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self striping batt on my drum carder

I’ve been busy in the studio getting very obsessed with colour gradients on the drum carder.  Normally with stripes on a drum carder you feed the colours in separately in thin bands.  Which is fine as long as you want distinct colour changes.  But the down side is that the stripes don’t hold together and can separate out.  And you also get that distinct colour change.  What if you want a gradient in colours with a nice blending and a batt that holds together? The technique I’ve been using is one I learnt of Esther Rogers (Jazz Turtle Creations You Tube video here: In this technique there are two steps.  First, feed the colours onto the carder in layers in the order you want your colour transition to go.  Here’s one:

Layers in stripes step 1 layers
Layers in stripes step 1 layers

Step two.  Pull of this layered batt and then split it into two along the length of the batt (watch Esther’s video if this isn’t making sense).  Then take one of the pieces turn it on to its side so you can see the coloured layers and spread it out abit so its the full width of the drum.  I also pull it out a bit lengthways to make it nice and thin enough to feed easily on to the drum carder). Then simply run it back through and you get a lovely gradient like this: Holkamgradientbattoncarder You can get some really cool effects.  Here are some of my more recent attempts. battgradientpeacock1battblosssompink1battgradientholkham2 Go on have a go its fun.

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Have been working on that red alpaca.  I decided to spin it up before hitting it with more dye to get the shade of red I wanted.  I decided to go for a fine low twist single because life is too short and precious to spend it spinning up that much yarn and plying it.  Its for a delicate lace shawl so skewed knitting wont be an issue neither will be heavy wear.  Although alpaca can felt and look a bit ‘grungy’ (you know like dreadlocks) I don’t plan to give this the full fulling treatment so its a risk that I am prepared to take.

So this is the full bobbin

Alpaca lace weight single on bobbin before dyeing
Alpaca lace weight single on bobbin before dyeing

as you can see its not red but I am chuffed with it look how fine it is (does that make me special – erm no).

Aplaca laceweight single
Aplaca laceweight single

I then skeined it off (its just under 600m).  I dyed it again this time going to 2% DoS and heres what we have to work with now thats better.

Alpaca laceweight single full red
Alpaca laceweight single full red
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Depth of Shade

I’m working on a shawl for my sisters birthday. She loves red. I’ve just dyed up some gorgeous alpaca fibre. I was supposed to be going for a deep vibrant blood red. Hmmm.  Pictures come out pink rather than the salmony red it actually is but you get my point I think. DSC03651 Clearly I messed up! I got my fibre weight wrong – serves me right for not paying attention – which completely messed up my ratios! Oh yes, I’m one of those tedious people who takes the scientific approach to dye stuffs. No longer do I slap in about this much dye for about that much of fibre and see what happens (although I do still do this sometimes because it’s fun).

What I’m talking about specifically in this case is Depth of Shade (DoS). DoS is the intensity of the desired colour you want your fibre. Strong and vibrant or something more pastel or somewhere in between? The main thing is the more dye you use the higher the DoS. So DoS is determined by the ratio of dye to fibre (I’ll do the maths stuff in a bit).

DoS is always talked about in terms of percentages so strong and vibrant will be a higher % and the more pastel you want to go the lower %. The highest DoS is 3%. A good bright colour is generally about 2% DoS. Pastels are achieved at about 0.5% or lower. Here’s my bible when it comes to DoS (ref: Deb Menz’s Color in Spinning Interweave 2005 – awesome reference book):

0.1%  pale pastel

0.2%  medium pastel

0.5%  deep pastel

0.75%  light medium

1%  medium

1.5%  deep medium

2%     deep

2.5%  deeper

3%     very deep (intense)

But, some dyes do not exhaust themselves at >2% DoS (exhaust means when all the dye has been taken up by the fibre and the water is clear, turquoise never seems to exhaust whatever I do, magenta is another one). This means that some dyes can be used at lower % to achieve the desired colour depth. This is good to know, because, if you are like me and like to be as economical in my endeavours as possible (I won’t say cheap) it means that armed with this knowledge this saves on wasting precious dye powder and wasted water/heat and time rinsing out said precious dye down the drain from your gorgeously dyed fibre. And flushing toxic material down the drain is a no no never! Sadly there are no short cuts to knowledge with this one it will have to come with experience of the particular dyes you use (note to self: this is why we keep notes and samples).

I hope that helps? On to the science bit – you can go now if this isn’t going to interest you…

So Dos is determined by the ratio of dye to fibre in grammes or oz. So we can say that 3% DoS = 0.03g dye per 1g fibre. Alternatively, and this is the more likely scenario. “I want to dye Xg of fibre to X% DoS how much dye do I need?” You can work this out by:

Dye weight  = % DoS x weight of fibre

For example,  I’ve got 25g of fibre and I want a good deep red so I’m going to want a 2% DoS:

0.02 * 25g = 0.5g of dye So 0.5g of dye will produce 2% DoS on 25g of fibre. Y

ou will probably be asking how do I do this with spoons, the answer is you don’t if you want to repeat yourself and have good consistent results. I use scales for most of my dyeing. The reason is that different dyes have different densities – this is why some dye colours fill up their packaging containers more than others – you aren’t being cheated it’s just that some dyes are ‘heavier’ than others. With a spoon this means that your measurements will be off – a teaspoon of dye X will be heavier (i.e. it will contain more dye powder in a volume based measure like a teaspoon) than a teaspoon of dye y which is less dense… Put another way one teaspoon of dye X will weigh more than one teaspoon of dye Y.

I should stop now. I’ll come back to this in another post. But, you ask, what about the unred fibre, I’m going to spin it up and then dye it again, this time making sure I got my measurements right. I will let you know how it goes.