Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dyeing in Winter

For my bed quilt I need to dye fabric for the backing and the binding. Dyeing fabric in winter is always a problem. Dyes need a minimum temperature of 70 degrees F in order to react and bind to the fabric. My house is heated to 68 degrees and with the cost of heating oil, it's really wasteful to burn the oil to raise the temperature 2 degrees. However, in the living room is a heating vent right below a huge window. During the winter the sun streams in this window and heats up the room. And I can trap the heat coming out of the vent by making a tent with plastic. So this little setup has been sitting for 24 hours and I'm about ready to wash out the fabrics. This technique has worked before but this time I'm using Turquoise as one of the dyes. The problem with turquoise is that it's a big, fat molecule and it needs warmer temperatures and longer time to react. The color looks fabulous in the pot but until it's all rinsed and washed it's difficult to tell if it has had sufficient time and heat to react.

So there are 2 - 3 yard pieces wound and twisted that I hope will have a sort of shibori look, another 3/4 yard in another pot in which I did a fair amount of smushing so that it will have a more even and less mottled look for the binding. And since I had a lot of dye solution left I ripped off another 2 yards and stuck that in a pot also. No point in throwing good dye down the drain. So now I'm ready to wash it out. Stand by, news at 11.


anonymous said...

Two thoughts for next time:

1. wrap the whole thing (plastic container & all) in black plastic garbage bags instead of clear plastic to absorb the sun's heat and maybe set it all on aluminum foil to reflect sun energy back upwards? That's my passive, cost free, use nature solution.

I don't dye in Winter here, but use a variation of this to stretch our short Belgian dye season: put the black plastic bagged dyepots in my closed car that's been parked in the sun all day. Prob won't work in Winter tho.

2. set the arrangement above on a heating pad or electric blanket. Our guru in Paducah has a seed-sprouter blanket that she highly recommends. That's my non-cost-free, higher carbon foot print solution.


Gerrie said...

You have given me an idea. We have two furnaces. One in the attic that heats the main floor and one in the basement that heats my studio and office. It is always quite warm in the room with the furnace. I am going to measure the temp and see if it will work for during my dyes in the winter. Can't wait to see how yours looks.