Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's going on here?

I just returned from a six day trip to San Francisco, where I indulged in a trip to Art Fibers and Britex, along with the typical sightseeing: the seals on Pier 39, Union Square, Chinatown....

Dyeing with weld has been on my mind since early summer when I realized my second year plants were going to flower. This is my first attempt at dyeing weld. It was a multi-day process. First I chopped up the dried branches from plants that I harvested back in July. Immediately after covering them with water I realized I meant to cut the branches into much smaller lengths, like 1" - 2" lengths, but it was too late! Sometimes I wonder at my lack of ability to concentrate! The color I got after simmering the weld did not look promising, like weak tea. I let the pot cool and sit for a couple of days and then heated it to a simmer again. I never did let it boil, and both times I simmered for only about 1 hour. I strained off the liquid from the plant material, gave the plant material a good pressing to extract all the liquid I could before disposing of it. The dye liquor was an unappealing dark tan. In went the wet yarns, most of which was my handspun romney and one 250 gram skein of fingering weight Palette from Knit Picks. This simmered one hour for a very awful tan. I then let the yarns cool in the pot and sit overnight for a second try the next day. Still very boring tan. I then resorted to my very expensive, $37/oz. powdered weld from Earthues. I had one ounce which I dissolved in a small amount of water before adding to my dye pot. The color got darker, but no better. Back in with yarn to simmer for about an hour. The color of tan got considerable darker and had an olive tinge to it. I still hated it!

I then consulted the internet on weld dyeing and what could be done to shift the color. The recommended additives were ammonia or sodium carbonate. I opted for ammonia since I could get that locally. I do wish I'd taken a 'before' photo! I removed the yarn from the dye pot in order to 'glug' in some ammonia, and the color change was instant and shocking! When I added the yarn it also changed right before my eyes to something quite lurid! It's a lot more yellow now, but that olive cast is still there, making for a bright "French's" mustard with an olive tinge. I rather like it! It's certainly shocking.

I'm looking forward to over-dyeing with indigo, though this time I will only dip my little 1/2 oz. skein for a test before submitting all my precious handspun to what could potentially be a really nasty color!

I'm thinking about how to write up what I'm doing with my 'Cardigan for Arwen,' but can't seem to make myself sit down with the graph paper to document my changes. I'm much more of a design-on-the-needles knitter, who struggles to then document what has already been done....

I bought some silk/mohair (76 % silk, 19% mohair, 5% merino) called Sylph at Art Fibers and had to immediately start working on a Clapotis. I was knitting everywhere in San Francisco, and obviously not paying attention well because I've now come to the fourth set of dropped stitches and those stitches won't drop all they way to the bottom. It appears that I did a k2tog quite a fews rows down that is interfering with the dropping. I discovered this last night at almost midnight, while watching tv since I couldn't go to bed when my body was still on West Coast time. I threw the whole mess into one of my knitting bags and hope not to think about it again too soon!

In the past couple of weeks I have worked on both the historical tapestry and H. Rob, but with no real progress to show for it. Baby steps are better than nothing though, and I have also done a small sample for my Hudson River Quadricentennial piece. Slow and steady.....

I do not understand why certain photos get sideways when the original was not!

Can you see here that I've drawn in the shape of the boat that will get woven next?

Ah, and I've just remembered that I promised an article to my study group at Complex I'll sign off now to take care of that!


kitkatknit said...

Good 'ol Britex!!! I bet it hasn't changed since I used to go there in the 60's.

Knitman said...

i am impressed with by your work.