Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Building Blocks Quilt-a-long

We recently relocated from North Texas to Central Texas, and had to say goodbye to many friends.

This project evolved from a need to stay in touch with one of them. My friend and I decided that we would both teach ourselves to free motion quilt. Our guidance was from Leah Day's Building Blocks Quilt pattern and videos.

We did most of it long distance after synchronizing our start in the spring of 2015. We both worked on the same block sets at the same time. We texted our progress shots and woes back and forth.

Finally, we both had all our blocks quilted and we decided on a mini quilting retreat in Augus to assemble the quilts. We scheduled a long weekend where she came to visit with her machine in tow. We instructed our spouses to entertain themselves while we sewed and sewed.

Neither of us quite finished that weekend, but we both finished our quilts in the following couple of weeks.

This was a wonderful project to keep my friend and I close. We both learned a lot and we want to do another project Ike this soon.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Immersion Dyeing - My Way

There are many ways to do immersion dyeing of wool fiber to get a semi solid color. I thought I would share my way of doing it.

This method originated from a way that Carol Lee at The Sheep Shed Studio does her dyeing. I saw it on the Yahoo Group, Dye Happy some time ago.

You will need a large dye pot and some roving as well as acid dye stock and vinegar  or citric acid. The roving needs to fit in the dye pot with some space to move around in the water for more even color.

Pre-soak the roving in water and a little bit of Dawn dish soap. In the meantime, put the dye pot over your heat source and bring it to a full rolling boil. You want it rolling not just bubbling.

When the water boils, add the acid dye stock to your pot. My dye stocks are mixed to a one percent solution. For eight ounces of fiber and a nice medium shade, I like to use one half cup of stock. For the fiber shown in the photo I was aiming for a lighter color so I used one-eighth cup or two tablespoons of stock. This fiber weighed about 7.25 ounces.


Is the heat off? If so, you can squeeze out the fiber and add it to the pot of very hot water and dye stock. Push it down into the stock and let it sit there for five minutes or so. The dye won't strike yet because there is no acid in the dye bath,. Waiting helps make sure all the fiber is in contact with the dye.

Next add the acid. For this pot I added about one half cup of vinegar. Push the fiber down gently to mix the vinegar with the dye liquor.

Put the lid on the pot and let it cool. The pot will stay hot enough for the dye to strike for over an hour. I let my pot cool completely before I rinse and dry my fiber.

The thing I like about this method is that it gives me a fairly even strike and there is no chance of felting the fiber assuming that the heat was turned off before the fiber went in the pot and that there was no vigorous stirring.

Give this a try next time you want a semi solid fiber.

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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

True Blue Warp

I have a weaving class coming up soon at the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas on Color that Moves. The instructor, Betty Vera, sent out loom warping instructions a couple of weeks ago.

The instructions have seventeen different warping options with many types of fabric. It was really hard to choose which one to weave, but I finally settled on an undilatating twill with several shades of colors in the warp.

When I went shopping to try to find yarn (online of course because the nearest weaving store is 50 miles away), I soon decided that I was not going to be sure that what I bought would be what I had envisioned. The only way I could see to get the color control I wanted was to get out my fiber reactive dyes. I thought I would document the process I used in hope that it will help someone else.

For dyeing yarn with fiber reactive dyes, I have been happiest with a direct application method where the dye concentrate is poured directly on the soda ash soaked fiber, massaged in, then left to cure. I tried a vat method a couple of times and I just was not as happy with the dye process.
Sample Stock  mixtures with paper towel color testers

The best brief write up I have found on this method of direct dyeing is in Weaver's Craft, Issue 15. Jean Scorgie, the author, calls it "Kitchen Dyeing". It is adapted from an out of print book for quilters called Dyeing To Quilt. I was able to snag a used copy of this book from Amazon. My fiber reactive dyes are from Dharma Trading Company. I love their website and fast shipping.

For my class warp, I decided I would dye eight values of Cerulean Blue. I did a test run on some thrums by mixing a small amount of dye, and then diluting it - just to verify I was going to like the colors.

Once I was sure I liked the Cerulean Blue color I had made, I wound two ounce skeins of my yarn, chained and tied itm, soaked it in soda ash solution. I mixed my dye with 4 teaspoons of dye powder to one cup of water. This is a stronger solution than the Weaver's Craft issue calls for - by double, but I wanted my dark blue to be really dark so there would be plenty of contrast as the values got lighter.

Weaver's Craft suggested 1/4 cup of dye solution to one ounce of yarn, and so I mixed 1/2 cup of stock for each of my two ounce skeins.

To do the eight values, I started with 1 cup of the pure stock. I had eight containers. The first container got 1/2 cup of stock for the first skein of yarn. Into the second container, I poured 1/2 cup of the pure stock, then I added 1/2 cup of water - diluting it by half. I poured 1/2 cup of this diluted stock into a third container, and set the other 1/2 cup aside for the second skein of yarn. I contiuned this for all eight skeins. The last container ends up with 1/2 cup of stock that is discarded. Each value has half as much of the pure stock in it as the value that preceeded it.

I dyed strips of paper towels by dipping them in each dye cup. When the dye drys on the towels, the color is pretty close to the actual dyed yarn. This gives me a reference I can file away for later.

I started with the lightest value. I placed the skein in a deep plastic container, then poured the container of stock over it and massaged the dye into the yarn.

In the past I have had problems with light spots in my yarn. To combat those spots, I set a kitchen timer and massaged the yarn in the dye soultion for two full timed minutes, squeezing it out and puting it back in the dye several times. Later I discovered my rubber gloves had a hole in them, so I am still sporting blue finger tips that make my nails appear bruised. Guess I better get those gloves in the trash!

When the two minutes were up, the skeins had all absorbed all of the dye solution, and I placed each one in a zip lock plastic bag.  The two minute massage pretty much eliminated the white spots in the yarn, so I will be doing this every time I dye like this.

Fiber reactive dyes like to be cured in a warm but not hot like an oven place. So, I put all the bags in a plastic box and set that box down inside of a cardboard box that had a heating pad in the bottom, then let them cure for 24 hours.

The next day, I rinsed out the yarn until the water was mostly clear. (If someone knows how to make the rinsing go faster I would love tips). I hung the yarn to dry and now I am winding cones so I can wind my warp.

Finished Skeins of Yarn with Paper Towel Color Swatches

I think this yarn is going to make a pretty warp. I am very excited to see the fabric it makes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Calculate Twice, Weave Once

The Fort Worth Weaver's Guild is having a napkin exchange. The napkins are supposed to be 18" x 18" square. We turn in four napkins and get four back that are not our own.

Strickler 8 Shaft Patterns number 315-4

I have been fretting over this project for a few months, and when the deadline drew closer I got busy and wove mine in a twill pattern from Carol Strickler's book of 8 Shaft patterns. The draft is on page 85 of her book and is number 315-4.

I wanted to use yarn that I had on hand, so I chose 8/2 cotton. I have very little weaving experience so I warped my loom with six yards of warp for a test warp just to get dimensions and learn the pattern - which is the most complex twill I have woven. On the test warp, I wove seven little towels that will work for finger tip towels or small dish towels. These will go in the Guild Sale in September and if they don't sell, then I will have some Christmas Presents all done!

Two of each weft color - one for me and one for the exchange
Armed with before and after measurements of my test towels, I put on a new warp with 501 warp ends, 20.9" in the reed, sett at 24, for a finished width of 18 inches. I calculated the number of pattern repeats needed to reach 18 inches. I figured I needed about 11 repeats - which would leave the towels a tad long - but better long than short.

When I wove the napkins, for some reason that I can not explain, I carefully wove 12 repeats. My finished napkins are 18 inches wide as forecast, but they are 20 inches long :-{

No matter. I am turning them in anyway. If it bothers someone, they can rip out one hem and cut them off to square them.

New labels
On the napkin warp, I used a tip from Lorelei in the Guild for flatter folds at the hemline.  I wove 8 picks of poly-cotton serger thread, then the hem area for 10 picks, then I threw a double shot of a contrast yarn to mark the fold of the hem. After I hemmed the napkins, I pulled out the contrasting thread at the fold and the result is a much flater hem because the cloth as a place to turn.

All the napkins got one of my new labels from Sterling Labels. Makes me feel like SomeBody!

I always learn something new with each project. For this one, I won't forget to not trust my memory when I want something to come out to an exact length.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Remember this?

Well, I fussed over the yarn pile for about a week, and finally managed to put one project together that is now on my loom. It is some sort of wrap - I am not sure what kind yet. That is yet to be determined.

The burnt sienna color yarn is an wool-alpaca blend that I got from Zeilinger's Wool Mill several years ago when we were in Michigan. The pink is Romney from my friend Rusty's sheep.

The Romney dye color is a light red - I think I probably used Jacquard Scarlet diluted. The pink has a slight orangy tint.

When I washed the wool-alpaca blend yarn after I spun it, a lot of dye came out of it, and the result was the alpaca in the yarn got dyed just about the same pink as the Romney yarn turned out.

I wanted a drapey fabric, so the yarn is set at 5epi. and I am beating it to square. Beating is actually not an accurate statement. Placing is more like it. The weaving is going really fast since the fabric is so loose and it is plain weave.

And now for the Public Service Announcement.

Do not, under any circumstance, spread your handspun yarn all over the floor and leave it for a week.

 I am not sure what the exact yarn gestation time is, but in a week it breeds.

What came out of three plastic tubs, will now only fit in four.

I think I am walking backwards.