Friday, July 03, 2009

The Douglas Chronicles: Dye Another Day

As I've explained before, MamaK and Roy's raise critters on their ranch for their hair of fur, which then becomes wool. As fate would have it, K is a knitter and otherwise consumer of said fiber products. Nice synergy, huh? Of course, such talents run in the family, so MamaK does her share of fiber stuff, too.

One part of that craft is dyeing wool, either in "raw" form or after it's been spun and refined, to create a more distinctive look. With oodles of fiber on hand (both on the hoof and off), K, MamaK, and I spent an afternoon dyeing some bits. It was, as you might expect, my first chance to try my hands at it.

First, of course, all the accouterments must be assembled:


Our dyeing involved two different types of wool. The first batch consisted of raw unrefined wool. It hadn't yet been spun into yarn or something equally useful. In fact, it had already been dyed once, which produced a black to grey streaked bunch. We'd be dyeing it again (overdyeing, I believe it's called) - purple this time - with the new color taking on the shading of the original. Here, K soaks the wool:


And then it gets dumped in a pot of warm water that's had the dye infused into it:


More like cooking than crafting, really. The results were pretty cool:


The second batch of dyeing involved wool that had already been spun into yarn. However, it was in one loooong hunk of stuff, and needed to be wound out into individual skeins, which would they be dyed. Turns out, I was pretty good at it:


The actual dyeing, not so much. Having never worked with wool before, I didn't have any real idea of how it would react to color and liquid. I ended up with the dry skein (they can be either dry or wet when dyed), over which the dye tended to run, before soaking in the back. Needless to say, whatever grand plan I had going into the process didn't play out in the end. I think it still turned out pretty well, but didn't get any pictures (sorry).

K, on the other hand, knew just what she was doing. She whipped out two skeins in the time it took me to finish one. Then she set upon a third skein, made with stylistic input from the both of us. In other words, she did the work, I said "that'll look pretty" and took pictures:


The finished product, before drying:

The things we dyed sat out overnight to dry. The next day, K and MamaK worked out some of the kinks:


And the lovely K models two of her finished products:


As does you humble narrator:


That's my experience being crafty.

And there you have it, dear reader(s), a chronicle of my adventures in Big Sky country. It's a beautiful and breathtaking place, in its own way, and full of friendly people. But I was glad to get back to my green mountains and big (relatively!) city.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

You silly boy. The roving, or unrefined wool, came that way (blacks and grays) from the natural coloration of the critter. The purple was its first dyeing, although we could still have overdyed it even if it had been dyed first.