We wanted to let you know about a handy gadget we've found really useful for dyeing small amounts of fiber. The Dash, Pinch, and Smidgen spoons really came in handy when we were testing out some new dyes that we got from Greener Shades. (I got my set as a gift, but Joanne found hers at our local gourmet/gift shop, the Gourmet Pantry in Blacksburg, VA. If you can't find them at a locally owned retailer near you, try this Google search.)
A week or so ago we decided to do some sample dyeing at lunch time. (Have I mentioned that we have lots of fun at work?) Joanne got out some white wool, probably Shetland, that she had washed and carded. We weighed out little 1/2 ounce batts on the digital scale. These we soaked in warm water while we measured out the dye.
Each 1/2 ounce packet of dye (about 3 teaspoons) is enough to dye 3 pounds of fiber. Doing some fancy math, we decided that for our 1/2 ounce of fiber we would need 1/32 of a teaspoon of dye, or a smidgen. (This is based on 1 teaspoon of dye for a pound, 1/16 teaspoon for an ounce (16 oz/Lb), 1/32 teaspoon for 1/2 oz.)
As per the instructions that came with the dyes, we dissolved each of our colors in a little hot water in a pint mason jar. We then added more hot water. Then in went the wet fiber, which we pushed down with our dyeing utensils, and gave a gentle stir.
(Never use your cooking utensils - keep a separate set just for dyeing!)
Next, not following the directions which tell you to first heat the dyepot until it steams, we added the vinegar. Based on the measurement of one cup per pound of fiber, we did some more fancy math and scaled it down to 2 teaspoons per 1/2 ounce of fiber.
Then we put the mason jars in the big dye pot and heated the whole thing up until the dye in the jars started to simmer gently. We let it simmer for five minutes or so, then let the whole thing cool down.
After the fiber cooled down, we rinsed carefully in warm water. The dyebaths were exhausted, and the water was clear when it went down the drain. The nice thing about these dyes is that we weren't adding any heavy metals to the waste water!
And here you have it: Greener Shades Ruby Red, Coral Reef Aqua, Sunshine Yellow, and River Blue!
(The lovely tea towel pictured with the spoons doesn't go anywhere near a dyepot, but is very handy for drying
dishes and staging photos! The towel was woven by Liz's friend Meridith as part of the Handweavers Guild of the New River Valley 2008 Tea Towel Exchange. )