Saturday, 28 February 2009

Dying to dye!

I have a new affliction and it could be contagious! I have started hand dyeing yarns and fibres and I@m having so much fun. It all began as a bit of an experiment, as I mentioned before, but now it's getting a bit out of hand - we nearly missed toddler group on Thursday as I was so busy dyeing a hank of roving..... The effects of home dyeing are really something else - each skein is totally unique and the effect on my mental state is amazing, I feel elated, excited and invigorated. I find it very therapeutic, mixing up these powders and soaking yarn. The point when I take the "virgin" yarn and add the first colour causes me to take a sharp intake of breath, as I see the first colour. I'm finding myself browsing websites, searching for UK produced undyed yarn to dye up myself. I hadn't realised I'd enjoy the creating process quite so much. It's funny, I have never had real "artistic" talent - I was terrible at drawing and would get report cards that basically said good attempt but terrible finished article! Yet with hand dyeing yarns, I can be creative, allow my artistic nature to take over and create a masterpiece. I like the mathematical aspect (working out dilutions, volumes and additives) of creating the dyes and preparing the yarn. I love the slight leap of faith that is required as you put your precious yarn in the microwave to "cook" it and set the colours. Amazingly the yarn doesn't felt, or change in any way apart from colour. As I rinse out the yarn, I can't wait for it to dry - wet yarn looks diffferent to dry and in it's damp form, you only get a vague impression of what it's going to look like dry. Once it's dried, it's time to wind it up and then to knit or crochet it. Again, the effect of working the yarn up is totally different to when it's in a skein, and you never quite know how it's going to look until you start a swatch. And if you use a different stitch pattern or an open weave you change the nature of the beast even more.

So now my life is revolving around colour palettes, mordants, soaking, sourcing undyed yarns and trying new dyeing techniques. It's a lot of fun and I should have the first pictures to share with you very soon.

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