I’ve Been Thinking About Dyeing!

I know, it’s been a while! Some things have changed. I lost my Mojo for a bit. But I’m still passionate about Fibre and Fibre Art!

And these days I am Blogging for Paid Work (don’t ask me how a Fibre Artist becomes a Tech Blogger, I might tell you, and we’d be here forever!) So I felt that if I could do that, then post-Covid, the least I could do is blog about my passion!

So I blew all the fluff and cobwebs off the keyboard, and here I am.

I recently acquired a Daedalus Sparrow, which is a 3D Printed E-Spinner. It’s small, fast, and packs a surprising punch for such a tiny wheel, and it has a serious appetite for Bird Candy, as I like to call those tempting Indie Dyed braids that, if you are like me, you can’t resist picking up at Fibre Festivals.

I bought a few, and spun them up, and was a bit underwhelmed. I guess what gives a braid customer appeal on the stand does not necessarily make a nice spin without a bit of thought.

Some of the things I noticed were colours turning to mud. Now one of the things I turned my hand to during lockdown was Water Colour, and I KNOW how to make Mud!

Now here I’m going to digress into a bit of colour theory. A bold colour scheme can give eye appeal by placing Complementary colours (colours opposite each other on the colour wheel) next to each other. So Yellow and Purple, Green and Red, Blue and Orange. In other words a Primary and a Secondary Colour. And a Secondary colour is what you get when you mix two Primaries. And what happens when you mix all three primaries together? Yep, MUD! So the very thing that makes that braid pop on the stand turns it into mud on your wheel.

Especially if, like many Indie Dyers, you go for short colour repeats of less than a staple length, which means that your purple and your yellow for example, mix in the same staple.

A more harmonious colour scheme uses Analogous Colours, which are next to each other on the colour wheel. And of course these don’t pop to the naked eye as much as the Complementary Colours.

Dyers tend to avoid colours mixing on the braid by leaving a tiny bit of white between the colours, and/or in the middle of the braid, where the dye doesn’t always penetrate. So what you get is PALE Mud. In short colour repeats. And if you ply these repeats together the wrong way, the barberpoled result is mud mixed with mud! Not what you want!

So of course I had to go out to the Conservatory and see if I could do any better.

Things I thought about were using analogous colours together, and colours that I knew mixed to give a pleasing result, hence the blue. magenta and purple.

I thought about how much water I added (or didn’t subtract). The dryer the top, the more saturated the end result, the more I have to work the colour in with my fingers to avoid white bits and the more likely the braid is to compact.

The wetter the top, the more likely the colours are to mix and blend, and the less saturated the result.

I aimed for colour repeats of a couple of staple lengths, so my colours were pure for a short way before beginning to blend in the braid, at least where I applied the colour to a fairly dry braid.

Here you can see the results from the wettest on the left, to the dryest on the right.

I’m not going to give my favourite indie dyers anything to worry about any time soon, but I can’t wait to spin these badboys!