Saturday, August 09, 2008

Waiting for the Dyepots

The last of the Feather Series scarves is woven, and waiting to have its fringes plied and be wet finished. So, for a day or so, the loom is bare.

I'm working on another Wood Series set of scarves, but these will be quite different from the complex twills I've used for the Wood Series in the past. I'm aiming for something suggestive of rough bark, and am planning plain-weave stripes of shrinkable brown wool alternating with plain-weave stripes of wood-dyed tencel and silk. The latter stripes will be random combinations of left-overs, all the dribs and drabs of various wood-dyed thread from previous Wood Series projects. The cloth will be finished so that the wool shrinks, leaving a faux-seersucker texture.

I know, I know. You probably think it's overkill to use 24 shafts to make plain weave. Tough. The weaving goes much faster with a fly-shuttle and auto-advance...

In the meantime, I've been putting various dye materials to soak in alcohol for future projects. There are rows of jars of wood chips in the studio bathroom, many of which show great promise of wonderful color. To wit:

This jar is full of black acacia chips, and the liquid is a deep red-brown after only a few days. I'll leave it a few weeks to soak so I get as much color as possible on the yarn.

This one is madrone chips. In the past, I've used madrone bark extracted in water, which gives me a neutral tan. I'm looking forward to seeing how different the chips are in the dyepot. If you look at the liquid right next to the lid, you can see the reddish tinge it has acquired. Hopefully, some of that reddish tinge will take on the yarn!

This is black locust, which on the first extraction gave me a screaming gold. I strained out the solids, and poured fresh alcohol over 'em. It'll be fun to find out if the second extraction is different in hue from the first.

And this last one is an experiment. The dye material is mostly usnea lichen (sometimes called Old Man's Beard) with a little evernia lichen mixed in. Normally, these lichens are processed in a boiling water bath. However, since I'm getting interesting results extracting color with alcohol, I decided to give the lichens a try with an alcohol soak. The liquid is chartreuse green, in contrast to the dye material, which is pale grey-green - and getting paler by the day as the alcohol pulls color out of the lichens. I can't wait to see what hits the fiber!

The oak trees on the property are liberally covered with lichens, especially on the dead or dying branches - the lichen doesn't seem to like healthy wood. After I see what happens with the alcohol extraction, I'll try a traditional Boiling Water Method dyebath and compare the results.


Bonnie Inouye said...

Differential shrinkage is often done with plain weave. However, consider threading the wool warp on more shafts, at least 8. In my experience, wool woven in twill structure (or anything with longer floats than plain weave) will shrink more. You could start with one scarf woven in plain weave and another with a twill of your choice, wash and compare. Length of floats is the key factor so you can modify the tie-up to control amount of shrinkage.

Dianne said...

Sandra, what is the alcohol you use to extract the dye from the wood chips.
Dianne who's looking forward to spring in New Zealand

Sara said...

Lovely colors in those de jars; can't wait to see the results :).