Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dyeing for the Carolina Fiber Fest

The Carolina Fiber Festival will be held this year, May 20-22 at the Raleigh State Fair Grounds. This will be my first year vending with The Irresistible Ewe. I've been taking advantage of the sunshine while it lasts this week to dye my bags of carded roving. I've dyed only solid colors this time to speed things up, although solid for me always comes out with slight variations anyway. I like that. Nature doesn't usually come in solid colors, but has subtle variation if you look closely. If you're familiar with the birds, Grackles, you know what I mean. These are local birds with iridescent black feathers and yellow eyes. Their feathers, when seen in the sun, show purples, blues and even burgundies. I hope my rovings will show a little of that surprise of color here and there and will be that much more interesting when spun or felted. I used Kool-Aid to dye my first batch, wool from I think a Gulf Coast/Florida Native breed sheep. This will be sold for felting. It's not great to spin, but felts well. I like the Kool-Aid for this since the dyes take so well. You can see in the picture above that the color has gone completely into the roving. The whitish areas are water and the color is only roving.

I have had some difficulty with one batch of dye with the second bag - it would be the prettiest color, sapphire blue. These were done with Jacquard acid dyes. I should have followed my instincts when pouring the dye bath over the roving. A clump of color slipped out of the jar and I just went right right along thinking I could break it up in the pan. Wrong! It still had clumps of the dye when I started rinsing it and then I ended up over rinsing it. I believe it's now a little felted. I guess this has become part of my personal stash to be felted into a purse or hat. Oh, well, I'll be more on the lookout for this with my blue dyes next time.
Overall, this was not too hard a batch. This bag of roving is a Border Leicester/Columbia cross and came out rather fine when processed. If the weather holds, Friday I'll get my last bag done.

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