Saturday 30 June 2018

The End Of The Buckets

Is Nigh
Spent today making large untidy piles into smaller tidy ones, sorting, trying not to get too sunned-out, and finishing the wet cloth into the last of the indigo. Which worked nicely. As there's only so much amusement in washing-lines full of blue, I've made some detail images...

Shibori (that is, old-fashioned tie-dye with posh clothes on) is usually done on cotton or silk - this is wool blanket, and surprisingly effective. One rubber band.

And this lovely effect was done with a three cheap plastic pegs and a fold or two

This lovely fine linen, also done with pegs, is nicely spotty

On the other hand, this thin silk noil was laboriously stitched, tied, and then dyed, and then equally laboriously unpicked. I'm much more impressed with the peg thing

The wool pieces will make bundles for sale, typical contents

Nicely rolled and tied
Hot cakes time!
Week of Dyes is now done, my wrists are aflame, my back complains, and my table is full of lovely cloth. Tomorrow, I press!

Friday 29 June 2018

Heaps, Piles, Sore Thumbs...

Now, the great thing about this level of concentrated work is that it is relatively efficient, and sometimes the need to just get-on-with-it makes for freer and less deliberate work
Indigo is soooo gratifyingly instant - you dip, squeeze, lay out, wait a few minutes, rinse, wash (and a short wash, too) and dry - and as the weather is almost designed for drying, that rotation means a lot gets done really quickly

Last hang-out of this evening had lots of nice blankety squares - nothing stitches quite like dyed and much-washed wool. These will make bundles for sale. Note the difference in colour - some are on a yellowish base, some from a really fresh dye-pot, some more tired but still nice

Today's dried-and-ready indigo. The box is full of lace

I finally finished washing and drying all the Procion dyed fabrics - found three buckets lurking in the kitchen last night. This is the tidy basketfull

This box, not quite so much
The darker colours are dyed onto coloured cloth - you get a most rich and delightful result

So, back home, tea in the garden, and more winding. The productivity is lovely, but by gum, the finishing is messy

More blue stuff tomorrow..

Meanwhile, Heather sent these nice images from her dyelots -

Partly oxidised

Same fabric 2 minutes later

and washed out at home...

Thursday 28 June 2018

HB doesn't "do" dyes

But she and Heather came over today and seem to have managed somehow

HB's indigoes, washed out and waving nicely in the breeze

I think she gets this..

Left mine washing, will hang them out tomorrow and do more.  Making blue fabrics, threads, and lace for little Textile Art Packs
And I thought I had finished the Procion wash-outs, only to find three buckets lurking in the kitchen, now rinsed and ready to machine-wash in the morning...
Before I went to work, I started on the threads which are ready to wind into little skeins
To do this you need a Swift

and a Cheese Winder

Here shown winding

and the Results...

All ready to wind onto a skein-maker (deeply technical bit of plywood) and make into Stock...
Now, suppertime, feet up, exhausted, like my first indigo dye-bucket. Numbers 2 and 3 going well

Wednesday 27 June 2018


...this was a Day Off. However, Days Off are for wimps and the Employed Classes, so I just did 2 hours of packing post, three washes, wound some thread, coffee in town, and three hours of email catch-up..

Oh, rainbows in a blue sky...

And green and rainbow threads drying nicely

Sunlight on cloth...

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Hot, hotter...

Really warm day - by the time I had hung out a long line of washing, the first piece was almost dry..
So, lots of skeins of thread ready to rewind into cheeses and then into little skeins for sale

And a whole basket of fabrics ready to iron, weigh, pack, and  sell... This is just four washes

And I made my first indigo dyebath. And it worked! And I'm so happy...

Blue everywhere! here we go...

Monday 25 June 2018

Wet, wetter, wettest...

So, today, in between taking the old press apart and loading bits of it into a van to go to its new home, was largely Washing Out, and Washing. Procion dyes need to "batch", ideally for 24 hours, but not more than 72.  I generally just start washing out on the second day by sorting into colour sets (first one was Red, Orange, Yellow) and rinsing madly in running water. On a day as hot as this one, no great hardship, but I did end up soaked all over my front and utterly peeved with rubber gloves..All  of one colour set goes into the washing machine for a Hot Wash. All the threads need to be washed in little net bags - sometimes a skein escapes, at this point I usually chuck it out, as the untangling is silly. So, red wash first,

and out and dry

I won't iron till I'm done, then weigh, pack, lots of stock...
Skeins take a bit longer to dry

Then blue

I left the Green Wash running and came home, having refilled all the pots with yet more fabric and used up All the Dye!

Oh, and here's the wool, all bundled and priced and ready to go...

Tomorrow - More washing, and Indigo!

Sunday 24 June 2018


Was not much to look at. I finished the wool stuff, and that's all being bundled for sale now
Most of what I did looked like this

and this

and this

as I cut up lots of cotton and linen fabrics, soaked all in soda ash and water ready to put into the Procion dyes
Now, Procion is a fibre-reactive dye, and works on cotton, linen, silk, ramie, hemp, rayon. All Plant fibres (yes, I know, silk, but silk is just mysterious and magical, so there... ) Acid dyes, work with Animal fibres, wool, silk, (yes, again!) etc...

What I do is Low Water Immersion Dyeing - I mix up fairly strong dyes with hot water, starting with my three basic colours. Lemon Yellow, Cerise Red, and a good clean blue. From these (and Turquoise, which is hard to make for some reason and makes fabulous purples) I can make almost any colour. Black is almost impossible in Procion, so, I don't...
Then I remix into the squeezy bottles, and put the soaked and wrung-out cloths into pots. I use buckets, ice-cream tubs, big margarine tubs. Big pieces get dyed in washing-up bowls.
The dyes are dribbled and squished into the fabrics. Oh, and each tub today had a skein of thread on top, so double-dyeing..  Rubber gloves are imperative...

Big IKEA jugs with tops, one big tablespoonfull of dye per jug

Dyes ready to use

Six hours later, no more pots..

It's possible to be really quite precise with the colours
All waits overnight, then tomorrow is wet. Rinse, rinse, wash, hang.

Saturday 23 June 2018

Dyeing Day Two

Feet hurt, did lots of walking, washing-out, and microwaving (see, how small my waves are!)
Still have about 1/4 of the wool to do, then on to Procion
And all these nice threads need skeining, having been wound into cheeses, then dye, rewind, make little skeins.. I promised myself I was done with this, but I cannot seen to get to the bottom of the box..

Thursday 21 June 2018

I haven't had a "Week Of" for ages

So, Week of Dyes.
The big pile of dyeables was escaping from the underneath of the Big Table, so today I started with Wool. This, of course, needs Acid Dye, and heat...

So, take two old microwave ovens

Lots of old wool blankets, cut up into squares

Which need to be soaked in warm water and vinegar (I use the cheapest brown stuff from Tesco), then wrung out

Mix up the dyes in squeezy bottles (a small funnel is essential) - a little goes a long way

Not forgetting to keep your Rubber Gloves on, of course.. Oooops. Put your fabrics into microwaveable containers (I use old Pyrex mixing bowls) and dribble dye, with extra water if desired
Heat on full, 2 minutes. Wait 2 minutes, heat again, on full, 2 minutes
Rinse well in cold water, hang on the line...
Acid dyes should "exhaust" well - if you use the right amount of dye the run-off water is just about clear. If you have too much, it can be tipped into the next

This was about 1/2 of today's pieces, and there will be lots more tomorrow. Perhaps I'll get the drying racks out, too

I will make these into bundles for sale - nothing stitches quite so well as boiled wool, by hand, no effort required...