Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Snow Dyeing

This snow dyeing technique produces some unique markings, that's for sure. It's too bad it's limited, season-wise. Plus it takes a fair amount of space. I have to cover the pans to make sure the cat doesn't manage to get into them. After all, they are kitty litter pans, and she feels a certain ownership. So here I have these beautiful fabrics, which present the problem of how to use them. It would be difficult to overprint them and they don't seem to want to fade into the background. Front and center would make them happy, I think. So I thought that a good way to showcase these fabrics would be to dye some t-shirts also.

This blue one, which is nice, but not spectacular, will be my working-out-at-the-gym t-shirt. I can admire myself as I slog through my workout.

This second one I like a whole lot better. I used two different pans with different colors (obviously). The blue pan was the Brilliant Blue, with a little bit of Black Cherry and a little bit of Golden Yellow. I didn't mix the dyes so strongly this time, only 1 T per 1 cup of water. The second pan was mostly the Golden Yellow with some red and a small amount of blue. These pieces are to die for. Or is it dye for? Ha Ha. Sorry.

These next 4 images are all from the same piece of fabric and were in the same pan with the above t-shirt. It's amazing the variety of markings and colors that appear. And again these are fabrics that will have a difficult time playing with others, they are just too eye-catching.

Before the snow all melts I should try to do some with more dilute dye solutions to see if I can get subtler markings. I think I have some time, I'm betting there will still be some piles of plowed snow for another month.

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.