Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

4. August 2009 14:45
by Jobo
2 Comments

Bubblegum Hero... Delicious Blue Sock Yarn

4. August 2009 14:45 by Jobo | 2 Comments

I finally got around to taking some pictures of my latest yarn...

My dyeing technique was rather haphazard that day, but as usual, the finished yarn has a mind of it's own :)  I must have been channelling the local dairy bar because it looks almost exactly like bubblegum ice cream!

After spinning the top randomly (torn into pieces and just randomly strung together) I decided to navajo ply to conserve the gentle stripes.  The finished yarn is 14-16 WPI (actually really even!  I impressed myself a little)  I was really surprised at the way the pinks and blues melded together too - Barberpoles, purple shades, all over gentle mixing.  The resulting colour is predominantly a robin-eggy blue with a mix of purples, lavenders, almost fuschia in some segments.  Because of the random colour placement, there are some stripes that are meters long, and others that are just short snippits.  I tried to be choosy with where my chain "joins" were so as to minimize any abrupt colour changes in the yarn.  From the 4 ounce braid I ended up with about 400 yards... so enough to make a decent sized pair of socks.  In a lot of ways this is the closest I've gotten to making something that is as thin and even as commercial sock yarn.

23. July 2009 11:14
by Jobo
1 Comments

Takes the cake!... erm Icing! - Dyeing with Wilton's Icing Colours

23. July 2009 11:14 by Jobo | 1 Comments

On the weekend I decided it was finally time for me to get back on the dyeing experiment bandwagon... so I dug out some goodies and got to work!

About 6 months ago I purchased 10 pounds of wonderful Merino top, for the express purpose of playing with and dyeing... and maybe someday when I get half decent at it, dye some to sell?  I plan on buying some more professional dyes, but the closest LYS that sells them is 2 hours away, so needles to say the plans are there, but I am still using food colouring dyes for the moment.  I also plan on trying some Kool Aid dyeing in the next few weeks.  I want to make purple yarn for my mom as a special treat, and I think maybe Grape Kool Aid will be one of the easiest ways since we know that Wilton's Icing Colours tend to separate depending on the colour you are in search of.

This partcular day the goal was just to play with what I already had in the house.  I decided to try a modified "kettle dye" approach.  I soaked my merino in water + white vinegar for about an hour, then poured the wool and soak into large glass pyrex baking dishes, leaving enough water to cover the wool.

Then I mixed up my icing colours with hot water and a little vinegar for good measure, and using a children's oral medication syringe, I squirted the colours all over the wool trying to keep the puddles somewhat separate.  I was hoping to keep a little of the undyed white areas, since I like the way these look in some of my past projects.  (I find the depth of colour is interesting when there is some "white" there to shade the colours... gives more variations and subtleties)  I know some spinners out there HATE seeing any undyed fiber in their finished braids.  I'm not so opposed to it, especially when I'm dyeing for my own use.

Once the dye had been applied, I popped each baking dish into a 350 degree oven, one at a time, for about 10 minutes, or until steam started coming off the water.  I kept each tray hot but not boiling for about an hour, and then left them to cool completely.  Once cool, I rinsed carefully in a sink full of cool water and hung outside to dry. 

This is one of the combinations I ended up with:

"Painted Daisies" - 2 x 4 oz. braids of 100% Merino Top

Excuse the dreary pictures... I took these after dark one night so I could start spinning it right away.   It rained cats and dogs last night in a big thunder storm.  We got completely soaked leaving the grocery store, the rain was coming down in buckets!  not the best weather for snazzy photographs exactly

After a little drafting and then spinning.... this:

became this:

... which was promptly 3 plied:  2 strands of painted roving and one strand of undyed white merino top (to try and tone down the colour a little bit, mellow out the Bright Yellow!)

 

Here is the finished yarn peeking out the top of my purse (in my drawer at work) it was just staring at me from over there so I couldn't help but take it's picture.  The yarn fades from yellows into pinks, into creams, but in a random fashion, so I'm not sure exactly what it will knit up like.  I am thinking I would like to make socks with it, since it is somewhere between fingering and sport. I'm thinking maybe another pair of jaywalkers?  It will be stripey, but not exactly solid stripes, more variations of colour floating by

This is skein number one... and there is a second waiting to ply at home tonight.  I just need to finish spinning the natural single and then the plying will be a fast job.

... one more gratuitous yarn pic :)

When I finally get around to finishing and knitting something up, I'll post the finished project!

15. March 2009 11:00
by Jobo
1 Comments

Dyeing Series... Wilton's Icing Colours... to dye wool?

15. March 2009 11:00 by Jobo | 1 Comments

Another installment of Jobo-learns-to-dye-wool... this time with Wilton's Icing Dyes.

I do have more plans to continue learning to dye with natural items, but happened to have icing dyes already at home, and since they are nontoxic I didn't have to worry about using my everyday cooking equipment to do some playing around.  I think I would like to try using some other kinds of dyes, but at this point, I'm not sure if I will like dyeing well enough to run out and buy pots and pans and spoons and tongs etc.  My family is on the lookout for old enamel or stainless pots for me, but until I hit the flea markets this summer I plan on sticking with food item dyes with no major mordants or with things like icing colours.  If all goes well, I might try out acid dyes later on in the year.

Using more of the merino top I have hanging around the house... I prepared an approximately 3-4 ounce rope by soaking for about 4-6 hours in a water and lemon juice solution.  (Basically a big glass mixing bowl of water with a couple of glugs of lemon juice.  I decided to use lemon juice instead of vinegar this time after the uncool odour last time (I agree with "Knitting in the Free World", wet sheep + vinegar smell really is a buzz kill) During the soaking, I prepared the kitchen table for the dyeing process:  I laid down newspaper first, then a plastic tablecloth, then 2 layers of plastic wrap.  I was afraid of ruining the oak table, so maybe that was overkill, but I think thats okay :)  I squeezed out the excess water from the wool gently, trying not to overdo it, and then laid it out in a squiggle on the plastic wrap.

Some references I looked at recommended a certain amount of dye per ounce of wool, or weighing things out.  Of course I don't have a kitchen scale yet, so I decided to just wing it and not worry too much about how dark the colours would be, just to go with it and have fun.  So added 1/4 teaspoon of the icing colour gels to approximately 1/2 cup of water in some glass containers and stirred well to dissolve.  I also let them cool to room temperature because my wool was not soaked in hot water.  I really wanted to avoid felting it by brushing on really hot water.  For my colours I chose a basic yellow, and sky blue.  I was hoping for some greens where the two colours mixed. Gotta love that colour wheel theory!  I will have to do a post sometime on colour theory :) 


** note also in the background:  Natural Dyeing, by Jackie Crook (One of the first books I bought on the subject!) **

So, when the colours cooled off I gave them one more stir and then started blobbing them on. (wear gloves!  or you will end up with coloured hands!  I used cheap children's paintbrushes from the dollar store)   It was really hard to tell what the whole thing would look like in the end.  The liquid dyes seemed to soak into the wool, kind of like painting a sponge.  I tried to alternate the blue and yellow, leaving some whiter spaces in between some segments so that the colours could remain pure, and placing them almost on top of each other in other places so that the colours could mingle and make some greenish sections.  I know that when I spin handpainted rovings, I enjoy watching the colours slide by in my hands and meld and mix before my eyes... so I wanted to have all of those wonderful surprises from my own braid.  Some spinners consider white space to be an amateurish quality in a handpainted product, but I kind of like the contrast that a "controlled quantity" of white space can add.  I guess for me the bottom line is:  the white has to look like you left it there on purpose!  not like you just missed a section with your dye. 


** next time I will buy a lighter colour plastic tablecloth... red was hard to visualize your colours on top of **

after painting the wool, which took a surprisingly long time, and 2 refills of the blue dye, I carefully nudged the wool lengths together and wrapped them up with the plastic wrap, sealing the edges as much as possible.  Then I laid out the roving carefully in a glass baking dish (9x9 inch) and then microwaved the wool on high for 2 minutes, then rested for 2 minutes.  I repeated the process about 3 cycles of heat and cooling before the wool looked like it was "steaming" inside the plastic.  I was again worried about felt.... so I let it rest for about 15 minutes and then restarted the 2 minutes heat 2 minutes cooling for 2 more cycles.  This gave me a total of about 10 minutes in the microwave, and took about 45 minutes or so.  I think my microwave might be a bit hot so maybe 1 min 30 sec would have been enough at a time for the heat setting.

I let the wool cool to room temperature (a few hours) then rinsed it in the kitchen sink.  Surprisingly, very little of the colour leeched out.  I only needed 3 rinses and the 3rd was very clear.  I gently squeezed out water from the wool and spread it out to dry on my "sweater dryer" frame... which is great for drying just about anything!

Then the hard part... waiting until the wool is dry enough to play with.  I wish it were summertime and the drying conditions were better :(

2 days later: I got this :) 

Finished braid:  Lemons, limes and blue sky

I'm not sure how lightfast or colourfast wool is after dyeing with the icing gels, but I really had fun :)  and I'm pretty sure that I will be interested in doing some more dying.  Love the vibrant colours, and the process of playing with colour.

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