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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Technique: Space Dyeing A Batt

I know it's not Tuesday.  But, people, if you had seen my day yesterday, you would understand.  The only knitting I got in was while my husband was driving us across town yesterday evening. . . .

Since my last post, I have had 3 custom orders placed! *Squeeee!*  I am so excited!!  Seriously, folks.  I really enjoy knitting from other designers' patterns. . . .
. . . . . BUT. . . . . .

There is nothing like creating something on your own.  I love talking to my clients about what they're interested in, favorite colors, hobbies, etc., and using this information as design elements.

Take, for example, this scarf I recently put in my shop:
Rolled Waterlilies - Edited

A client saw it & commented how nice it might be in LSU colors.  That got the ball rolling.

Before long, we had planned a lightweight scarf/stole in gold & purple, featuring a custom-designed fleur de lis motif. (I had taken pics of the design process & swatches, but my iPhone completely crashed & I lost them!)  Details were finalized, & I ordered the requested fiber - a prepared batt of 50/50 Alpaca/Silk (Heavenly!) from my favorite fiber source, Crystal Creek Fibers.

 A few days later, I got to open this:
Raw Fiber

This fiber is absolutely amazing.  In fact, everything I've ever purchased from Crystal Creek is amazing!  (Big Rivah Shawl was spun & knit using a gorgeous blend of silk, alpaca & merino I purchased from Crystal Creek)  Plus, with every purchase you get a little something extra:
Free Sample!

How can you not love a seller like that?!

On with the Technique!

With the Waterlilies Scarf, I spun, then dyed the yarn.  With this new design (Geaux Tigers), I needed the colors to be more saturated, with longer color transitions.  After researching different methods, I decided that space dyeing the batt would give me the best results.  I usually use food-safe dyes (Kool-Aid, Wilton Icing Colors), but given the rich, royal purple needed, I didn't want to risk the purple separating into pink & blue.

Three days after I opened the box of fiber, the dye arrived (purchased from Knit Picks)
Dye Kit.

Right after breakfast today, I put the rolled-up batt of fiber in a warm vinegar-water solution to soak for about 3 hours (unfortunately, I didn't think to get a picture. . . )  Then the Princesses & I Saran-wrapped the table, unrolled the batt and mixed up the dye solution.
Wet Fiber

First, I test-dyed a small piece of fiber to see how far the dye would travel once applied, and how long it needed to be steamed before exhausting.  Very important, considering the colors I was using - if you recall from your elementary school art class, any time you combine the three primary colors (yellow + red + blue), you get brown.  NOT an official LSU color. . . . Aside from needing to saturate the fiber with more dye - Success!!
Test Run

I used quite a bit of dye, making sure to "squish" it in real good. . . . .
LSU Stripes

. . . . yep, needs more dye.

Getting wrapped up to go in the steam pot, you can see both sides of the batt are evenly dyed:
Fiber Roll-Up

The last step was to steam this beauty for an hour, carefully flipping it over half-way through:
Steam Pot

I'll leave it in the pot all night to cool, then rinse it and let it dry in the hot Texas sun.

Next week, I'll talk about how to draft to ensure an evenly-spun yarn.

Until next time!

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