Ice Dyeing

I’ve recently discovered the joys of sprinkle dyeing, where the dyeing process is reduced to 1) soak yarn at required pH, 2) dump powder dye directly on yarn, 3) fix dye as necessary. No solutions, no mixing, no syringing. I can actually clean up in less than five minutes after sprinkle dyeing, ideal for a busy schedule, dangerous as I am now drowning in very lurid sock yarns with no time to knit socks.

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While roaming around Pinterest one day, I saw some interesting looking fabric that had been dyed using a technique known as ‘ice dyeing’. The name sounds a lot more glamorous and complicated than the technique actually is. All you do is dump a load of ice on your fabric, put powder dye on the ice and wait but, for such an easy technique, the patterns it produces are actually very interesting.

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Tutorial: Making Paper Quills

What do criminals and crafters have in common? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, quite a lot! Their definition of the noun ‘stash’ is as follows:

stash, n.1 slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.).

1 a. Something, or a collection of things, stashed away; a hoard, stock; a cache.

  1. A cache of an (illegal) drug; a quantity (of a drug); the drug itself.
  2. slang (orig. Criminals’). A hiding-place, a hide-out; a rendezvous; a dwelling, ‘pad’.

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The meaning of the verb ‘to stash’ isn’t much better either:

  1. To bring to an end, stop, desist from (a matter, a practice); to quit (a place). Often imp. stash it!, stash that!, †to stash the glim: to cease using the light. to stash up: to bring to an abrupt end.
  2. To conceal, to hide; to put aside for safe keeping; to stow or store. Freq. with away. Formerly Criminals’ slang; orig. U.S. in revived mod. use.

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Mixing it up

When you first start dyeing, there’s an overwhelming range of colours to choose from. As well as thinking about what kind of materials you want to be dyeing, whether you are going to need any auxiliary chemicals for the techniques you want to use, you need to think about what set of dyes you’re going to use to get you started.

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Now this is all a lot easier if you have an infinite budget and the cupboard space to match. You can just buy a bit of everything to try. Some suppliers offer ‘starter kits’ as well, with smaller amounts of a range of different dyes to get started. Many dyers will tell you though that all you need is a small select palette and you can mix the rest. So is it really worth investing in a big range of different dyes?

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Knotty Problems

Murdering skeins is a bit of a hobby of mine. I’m not sure where I developed quite such an aptitude for transforming beautiful bundles of fibre into Eldritch horrors of the knitted world but it’s about the least useful skill a crafter can have.

Sometimes it has been clumsiness or underestimating quite what a disastrous effect travelling can have on your supplies. Sometimes it has been my notorious impatience with wanting to dive into a new project. Other times, I swear I simply turn my back and when I turn around, I’m greeted with a sight that invokes the more colourful regions of the English language.

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Dyeing to Weave

Sod’s Law for Crafters says that, no matter how big your stash, you still will never have the right material for the project at hand. Having recently started weaving, that saying is more true than ever. All of my non-acrylic yarns are committed to projects and I don’t have quite the volume of silk I’d need for a decent sized warp.

That meant it was time to indulge myself in a bit of ‘necessity’ shopping. Shopping for weaving threads is quite an experience, particularly as a UK resident. ‘wc’, ‘nm’, ‘cc’ are all units you might see, as well as various fractions, weight per length and often, a complete absence of any useful information.

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