Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dye Station Setup (requested)

Sarah over at Greener Shades Forum on Ravelry asked if I would post my dye station setup, probably not because there's anything ingeniuous about it (there isn't) but because it's so makeshift, but it works.

I’m having pretty good luck with where I keep gravitating to for dyeing. I’m using side-by-side washer/dryer as my “table” and I had a yoga matt type thing (bought at Barnes & Noble some years ago) and that is working out fantastically as a platform. I cut it to a manageable length (plus reserved a strip which I put on my kitchen counter when stovetop dyeing). What you see here is a length that covers my washer plus about a foot or so that spans over onto my dryer. If you put a couple of flexible (cheap) plastic cutting board mats (sticking out in the photo) to span the few inches between washer and dryer, the matt can spread across them so in case there's a spill, it won't drip down between them (horrors). Just be sure you remember where that gap is and not set a jar of dye stock right there. It is totally easy to blot up spills on the mat. It's rubberized so dye stock washes right off of it, and it’s wide enough so it exceeds the depth distance of the washer/dryer. And stiff enough so it'll stick out (again good insurance in case of a spill). Plus if any stock DOES happen to splash onto the washer/dryer control panels, it wipes off that surface really easily. So if you have a side-by-side setup, it works. If not, the yoga mat is thick enough so nothing would penetrate through it if using a kitchen counter (all precautions observed, of course).

As for other tools that seem to be working well for me, The Dollar Tree store had these remarkably handy “Sure Fresh Mini Storage” containers - 10 to a package that hold 50ml each for working containers as you go. Also great for storing leftover working stocks that are in small quantities. The square ones seem to seal best, but when they were out of those, I settled for the round ones. (Also great for stitch markers!)

I also am in love with the 30ml syringes for applying dyes for hand painting. The 60ml ones (largest shown) are too unweildly and the plunger doesn’t slide quite as easily for some reason. I find myself using the 24ml ones for best control. Also shown are 10-ml and then for fractions of dye stocks (like 2.75ml) the little 3ml. ones are perfect. These really give you some mean accuracy! These are very cheap at a farm supply store, ranging in price from $1.50 for the 60ml down to 19 cents for the little 3ml ones. I have at least 3 of all sizes so I don't have to interrupt my applications to rinse anything out.

Then I also use the back of a solid (no cut-outs) spatula I picked up at the Dollar Tree (stainless so it slips easily on fiber). This works great for patting, pushing dye into the fiber.

But that yoga mat was my "recycle of the year" -- it’s stiff enough to span across the two machines and not shift around like a plastic tablecloth does, it's thick enough so it isn't prone to developing holes anywhere, but it's totally foldable/rollable. The final thing I like about it is that it doesn't have much memory. If you fold or roll it up, it seems to unfold flat, not curling up on edges or fold lines creating uneven surfaces.

I left the photos at a larger size in case you want to click on one to get more of a closeup of those cute little storage containers. Dang, those were a great find.

Mon. Experiment

Logistics and setup/breakdown get really streamlined when you want to do maybe one of these a day and not spend much time at all. This time I was experimenting with the amount of resident acid pre-soak to leave in the fiber. I also wanted pretty deep DOS. I was prepared for mud because the amount of liquid by the time I was done syringing on my dye stocks at the intensity I wanted, GIVEN all that resident presoak already in the fiber -- well, all was fine unless you pressed on the fiber (at ALL) in which case, puddles. But having the fiber that wet sure does help in migration. There's a sweet spot balance in here somewhere. I just haven't yet found it. I have a feeling I'm heading toward moisture control right on the table as an integral part of what I'm after.

Anyway, THOUGH the turquoise doesn't come through that well in photo, this is, so far, one of my favorites because this combo has been in my head. Very simple, just a royal blue and turquoise with some color change blendings. I will do this again, except work with 2% stocks to bump up the DOS with less liquid required. Plus 2% stocks is only one more math calculation, but it sure would conserve on storage space required. I may be abandoning all those mixer/shaker containers and going to squat, short pint mason jars for stackabililty. Those mixer/shaker suckers are just too damned big.