As we approach the end of the thread dyeing marathon, I have a few more steps to accomplish. Each bundle of hand-dyed thread is soaked in water, rinsed, soaked, rinsed, soaked until ……………. FINALLY!……. the water runs clear. This takes several days and a lot of bucket lifting.
The skeins are put in the washing machine (which I remember to put on the spin cycle NOT the wash cycle) and excess water is spun out of the thread bundles. It’s a good idea to take the thread out of the washer at this point so you don’t forget and wash it with a load of laundry. (Ask me how I know.)
The thread is slung from hangers and air drys on the convenient steam pipes I have on the ceiling of the studio.
After it dries, each skein is twisted and labeled for the Artfabrik store. This is usually done while I watch a good movie, have some ice tea, and rest my feet.
Dyeing is a lot of work. But at last, I’m finished and looking forward to the next dye session in a month or more.
Thank you for joining me during my time in my newly renovated dye studio. It was great having you here!
After painting the dye on the cotton thread, I let it dry. To accelerate the dye process, a heater is placed near the stack of trays so they get warm and toasty. Drying the skeins also helps with the next fun part of dyeing thread- the washout.
While the thread is drying on the trays, I dye cotton fabric for quilt making. It’s a way to use up the leftover dye and a way to play with color creating some new color schemes I call “random acts of dyeing”.
If you’ve ever purchased something from the Artfabrik store and received a quarter yard of fabric as a gift, you’ve received a “random act of dyeing”.
The next day the fabric is washed out in my trusty top-loading washing machine. As the water is pumped out of the washer, I collect it in small buckets like this. This water is used to wash the thread. Hand washing the thread can take up to 22 buckets of water for a dark colorway. Days of hoisting buckets of water have given me arms of steel!
It’s dye week in the renovated studio. The table and floor are protected, the dyes mixed and I’m ready to dye thread till my thumb turns blue.
While the white thread is soaking in a bucket of soda ash water (the fixative for Procion MX dyes), I prepare dye sequences for several colorways. Sometimes I use the dye straight out of the dye stock bottle. And sometimes, I cut the dye with water to make lighter values of the dye color.
There are over 60 colorways of threads stocked in the Artfabrik store. Each thread colorway has a formula or sequence of colors that have to be prepared ahead of painting the skeins.
For the remainder of the day, I’ll lay thread skeins one-by-one on plastic trays. Then I paint the thread using the dye formula for that colorway and stack the trays to dry. In one day, I can do about 8 sets of colorways before my feet ask me to stop.
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