Friday, 12 June 2015

a little turquoise

A little turquoise always cheers me up.  Needing some new textured yarn for my cards I spun up some lovely tussah silk with a little merino and hand dyed it with the new acid dyes that I'd bought from Kemtex.  I do like their dyes... firstly they're from yorkshire ;)  always a plus, and secondly good results with inexpensive prices.  Up until now I've used the procion mx dyes which can be used on animal or plant fibres, but I opted for the specific acid dyes to try and achieve brighter colours on the wools and silks for my new weaving project... more of that later, but here's the turquoise to be going on with :D

Love and light x

Monday, 27 April 2015

Madder and madder

Well I didn't get angry at all... just a little madder :)

Again, like the Indigo session, I took the easy option and used pre-prepared and ground bought madder roots.  I wouldn't get the ground up version again as it's virtually impossible to remove from the fleece afterwards and they were such fine particles.  Another time I'd go for the whole roots.  The temperature with this again is important.  Indigo had to be kept around 50 degrees celsius and the madder under 60 degrees to yield brighter reds... above that and you get more browns I'm told :D

These are the various wools I tested, all together, in the same madder dye bath.

  1. Alum mordanted raw fleece (white)
  2. Cochineal on Iron - washed with no extra mordant (grey)
  3. Indigo - washed with no extra mordant (royal blue)
  4. Shallots - washed with no extra mordant (bright golden yellow)
  5. Cochineal on Iron - Alum mordanted (pale pink)
  6. Brazilwood - washed with no extra mordant (coral)
And the results...

I love the depth of colour but realise it doesn't over dye some colours as I'd hoped.  The experiments have been fabulous and engrossing but I know that I'm ever practical and some of these are just not my colours to wear... I have to do something with them after all as I can't just have a house increasingly filled with coloured fluff!

I took a selection of the dyed stuff and over dyed it again with a new cochineal dye bath... 

Pretty pleased and even more so as it's spinning up lovely... here's the first skein.

Now I need to spin another 13 hanks :D  see you in a while!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

fibre so far

Thought I'd knit up a little sample of the dyed wools so far.

The colours aren't in good combination and not any colour way I'd choose to wear but it gives me an idea of where I've got to go with it.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


Indigo has always had a draw for me but as something not easily grown in our climate here in Scotland I'd always thought it one of the last things I should try.  Going the whole hog for ease of process I opted for Freeze-dried Indigo crystals which give you a dye vat in a few minutes.  The fermentation process to get the right chemical reaction has already been done for you.

So Indigo crystals plus Soda Ash makes the basic solution to the right ph.  Then Spectralite is added and gently stirred in to remove oxygen from the liquid - we only want oxygen to complete the colour change after the liquid has been absorbed into the fibres.

The colour shift is great fun.  Alchemical magic of green to blue happening right before your eyes :D

I tried indigo on raw fleece and all the variants I could that were pre-dyed.  The bright yellow Shallots give a lovely green.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


The dye bath of cochineal had to be maintained at 50 deg celsius, so the pan had to be pulled on and off the low ring. So a mordant of Potassium Bichromate was disappointing as I'd hoped for a plum colour and got a pinky beige.  Iron gave strong grey with no real hint of pink.  It was only the Alum mordant which gave true cerise pinks and was particularly successful on combed tops rather than the uncarded locks.

I then tried a second set of wools in the remaining dye bath.  As well as the raw fleece I over dyed some of the iron mordanted dyed wool from the previous bath, some of the Brazilwood, and some of the Cherry bark.  Straight away the iron grey came out of the wool !  Some nice pale pinks were achieved.

I should have checked this before but found out that my water is classed as "soft"  which is usually great for dyeing, and particularly required for cochineal.  The ph naturally is about 6 to 5.5.  A bit acidic but can be modified.  Interestingly though the dyestuffs have an affect on the ph too so worth a check once the dye bath has all it's ingredients together.

This is the sample done on pre carded wool.  It really makes a difference to the absorption of colour.

Quite different to the uncarded ...