Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thank goodness for generous friends with microwaves and drying tables

Late last year, Tara and I joined the Ely Weaver's Guild: a group of women who meet once a month to have lunch and talk about weaving, knitting, spinning - all things fiber. There is usually a show-and-tell portion of the meeting (which can be quite educational in and of itself) and then there are occasional workshops.

Last Monday they hosted a yarn dying workshop. Hot diggity!

Colleen, the leader of the workshop, ordered "sock blanks" for us from knitpicks . Sock blanks? Yes, that's what I said too, when I first heard that term. Now I know: a sock blank a long piece of fabric knitted from two lengths of un-dyed yarn knitted. Once you dye the fabric, you can unwind the yarn into two balls and then knit a pair of matching socks. You can look here if you want a better idea of what I am trying to describe.

The workshop was held upstairs at the Ely Community Center, and everything was set up and ready to go when we arrived. Colleen and her helpers had set up tables that were covered with newspaper and plastic, and there were dyes mixed and ready for us to play with.

I chose to use blue and purple . . .

Others were less monochromatic:

Once we applied the dye, we covered our blanks completely in plastic and smooshed everything around to make sure that the yarn was saturated.

Then we were done!

Well, except for setting the dye, which we still had to take care of at home.

To set the dye, we needed to use heat - either an oven, steam, or microwave. Just as I was thinking "great, what a mess," Tara said, "why don't we go back to my house and use my microwave?" Naturally, I jumped on that offer. Trust me when I tell you that wet, microwaving wool does not smell very good at all. After we set the dye, we washed the yarn with Dawn, rinsed it, and left it to air dry in Tara's laundry room.

I had a great time at the workshop - it was especially nice to have something fun and creative to do after the whole thing with Daisy. I am not sure yet what I will do with my yarn. Socks seems like a natural choice, but I have already knit a pair in a similar color. Plus it might be nice to have something a little more visible - like a scarf - so that others are more likely to see the pretty colors.
I doubt that I am going to start dying my own yarn on a regular basis - probably the only reason I enjoyed this so much was that someone else did all of the dirty work. But I am glad to have experimented with the process. Thank you Colleen, Tara and everyone else who helps to make the Weaver's Guild so much fun!


Melissa said...

Hi Mary!
Love this post. I am a weaver too. Took all of the fibers classes available to me in school...and loved them. I actually own a table loom and it's been collecting dust in my attic. What a shame. I'm thinking I'd like to dust it off and thread it so I can weave something, but it's been such a long time, I'm intimidated. Any tips on threading a loom that you can throw my way would be most appreciated :) Oh, also, I would LOVE to learn how to spin my own yarn. I have a spindle and wool ready to go. How much spinning have you done?


skrapyram said...

Actually, I know very little about weaving, and even less about spinning. I did "help" my friend Susan warp a loom once, but really she did it! The weaver's guild did have a special meeting last fall to show us how to spin, but I ended up having to go out of town :( My friend Tara did make it to the spinning meeting and planned on showing me, but then her baby was born! Oh, well - all in good time. I like having something to look forward to.

annette said...

looks like fun! Is it hard to find yarn to dye? BTW-there is a little poll going on my blog for the next embroidery companion sew along project if you'd like to have your say!

skrapyram said...

Thanks for the heads up on the poll, Annette! I've cast my vote - If you can call sitting on the fence a vote. The yarn for our dying workshop came from . . .