Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dyeing day

I love hand-painted-, kettle-dyed-, hand spun-, multi-colored yarns, however it happens. Inspired by these yarns I wanted to dye my own palette of ribbons and yarns, so I've looked for a workshop in the Northeast. And...

I drove from Long Island to Massachusetts early Sunday morning to take a class in dyeing yarn with acid dyes at Webs in Northampton. Gail Callahan aka Kangaroo Dyer, Webs resident dyer, was our instructor. Gail shared her dyeing history with us and we made our introductions/confessions. She gave us a lesson in the use of the niddy noddy and we started skeining our base yarnlets.

Everyone seemed to master that process, yarnlets were then dunked into our buckets of water and vinegar solution and we ventured out into the retail sales area of Webs to clip samples of various fibers from cones to test along with our yarnlets.

As if that wasn’t enough, to be in the store unfettered by April sale shoppers, we moved into the warehouse to clip more yarns and gather stray skeins! My head was swimming with too many fiber options or lack of latte, I don’t know which.

Fibers gathered… we measured 3 “primary” Cushing dyes into our quart containers, made pastes with tepid water and added boiling water to create our 3 primary dyestocks.

From the dyestock bases we then measured “transitioning” combinations into 12 smaller containers.

The alchemy began when our yarnlets were submerged into the multitude of cups that obscured the tables. One by one, the yarnlets were removed from the cups, wrapped in plastic wrap and popped in the microwave. They emerged as shrink-wrapped spring rolls and rinsed in the sink to ohs! and ahs! We had 3 different base Shetland yarns to choose from for our test mini-skeins and the differing results were evident as we spread them out to compare.

Everyone had chosen full skeins and hanks of additional yarns to experiment with until the class was over. What a variety! I was so busy with my own that I didn’t get a chance to shoot anybody’s creations. Mine are hanging in the motel bathroom until tomorrow’s return home.

Gail wrangled the group through the different steps of the process throughout the day and removed the intimidation that some of us/me felt about the chemistry of the procedures and empowered a roomful of novices and inspired the more experienced dyers. I would recommend a trip to Webs, of course to see and buy yarns (Kangaroo dyer’s creations among ‘em) and most certainly to take a dyeing class from patient Gail.

Tomorrow, with the class out of the way, I will be more able to focus on shopping at Webs!