Dyeing with the door open

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Rainbow dyed cotton warp.

I’ve worked like crazy to get my warp done last week, I didn’t even get to card or comb the wool I had planned to bring along. And I should have known, but the Saturday was so crazy busy that I didn’t even get to preparing the cotton warp for dying aka boiling it in soda ash for an hour. Let alone that I could take pictures.

I had loads of fun though, talking to people about what I was doing in the dye kitchen with my big pot of weird red stuff (cochineals) and later the brown stuff (the madder root). And explaining what techniques were used on the samples laid out concerning the dyeing process.

My dad and one of my nieces made the trip to Ghent to come and see what I was doing! It was really wonderful to see them. I spent far too much time talking about weaving…

Sunday however, I was so dog-tired, I had a brief one second thought about just staying in bed and let the other weavers muck about in the dye kitchen. But then I thought about maybe getting to dye my warp and checking on the wool I left in the madder root dye bath overnight. Needless to say, I was out of bed and on my way at 6 in the morning on a Sunday… (I’m crazy, I know)

Sunday was a lot calmer in terms of visitors, but a highlight in dyeing because I found time to put a part of my warp in soda ash for an hour AND I got to dye it as well. Loads of people were interested in what that brightly coloured yarn was doing next to the big pot of madder root…

I took the leftover dye home and dyed the rest of my warp at home. Which is still drying but is looking gorgeous.

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drying rainbow warp.

I think I talked about this before, but in case I haven’t: I use synthetic dyes (Procion) for this rainbow dyeing. I use only red, blue and yellow and then mix my colors. In contrary to dyeing in a dye bath, this is more or less done cold. More or less because the cotton is boiled in mordant solution, lightly spun dry and then immediately painted. The salt solution (to urge the dye onto the yarn) that is sprayed on after an hour or so, is also hot and the soda ash solution you spray on to fixate when you’re done, is also hot. The cold thus refers to the fact that the cotton throughout the dyeing process is cooling down from being in the mordant but doesn’t get reheated.

I can’t wait to put it on my loom!

Dyeing with the door open

6 thoughts on “Dyeing with the door open

    1. In case you happen to get bored of France, you’re always welcome in Holsbeek. But I must warn you, my house is more like a studio for weaving and spinning than the classic idea of a house, aka I chucked out my dining table to fit my drawloom in (to give you an idea).

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  1. This is absolutely gorgeous. I have some new Procion dyes arriving soon so I’ll have to see if I can try to make something as fabulous. Do you make up quite large volumes of dye then if you mix all your colours as you go?

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    1. To give you an idea for those six parts of warp (each 10 cm wide & 6 meters long) I made twice a stock solutions of 5 gr procion with ~100 ml warm water, thus the colors red, blue and yellow. I didn’t mix those colors on a “color palette”, I just dropped little drops of dye solution where I wanted them, letting the dye mix itself where it wanted to.
      I prepared the cotton (all 6 parts) in a solution of 10 gr soda ash and 3 liters of water.
      The salt solution was 25 gr of salt on 1 liter of water and the soda ash solution to fixate was 5 gr on 1 liter of water => those two were sprinkled on lightly, as not to wash off all the color.
      The total dye process took 5 hours.

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      1. Thanks for such a detailed reply, that is really helpful. I like to getting the colours to mix on the fabric but don’t always get great results, think I’ll just have to try harder.

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