Monday, August 3, 2009

Method vs. Colorway & Finger Painted Yarn

So if you've read any of my yarn listings, shop policies or you've seen my mention of the fact that I dye in methods rather than colorways. Well I had an idea for a different method of yarn dyeing recently and I wanted to share the results. I decided to name this method "finger painting" because of the way I manipulate the dye with my fingers after applying it to the yarn/fiber I'm dyeing. I also use dyes that have not been reheated. Acid dyes often fall out of solution as they cool, some colors more so than others, and often have to be not only reheated but filtered as well to avoid what I call "the speckles". Well I was thinking about this and I had an idea to try a sort of messy way of dyeing yarn involving not reheating and filtering my dyes. A method that would allow the color to sort of be all over the place. A method that would require a lot of manipulation with the fingers after the dye is applied. A method that was truly art. So I tried it and was very happy with the results. But what do I call it, I thought? My first idea was something like "random pour and smoosh" but after watching my kids do some finger painting I had one of those "aha!" moments. And thus "finger painting" was born here at Rocket Yarn.

Let me go down a side path for just a minute. I've been blogging for years but due to the increased attention on Rocket Yarn and my family constantly bugging me to stop with all the yarn talk and to get back to posting about the kids, garden, etc on my personal blog I decided that Rocket Yarn needed a blog of its own. I'm not sure why I didn't decide to do this sooner. Probably because I feel a little spread out this way as I feared I would. I'll post something here and then I'll go post on my personal blog to go read the Rocket Yarn blog. Seems kind of silly but alas, I'm getting off track again. Ah yes, another blog ... so I've been working on a list of things I want to blog about here. If any of my trusty three readers have suggestions please email me at celena[at] I'm always open to requests and suggestions. :) Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

Methods vs. Colorways - what does this mean anyway?

Some dyers come up with a specific color combo dyed in a specific pattern with dye they have measured and mixed to a certain concentration and they repeat this specific dye job many times over. That is a colorway. That is a great thing for those who do it. That, however, is so not my gig. I'm an engineer by education and day job and I use my yarn/fiber dyeing to fulfill that side of me that screams with artistic ideas and loves color ... that artsy side that needs to get out. That artsy side that is boxed in by being an engineer. When I break out the dye bottles there is no specific weighing and measuring. It's all art, baby! ;)

So what do I mean when I say "method"? To me, it's the way I apply the dye to the skein of yarn. When I set out to dye something I first decide two things. What is my base color going to be and what method am I going to use? For example, my "plasma dipped" method of yarn dyeing involves selecting a color (purple) and a few dyes to slightly shift that color (yellow, black, gray). I then fill containers (chinese take-out soup containers ... the best!) with the base color (purple) and then add a seperate shifting color to each container (purple + black, purple + yellow, purple + gray). Then starts the dipping ... overlapping sections dyed multiple times allow me to create a skein of yarn in which the colors gradually blend/fade into the next rather than changing abruptly. I think this gives the finished knitted item a more smooth look to it as far as color goes. It may end up being a true semi-solid or it may be more variegated. Just depends on what colors I used, how many times I over dipped and what end effect I was going for.

This dyeing philosophy is what makes my items mine. There are a ton of very talented and unique fiber artists out there. We all have our own way of doing things. You could put ten of us together with the same three bottles of dye and the same base yarn and you would have ten completely different skeins of yarn at the end of it all. That's one of the things I love about being a fiber artist. They say dogs resemble their people ... well I think skeins of yarn do as well. :)

So what was the point of all this anyway? I was going to introduce my new method of yarn dyeing but decided this would also be a great opportunity for some explanation. Now you know what I mean by "method vs. colorway" and will know what to expect when you see me list ten different yarns that say "plasma dipped purples". Please note that this only means I used my plasma dipped method of dyeing and the base color I started out with is purple. It does not refer to an actual colorway in which you could expect all ten skeins to be nearly identical. My yarn is art and no two items are ever exactly alike. Well slight caveat with the Astrobatts. Some of those will be mostly the same. But again, I digress ...

1 comment:

Kelly said...

"trusty three readers"... :-) i bet you have more than 3. interesting lesson dyeing!