Sunday, August 25, 2013

Indigo Dyeing Part Deux

So, in my last post I described Tamara's workshop using a one time dye bath with kit.

Now that I had some idea of what I was doing, my friend J and I undertook an indigo dyeing project using a more chemically-based method for a dyepot that would be reusable

Note the disinterested cat...not a bad thing.

We used Jacquard Products Indigo Tie Dye Kit as we had at the workshop only this time we used the included reducing agent.  Here's J stirring the pot

After introducing the pre moistened fiber, you have to move it around carefully so as to not add oxygen to the dye bath until you're ready to remove it

The fiber comes out of the dyepot green and you watch it turn blue as the indigo oxidizes (combines with oxygen in the room air). Here's a before and after of some handspun cormo from Jupiter Moon Farm

The plies of  my two ply chunky did not take up the dye evenly so there's a subtle barber pole effect

J is planning to cut up some TARN (that is, tee shirt yarn) and dyed some tee shirts  (when I looked up tarn it turns out that "tarn" also means a mountain pool...appropriate that she was dyeing it blue)

In Wales my friend L purchased some laceweight BFL and silk from Bluefaced Yarn Shop  for me to dye for her.  This turned out the best, because the silk took the dye so well and it is lovely and shiny.  Yes, I did get it back into a skein but the takeaway was...tie up those skeins with several extra ties before dyeing!

We pretty much exhausted the dye pot but will do this again!

And finally, here is a video on how to cut a tee shirt into tarn

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Indigo Dye workshop with Tamara

So since learning about Eliza Lucas Pinckney and her critical role in indigo culture in SC, I have wanted to try dyeing with it.  But as it's a little complex I put it off, and so when the Charleston Museum was sponsoring a workshop last month, I had a chance to get to experience and learn about it first. 

I would like to introduce Tamara, our fearless instructor. check her blog out She has recently posted on more indigo dyeing adventures. She also does knitting support!

First, if you try this at home,  I want to state  here...BE CAREFUL!  There are chemicals involved, wear gloves and eyewear and keeping pets and small children away is a MUST!

Some basics about indigo: indigo is not water soluble so for conventional use it is "pre-reduced" and turned into a product with the oxygen removed. This makes it water soluble.  Tamara our instructor used Jacquard Products Indigo Tie Dye kit, which contains indigo that is 60% pre-reduced. There are two options:

1) Setup a dye bath with indigo and water for a one time use bath

2) Setup a dye bath with soda ash and thiox to make a bath that can be used multiple times. These chemicals "maintain" the reduction over time. In this condition the dye is yellow-green on coming out of the vat and when fiber is removed it turns blue as oxygen in the air reacts with the indigo. As the indigo (molecules??) oxidize the dye becomes permanant.  (Shouldn't we have done a chemical equation for this in chemistry class as we were learning about Eliza in history class??!!)

We used option number one and here is a link for the  directions we used (which has both techniques described) , complements of the Earth Guild in Asheville.  The vats were setup for one time use, meaning that they were composed of just water and indigo.  The dyestock was blue in color. Tamara mixed up different amounts of indigo with  water and so some buckets had less amounts of indigo.  Then you could chose how many times you wanted to dip your fiber.  The poster above shows how the strength of the dye and the number of dips changed the hue. There was lots of rinsing between the dips.  

Here are some results

Of course, I wanted mine very very dark blue of my 3 hanks of yarn

I was very happy with the result!

The Charleston Museum also had a small exhibit of indigo dyed textiles  including this

and this

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Plarn and Green Thinking, Green Synchronicity

OK so this is not my usual artistic medium...however in this day and age we must make our art with what seems relevant, and useful

A friend of mine wanted to create "yarn" from plastic shopping bags... to make  a bigger and more reuseable  shopping bag.  OK...this sounds interesting. I had heard of this before.  I watched with interest as this project progressed

There is a special way to cut a bag in a long loop.  Friend J took advantage of this project to invest in   a cutting board and a rotary cutter.  (Always a good thing to have those around.  Most useful.  I use mine for paper.)  The test yplarn is done from a Walmart bag

Along the way it looks like a hula skirt

Knit it up

Wow! That's cute, it's "recycled grocery bag bag" available here

Of course, one can always spin one's plarn first. J gave me some plarn ribbons and I used my beloved Turkish spindle so that when J knit it up, she could just pull from the little cake that came off the spindle.

Would one call this an energized single?  I suppose so. No test knit yet from the single ply spun plan...however the great news is that J is wanting to learn how to spindle and make 2 ply plarn!

So... weird convergence happens...

I am hoping to get to DC later this year and was looking for museums to visit.  Naturally I thought of The Textile Museum. OF COURSE it will be closed when I hope to be there...however at their website I stumbled upon an online exhibit all about repurposing and... functional artistic endeavors, (a la the recyled bag bag).

that's a screen shot, here's the link, which has a lovely online exhibit that you can view!

and here's a bit on youtube about the exhibit which happened live in 2011

And to make things REALLY SYNCHRONISTICALLY WIERD...Maximo Laura was one of the featured artists in this hit me when I looked at the online exhibit that I had visited his studio when in Lima Peru 3 years's his tapestry featured in the exhibit...

Here is a weaver from the studio (photo by me)

and here I am at the balcony at the studio...overlooking a cemetery that I suspect is Vergen de Lourdes in Lima