Thursday, December 2, 2010

There's No Such Thing As a Bad Shade of Blue... Green, On the Other Hand...

As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago, I was working through the dilemma of what to do with some green 70% alpaca 30% wool fiber that just never sold. It had a lovely texture, in my opinion, but the color wasn't swaying anybody. My posse at guild suggested blending the green fiber with some other colors, but then my Mom concluded that she would like the green. So I spun up a sample, because these days you have to test the waters first, as Mom's eyes are not as good as they used to be. Sadly, she concluded that a single color would be too hard to see, so I set off on an adventure to create something with other colors in it that would work better for Mom.

Now, take a look at the fiber that my spindle is resting upon. I'm thinking I've found my blend fiber. This fiber is wool (and you know I hate working with wool, because it makes me itch). My friend Val gave it to me. It arrived an interesting shade of yellow - yellow like in sunflowers, very deep - with a maroon in it as well. And, well, I'm not a yellow person. I'm a blue person. I could be a green person if I absolutely had to, but only because deep in my heart I know it has blue in it somewhere. Anyway, I'm thinking that the light green, with this amazing green-blue-maroon could really pop. So I think I'll try that on Mom.

But back to the dyeing, which has been going on now for 2 weeks, even on Thanksgiving Day...

In my house, nothing is ever simple. So I got out the dye and decided that I would dye the lovely Canadian E-Bay alpaca a darker green, and then blend that in. Now, I have several different vendors' dyes, so I thought I would try my hand at using the tie dye. Tie dye, or in this case, Priocion Forest Green fiber reactive cold water dye from Earth Guild, can be used with wool, but it was really intended for use with cotton. I followed a recipe and when I put the fiber in, it looked great, but when I pulled it out, I had a nasty celery colored fiber, not forest green. Retreat, in this case, was the better part of valor, so I switched to another dye in my collection, lanaset dye.

Now, if you're familiar with the family motto, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing", you can imagine where things went next. I started with green, got some nice greens out of that. Then I moved on to blue, purple, burgundy, back to blue, and on to green again. Needless to say, the house is full of fiber. Lots and lots of pretty fiber. And it wasn't enough to dye the 6 pounds of Canadian E-Bay alpaca. Nope, I had to move on to silk, moreno, and bunny. I wanted different fibers to blend in, after all. And there was fake cashmere. And there was Bombyx silk and tussah silk. And then, as long as I was there, I had a big bump of wool, so I started dying that. I finished off by overdying a grey alpaca from Oh, My! Alpacas.

You're probably thinking, "That's a lot of time spent in the garage, Barb." Fortunately, my sweet patookie of a husband (who is convinced we are all going to die of chemical poisoning) allowed that if I were to work in the laundry room, with the door to the rest of the house closed, a window open in the bathroom, and a fan on in the bathroom, then he'd be all right with me dyeing inside. And I can't tell you how convenient that made things. I put stuff into the pot, and then wandered off and worked on other stuff. One dyepot was enough, because I just plugged along with a color until I couldn't stand to look at it any more, and then added in chemicals and a different color and moved on from there.

Now that I've dyed silk, I'm just dying (no pun intended) to do more. Silk absorbs dye and comes out really bright. Look at this blue silk - isn't it amazing?

The rule of the household is, however, that I cannot buy more fiber until I finish processing what I've got. So there are these huge bags upstairs of alpaca fiber that my friend Edie brought me a few weeks ago. I'm betting there's 20 pounds, though I haven't weighed it yet. Get through that, and then I can get some more silk (I've got my eye on R.H. Lindsay's Bamboo Top, for $10/pound). In the meantime, that should give the bunnies of the world plenty of time to molt out some more fiber for me, don't you think? And the silk moths?

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