Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ashes of Roses

This is the first new BFL colorway I've done in quite a while; it's quite different from any of the others but I like it a lot. I'll be sending Toni at The Fold in Marengo, IL, some stock that she is going to take around to some of the shows for me, so it's important to work ahead right now.

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day. There is an evil computer worm called Conflictor that is set to attack IBM computers tomorrow; I'll be working from my linux computer all day...

Take care, all!

Monday, March 30, 2009

What a day...

I cleaned out and scrubbed four kitchen drawers, which is more housework than I usually do in any one week. Not much fiber happened today, but I did simmer the cherry dyebath with some wool, worked a little on Coral Reef by way of a break, and set Ashes of Roses and Strange Brew up to dry.

Today's photo is Crocus Panda. Panda is a loverly mix of superwash merino, bamboo, and nylon; great for socks or other hard-wearing, hard-washing items. Because of the bamboo it dyes streaky.

Time for a beer, and pizza!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Funny thing happened to my pound of bamboo.....

I wrote yesterday ALL about how I had wonderfully saved a skanky old brown dyebath and made it a lovely forest green.

Yeah, well.... When I mixed up the original dye, I mixed just water, the dye powder, and a tablespoon of urea, which is important for dye uptake. The stuff then sat for a week. I must suppose that the urea changed or degraded or somehow messed up the dye, because my beautiful forest green, after responding well enough to the first couple of rinsings, largely rinsed out after I had soaked the fiber in the dye fixative. I don't dislike what I got; it's sort of a muted aqua, with various variegations, but definitely it's not what I had. I will remember that dyes mixed with water and urea degrade over time.

Oddly enough, I could readily reproduce this one if it becomes popular. I know exactly what I did! ;->

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Many things

Thing one: color mixing with chemical dyes.

Today I took out my fiber-reactive primaries, cyan, magenta, and yellow. I mixed small, strong solutions and attempted to create my own, practical color wheel. It was, ummm, interesting.

The photo is really a fairly good representation of what I got. You can see a little bit of the word "magenta" by the magenta. The cyan is a really fat stroke with a dark blue blob on both ends. The yellow is the only thing that looks even remotely like yellow, and it's stained a little green because my brush wasn't clean enough.

What do we learn from this? Cyan and magenta mix in a fairly straightforward way into shades of purple. Any tiny bit of magenta in yellow, or cyan, and you get orange or green. Tangerine and chartreuse are going to have to be mixed using drops of weak solutions of magenta and cyan, there's just no way to get a small enough measurable quantity of powdered dye. Note to self; must find out if I can store fiber-reactive dye stocks for long periods.

In other news, I made a colossal mess the first time I tried to mix fiber-reactive primaries. I mixed a lot of yellow and a tiny bit of magenta, then added a tiny bit of blue and immediately got gray. Should have known....added a lot more yellow and got brown. At this point, but it aside, and mixed up a batch of cyan. I added a few dribbles of brown to the blue to make it less crayonish, and got a lovely turquoise.

Today I took that brown, and added cyan until I had a nice, rich forest green. I turned a mess into something pretty! Yay! And, I dyed a whole pound of bamboo with it.

I also invented a new colorway for the BFL; it's a gray and a kind of gun-metal blue and garnet; I'm calling it "Ashes of Roses. It's way prettier than it sounds; I'll post a photo when it's rinsed and dried.

Still more today: I finally took about half of my cherry wood chips, and the soaking liquid (denatured alcohol with some water), and added water and put them over low heat for a few hours. Tomorrow I'll be able to strain them and actually dye some mordanted wool. The 12 (!) skeins of undyed yarn I mordanted the other day are almost dry....

I also got in the mail an order for natural dyes; ground madder, black oak bark, and safflowers. I'm really looking forward to playing around with the safflower.

More later...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Busy Day!

Wow I got a lot done today. Besides some family things, I worked more on Coral Reef, and also mordanted 12 skeins of wool totaling about 3.6 kilos. If you don't know, to mordant is to apply a chemical to fiber so that it will be able to bond with a dye; these are required with most natural dyes. Meantime, I had ordered several natural dyes, and they came in today's mail. There's madder, because I'm out; this time I found a source for ground madder, which should yield much more color than the whole roots, no matter how long they're soaked. I also got safflowers, which yield both an orange and a pink depending on how you push the Ph of the dye bath; it's a whole big process. I even found my Wild Colour dye book, which is irreplaceable being out of print and worth over $100. I am also going to try the inner bark of the Black Oak, which is supposed to produce a really fine yellow. And, there's still all those cherry shavings.....

For the photo of the day I thought I'd post the raw materials for Coral Reef.

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

And here it is!

I finished the first skein of Coral Reef today. Ta-Da!

It's really much, much brighter, but if you photograph it with a flash, or in really bright light, all you can see is the dazzle of light bouncing off the bamboo.

Edit: I tried improving the photo some, this is much better, but still not really there. I'll keep messing with it in my copious free time...

I'm hoping to finish the second skein today. In the meantime, I scored a metric ton of undyed wool yarn, and I want to mordant it for natural dyeing, so I've got my hands full!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

OMG: So excited!

I had this idea for "Coral Reef" fiber; it was going to be a combination of blue wool, green bamboo, and splotches of loud tropical fish colors.

It made a lousy batt, but just look at the yarn!

I'm not a good photographer, but I hope you can get an idea of the play of bright colors against the blue-green.

Oddly, in the lower left you can see fiber feeding into the spinning wheel and it seems to be in better focus than the yarn! Funny.

So, I'm going to Navaj0-ply this and put it in my pile of Things to Sell. So much fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hello, World!

I've got a business, and these days a business needs a blog. At least, an artistic business does.

Hello, World! My name is Mia McDavid, and this is the site for After the Sheep Fiber Arts. I will be posting about my fiber, and eventually taking orders.

I am a longtime fiber freak, all my life really. I knit, crochet, make lace, spin, weave. I haven't learned to nalbend yet, but I sure want to...

I was born in '55, and live in a suburb of St. Paul with my husband and my adult son. I recently got into dyeing, and it was so much fun I found I had to start selling the fiber because I was running out of storage room. I have been dyeing largely unspun fiber, but do intend to dye yarn in the immedate future.

You can find my work at present at Borealis Yarns, Knitter's Palette, the Fiber Studio, and the Yarn Garage.

More to follow...