Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Dyeing and a Sweater

There has been a lot of discussion on the various dyeing and surface design lists about snow dyeing. I have always thought that this was rather a strange method of dyeing fabric since one of the basic premises is that the dyes need a temperature of at least 70 degrees to fix to the fabric. Snow is obviously nowhere near that temperature, so why use it? But at the moment we are overwhelmed with snow and I needed to dye some backs for quilts, so I thought I would give it a try. Right outside my back door is enough snow for just about the entire world to try out snow dyeing. In case you hadn't heard, we here on the East Coast, particularly in Baltimore, have had two humongous snow storms in the past week. This much snow is unheard of around here. And this season, we have had three storms of more than 20 inches of snow, an event never before recorded. For a region that normally gets 18 inches of snow for the entire season, this wallop has pretty much shut down everything. So, back to the snow dyeing.

A little research showed me the methods that people had used: pre-soak the fabric in the soda ash/water solution, wad up and place into the bottom of a large pan. Gather up the snow and pile it into the pan. Pour the dye solution over the snow. The snow forms a resist of sorts so that the dye hits sections of the fabric unevenly. Once the snow melts, then let the fabric batch overnight. I placed my snow-filled pan in a sunny window to speed up the snow melting process, but it still took many hours. The pans were on a slant so that as the snow/dye melted and puddled, the fabric was not soaking in the liquid.

I used some blue dyes that are at least 10 years old, mixed at 2 Tablespoons dye powder to 1 cup water. This is pretty concentrated solution. I wanted to see if I could get saturated colors because most of the examples I saw on the web were too pastel for my taste. This first piece is a Brilliant Blue and Black Cherry, both from ProChem. The Black Cherry was mixed at 1 Tablespoon in 1 cup. When all the snow melted on this one, I drained out all the liquid.

This second piece of fabric is Cerulean Blue, again 2 T in 1 cup water. For this one I must have had more snow or it wasn't in direct sun because it took much longer for the snow to melt and I didn't bother to drain the liquid. Maybe those more solid areas were soaking in the dye all night.

The results are really pretty nice, but I'm still not convinced it's worth the effort and the time involved. And the close contact with snow, that stuff is cold.

In December I blogged about dyeing some cotton yard and knitting a sweater. You can read about it here and here. I discovered that it's difficult to get even coloration on the yarn and I was worried about how it would knit up. Actually I like the slightly variegated look. Here is the finished sweater. It crosses over in front and ties at the side. I haven't had a chance to wear it anywhere yet. I like the patterning and once I got the hang of it, didn't have to rip out very much at all.

Now I've got another knitting project going. I like to knit while watching TV in the evening. Hand sewing makes my fingers and hands hurt, so I do this instead. It seems a shame to just sit and watch and let my hands be idle. I can glance up enough to keep up with what's happening. Except for Lost, and particularly when they air the previous week's episode with little explanations written out at the bottom of the screen. I call this "Lost for Dummies" because it helps make sense of the plot. Sort of.


Cathy said...

Snow dyeing sounds like a bunch of work. Your pieces turned out very nicely though. I particularly like the piece with the blue & the black cherry.

Sorry to hear about all of your snow. We haven't gotten any here this year, and we usually get at least one good batch. Darn El Nino weather pattern.

I gave up on Lost long ago. Knitting too for that matter! Your sweater looks great.

Vicki W said...

Your snow dyes look great!

TALL GIRL said...

Cathy, your snow dyeing projects are awesome! It almost makes we wish we had snow...but not quite. Maybe they should have planned the Olympics in Baltimore? It always seems that no matter where they are held, there is a lack of snow that year!

Aart said...

I do also snow-dying, in the melting water I also dye my fabrics. Visit my blog and you will see.

tiedyejudy said...

I think your results are the best I have seen so far! And I'm thinking the super concentration of dye is a big part of it. I'm like you, I don't want to go to all that trouble and have pastel results! Thanks for sharing...

Viagra Online said...

I've seen this technique in shirt those looks really nice and innovative and it's a good way to look different and create our own style.