Sal the alpaca
This week I tried dyeing fiber for the first time. Until now, I’ve been using undyed fiber from Read’s mom’s alpacas, Sal and Pepe. True to their names, their fiber makes a salt-and-pepper yarn. I decided it would make a nice pair of mittens (maybe lined with fleece, for winter bike commuting).
Sal and Pepe: undyed
With a few spools of salt-and-pepper under my belt, I decided I was ready for some COLOR. The saleswoman at the Eugene Textile Center suggested I buy just the primary colors and then custom mix. She kindly warned that red is a much more potent color than yellow (i.e. if you mix equal parts of red and yellow – you’ll get something oddly similar to red). Don’t worry saleswoman, I wasted enough muffin tins of tempera paint in art class learning that rule the hard way.
yellow sun, fire red, sapphire blue
I washed the fiber in the sink with a little dish detergent. This got out most of the dirt, but some of the straw bits are very persistent. Has anyone else found a good way to remove them?
Washing the alpaca fiber
I filled a pot with enough water to let the fiber swirl freely, and added to it this previously-mixed solution: 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon yellow, 1/4 teaspoon blue, and a pinch of red. My thinking was that only yellow and blue would make a kool-aid kind of bright green, and maybe I could create something more sophisticated. I cooked it at near-boiling for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Heating the dye bath
In my effort to avoid a child-like green color, I created a color still familiar to children: Oscar the Grouch. Now, my upstairs neighbor assures me that the color is olive and retro, but she can’t fool me. For better or worse I definitely made a pile of muppet replacement fur. Sam said that if I don’t use it, he has some costume ideas.
They share a thing for trashcans...
For the next batch I used less yellow, more blue, and no red, which resulted in a more pleasant deep teal. Last night I carded them both together and spun some yarn. I will post more about that later. ..
First attempts at color-mixing