Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Oh lord, I feel like I'm dyeing......Part 1

I know that there have been at least three sunny days since I last teased you with the idea that I would try a NEW dye experiment with the camera stealing my years away but - forget about that. Sometime between tomorrow and today- we'll get started. I figure, if you're to have a TRUE peak into the dye station - you might as well also experience the uncertainty that is a daily interlude when you are asking Mother Nature, a herd of very limited intellegence animals, a pack of wild kids, a husband home from work and needing to 'work' here - and a couple of cats that THINK the whole porch is for their fickly sunbathing and that those with gallons of hot water being carried from the wood stove (where they sat warming overnight) out to the propane grill (where they will make dye magic) should just, in the words of my Thing 1 - turning 14 tomorrow - DEAL!

The thing is - I can't wait until tomorrow to start. This is partly because I can't be sure I'll have lots of solar power (puter takes quite a bit), hot water, three hours to myself, and be free of birthday-mama servitude tomorrow. So, we'll start today and finish up on Tuesday, m-kay?
dye pot
The tools are simple - meet 'pot'. Pot has been mine forever - since the dawn of our dyeing days (sorry, I'm known to think corny things are funny and have deep philosophical journeys while dyeing). She was, in the off season last year, even recovered from two battling brothers who were beating her with a large stick like a war drum. She's been buried under the snow. She's even been stepped on by runaway sheep (you knew who did it, at least, since her leg was purple) hell bent on destroying everything in her path (I really loved that flower pot she broke, too). She's warped on the bottom because I turned her on with just a little water and alot of intent to add more but forgot. Let's just say - we belong together....and, she has a lid - which is my only real stipulation to continuing our relationship. spoon Also, there is spoon. I bought her for the hubster in a brew kit but he just kept buying his beer so I stole her for my own. Vinegar is nothing special - remember this - because if your dye adventure goes sour - you can cuss her out and throw her or something....hopefully no one will see you.
(&^(^%&%^( THIS JUST IN...I have just been informed that the three hours I thought I had were really only 1.5 that started an hour ago. We shall speed up, then.)*&(&
We are dyeing a GARGANTUANT (2yd skein weighing 1 lb.) which we will split almost in half and tie off tightly with a scrap of yarn. You can tie it off in one spot, or spiral it a bit for a lively center color. We're doing orange in the center and we want it 'live' so we tie in a tie-dye sort of spiral - TIGHTLY. The smaller half is where we will put orange, red, and purple, with any luck at all. half skein fold The green arrow is the 'tight' tie and the red arrow is the loose end. We start with red - so I'm playing Emmy Lou Harris' "Red Dirt Girl" to get my courage up for red. Seriously, red is a BAD, BAD dye color. I loves to bleed. It tries to be pink, instead of it's intended shade of 'dare me'. It doesn't forgive folds in the fiber - so dyeing it evenly is a task. It makes you want to drink before noon. So, we started after noon.....there. Take the small side and gently fold it over itself to the place where you tightly secured it. Tie it gently and fold it loosly because you want red to roll all over it real quick, since red is an easy girl in the bar at closing time - she takes the first fiber she finds and leaves you polka dots where you tightened the yarn. URGH! Now, Dye the bulb you made as red as you have the courage to.


1. The instructions are really guidelines. If you are using treated water (city) or a very hard well water (country) - you will need at least twice the amount of vinegar indicated in the recipe on the site of the awesome place where I buy my dyes. In short, you are basically a fool or a lucky duck if you don't have to use a stronger vinegar ratio. Better to have a pickled rainbow than a bloddy, drippy, not waterproof mascara on a crying Ms. Tammy-Fay, doncha think? Besides, you can rinse your finished skein in some warm water with a touch of your favorite essential oil and that pickle smell will be a memory.

2. Heat your water to a 'holy-hell, that's hot' reaction when you stick your finger in it. Add your dye (about one rounded tablespoon per 2 lbs. and the rest of the math you have to figure out!)powder, stir, and return the lid. Measure your vinegar, remove lid, and add, cover again, still heating the water.

red3. Ignore the skeptics, and put your bare, naked, DRY , skein into what should look like a pot of blood about to simmer (someone is about to make a joke about my far-fetched lineage to the Count of eons ago - I just know it). Hopefully, you've read this already and realize that I forgot to tell you to tie the skein to a stick that fits through the handles of your pot to hold the rest of the skein OUT of the dye. If not, now you know how it feels to be me. Gently push the yarn down into your bath of dye until it is saturated enough to stay under. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave for about 30 minutes. If the water is not clear when you return, you may have not exhausted the dye. To be safe, add another half cup of vinegar to the bath, re-heat it with the yarn out, and place the yarn back in when you've turned the fire off. Cover and let sit again. If it still bleeds, have a drink and say a bad word. Kettle, kettle, bubble, bubble and so on.

red babyHere's what you have so far!. She's red and the water runs clear....we did it! Tuesday, we finish the rainbow! Tonight, I finally finish the buttonholes on Thing 1's skirt, accept that I won't have the crocheted cotton tank ready but will have a few surprises for her and, of course, I will promise to finish the tank top as soon as possible and to be careful not to try to make her two knit/crocheted tops, two skirts, and a slew of other stuff again. Of course, I am lying and she knows it - welcome to the world of woman - honestly deranged... Oh, and don't forget to bake the cake, decorate it, whilst folding the laundry, making dinner and planning a day that is special for both of us! No problem, it isn't even 3 o'clock, yet. There's a whole bunch of day left! Coffee, no, beer, no, chocolate - who am I kidding - ICE CREAM!