Monday, December 19, 2011

Adding Colour to Life

A dyeing day.

With  a friend coming over to play with some Kool Aid, it made for an interesting morning. Michele brought three cheeses to dye. They are not the dairy kind but a type of wool which has been partly drafted and a twist put in it so is extremely easy to spin. They are called cheeses as they resemble large cheddar rounds. After wetting the cheeses down with warm water and  a little detergent for a few minutes, the excess water was gently squeezed out and the cheeses put into plastic containers ready for the dye liquid. Michele chose Cherry, Grape and Tropical Punch. I had no idea that the tropical punch packet coloured blue, gave a reddish maroon colour. What a disappointment but with a very limited colour range we did our best. I mixed up two packets of the Cherry and Tropical Punch with hot water adding these to either side of the fibre. Using one packet of the Grape, mixed with hot water, the resulting liquid was poured between the other two colours. A few brief minutes to allow some of the dye liquid to penetrate and the cheeses were flipped over. Another packet of each flavour was mixed up with more hot water and applied to the other side then off to the garage to use the microwave.  I put all three containers into the microwave at once and started on low power for a minute. Its an old microwave and the plate doesn't rotate so after each burst of power its a case of pulling out the containers and giving them a quarter turn to make the heat penetration even. After a couple of minutes on low then medium power, it was onto high power. Taking note of the previous microwave dyeing session a few months ago as a reference, I thought about ten minutes on high power would be enough to set the dye but I had forgotten to add vinegar this time before starting the process so about half way through out came the white vinegar to help with the dye take-up. It took somewhat longer this time but that could be due to the amount of fibre being dyed. It took about fourteen minutes for the dye to be absorbed by the two large cheeses with a further four minutes for the smaller one. The lesson here is to use a container which will just hold the fibre without there being much room for movement. Finally the dye was all taken up and we left the containers to cool a little before squeezing the excess water out. Though the colours were a little muted and there were still some patches of undyed fibre lurking deep within the cheeses, we will have to wait and see what Michele does with the results after she rinses and dries the fibre.






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