harrisville designs

Yarn is clean and dry!

I retrieved my yarn from Betsy’s house yesterday. When I got there, it was almost dry, but not quite. I wasn’t about to leave without my beautiful yarn, so I took it anyways and hung it up in my room to finish drying.

Today, I have been playing with different arrangements of the colors. I experimented with randomizing the order, but I ended up settling on the classic spectrum:

Tomorrow I will meet with Betsy to begin winding the warp for my loom!

Almost ready...

Washing day! Today I biked to Betsy’s house to wash the excess dye out of all of my skeins. I peered into the basement and found this waiting for me:

Wow. (*Color arrangement courtesy of Betsy)

I took each of the 18 bundles into the laundry room and washed them with a bit of dish soap and then squeezed them out.

Surprisingly, most of them didn’t have a whole lot of excess dye, and the water ran almost clear right away. But, oh my goodness, the black walnut water was brown for days. Also the darkest pernambuco skein (3rd from the left on the clothesline).

Either tomorrow or Sunday I will be able to retrieve my yarn and then it will be MINE FOREVER.


Longest blog post ever.

On Monday, I rushed out of Mineralogy class, stuffed food in my face, then rushed back to my room to change into dyeing clothes so I could spend as much time as possible at Mill Hollow dyeing my yarn. As soon as I was dressed, I ran outside, and Grandma was there to pick me up!

The drive to Mill Hollow was about 20 minutes. Grandma and I found Karen with her dyeing setup just around the corner from the parking lot.

The fire grate holding dye and mordant pots

So much water!

As soon as I got there, we got started.

Step 1: Boil the dyebath (a.k.a., make the dye.)

The first step was to boil the materials we had collected in huge pots filled with water.

Madder Root Dyebath

Onion Skin Dyebath

Coreopsis Dyebath (in progress)

Pernambuco Dyebath

Black-Eyed Susan Dyebath

Pokeberries. These make a beautiful fuschia color, but the dye fades very quickly, so I chose not to use it.

Bronze Fennel Dyebath (in progress)

Marigold Dyebath

Not actually grape juice. This is goldenrod dye previously prepared by Karen.

The dyebaths boiling over the fire. (*Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Step 2: Wash the yarn.

I put all 2 ½ pounds of my wool into this pot with some water and soap to soak for a while.

Squeezing out the water after it was done soaking. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Step 3: Prepare the mordant and mordant the yarn.

A “mordant” is a metal solution that you soak the yarn in. This will change the color that the yarn picks up from the dye when it is removed from the dyebath. In order to calculate how much mordant to soak the yarn in, we had to weigh the yarn, calculate a certain percent of that weight, and put that much mordant in the pot to soak. (So we basically needed a certain amount of mordant per ounce of yarn).

Pondering and calculating… (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

I used four different mordants:

Alum = Potassium Aluminum Sulfate (10%) and Cream of Tartar (5%)

Copper = Copper Sulfate (2%)

Tin = Stammous Chloride (0.5%)

Chrome = Potassium Dichromate (3%)

Weighing the mordant with this high-tech scale. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Dissolving the copper mordant, which was then added to a large pot of water. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Adding clean yarn to the copper mordant. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

(Most of the other mordants were pretty transparent, but the copper mordant was particularly interesting.)

After adding the yarn to the mordant, it needed to be heated and soaked for a while.

Adding water to the mordant pot over the fire. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Stirring the yarn in the mordant. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

After the yarn got cooked in the mordant for a while, we took the pot off of the grate to let it cool, then squeezed it out to be soaked in a dyebath.

Squeezing out the alum mordant. Gloves are important because this stuff is a bit toxic. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

The yarn mordanted in copper turned a strange greenish-brown color. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Before putting each skein in a dyebath, we marked them in masking tape like this so that we would know what mordant and what dye we used. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Step 4: Strain and Prepare Dyebaths

At this point, most of the dyebaths had been boiling for a few hours, so it was time to strain them to use them to dye our yarn.

There was a lot of material in the dyebaths, so we first scooped out a lot of it into a bucket.

Scooping out the Pernambuco dyebath. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Close-up of the pernambuco wood shavings

After scooping out a liberal amount of material, I carefully picked up the heavy pot and poured the dye into a strainer.

Pouring out the Osage dyebath. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

**Bad footwear! I was lucky that I didn’t spill boiling water on my feet. This is the Black-Eyed Susan dyebath. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Step 5: Dye the yarn! (finally)

Next, we put the dyepots back on the fire grate, and put yarn in them to dye.

Alum mordant + copper mordant yarn going into the pernambuco dyebath. (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Yarn cooking in the Pernambuco dyebath.

Testing out the Osage dyebath. So yellow! (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

The yarn soaked in the dyebaths for 45 minutes to an hour each. The longer we left them in, the darker the color got.

Step 6: Fish the yarn out of the dyebath and put it in a strainer to cool.

After we decided that the yarn had been in the dye for a sufficient amount of time, we took it out of the dyebath and let it cool before straining it and hanging it on the clothesline.

Madder Root yarn coming out of the dyebath. This one was supposed to turn out orange, but I ended up with this lovely scarlet color!  (Photocredit to Margaret-Ann Ellis)

Onion skin yarns cooling in the strainer

Pernambuco yarns cooling in the strainer. Believe it or not, these were dyed with the same dyebath, but they had a different mordant.

Step 7: Squeeze out extra dye and hang on the line.

The red section. The four on the left are mine and the others are Karen’s.

Skeins dyed with logwood. So pretty!

The yellow and blue section. They turned out so well!

I didn’t have time to dye all of my yarn, so Karen did it for me on Tuesday and Wednesday. (The hard part was done anyways. All she had to do was put them in the dyebaths, then take them out.)

Here is the list of colors I dyed myself:

1. Pernambuco, copper mordant (turned out dark purple/red)

2. Pernambuco, alum mordant (turned out a nice soft red color)

3. Pernambuco, tin mordant (turned out a salmon pink color)

4. Onion skin, tin mordant (turned out a brownish-yellow/orange color)

5. Onion skin, alum mordant (turned out a bright golden color)

6. Madder root, alum mordant (turned out a bright red scarlet color)

7. Osage, alum mordant (turned out bright yellow!)

8. Logwood, alum mordant (turned out a purple color)

9. Logwood, copper mordant (turned out a blue/gray/green color)

10. Black-Eyed Susan, copper mordant (turned out a nice medium brown)

11. Coreopsis, tin (turned out a yellow/golden/brown color)

Here is the list I left for Karen. (We’ll see if this is what I actually get.)

1. Goldenrod, copper mordant. (hopefully green)

2. Black walnut, alum mordant. (chocolate brown)

3. Bronze Fennel, alum mordant. (yellow/khaki)

4. Marigold, tin mordant. (bright yellow/orange)

5. Cutch, alum mordant. (medium brown)

6. Coreopsis, chrome mordant (rust orange)

7. Marigold, chrome mordant (It’s a mystery…)

Of course, I had two baby skeins as well. I dyed them on Monday, but I don’t remember in what… We’ll see.

Step 8: Cook dinner over the fire.

Chick pea stew and chicken with peppers… yummy.

Also, I wanted to point out that all of this occurred right next to the Vermillion River, with a brilliant shale cliff in the background. Throughout the afternoon, we heard large chunks of shale dropping from the cliff and into the river. Here is a photo of the dust resulting from a shale fall:

So cool!

At the end of the day, Betsy was nice enough to take my yarn home with her to hang up to dry in her basement, as I don’t have a place where I can hang yarn to drip all over the floor. Once it dries, along with the yarn that Karen is dyeing for me on Tuesday and Wednesday, I will need to wash it again to remove excess dye from the yarn, then I will hang it up to dye again. After that, the weaving process begins!