Exploring the Black, a dye reference e-book

I was invited to present a talk about dyeing with black to a weaving study group this weekend. They knew that black was a challenging color and wondered if I could provide some tips and tricks for working with black dyes. I usually skip over black in my beginning dye classes because it is challenging and I think it is confusing for beginners when one color breaks all the rules.

So I spent a couple of days dyeing and photographing samples. I worked with 3 dyes (2 for plant fibers and 1 for animal fibers) and 27 different substrates (fabric, roving, ribbon, yarn). I asked friends of mine, who have years of dyeing experience, for their tips for working with black and I incorporated those into my samples. When I got done, I realized that I had way more information than would reasonably fit in a class handout, so I put it all together into a 28-page e-book. It’s not an instruction book about how to dye, but it is a reference manual for how black dyes are influenced by fiber choice, temperature, salt and more. You can get it at my Etsy shop and see sample pages and more info there.

2018-02-12T21:48:27-05:00Dyes, Tutorials|Comments Off on Exploring the Black, a dye reference e-book

Upcoming Class: Handpainted Skeins


These are snapshots of the student’s work in progress from the last time I taught this class (plus some finished yarn balls).  On Sunday October 25, I am teaching “Handpainted Skeins” for the Weavers Guild of MN.  We are going to focus on dyeing yarns made from animal fibers: wool, alpaca etc and some nylon. I teach how to dye several styles of skeins in this class.  Semi-solids are basically one color but have variations of light and dark.  Self-striping are divided up and dyed in sections so that you can get a striped effect when you knit it up.  Confetti skeins have lots of different colors but can read as one color from a distance.  We will also talk about some techniques for overdyeing, both starting with yarns that aren’t white and learning to overdye as a way of creating a cohesive colorway.  It is a fun fun class and you will leave with several mini-skeins (which we use to practice technique and test out colors) and then you will have time to dye 1-2 of your own skeins.  Class will be held at the Weavers Guild.  (It’s past the deadline to register online, but you can call and still get in!)


2015-10-19T14:38:30-05:00Dyes, Knitting & Ravelry, UpcomingClasses|Comments Off on Upcoming Class: Handpainted Skeins

Purple Ninjas and why I hate RIT Dye

20110210-081123.jpgAnother conversation, another blog post.   This week the topic of conversation has been all about dyeing.  We have been gearing up for summer camp at work and we do a lot of dye projects.  We have a dye lab and so it makes it very easy for us to do really great dyeing.  I have discovered that there is a LOT of mis-information about how and what to dye, so I thought it might be helpful to post some information in the hopes that someone might Google this someday and get some help.  I have been the supervisor of the dye lab for about 8 years now, so I have seen a lot of techniques.  I am not going to say that any of these things I am suggesting are the right way to do this (there is no one right way), but these are the things I have learned that should improve your chances of success.

What’s your fiber?

So there are lots of kinds of dye and each one of them is great with a certain kind of fabric.  So the first thing to do is to figure out what fabric you are working with.  Read the tag, check the label.  You can even do a burn test if you are totally stumped.  If you have a blend that is at least 80% something, you should follow the instructions for the predominant fiber.  For instance, we dye 80% wool/20% rayon felt (using the instructions for dyeing wool) and get a nice heathered kind of appearance because the wool takes the dye and the rayon doesn’t.

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2013-07-09T21:42:01-05:00Classes & Teaching, Dyes|Comments Off on Purple Ninjas and why I hate RIT Dye

So it turns out….

…that sometimes it is more important to live your life than it is to write about it.  There has been a lot going on behind the scenes here and I had other places where I needed to spend my time and energy.  But spring is finally in the air a little bit and I feel like clearing a few cobwebs.

Just a few weeks ago I lost two very dear ladies in my life.  My Gramma Muriel was a storyteller.  She made up adventure stories for us when we were kids and told them to us while she buzzed around the kitchen at the farm house.   The last time I saw her, my husband and I spent a wonderful quiet evening with her just talking.  She told us about all kinds of things in her apartment that were special to her and funny stories about my dad.  She loved to read and we talked about books (we liked the same kinds of stories).  She taught me to do the lazy daisy stitch which has always been one of my very favorites and she gave me my first sewing box.  I remember thinking it was so weird because it was full of all these strange tools like seam gauges and bodkins.  I know she was so proud that I know exactly how use all of those tools now.

We also lost our darling Lucy Thunderpaw, age 16 1/2.  We got her from the humane society over Christmas vacation when she was just a little pup .  She was an “overstock clearance” because the shelter had too many puppies since they don’t usually adopt out over the holidays (too many come back).  She was a crazy handful of […]

2013-05-30T23:25:20-05:00Dyes, Knitting & Ravelry|3 Comments

Happy New Year

Hello there blog.  It’s been a while.  I have been reading all kinds of inspirational posts on all of the blogs I follow all about the year in review and all of the things everyone talked about and most popular posts and all of the goals for all of the things that they want to do.  I saw one whole post that was 12 different projects for the holidays that were all carefully color coordinated with tutorials and downloads and printables.  And while I actually enjoy reading it from everyone else, it just makes me wonder how some people have time to do that kind reminiscing and collecting of old posts and analyzing.  I would much rather spend my Christmas break cooking and reading and spending some time with my darling husband and elderly hound who I haven’t seen enough of this fall.

So none of that here.  I am sorry that I haven’t been posting much.  Not so much sorry for you, although I enormously appreciate all of you that read and lurk and comment, but really for myself.  This blog over the years has become a journal (hence the name) of all of my projects and I look back and reference things here all the time.  I love the idea of keeping a beautiful journal but the reality is, I am not a journal kind of girl.  But this blog works for me and I love it.  The last few months have been a challenge.  It’s been nothing earth shattering.  The people I love are safe and well.  I am safe and well, but I have been creatively and professionally challenged in ways that have squeezed a lot of what I am willing or […]

Sniffing Glue

Polyvinyl acetate aka the good stuff

I just finished ranting about hot glue and four year olds over on Facebook and I thought I should share with you at the blog.  We have a dye lab where I work, which is a super-cool-amazing classroom space that is set up for just about every kind of messy project out there AND you can rent it for the day and do all of your messy projects right there.  It has 4 ventilation hoods, it has safety equipment, it has washers and stainless steel counters.  It is seriously cool.

It is also the place where strange things go to die (and I don’t mean dye!)  Because it is a shared space, strange chemicals sometimes wander in and then don’t go back to their rightful homes.  About twice a year, I go through all of the shelves and boxes and sort out the mystery chemicals.  Sometimes it is things like laundry soap or salt, which are easy to get rid of, but sometimes it is things I don’t know what to do with, like glacial acetic acid or urea.  I don’t want to just dump things down the sink without neutralizing them or disposing of them safely.

So I always spend some time with MSDS sheets.  That stands for Materials Safety Data Sheet.  You can look up nearly any chemical and see what it is, what it does, what you should worry about and how to get rid of it.  Very useful.

So I looked up ethylene vinyl acetate, aka hot glue.

Hazardous decomposition products:  ACETIC ACID, TOXIC AND IRRITATING FUMES AT TEMPERATURES >204 °C.

Hmmm.  So I […]

2012-10-01T22:37:21-05:00Dyes, Everything Else|Comments Off on Sniffing Glue
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