Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Every time I dye yarn for a project, I always dye some extra, just in case. In case my yardage planning spreadsheet has the hiccups, in case I space out when winding off skeins to dye, whatever. Like I said, just in case.

Invariably, I end up with leftovers. Being a packrat by reason of genetics, I wind those leftovers onto cones and put them into baskets, along with all the others dyed in similar colors. Over the years, I've accumulated a huge number of cones of miscellaneous yarn dyed with colors extracted from wood chips. A really large number of cones, but smallish quantities of each. Some of the yarn is 60/2 silk, some is 20/2 Tencel, some 30/2 Tencel.

I've spent a few hours winding skeins from these cones. Each skein is a different combination - 50 yards of this, 50 yards of that, less if the current cone runs dry. I used the warping wheel, and varied the skein circumference for each skein. In no skein does this circumference divide evenly into the planned warp length, but each skein totals over 1,300 yards of yarn, complete with lots of knots along the length. So an extra, smaller skein was created that I'll use for the replacement ends that will need to be swapped in every time I encounter a knot while weaving.

The next step was to use ikat tape to tie off small sections in each skein, hopefully randomly placed so that after overdying in dark brown, none of the resulting dots and dashes line up with their neighbors. That's the plan, anyway. As it happens, my mileage sometimes varies from my expectations. The skeins are wetting out in a dishpan overnight, and I'll do the dyeing tomorrow.

The reason for this particular recycling project is a request from a friend. More years ago than I care to remember, her husband bought a scarf from me as a gift for her. It was a faux-seersucker design with stripes of silk in black and grey (that wonderful neutral grey you get with logwood plus iron after an alum mordant on silk) and stripes of a wool-lycra blend, in both warp and weft. She has worn this scarf a lot, and loves it to death. However, she told me that as she gets older, she tends to wear less black and more brown, because brown isn't as harsh a contrast to her hair and skin tones. Sound familiar? Sure does to me :-) although when you start with red hair, it never turns silver-grey, just dirty blond...

In any case, whingeing aside, the plan is to end up with a dark brown warp of silk and Tencel, with bright dots and dashes of the original wood dye colors randomly placed on the warp. I've got some wool-lycra blend in a sort of tweedy latte brown for the shrinky stripes. The silk/Tencel stripes will be 2 inches (2 sections) wide in plain weave, and the wool/lycra stripes 1 inch (1 section) wide in either 2/2 or 3/3 twill or 5-end satin; I've allowed extra warp for some samples - oooh, the S word! Wet finishing will tell me which structure lets the wool/lycra shrink appropriately to get the desired seersucker effect.

Stay tuned!


Connie Rose said...

Ooh, I can't wait to see what this yarn turns into!

neki desu said...

sounds wonderful!
and this only a dyer would fully understand (^_^)

(that wonderful neutral grey you get with logwood plus iron after an alum mordant on silk)