Color is such a mystery to me. I am really just learning about it. Or just starting to study it. I have done a fair bit of it in the last few years, but until now, any dyeing I have done has really been some sort of a happy accident, or a mistake, or just accepting what I got out of the dye pot. Now I feel like I am trying to understand it. I still cannot predict it, but I think I am standing back and really seeing what it is teaching me.
What I wanted from this project was something like this:
This is a picture from Etsy. I think the color gradation is just beautiful. I was trying to do something like that with blues and teals and lavenders and a slight bit of brown thrown in. What the finished fiber turned out to be was entirely different. Not unpleasant, but definitely not what I wanted it to be.
These are my test colors. Again, coffee filters. I like using the filters. They give a pretty accurate idea of what the end color will be like.
Next is the fiber in the baking dish in the cooker. These colors look great. And I was accounting for some blending between colors, and some lightening as the colors soaked in. But this is where it all went wrong. Very wrong. There was too much fiber in the pan. 8oz. in a 9 x 13 pan. It should have been 4oz. Lesson learned. Either use a bigger, deeper pan, or use less fiber. There would never be “doing it twice”, it just would not work the same to dye two batches and hope for the same colors.
The color was only on the surface. Underneath was still white. Not just paler color, but white. I applied more color, tried to mush it around, went through the cooking/steaming process again, still color only half way down. At this point I was getting very frustrated and discouraged. But you can’t just stop when you are dyeing. Well you can, but you will waste all of the fiber. 8oz. of Texas Kid Mohair cannot go wrong. It has to be saved. At this point I totally let go of the idea of the original picture, and had to make it into something useable.
I really looked at it to find what I liked about it. Really looked. Looked beyond what I wanted it to be and looked and looked to see what IT wanted IT to be. What it was doing quite nicely was mixing with the brown. Fine. It wants brown, we’ll give it brown. All of those lovely teals and sky blues, brown it is. So I gave the whole thing an over wash of brown. Yes, I might have been a bit mad at this point. Clearly the Texas Kid had not seen the first photo of the gently graded, faded, lilacs. Brown. Hrmph.
But the added brown was the right thing to do. It gave the colors so much more depth. All of those colors are still in there, just underneath the brown.
Once this was completely dry, I separated the one long strand of roving into 8 equal pieces. Roving after it is dyed wants to pull apart lengthwise. There are natural places to separate it. Then I carefully wound them into balls, carefully meaning I wanted them all to start and end at the same place. This will be more meaningful when it gets spun.
This is what I mean when I say that the final product is lighter than what you start with. I think this is just beautiful. This is not what I wanted. Not even close. But this is what IT wanted. And IT was right, not me. I have a lot to learn about color and dyeing. It just fascinates me. The way the colors break and change and blend. I think it is good to remember, as I mentioned before, these are Wilton food grade dyes. FROSTING COLORS. Kind of cool, huh? They are color fast. They will not wash out. They are non-toxic, and just so pretty.
Each time I dye fiber, I have a better understanding of why people charge the prices they do on Etsy for dyed roving. If it is beautiful, they deserve the asking price. They have clearly learned more than I have. Once I have learned, and can maybe, just maybe predict what the dye will do, then I could sell it too. But this is really a very fun learning curve.
This is how it goes with dyeing. Each new project is so much more exciting than the last one. Spring Robin? That was so last week.