Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Science - it totally works

Weaving Friend came to visit me over the weekend, and we spent Sunday going a little crazy in the kitchen. Not cooking, mind you - dyeing.

I'd found my missing 400g bag of white merino tops* and my dye stash a few days previously, so I weighed the tops out into 5 85g braids so that we could both dye a couple and have enough fiber at the end to make something with.

I've used Kool-Aid for dyeing before, but never for unspun wool. I also had three colours of food colouring that was past the use-by date and wanted to use up.

We started by soaking the undyed fiber in water so that the dye would take.

Weaving Friend taught me a couple of new techniques, including how to set the dye in the microwave.

I showed her how to use the stove top steamer, which is my usual method.

We went with a variety of methods to apply the dyes, everything from "apply carefully with a pipette" to "slosh it all in a bowl and dye your hands blue". Thankfully my kitchen has a stainless steel sink!

We did five very different colourways, all of which have been given rather ridiculous names.

It was that kind of weekend. Weaving Friend's two are Hentacles:

and Mermaid Pubes:

Mine are Shark Week:

and Exploding Blackberry Wine:

And here's the science. Ever do chromatography in science class at school, where you daub some felt-tip marker onto a paper towel, dampen it and watch the colours separate out? Well, Weaving Friend pointed out that the food colouring would probably break into several colours too, so we tested it.

The blue and red pretty much stayed true, since they're primary colours, but the black did crazy things! As it happened they were crazy things I liked, so I soaked the last round of fiber in a bottle of lemon juice (no Kool-Aid, no acid, no colourfastness!) and went to town. We tipped the black over the wet fiber and poured water over it to separate the colours, then filled in the white parts with the remains of the blue. I love the way it's turned out.

Zombie Apocalypse:

*Let's gloss over the fact that I've enough fiber to lose a 400g bag of the stuff for several weeks, shall we?

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