A Good Day to Dye

Dyeing warp chains in the garage requires several days, preferably with nice weather.  Trusting what the weather man was telling me, I recently began the process by mixing the dyes.  I buy my fiber reactive dyes in a powder form from Dharma Trading Company.  The dye powder is mixed with water, urea and table salt.  Here I’m adding the urea pellets. 

When I add the dye powder, I wear a mask because the dye powder particles are extremely fine and I don’t want to breathe them into my lungs.

 

Because most colors are a combination of red, yellow & blue, I like to know what the underlying color is when deciding which dye to use.  I find that paper coffee filters are a good way to let the color separate out into its different components.  This way I know if a green has a stronger underlying blue or yellow hue.  This works for many different color combinations.

Early in the morning on a bright sunny day, I began by setting out the dye bottles.

The cotton warp is soaked in a solution of water and soda ash to get the fiber ready to accept the dye.  Then the warp threads are carefully laid out on a strip of plastic wrap on the table.  Next comes the fun part: squirting the dye colors wherever the mood strikes me.  After each warp is dyed, it is rolled up in the plastic wrap and allowed to sit over night. 

The next day proved the weather man wrong. The day dawned cold and overcast. I decided to do the rinsing in the (unfinished) kitchen.  On the counter in the dish pan are the rolled up chains wrapped in plastic.  I’m removing the plastic from one of the chains.  After being rinsed several times, the warp goes into the bucket on the floor to the right which holds a solution of Synthopol and water.  After a few more rinses, the warp chain goes into the bucket to my left.

In the garage is another sink and a portable wringer. After a few more rinses, followed by several runs through the wringer, the last step is to put the warps gently into the washing machine on spin cycle.  By now,very little dye will come out of the fiber.  This is a warp of 8/2 unmercerized cotton for towels.  Weaving these towels one after the other is so much fun!  These colored warp threads will be set up in a stripe pattern along with white threads in a Fibonacci sequence. I use different solid color weft yarns and each towel is unique.  The fun part is watching what happens when the solid color crosses the hand dyed portion which changes as the warp progresses. Where the weft crosses the warp, a new color appears.

My favorite part is usually seeing the newly dyed warps drying in the sun. This day was too cold and overcast for that so the warps were hung in the new kitchen on a makeshift clothesline.  Still a pretty sight. In addition to the 8/2 unmercerized cotton for towels, this batch contains 5/2 perle for shawls and rayon chenille for scarves.  I can’t wait to start weaving!

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14,056 Mug Rugs And Counting!

I’m preparing for 1st Saturday again.  My supply of Mug Rugs is always  low at the end of the year. I just finished another batch. This picture shows some that are long gone.  I’ve kept track since I first started making these in 1991 as just a little item to sell for Christmas. They have been so popular that I have continued to make them and have kept track of how many since I started.  As of 1/1/11, the total number of sets of 4 is 3,514.  That makes a total of 14,056 individual Mug Rugs!  And I can’t keep them in stock. Every time I think I have saturated the market, I realize my basket is almost empty. Thank you to all who have purchased these silly little coasters and come back for more.

On Feb 5, I’ll be with Shirley Keller in her Spirit Hill Studio, 43641 Skyline Dr., Three Rivers. We’ll be open from 11:00 to 5:00.  Come and see us.

Preparations for November

Harvest of Handwovens was a great success! Now I have to replenish my stash for 3 events in November. I’m weaving more towels & Mug Rugs, setting up another shawl, some scarves and holiday table runners.  Tonight I’ll be making more soy candles. This Saturday is 1st Saturday in 3 Rivers. Our theme is “Leaves” and that’s great because the leaves on the South Fork are gorgeous!  I also have my “Oak Leaves & Acorns” note cards. I hope you will visit me. Check out my “Events” page to see what else is happening this month.

“Harvest” is September’s 1st Saturday

September 4 is the date for September’s 1st Saturday  art celebration.  “Harvest” is the theme for the day.  These hand dyed towels are the latest harvest from my loom–love those Fibonacci stripes.  Come and visit me in my studio where I will be weaving another batch of hand dyed towels–earth tones this time in answer to your requests.  I will also be weaving holiday table runners.  A new shawl as well as new scarves, Mug Rugs and soy candles will also be available.  I’ve been busy!  Click on the link to 1st Saturday in my blog to see what else is going on during 1st Saturday.  My studio will be open from 11:00 to 5:00.  I hope to see you here.

First Saturday Celebrates Golden Hills

Anne's bowl & Nikki's towels

1st Saturday in Three Rivers, August 7, will be a celebration of the Golden Hills around our town.  Artists will be out and about in various locations.  Discounts are offered by restaurants and lodges.  Several of us, including myself, will have our studios open from 11:00 to 5:00.   I will be weaving towels and will have towels, mug rugs, baby blankets, shawls and scarves available.  I will also be offering my hand-poured soy candles.  Also in my studio, you will find the beautiful hand turned wooden bowls of Anne Birkholz and delightful clay sculptures of Carole Clum.  We hope you will take the time to come up the south fork and visit us.  Click on the link to the right for more details regarding 1st Saturday.  You can pick up a flyer at Anne Lang’s Emporium in downtown Three Rivers.  See you Saturday! 

Some of my weaving and candles

1st Saturday Goes Red, White & Blue

The artists of Three Rivers will be celebrating Independence Day a day early by welcoming you to our monthly 1st Saturday Event.  Activities take place on July 3 from 10:00 a.m. ’til 7:00 p.m.  Check out my link to 1st Saturday or pick up a flier and map at Anne Lang’s Emporium for details.  I hope you will visit me in my studio from 10 to 4.  Here’s a  sample of the many weavings and soy candles I will have to offer.  Ann Birkholz’s beautiful turned wood bowls will also be available in my studio.

Redbud Festival Is Coming!

My Booth at 2009 Redbud
My Booth at 2009 Redbud

May 8 & 9 are the dates for this year’s Redbud Festival at the Lions’ Arena in Three Rivers.  It’s Mother’s Day Weekend. Come and visit me and my friends at our weaving booth. Handweavers of the Valley will be presenting our theme of “Weavers Bloom In Many Ways” to show that we all enjoy other artistic endeavors including weaving. 

Weavers Bloom In Many Ways

Weavers Bloom In Many Ways

 Approx. 60 artists will be showing and selling their works that weekend.  It’s a fun time to come out and visit with old friends in a beautiful setting. Enjoy some really good food and listen to great live music. What more could you ask for?  Admission and parking are free!