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Currently showing posts tagged natural dye

  • By fits and starts

    When I envision business growth and especially when I examine businesses that have been doing what I want to do for a while... I have this fairytale assumption that it happens quickly. Like in a week or two. I know it's silly! Totally naive. But that's the childish, underlying belief that I have to talk myself out of all the time. Businesses (and most things worthwhile, for that matter) take time, and Trial and Error, and fits and starts.

    I haven't dyed as much as I would have liked the last couple of weeks, but I've been examining logos, testing yarns and planning *gulp* budgets. 

    I've also been translating a messy dye notebook into something that'll be a bit easier to revisit and follow:

    I can't find the exact post, but over a year ago I found the idea over on this blog to use blank business cards and plastic card-holder sheets to organize a yarn dye notebook. 

    Like the working names? They may change. Still not sure if George Strait will come after me for naming a colorway after one of his songs. Or Larry McMurtry for that matter. Little known fact: Lonesome Dove is one of my all time favorite books and I've watched the mini-series more times than I'll ever admit.

    So... next steps. It is time to make my first indigo vat. *GASP* Yes, my first. I have dyed with indigo, I've just never cooked up the vat myself.  And as long as I'm being honest here, I will tell you that all I can think of when I see lye is that scene in Fight Club where Brad Pitt makes the kiss burn/scar on Ed Norton's hand. Ouch!

    Next-next step: logo. This is happening, and I'm super excited. I've examined round one and I love my options. Just need to provide some feedback.

    I'm also pretty pumped about a custom mill in the works. Though I will most likely continue dyeing my current worsted base as well because it's lovely. Just this morning, I ordered up a single-ply fingering to play with, and I'm going to experiment with liquid dyes and saxon blue from Botanical Colors. I've been enjoying watching Pigeonroof Studios' instagram feed; her experiments with liquid saxon blue are what piqued my interest there.

    Wish me luck! and focus! I'll keep you updated on my progress ;)

    Here's one final pic of my latest (almost finished!) color & wear test/sample:

    Progess pic from instagram. Pattern is Artichoke French by Laura Nelkin, in logwood purple, aka "Purple, plain and tall."

  • Experimenting with color

    From the left (above), that's pomegranate, cutch, cutch over pom's exhaust bath, 3 red's exhaust bath with a little cutch, 3 reds (madder, cochineal and quebracho red), and logwood purple exhaust bath (bottom two skeins were twisted).

    You can see some color/strand variation in the cutch, and it's present elsewhere, too. I don't think I mind it. Aside from color, one of the things I'm experimenting with is how not to pull a hot, tangled mess from my dyepots -- twisting some skeins, very loosely twisting others then un-twisting mid-simmer; not twisting them at all then being extremely careful in how I move them around during their dye time. We'll see what finally proves out. I may try plastic shower curtain rings next (and hope they hold up to boiling water!). That's a trick I saw several other much much more experienced kettle-dyers using on Instagram. Thankful for that.

    The deep red by far has elicited the most excitement. Reds are exciting! I'm not going to list these for sale just yet, though. I feel the need to knit something up in this red especially, and see if/how the color bleeds and wears. It was tough to rinse clear after it's dye bath, with lots of color running, so I'm hesitant to embrace it as a permanant addition to the line-up. We shall see if it passes the tests. I like the pink that resulted from it's exhaust bath, though. 

    The gray that came from an old logwood purple exhaust may be a keeper. Just the solid gray up top; The gray/whites that resulted from twisted skeins will get a dip or two in the indigo vat. Just to see what happens. A deep slightly variegated blue, maybe? At least two of the pale yellows will also get indigo dips, in hopes of a pleasant green.

    Part of me really wants to tag these and list them on my Etsy shop (it's not live yet, but when it is there will be a shop link to it here on this site). I'm happy with them! However, this testing phase is important, I want to feel completely confident in my product.

    So this week was a heavy dye week, and aside from possibly getting an indigo vat going, next week will be more of a "business" week. I need to solidify goals and vision for color offerings. Need to decide whether to continue with my current worsted base or possibly commission a custom mill/spin (right now it's a two-ply worsted, and I'm thinking of a tighter 4-ply; still American wool of course).  I need to make plans for packaging/shipping Etsy orders, and transfer my many notebook dye notes, recipes and scribblings to a more organized catalogue/recipe book. Business-y stuff... Wish me luck with that! Dyeing is more fun.

  • Coming soon!

    Coming soon!

    Castilleja will be a free pattern, available soon here and on Ravelry as a PDF. It's an adjustable-size, worsted weight cowl. Pictured above is the small one (now finished) I knit up for my youngest, Bea. She's a pistol. And she quickly claimed this color for her own because orange is her FAVORITE.

    This is the first color I'm ready to show off, and the first I'm determined to repeat and keep in the final line-up. I wouldn't exactly call it orange, but I wouldn't exactly argue with a four-and-a-half year old if I didn't have to, either. It's the result of two dips in the dyepot; the first containing osage orange...

    The osage orange tree is related to the American mulberry and is named after the Osage indians of Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. It was often planted to stem wheat field erosion in these states and others, but it's now somewhat overgrown and considered a nuissance by many landowners. I get my osage in liquid form from Earthues, whose supplier creates this colorant using downed trees and solor-powered technology. However, wood chips and/or sawdust will also create a potent yellow dyebath.

    Back to the cowl: Castilleja is the genus name for one of my favorite wildflowers, Indian paintbrush, a.k.a. prairie fire. To me, the elongated running-dash stitch pattern resembles the long, tall yellow & red wildflowers or tongues of flame. Maybe both.