Trying dyeing

WARNING: A long post with lots of photos. Leave now while you’ve got the chance. 😉

I need to start by showing you two wildflowers/weeds near my house. I’m hoping someone can identify at least one of them for me. The first is really sweet and small. You can see a portion of my foot in the photo for scale. The little flower is a nice orange. I don’t recall ever seeing this plant before.  I’m thinking it’s a garden escapee?

orange mystery wildflower

Then there’s the big weed that’s taken over the side yard of an abandoned house near me.  When it was small I thought it was milkweed.  It’s clearly not.  I feel like I should know this one, and that it’s bad, but I can’t place it.  I should probably get out my wildflower book.  The stalks are quite red, and probably 3′ tall.

mystery weed whiteSo other than looking at weeds/wildflowers, what else have I been doing?  Well, at the show last weekend it was clear to me that I should weave more bookmarks.  I decided I wanted to do some monk’s belt, a weave structure I think I’ve only previously done in classes.  I thought I’d wound a warp long enough to make 16 bookmarks, but I only got 13 out of it.  That’s ok.

monk's belt bookmarks
Then I really wanted to try doing some ombre dyeing with Rit dyes at home.  I had picked up 3 cones of a really nice pima cotton at a local resale store.  It’s quite thick, 790 ypp, very soft, and I figured it would weave up quickly and take dye well, plus I wasn’t out much money if it didn’t work.  So I wound a warp for two scarves, and wove the first one with an undulating twill.

undulating pima on the loom

After that, remembering my recent undulating twill disaster (different draft), I re-threaded for huck lace, but forgot to take a photo on the loom.  I got both scarves woven, then spent a bunch of time online looking at websites and blogs about ombre dyeing.  I have to say, there was quite a bit of inconsistency in process and time needed, so I figured I’d have to go with my gut.  I got the scarves washed and rinsed, then brought the needed tools outside.

dye tools ready

I mixed up a bottle of Rit dye with a cup of salt in about a gallon of water – maybe a little more.

blue dye mixed

Then I started dipping.  Since the yarn was unbleached and quite creamy colored, I didn’t think it would look good with the center having no dye at all, so dipped the entire scarf quickly.

blue dye in processThen I proceeded to lower and raise the scarf (note that it’s folded in half here), since I didn’t want distinct color lines.  I dipped the middle section about 30 times.  I wanted the bottom quite dark, and dipped it about 120 times.  Then I hung it on my arbor (another story for another time).  I went in the house to get the second scarf and the next bottle of dye.  While I was gone the wind kicked up and blew the scarf against my neighbor’s fence.

dye uh-ohThat wasn’t a big deal, but the splatters on my neighbor’s garage were.

garage splatters

I ran back into the house and got paper towels and dish soap.  Should have had those tools outside with me to begin with.  I moved the scarf to the front of the arbor and started on the next scarf, mixing up a batch of red dye.

red dye mixed

It was too red for me, so I mixed in a bunch of the blue.

red with blue dyeI wish the store had had more than 5 colors for me to choose from – these 2, plus black, brown, and dark green.  Anyway, I followed the same process with the red dye.  Here are both scarves hanging and dripping from the arbor.

hanging and dripping

You’d think I would have learned from the experience with my neighbor’s garage, and taken more care when I dumped out the blue dye in the weeds behind my own garage, but no.

coloring my garageThere was so much of it that it didn’t really wipe off.  I decided since it’s behind the garage I didn’t really care.  So I headed to the other side of the yard and started the clean up.  Fewer tools needed.

dye cleanup tools

Interestingly, the red dye really stained the dishpan and the blue washed out almost completely.  I would have expected the opposite, since in my experience red dye runs A LOT.

dye residueWhile the scarves were hanging outside dripping, I picked a mess of peas, went inside and shelled, steamed, quick-chilled, and froze a bag of them.

freezing peasAfter a while I went back outside and brought in the scarves.  I laid out a long piece of plastic wrap on the kitchen floor and laid a scarf on it.

blue scarf spread to rollI covered it with another layer of plastic and rolled it up.  Then I did the same thing with the red scarf.

red scarf spread to rollAfter they were all rolled up I put them on my heating pad, set on low, where it will sit overnight, hopefully setting that dye.

rolled and heatingTomorrow I’ll rinse the scarves and press them.  I won’t know until then how well it worked.  I’m actually hoping that some of the dye rinses out since both scarves are a bit darker than I had in mind.

I’ll share the results with you!

2 comments to Trying dyeing

  • How fun Peg! Chemistry is everywhere. 😉 I used to dye fabric for quilting but it was never my favorite thing. I do however love to see other peoples results! Those peas look yummy.
    I have some growing in my little garden up some wire panels. They are flowering now but we’ll see if there is any real pea production.

  • Cyndee

    Peg, your dyeing project looks great. I can’t wait to see how the scarves turn out. I did this in a workshop, but had to put the scarves in buckets to take them home. All the colors ran together and most of the ombre effect was lost. I did get to leave all the mess at the art center though.
    Not sure what your little peach flowers are, but the other might be red stem dogwood. Not a bad plant at all. Beautiful leaves, flowers and berries in the fall. Then wonderful red branches all winter. I bought one last year, missing the ones I had at my former home. Now if I can just get the deer to leave it alone…Cyndee

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