Monday, February 13, 2012

Dyeing 101

I recently signed up to take Candied Fabrics Dyeing 101 online class on fiber reactive dyes. I use these dyes to dye yarn for my weaving projects, but have never really gotten as comfortable with them as I am with the acid dyes for wool and other animal fibers.

The focus of this class is mixing primary colors to make the colors you want. I think the instruction is excellent. Candy has both videos and a written PDF for each lesson and there is a Q&A where she is quick to answer questions.
In our second dyeing session, we mixed the primary colors in as many ways as possible using a total of ten whole parts. Each mixed color is x parts yellow primary, y parts blue primary and z parts red primary, where x,y,and z are whole numbers that sum to 10. There are a total of 66 swatches in this set of samples.

It took me maybe three hours to prepare and label all the swatches, about four hours to do the dyeing in another session from the labeling and the washing and rising and ironing probably another three hours. The time commitment for this is significant, but look at the valuable product! With this and the knowledge gained from the gradient exercise, I should be able to make yarn colors I want for my weaving.

Turquoise, Light Red, Lemon Yellow, white swatch is one I missed

Of course, I put my own twists on this. I used the same flagging tape that I use on my handspun skeins to label each swatch. I also cut the swatches twice as big so I will have some fabric leftover to play with once we assemble our "Candiotic Table" which will give us a valuable permanent record of our color recipes.

I also did the actual dyeing in a bowl, and dropped each swatch in a plastic bag for curing, discarding the little bit of leftover dye and fixative. This let me fit all my swatches into one plastic shoebox for curing in a warm place. I actually batched the swatches in a cardboard box with a heating pad to be sure they stayed warm and really cured well.

When it came to rinsing out, I washed each swatch and put it back into the plastic sandwich bag and added a little water for the initial soak. I put the bags in the plastic shoe boxes to catch any leaks. This did not take hardly any space and seems to have worked well.

Our next assignment is another 66 swatch set with different primaries. I have my swatches labeled with a different color of flagging tape to be sure they don't get mixed up with the first set, and hopefully, I will dye them tomorrow.

Dyeing 101 - Graidents

I am taking an on-line self paced dyeing class offered at Candied Fabrics to finally really get confident with the Fiber Reactive MX Dyes.

In this class we will be learning how to mix colors from primaries with the big product being permanent reference tables of recipes for colors. I have wanted to do this forever, and while I know I could do it without a class, it is not something I would do without an assignment.

Our first dyeing exercise was to dye gradients. I chose to dye five sets of quarter yard gradients in Deep Yellow, fuchsia red, light red, new black and sky blue. (Dharma Trading Company) With these sets, it will be easier to know how much dye to use when looking for a particular color tint.

My swatches are marked with flagging tape - the same thing I use to label my handspun skeins. I slightly modified Candy's excellent instructions in that I let the fabric batch in plastic bags and poured off any excess dye, after dyeing in a bowl. I started using this technique after I read the book Dyeing To Quilt, and it has worked for me and takes less batching space than Candy's method.

The class has both a written lesson and videos that accompany the web pages. There is also a Q&A with each lesson and Candy is quick to answer any questions that pop up.

The other thing about this class is that you can start it any time and work at your own pace. I am glad to be in the first group though, because the other students help keep me motivated. This is really a lot of work so it definitely needs time set aside to get the full benefit.

Next up is mixing three primaries for sixty six colors.