Sunday, June 14, 2015

No longer threadbare!

Procion MX continues to rock my world with color! I love to add hand embroidery to my fiber creations, so what could be better than dyeing my own thread? Quilting Arts Aug/Sept 2014 had an article by Melanie Testa and Carol Soderlund on dyeing your own thread. I bought the thread winders they recommended, but when I came to do the dyeing, I couldn't find them. You know how that goes...But it was all good, because I like my way better, although there is some winding and untangling at the end.

Once my dyes were mixed and my fibers were soda soaked, I took some trusty plastic shelf liner and added three generous dollops (very scientific term..) of analogous colors towards the back of the plastic. For more complex colors I added black or grey. Then I laid the skein of thread closest to me on the plastic. With gloved hands I then drew beads of the dye down to the fiber, mixing the colors in some parts, keeping them pure in others. It is so fascinating to see them blend and change, and this way I could get a lot of color variety because I could adjust the length of the fiber strands. I have several sets of lidded plasticware for batching, and I also used them for soaking each color set in water to get rid of the excess dye when the batching was complete. Three days of changing the soaking water and the dye was gone. The hardest part was getting them dry! They are more tangled than usual because I got impatient and threw them in the tumble drier in garment bags. Luckily my daughter is almost as obsessive as me, and will join me in a winding and untangling fest! Grown up daughters are the best! So companionable!

Once dyed, the threads can also be overdyed, providing you haven't saturated the color receptors the first time around. Great for couching, embroidery etc. Yarn is from Dharma Trading.
Procion MX dyed cotton yarn

The first time round I added a reasonable amount of soda solution, but didn't cover submerge the fiber, and when I came to add the dye, it didn't penetrate all the way in some places. The second time I completely covered the fiber in soda solution, expecting to be able to drain off the excess, but it drank it all in! Greedy stuff. You could probably soak it in water to get it saturated and then just add the soda ash you need for dyeing. Once wet, the dye seemed to travel fine. This yarn takes forever to dry too, but is very rewarding once it is done. The first yarn pack I bought, I cut it into lengths suitable for couching or embroidery and then dyed half in oranges/corals/pinks and the other half in greens. What was I thinking?? These are big packs. No one needs that much green! Luckily it overdyes beautifully. This was a desperately boring pale lilac, but not anymore! Some of the green is now teal and turquoise.

I had so much fun with the first yarn pack, I then tried the shahrazade. Clearly I should not enter spelling bees, that is a word with waaaay too many letters! This yarn has rayon slubs, which also dyed beautifully. The more prosaic thread is DMC 8.

Procion MX hand-dyed DMC and rayon/cotton blend

Lots of fun, and not difficult at all! Give it a shot! (If you haven't used Procion MX dyes before, do some research and make sure you use safe practices. Paula Burch's website is a fount of information )

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