Friday, November 13, 2009

You're Dyeing to know...Get it? Dye!

Do I sleep?  I think least 5-6 hours, I hope.  These days I'm not sure because I am getting so much accomplished every day and there are never enough hours in the day so I may be working in my sleep. 

Is my house clean?  NOPE!

Am I producing awesome Wonder Yarns and Wonder Rovings? 
Of course!  This first pic is all the yarn I spun up last week.

So this week was all about experimenting.  The first part was using the drum carder that I bought used about a month ago.  It's been sitting there laughing at me.  Yes, it was laughing!  Maybe in my insomniac state of mind I am the only one who hears it...but laughter none-the-less.

I decided that I needed to take a break from combing suri  from my Confetti Reign and Metallica to play with huacaya.  At the time of shearing last spring I only had two huacaya, Romeo and Midnight Aire.  Romeo I sent down to mill and turned into gorgeous roving blended with bamboo and merino and my beautiful Midnight Aire was so full of VM that I am still picking through her cria fleece.  EEK!

So when my friend, Nancy from Walnut Hill Farm, asked if I wanted to play with her ROSE GRAY huacaya fleece from her girl, Biana, I was not turning that down.  I washed up the beautiful blanket and I have finally started carding it on my new drum carder...and made this lovely fluff.  As soon as I get a few more rolags done I will start making her some lovely yarn to crochet (she doesn't knit) from her beautiful girl.

My next experiment involves dyeing huacaya.  Again, I didn't have much to dye since I didn't own a white alpaca until I bought Sprite this summer so my friends at 4 Musketeers ,in Bellevue, donated two white fleeces for me to experiment with and the results will give them display yarn for their farm and me a chance to play.  Win/Win!  I started with their girl, Fleetwood,  who is a white huacaya.

I got the crock pot out and picked my first color and followed the instructions and came up with this pinkish red mixture.  I wasn't sure how many scoops of the Jaquard Dye to put in so I winged it because this was an experiment. 

  After I made the pink (aiming for a fushia) batch I decided I wanted purple and I remember from my elementary years that red and blue make purple so...I added blue.

This is what I came up with.  It looks good now but it ended up being much brighter so...for the next batch I added a wee bit of black plus I added in some other fibers that I received as a sampler batch.  So I also dyed some mulberry silk, bamboo and mohair.  Then I decided it was a awfully dark purple so....I didn't add anymore dye but added my huacaya and came up with the perfect purple.

Now ask me to duplicate this and I will laugh!  Although I did write down my ratios....again, this was an experiment.  So now you see them drying my my sweater racks.

I plan on carding, blending and spinning.  Will I do this all the time?  NO!  Alpacas come in so many beautiful natural colors that it's a waste to dye them although I like to blend those natural colors with dyed fiber so...if I can figure out how to dye the few white huacaya fleeces I now have on the farm plus learn to work with wool, I can hand-process a bit more and have a larger profit margin for the farm...the bonus is that playing with all this fiber is fun so...I don't have to be a knit-picky (yes, I spelled it knit) person who counts all the hours of labor into the end product.

When I finally get through all of these experiments I am going to wash, card and spin up the other fleece that my friends donated and after I've spun it, then I will dye the yarn. 

Oh, why didn't I discover the love of fiber arts earlier in life?  That's why I'm enjoying learning along with Sister Bear...these are memories and skills that she will have forever plus she's doing it with her mom..and that's just plain awesome!


  1. You don't need white to dye. Try using fawn, for example--you get deeper colors.

  2. I processed my two fawn at mill already...I wanted to experiment with raw fiber that I hadn't already put money into plus....I love the natural color of fawn. I am a total nut about natural color...I bought all my fiber boys because of their color because I knew that if I was breeding for black I would get gray or fawn I purposely bought colors I wanted to work with. White? I can take it or leave it but it's fun to play with sometimes.

  3. Love your dye jobs! It isn't necessary to use white for dying as you will see from my post this week. Keep up the beautiful work!

  4. Love this post! Thanks for sharing and participating in Fiber Arts Friday.

    I try not to think of my "labor" costs when I'm working on processing (ahem, laboring) my fleeces. It takes a long time and I know I'm definitely not getting paid what my doctoral degree would indicate, but it is wonderful for my spirit.

    Like you, I wish I had found this wonderful world of fiber sooner. Raising alpacas and working with their fiber is an incredible lifestyle and I wouldn't trade it for anything. So happy that you and your daughter are doing this together!