Monday, August 11, 2008

some thoughts about production dyeing

I'm on my third colorway for the co-op right now, and it has definitely been an educational experience.

My first conclusion: I need one of these electric skein winders from Crazy Monkey Creations. I wound several skeins for dyeing yesterday, and my arm is still sore today. The electric winders should be back in stock next week, and I'm going to save up all the reskeining till I get one.

Second conclusion: Don't try a new dyeing technique when you're short on a particular base yarn, to cut down on that gotta-get-it-right stress. Space dyeing is my favorite technique for consistency of color, but it's pretty slow, so I bought some enormous cooling racks and some giant squeeze bottles at a restaurant supply store, and dyed with those. Yes, it was fast--I dyed six skeins in about 90 minutes, versus the four skeins that I space-dyed tonight over three hours. And you can get much shorter color repeats. But I'm having to do a fair amount of tweaking with dye formulas to get the exact shades that I'm looking for, even with colors that I've been dyeing for two years.

Third conclusion: This is a really great way to see how differently base yarns take dye. For example, Gaia merino wicks dye much faster than any other base yarn I have right now. And when you put dye on superwash, it just sits there, where you put it, which can lead to much higher concentrations of color than you expected.

I think that with most of my remaining colorways, I'm going to go to my slow but consistent and proven methods. I'm trying hard to match my stock photos, and boosting my production while experimenting with new techniques is causing more variation than I'd like. I'll be doing a local fiber show in October, so I'll work on perfecting my production dyeing then.
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