Friday, October 26, 2012

Dyeing for Color

I've been thinking about color lately. Lots of color. The leaves are in full fall color. When I'm running through the forest I can see the entire rainbow in the fall foliage. I love looking for the rainbows in nature! Sunsets have every color of the rainbow in them. When I lived in Puerto Rico I thought it was only the ocean sunset that was so ablaze with rich color. Now that I'm in the mountains and watching the big flaming ball sink below the mountain tops in fiery displays of majestic glory I know there are beautiful sunsets around the world. We now have trees full of red, yellow, and orange reflecting the glorious sunsets.

Years ago I was an avid quilt artist. I designed and sold art quilts. My favorite fabrics to use were the ones I dyed myself. I would dye unbleached and bleached cottons in varying lengths using cold water fiber reactive dyes. One of my favorite ways to do this was a graduated rainbow in 24 mason jars. I ended up with yards of deep rich color in varying intensities. It was perfect for my particular style of quilting. I took peoples memories, dreams, and experiences and portrayed them in fiber. Some were pictures, some were geometric interpretations of one aspect of the memory. 

This week I've been thinking about yarn dyeing and how I could apply my experiences dyeing cotton fabrics and tie-dye t-shirts to wool dyeing. I've come up with a few ideas I want to play with. The first is mason jar dyeing and a graduated rainbow using 20-30 yard lengths of cream sock weight yarn. I measured off the yarn using my niddy noddy.

Then I soaked it in warm water while preparing the jars for dyeing.

The dye I used is food coloring. I know I could use powdered acid dye and have some very rich color combinations. I was after a simple rainbow and wanted to keep my supplies food safe. I used 6 jars and spread out my food dye in a manner that blended color from one jar to the next. Each jar had vinegar and food coloring in it before I added the boiling water to it. After I added the water I put yarn into each jar and waited for the color to be absorbed into the yarn. I had to repeat this process to dye 12 colors.

It only took minutes and then I was able to rinse each yarn under hot water. About the same temperature as the yarn was. I usually try to keep my temperature very close so I don't end up felting the wool. This wool is a superwash wool so there is no danger of it felting. That makes the process much easier. 

What I ended up with was about 400 yards of yarn in varying degrees of a rainbow. I'm planning to knit this up into a wide scarf, it will be so wide you might even call it a shawl. The colors are bright and happy. I'll wear it this winter to bring a fresh splash of color into my dark winter world.

With all this talk of color what am I fixing up for my dinner meal? Color of course! Butternut squash, red potatoes, red kale, and some purple eggplant. Not a super fancy meal. Just a meal filled with beautiful food, rich colors, both soluble and insoluble fiber, and flavor!

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