Dyeing is Messy #3

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!

Dyeing Is Messy #2

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.

My Mistake and a Thread Give-Away

threaddryingAll is quiet in the Artfabrik studio. My hand dyed threads (sizes 5, 8, and 12 pearl cotton) are all washed by hand and hanging out to air dry. It’s a long, messy process but you have to love the results, rich color and beautiful gradations.

studioisclosedAnd so I hang out my “studio is closed” sign (hand crafted by a talented grandson).

prinkphloxmissdyeBut wait! I see the Prinky Phlox colorway I’ve dyed is completely wrong. It is way too dark. Yes, I must have been distracted by a riveting TV show when dyeing it and used the dye recipe at full strength rather than cutting the color formulas with water. 

Oh well, my mistake is your gain. Leave a comment below and you may be the lucky winner of a skein of this rare size 8 thread. And if a second winner gives me a great name for the “new” colorway, they will get a skein of the size 8 thread too.