No finished Picovoli, but there was dyeing.

I lamented not having a microwave I could use for dyeing because of the speed and convenience with which I could dye a batch. Recently, I realized that I could achieve nearly the same results using my pasghetti pot or roaster as a steamer. 20 minutes of steam and done, quick as you please. The arrival of a bundle of undyed fibers from Little Barn (March Madness sale, bought with proceeds from stash sales, yippee!) was the perfect occasion to give it a try.

Friday night I pre-soaked 8 oz of superwash merino, 8 oz of bluefaced leicester, 4 oz of 100's merino (so excited to try this), 4 oz of superfine alpaca, and just under 2 oz of natural tussah silk. A lot, eh?

Saturday night I couldn't find the motivation to get started. I sat reading Color in Spinning, which I borrowed from the BASD library. If anything, I felt overwhelmed and confused. Scott even came in multiple times to find out why I was sitting around not dyeing. Simply, I didn't know what I was doing. I had no clue! I've done a few dyeing experiments but either I was using a single color in varying intensities, or doing a "luck of the dyepot" mix without really knowing how it would turn out. Well, this was no different in that I still didn't know how it would turn out, but since I was painting, I had to pick colors to paint, and figure out how wide I wanted the strips, and and and...

Scott reminded me to have fun and go play. Yup, play. Go make some mistakes and learn. Okay.

I wanted to work with the same colors from the last leftovers dyepot because I loved the way it turned out and I wouldn't have thought to combine those colors before. That was a good starting point. I set up the little bit of counter space with mixing jars and tubs of dye, grabbed my syringes, and started mixing up some combinations. A bunch of them. Which was fun, but brought me no closer to getting dyed fiber!

Mixing in cramped quarters

So I decided to focus on the three colors in 2 different intensities, and made lengthy calculations based on information in Color in Spinning to determine the amount of dye and water and vinegar to add to each of the six mixing jars. 3 dark stripes separating 3 lighter sections. My brain was pretty pooped by then.

Once they were all measured out, and my floor space set up, I started placing the colors. And made a series of mistakes and tactical errors.

My dyeing "pattern" was based on a repeating 9" length. The fiber was continuous, so had to be folded back and forth; which meant at the folding points the pattern would be a mirror image. Tactical error number 1. Wet fiber does not pull apart easily (or at all?), so I adjusted my pattern to work with the mirror imaging. But, when I started adding the first series of stripes, I placed them as in the original pattern. Mistake number 1. I mixed up some more of the same dye and had to swap out one of the darker stripes. But in adding those stripes, I got confused and added some at the wrong location. Mistake number 2. I added the rest of the dyes without much incident. It was hard to get the colors to spread uniformly, the dye just stuck wherever it was put and mooshing made little difference. Also, I looked underneath and noticed a lot of the dye did not soak through to the other side. Tactical error, or mistake? I flipped the whole thing over (which was not easy) but didn't have enough dye to saturate the colors. Oh well.

Here it is painted on superwash merino:

Superwash stripes, painted

My notebook is right there, fat lot of good it did me. And a close up:

Superwash stripes, painted

The inbetween sections are supposed to be at .5% intensity, but it looks much stronger. The book said painting takes twice as much dye as immersion dyeing, so I doubled up. I don't think this was the right thing to do. Again, tactical? Mistake?

I had enough of that. Haven't you? Too much work, too time consuming. Too many mistakes. Though the steaming was quick and easy:

Superwash stripes, cooling

So I switched gears and did some red/orange/yellow gradations. I figured those were nice and easy, just 2 dye colors, and they're the April Project Spectrum colors. Oh yeah, I also took inspiration from one of the photos in The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook.

Again, mapped out the pattern, mixed up some colors and calculated amounts of dye and all that. But this time I decided to go with the Twisted Sisters method of spritzing the vinegar at the end (though I was skeptical this would be enough vinegar). I hoped this would make the dye mooshing go easier. I'll spare you the details of tactical errors and mistakes, suffice it to say, the tone of the evening had been set.

Here is the superwash merino packet all ready to be steamed:

Superwash sunfire, painted and wrapped

And shortly thereafter I realized I forgot the vinegar. Good thing I remembered before the steaming!

And the same colorway on bluefaced leicester (and this time I didn't forget about one of the jars):

BFL sunfire, painted

BFL sunfire, painted

BFL sunfire, painted

Rinse and repeat on natural tussah silk. Besides not wanting to do more calculations and come up with more color combos, I wanted to see how the same dyes and sequence would look on different fibers. I'm calling it sunfires.

Steaming was, again, quick and easy. All 3 packets steamed at the same time, in only 20 minutes. Ahhh. And ready to cool:

Superwash, BFL and silk sunfire, cooling

I was ready to fall over by then but thought I'd do another leftovers dyepot on some more bluefaced leicester:

BFL leftovers dyepot

I kept throwing in this and that until I was reasonably satisfied.

Steam setting is very quick and efficient. Painting is very time consuming! I suppose if I didn't go to the trouble of calculating everything out, it wouldn't be so bad. But I wouldn't be able to reproduce it. Also, now that I've figured out the numbers, I could do it again relatively pain-free. And, I even mixed up some extra sunfire colors for next time. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm glad I finally just got started. You gotta start somewhere, right?

Also, mooshing was much more successful in sunfires than the stripey number. It could be coincidental, it could be the higher dye intensity, maybe the lack of vinegar in the dye solutions, who knows. Maybe painting lighter colors is harder?

Here's sunfires post-rinse:

Superwash, BFL and silk sunfire, rinsed

From top to bottom, bluefaced leicester, superwash merino and tussah silk.

Superwash, BFL and silk sunfire, rinsed

And the stripey number, mostly dried (I rinsed it last night; the others I was good and let sit overnight):

Superwash stripes, dried

Superwash stripes, done

The good news: the stripey number is so soft! I didn't overcook/handle it so I think spinning will be smooth sailings. The other fibers are still wet but I think they've also been gently treated. Yay!

And finally, in non-fibery but very exciting news, we may be getting TiVo! Amazon is having a good deal and I've been wanting TiVo ever since I visited my sister.