.

The skeins pre-so
ak in hot water and a drop of dishwashing detergent which acts as a surfacant. Doing this allows the yarn to more evenly soak up more of the dye. It's important to immerse the skeins into the hot water because if the hot water is allowed to flow over the skeins, the skeins may very well felt. Of course, the Suffolk isn't going to felt if you beat it with a stick and walk on it but the Romney Shetland wool mohair blend will felt if you look at it crossly.

After thoroughly wetting the skeins they are laid, somewhat evenly, on the countertop and we begin squirting dye onto the skeins. After the yarn is dyed to our liking, it's rolled up in a clear plastic wrap. First, it's rolled length wise and then rolled into
a ball and placed into a kettle with hot water in the bottom. We're using a canning kettle with a jar holder so the wrapped yarn can be laid atop the wire and steamed. The yarn is steamed about thirty minutes which sets the color and then removed, unwrapped and placed into another kettle of hot water into which one cup of vinegar has been added. The vinegar acts as a mordant, setting the color so it won't bleed in subsequent wearings and washings.

Our other skeins and Leslie's scarf are immersed in a kettle of hot water and dye, purple of course! It's allowed to simmer, not boil, for approximately thirty minutes and then lifted out and placed into another kettle of hot water and vinegar. Again, the vinegar acts as a mordant, setting the d

Linda, left, and Leslie, right, are holding the first spot dyed yarn. My two skeins are hanging on my fence with my sheep in the background.

I learned quite a few things and remembered other things as the day lengthened. Basic color wheel knowledge is important...both to know and to remember . I had forgotten when yellow is introduced to any kind of blue/purple, the resulting color My first skein came out quite greenish due to the yellow being used with the violet and turquoise. It's pretty but not as vibrant as I wanted. The second skein has a very vivid purple/amethyst color and is beautiful. I'm thinking a hat and pair of fingerless mittens from this skein and probably some left over. The first skein I might overdye and will be ordering some Jacquard dyes later today.

A most excellent day in the company of talented and gracious friends. Who among us isn't rich when we can count good friends among life's blessings?


  1. Oh! I didn't know one of your skeins was Suffolk! wow. Both those skeins were so nice to touch! Now, I've just got to find time to head down to Uncle Jimmy's and get that stash of Suffolk hanging in his barn!!! By the way, you are absolutely a trip! I've laughed over your MDK post until I cried! Cheers!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog. The yarn that you dyed in beautiful and I love the picture you created with the sheep.


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