Monday, November 24, 2008

someday, perhaps I'll remember ...

... that when I use black dye, the dye is at a much higher concentration than the other colors, and will run a lot more. So when I put it in the middle of a skein, it will spread a lot further than the other colors when I wrap it up in plastic to steam it.

Sigh. Someday I'll stop relearning these lessons the hard way.

But maybe this won't be an issue for too much longer. I've been thinking for a while that I'd like to cut down on my use of plastic as much as possible. I recently saw a presentation by the director of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center on the problem of massive plastics pollution in the world's oceans. It was kind of horrifying, actually. The poster child for the problem is the Laysan albatross, where each breeding pair produces one chick a year. The parents fly for many miles in search of food to bring back to their chick, and in recent years, they've been mostly bringing back plastic. A 1994 study autopsied 251 albatross chicks; only six did not have plastic in their digestive system. (Another source says that the most commonly found item is a Bic lighter.) The plastic causes malnutrition of course, since the parents aren't bringing back real food; it also causes blockages that keep the chicks from getting rid of squid beaks and other nondigestibles.

Anyway. I want to cut down on how much plastic I use. I try to be conscious of the packaging of the items that I buy, I reuse ziplocs, etc. I also want to try to do something about how I dye, since my current method of handpainting involves wrapping skeins in plastic wrap before steaming. I was thinking that I might get a steamer pan set, but because each pan has holes, all the skeins would need to be the same colorway and be precisely arranged so that the dye dripping through the holes didn't discolor the skein below. There are those big restaurant chafing dishes, but those are pretty expensive. I could put them in the oven, but I'm trying to get my dyeing work out of the kitchen. Yeah, I'm not sure what the answer is yet.
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