Monday, January 18, 2016

Beautiful color

"I don't know what colors are in," I moaned as I fingered my dye sample yarns.
"I could never be a fiber person," Dave said. "All I know about color is to say 'that looks nice on you.'".

I know what colors I like to wear - teals, purples and blues. But I'm so far from reading fashion magazine that it's embarrassing. I  love dyeing. At the beginnin of each year, with luck before we shear, I use up the old fleeces. I do a final skirting to make sure they are free of debris, wash them and then either send them to Chris at Dakota Fiber Mill to be carded and spun into yarn or dye the fleeces and then send them off to Chris to be carded into roving for spinners and felters.

This year, I had a backlog of fleeces to use up. Dave and I washed 100 pounds of white wool and sent the resulting 50 pounds of clean white wool to Dakota Fiber Mill to be carded and spun into a 2 ply sport weight yarn. Then I began transforming my old 2 ply white yarn. Six skeins dyed red, six dyed orange, six yellow, six bright green, six dark green. Before I realised it, I had dyed my entire stock of  2 ply white yarn. I was sad that I hadn't been able to complete an entire rainbow of colors.

Then I got a commission to dye eight skeins of bulky white yarn a rich sumac color. It took three trials to get the color right. The first skein, dyed with one tablespoon madder orange dye and tablespoon wattle bark dye, was too light. I used up the left over dye in the pot (also called exhausting the dye) on a pound of raw wool and then doubled the amount of dye for the next trial. The second skein was too orange. I exhausted that dye bath on another pound of raw wool. I began again, using two tablespoons of wattle bark dye and two tablespoons cranberry dye for each skein of yarn. When I pulled the skeins out of the pot, the color was deep and rich. I knew the woman's husband would say "that looks nice on you."

After the yarn was finished, I dumped a couple more  pounds of raw wool into the dye bath. When I take those three batches of dyed wool to be carded into roving, the end result will be a vibrant, deep orange red. It really doesn't matter if that particular color is "in" or not; people will buy it because it is so beautiful. And even if they don't, I will use it for felted sunrises and sunsets, for poppies and maple leaves, for pomegranates and sumac berries. The oranges may not be my favorite colors to wear, but they are still beautiful.

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