Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pushing the Limits

When I began dyeing, one of the few rules that I heard from many sources was that dyes needed warmth to work and therefore the room temperature should be at least 70 degrees.  My dyeing "studio" is in the unheated basement, where, even on the warmest day in summer, the temperature rarely reaches above 68, so I have already been fudging on that requirement a bit.  But normally as the weather turns toward winter I reluctantly curtail my dyeing activities and focus on turning that fabric into quilts.

Last winter, however, I discovered snow dyeing, which involves pouring dye solution over snow-covered fabric, which I am fairly sure is nowhere near 70 degrees.    And so late in November this year, with a few free hours, I decided to see how hard and fast that temperature rule for regular low-immersion dyeing was.  The temperature in the basement was below 60 while I was working and was around 50 by the time the fabric was finished batching.

To complicate matters further, I decided to play with some overdyeing and folding so here are some of the more interesting results:

These were two old dyes: first a dark brown poured over a diagonally folded piece of fabric and then with fabric folded on the other diagonal. a deep yellow.  The  dark brown turned a little purple but was still an interesting color and the yellow seemed strong even with the colder temperatures.
I loved this piece.  It was the last minute attempt to use up an end of fabric that I had cut off one of the larger pieces and to use up that dark brown dye, this time used with a greater concentration than the yellow piece.  I simple folded the piece quickly, dumped some dye on it and let it sit--and got lots of little texture bits along with the stripes.
Then I tried some shibori.  When I had done shibori before I had chosen a wide diameter piece of PVC pipe, carefully wrapped one layer of fabric around it and sewed it together so that it fit tightly around the pipe, and then scrunched it, but I had read about just folding the fabric, wrapping it around a pipe as many times as it would go and then scrunching.   My wide diameter PVC pipe had disappeared with some plumbers who were working in the basement a few months before and I only had a smaller pipe so I wrapped and scrunched, then poured dye around it.  And this was the magical result.  This was old dye, however, so I decided I had to try this with some newly mixed dye concentrate.  And here is the result of that:
The final analysis:  first of all, there were too many variables for this to be truly a scientific experiment, but nevertheless, working in cooler temperatures produces usable, interesting fabric so my dyeing season is definitely longer than it was.  I am hoping to have some time to dye this week after the nighttime temps have been in the teens and single digits for a number of days and the basement is even colder.  Then again the dyes may work when it is that chilly, but I and my fingers may not.  

And if you are still with me, thanks for the company.


IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

Oh must have been freezing down there!!! I like the results. Having interesting fabrics on the shelf is much more inspiring when starting a new project.

Have fun and wear long underwear :)


quilthexle said...

Thanks for posting this - and for being so brave to do the testing! I'm always sad when the dying season comes to an end - now I see I should just try it, I might even love the results! Yours are stunning!!

Anya said...

Knit yourself some white handwarmers and use them for dyeing fabric!

Gypsy Quilter said...

Your shibori results came out far better than mine. Love that blue/purple.