Monday, 18 January 2010

A good Red

With everything that is going on at the moment the last thing I would have expected is a new commission! The photo shows the current state of my workshop - I am in the throes of packing everything down ready for the move - hence the even more cluttered than normal appearance - how on earth am I supposed to work in this state?

I needed to produce a good red - in fact replicate a colour I produced back in 2006. My notes could at the moment be anywhere - so I had to rely on educated guesswork!

I have used cochineal and brazilwood, as with my soft water I am more likely to get the correct colour tones from those dyes. I tried cochineal two different ways - firstly the whole bugs and then straining them out and heating them several times to extract as much colour as possible. The second method I used I ground the bugs up first, as finely as I could and then soaked them overnight. I have got some fabulous colours, the photo I've taken is not showing them to their best advantage but they are really rich and deep!

I did have a lightbulb moment whilst doing this work - funny how things hit you really! There is often talk about how much colour rinses out when dyeing with cochineal and after I had completed the first hank - dyed with the liquid from the whole bugs, I was surprised to see how little colour came out in the rinse water - this photo is the first rinse honest!

When I did the second hank in the ground cochineal there was lots of colour coming out - I was stunned, then I looked at the side of the washing up bowl after I'd tipped the liquid away, lots of little grains of cochineal stuck there - too fine to have strained them out before dyeing, and the wool feels fine one rinsed and dried, but the "grains" have to go somewhere! So my tip from this is use the whole bug, or be prepared to do lots of rinsing!

The brazilwood (100%) I soaked overnight heated to boiling and then strained the wood chips off. Allowed the liquid to cool down and then immersed the yarn. Re heated and cooled. Very simple basic method, but it works!

The brazilwood red is the one in the middle, the ground cochineal is at th top and the whole bugs is the one at the bottom. The colour matching seems to be quire accurate too!


madewithloops said...

Such a brilliant are sooooooooooooooooo clever. Good to have such a brlliant friend.
Hope the packing is going well, make sure not to pack John ;-)))

Debbie said...

Thanks Heike! The yarn should be good for lace knitting too! John is on his way back from a trip - we have to go again this weekend with another load!