A Colorful Diversion…

Our handweaving guild decided to sponsor a “Dye Day” for our members as a celebration into the start of the summer.  Typically dye days provide large pots of color for members to immerse their yarns, warps or yardage, but we did something a little different.  Lead by our fearless president Caroline, who is an avid dyer, we all met in the community room of the condo pool complex where Caroline lives.  We all brought our things to dye, and Caroline provided her vast collection of MX fiber reactive dyes, (I seriously think she has every color Pro-Chem and Dharma sell) and all the little yarn samples to help us in our selection.  Her idea was to allow each member to select the colors they wanted, and make up 8oz containers and paint the yarns/warps/fabric directly.  I was thrilled.

I took advantage of this event, even tough my calendar is full, because Caroline has practically EVERY color, and social events like this are really really fun.  AND, I had a ton of white warps and skeins already pre-wound from last November when I paid my kids to wind up everything in sight that was white.  So I loaded up a laundry basket with white warps, and all the white skeins, and some white rayon scarves for dye-mops, and some silk chiffon scarves I had bought from Kerr Grabowski last summer during a different guild’s workshop with her on Deconstructed Silk Screen Printing.  I had no idea how much I’d need, but it didn’t cost anything to bring everything.  And I threw in all my dye supplies, everything but the actual dyes.

There was a flurry of activity when I arrived, everyone set up quickly, and Caroline showed the beginning dyers how to put two glugs of white vinegar in a gallon of water as a mordant for protein fibers, and for the rest of us with cellulose fibers, we made up batches of soda activator.  I had done a quick check online before I left, doing a Google search for Color Forecasts for Spring/Summer 2011.  I got a couple of sites, with pretty palettes, and I did a quick print and brought them down along with some color chips, and my notebook.  I quickly selected a palette, with lavenders, melon, butterscotch, and mauve.  I was a little nervous with the melon color, it looked so Orange when I was applying it, but the color is lovely and pale and perfect now that I’ve rinsed it.

I ended up painting three ten yard warps, all with the same palette, so the idea is I’ll run them together and create a yardage next time I’m home long enough to warp the loom.  I had a great time sitting and painting, listening the sounds of chatter amongst the guild members.  I ran out of speed about half way through the third warp.  Most of the members had cleaned up and left, since it was nearing dinner time, but I slogged along, since this wasn’t something I could put away and come back to another time.  Once I finished,  I still had some excess dye left, and Caroline noted that there were about 20 bottles of other excess dye from the members who had left already.  She hates throwing away unused dyes, as do I, and I had a basket of white skeins, and some scarf blanks, and I asked her if she cared if I tried to use up some of the extra dye.

This was the most fun I’ve had in a studio setting in a long time.  Too exhausted to over think anything, faced with a bunch of unlabeled bottles of dye, I threw everything white that I had brought into the soda soak and dove in.  I squirted and painted, and threw scarves in  baggies with dye, and I stayed another two hours.  I’m very grateful to Caroline and Andi who agreed to stay and do all the clean up while I used up the extra dye.  What was so much fun is the total lack of control.  I had no idea what was in the bottles and cups, and I mixed small amounts of dye together and made pot luck.  I dyed everything I’d brought except for a couple of the 10 yards warps, and finally called it quits about 7pm.

All of the things I dyed sat overnight on the floor of my warm car, and I started pulling out the bins around lunch time today.  Rinsing warps and skeins is fun for about the first half hour, and then it gets to be a real chore.  I worked around the house for most of the morning, putting off the inevitable, and then I got a brainstorm.  I asked my lovely talented 17 year old, who was watching television if she would please go out and help mulch the yard in the 95 degree heat.  When I got the expected face, I offered as an alternative, that she could rinse out all my dyed yarn, sitting in the bathroom in air-conditioning.  I’m sure you can guess which option she chose and she was actually excited about it.  I know it is sort of cheating, but hey, why not?  We actually worked together, she washed skeins and scarves in the bathroom sink, and I used the tub to wash the warps.  We worked for a few hours, and she’d squeal every once in awhile over some wonderful combination of color, all of them total surprises.  The only thing I planned were the warps, and that’s always fun to see them rinsed out.  But the serendipitous skeins and scarves were so much fun to see once they were rinsed, and hanging to dry.  We lined them up on the back deck, the silk chiffon scarves dried quickly and they will be fun for nuno felting.  While we were rinsing in the bathroom, we both screamed in dismay when we heard a sudden sound of pouring rain, from a thunderstorm that sprung up while we were busy in the bathroom.  A mad dash to the balcony to grab the yarns and skeins, and we hung them instead, now dripping again, in my studio with buckets to catch the water.

So I now have lots of inspiring skeins of yarns to invent projects with, and enough dyed warp for another wonderful colorful piece of handwoven yardage.  Stay tuned…