Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dying Balls of Crochet Thread!


I have been really excited about an idea I had for dying my cotton crochet thread while it was wound in a ball.Crochet thread is my number one resource, because it is inexpensive and I use it in so many ways including: weaving on my floor loom, inkle looms, incorporating it into tapestries, knitting lace and various crochet projects.  Suffice to say I have heaps of it stashed, and a great deal of that is cream, white, or ecru. 

I found this tutorial for the process I basically want to try, except instead of with wool, which you need to do on the stove, I will be using cotton, and just dying it in ice cream pails with fairly hot water.

My happy little balls of crochet thread.  They measured roughly 2.5-3.5 inches in diameter:


I mix my dye powder (Procion MX ) into boiling water until it is completely dissolved.  I do this outdoors with a dust mask and gloves.  Once the dye powder is dissolved the particles won't go airborne and I can safely bring the dye back into my kitchen.  I never use the same supplies for dying as I use for cooking/eating.  

I made turquoise, fuchsia, bright yellow, and navy:

I mixed together very hot water, washing soda, salt and a little bit of calgon in ice cream pails until they were completely dissolved. Then I poured in the dye.  Some buckets I just used the dye solutions from one yogurt container, and for a few I mixed them.  For example, to get the indigo skein I added a bit of fuchsia to my navy bath.  For the forest green one I added some bright yellow to navy.

Below are plain turquoise and plain navy baths:

Below is the indigo yarn prior to rinsing.  It looks fairly purple, but some of the fuchsia rinsed away leaving me with my indigo. I think there were two reasons my fuchsia didn't strike the cotton fully.  I didn't leave the ball in the dye bath for a full 40 minutes, and there is also a probability that my dyes are expiring.  I don't use them fast enough. 

I had to wrap my umbrella swift up in plastic because I was unwinding each ball into a skein so that I could properly rinse out all the dye.  This is where a PVC Niddy Noddy would come in seriously handy.  Gonna have to get on that. 

All the skeins!  I love the way they look.

As you can see below, I pretty much CAN'T do a dye day without grabbing as many random pre-made skeins I can find and tossing them into the pails alongside the actual experiment.  This gives me a fun array of miscellaneous colours to play with any way I like.  It turns out several of them will work nicely in my next tapestry project (I am on pins and needles right now as I prepare to thread that bad boy up for round 2). 

Balls of pretty thread waiting to become triangular shawlettes:

I chose to stop here with the balls being very close to white at one end, but on my next run I plan to re-wind each ball with the lighter end on the outside and set them in a second dye bath, so that I have a colour on each end that hopefully meld together near the middle.  This way I can orchestrate it so that I have, say, 6 finished skeins that blend from: purple to blue (1), blue to green(2), green to yellow(3) and so on through to red. YAY RAINBOWS!

For my first experiment I chose to knit a scarf using this fabulous One Row Scarf pattern, and the indigo blue and forest green skeins (my trial runs).  My idea was to start with the indigo at one end, knit until it ran out, then begin with the lighter end of the green skein and knit to forest green at the other: 

NEAT!  I have since finished off this blue , and just picked up with the lighter end of the forest green ball.  It is incredibly difficult to pick up on the join, because the lighter ends of both balls are almost identical.  However when I hold the light end up to the original ball of cotton I took it from, the color difference is quite apparent.  So even though the balls were wound tightly the dye did seep in and change even the innermost cotton.

I am pretty excited to see how this weaves up including: on the floor loom, possibly in combination with a painted warp; on the inkle loom so that the warp changes colours in vertical stripes; and in tapestry, where I think it could be very useful alone, or in combination with several solid threads to add a bit of interest.  Also, I recently figured out knitting entrelac, which I think this process would work for!

All in all this was a tremendous success, and I learned several things!  In the future I will use only tightly wound balls and try to keep them in the dye bath for the full recommended time.  I like the crisper speckled effect for this technique, so for the most part I will refrain from wetting out the thread prior to dying.  I can get smoother gradients from the mini-skein/mason jar technique (below).  

I'm also super excited to try:

-Winding five or six short skeins, where the yarn isn't cut in between them as seen here.
-Wool yarn on the stove as seen here, here, and here
-Same process as above with a wool cake, but dying it in quarters.  COOL effect!
-Long Colorways using mason jars and Kool-Aid! Here.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog!  I am always excited to get feedback, so if you have any comments or questions about my process just leave me a scribble!


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Inkle tutorial #2-Making Heddles

Hello Hello!

It's time for the second part of my three part Inkle tutorial! If you missed the first one on building your loom , click HERE.  I know for a fact this is not the only way to create heddles in inkle weaving.  I'm just showing you the cardboard loom version of the way I do it with my smaller looms.  I learned it this way from friend of mine one afternoon in college.

Since that tutorial I had a few questions about the two-sidedness of these looms and how they get warped.  Most of the inkle looms on the market now only have one "wall" with dowels poking out.  They look like this.  The loom I used in college looked like this.  I still have 2 double sided looms and enjoy working with them. Warping it is a little more of a pain, but it's very stable, and I remember actually weaving 5 inches wide on the one I learned with, but that's another post I think.

You will need some very strong, sturdy string for this. I recommend some kind of mattress thread or upholstery button thread, but you can also make do for now with a thick, strong sewing thread that you can't break with your fingers. Smoothness is essential to minimize fraying/breaking warp threads.I like to keep my heddles all the same length in a ziplock baggie marked for the loom I use them with.  That way I can just take out as many as I need or make more if my pattern needs. I take a measuring thread and mark both ends with a sharpie, keep it in the bag, and use it to cut all my heddles.  This way they are always the right length. 

First thing's first, run a colourful (I used red) thread from your top rear bar to your bottom front one and secure it. This will show you roughly where your band will sit as you weave.  

Next you will measure how long each heddle thread needs to be.  Without cutting, draw a good length of string off the spool.  Next take your heddle thread and loop it around the center bar,pulling both ends of the thread under and then back up around the bar and around beneath the heddle.  leave some room extra for the overhand knots.  Cut this length.  Mark the ends with a sharpie.

Don't worry about being too finicky.  As long as the string accommodates that length of red yarn, and doesn't overshoot it you should be okay.  The finicky part will be the next step.

You can cut one trial string using your  measure. Place an overhand knot about 1/4 inch from the tails, securing the two ends together and forming a loop.  Don't cut the other threads until you are sure this one will sit where you want it.

 Take the knotted end and place it behind the center bar, so that the knot is visible.

Tuck the loop end through the knotted end to secure the heddle.  Measure it against your read yarn to see if it is where you like it.  Don't worry if it's not bang on target.  just make sure it's close, and that all your heddles are the same. 

Cut each one carefully and try to place the overhand knots always in the same place on the heddle, so that the end results are all the same height when placed on the bar.  I leave about 1/4 inch tails, and have become very accurate at placing the knots.  You will find that it doesn't take much to create an uneven shed.Try your best. Make about 30.  I don't know how much inkle these little cardboard bad boys can hack, but it won't be anything much wider than that. 

TADA!!  There you have your heddles!

Bear in mind these looms are temporary things.  They probably won't stand up to the wear, tear and tension of long term weaving, so if you fall in love with the process you should definitely consider purchasing a loom.

Stay tuned for Part 3! 

Thank you very much for checking out my blog!  If there's anything you have seen in my previous posts that you'd like a tutorial on just leave me a comment!