Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dates for QU classes

Hi All,

I am on vacation from my computer but wanted to post the dates for my upcoming classes at Quilt University, including the brand new class called Thick and Thin which will show you how to use sodium alginate to thicken procion MX dyes into paints.

January 15- Basic Cotton Dyeing
January 29- Dyeing Silk
February 5- Thick and Thin
February 19-Dyeing with Tea and Spices
March 26- Fabric Painting with Jacquard Fabric Paints
April 9- Quilter's Palette (Intermediate Cotton Dyeing) for Portrait and Landscape Fabrics
April 23- Gutta Resist on Silk
April 30- Basic Cotton Dyeing
May 14- Shibori Dyeing on Silk and Cotton
May 21- Batik

Email me for the supply lists for any of these courses.
Registration opens five weeks before the class date posted.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Two new things today with acid dyes on wool yarn

Today I overdyed the raspberry I did yesterday to see how acid dyes do when absorbing more dye on top of what is already there. Not a problem. Now I have the color I originally wanted. So far, I have not found any drawbacks in the system I am using or with the dyes. I even tried to shock the bit of yarn on the left by rinsing in cold water right out of the hot dye bath. Nothing.
Which brings me to my very own wool joke- "How do you shock wool? Sneak up behind it and yell 'WOLF'!"
It's all good.

Next test was to see how light I can make the dye color. Everything up to now has had maximum absorption of the dye color.
To this dye bath I only added 1/64 teaspoon of sky blue dye. I got a little worried about 2 minutes into it and added another 1/64 teaspoon to make 1/32. The color is beautiful.
What I learned from this experience is that as the water heats, so does the color. It probably would have been okay left at the original amount but I do like this value and will use this measurement again on other pastel colors.
Since this is yarn my daughter will be using, I intend on overdyeing this a deeper blue tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Acid Dyes Day 2

Here are the wool yarns that will be dyed in the next few days.
I am going to start with the one on the left which is Merino wool that came from a donor named "Mama". I had about 4.5 ounces of it which is about 4 times the amount that I started with yesterday. I will have to adjust my dyes accordingly.
I opened the skein and loosely tied off the hank in four places to try and keep it from getting all knotted up in the dye bath.

Into the warm water it goes to pre-soak.

Once it got up to between 185 and 200 degrees F, I added the dye. The first color I wanted to try was a mix of the three primaries to see how my own mix of brown looks.
When it first went in, it looked like a rusty brown but those first 10 minutes can be deceiving.

The second yarn I chose to dye is simply labeled "wool". I will ask for more specifics. It is the same weight as the "Mama" wool.
For this color I want to try combining red and black for a maroon color.

Here are my end results. The brown is a dark chocolate color. Fantastic! Just what I wanted.
The maroon actually came out a deep raspberry which everyone around here loves but I am disappointed. I certainly will keep the color recipe but I wanted more of a blood red.
If I had this one to do over again, I would add a bit of yellow and less black to the mix. What this result tells me is there's a lot of blue in the black. I did not notice that when I dyed the small samples. So noted.
The other really fascinating thing about the maroon dyeing was that when I took the yarn out of the dye bath, there was hardly ANY color left in the water. I had used 1 1/2 teaspoons of dye powder with the brown and a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon with the maroon and used the same amount of wool. The left over dye in the bath was just a blush of pink! Conclusion wool absorbs WAY more dye than cotton and you can actually SEE what has been used when everything is said and done.
Rinsing wool is a dream compared to cotton. While we certainly do have to watch for the temperature difference when rinsing wool, within 1 minute we are done.
With both of these wool experiments, I used vinegar rather than the citric acid and must say that there is no stinky smell. Perhaps when I start using more dye and more vinegar, it will smell bad.
Next session will be about overdyeing and TRYING to shock the yarn so that it felts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Well yippy skippy, it's been a very good day!! I got my dyes late yesterday...I know!!!...and started experimenting with the wool gathered from the Yolo Wool Mill.
First thing to do was weigh the stuff. I had to get a ball park number for how much each color was going to weigh. Most of the pieces I have are about a half ounce in weight. All of the recipes I have start with the assumption that you are dying a pound of matter. Gotta do some calculating before I begin.

Into the pan of warm water the first bit went to soak.

When the yarn was ready, I added the dye powder and with my thermometer in the brew I slowly brought the temperature up to hover somewhere between 180 and 190 degrees F. At that point I added citric acid and let it simmer for 30 minutes. I wanted to try the alternative to vinegar. Later I will try it with the stinky stuff to see how bad it is in reality and how long it takes to get the smell to dissipate.

Finished. The wool on the left is single ply. The dyed red yarn is double. I will see if there is a difference when I dye the single stuff next.
Lovely deep red color. I only used 1/8+1/16 dye powder in 8 cups of water. It absorbs well. Rinses like a dream. Done is about 45 minutes total. Not bad.

Next, I dyed orange to see how mixing the colors worked. It's great! Very easy. There is about a 5 value difference between the yarn when the dye is first added to what the final intensity of color will be. When dry, the color is the same as when it comes out of the dye bath. No fading.

So let's see how it does on the beige and brown wools. I am going to dye them black.

This bit of yarn is extremely soft and comes apart easily.

When presoaking it absorbed the water quickly and easily.

End results- brilliant color with very little effort and very little chemicals and dye powder. The rinsing is minimal. Wow. Fabulous experience!
Tomorrow I will try using left over dyes and also I want to see what happens when I purposely shock the wool going from 180 degrees to cold water rinse. Pictures will follow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Hi all.
This week I am going to start experimenting with ways to dye wool using acid dyes and Procion MX dyes to compare the processes and the colors.
I will be using wool batting as well as spun yarn. I have access to a number of different kinds of wool and several other fabulous blends that I will document for you.
I will actually TRY to make the process fail as well as of course trying to make it work. It's all a part of testing the process to find if this is something that is as easy as it seems and perhaps that can be used in future projects and as marketable product.
Here is a picture of some carded wool that my husband made a few weeks ago at the Yolo Wool Mill "mill in". Nice job, Steve! Soft as a cloud.
I just ordered my dyes and a few other supplies so let the games begin!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chasing My Passion for Hand Dyed Silk

I made a big mistake yesterday. I was starting to dye the veils for A'Kai Silks and this run was to be a combo of orange with purple. In my excitement I dropped an entire bottle of purple dye in the center of this silk piece and the dark color splotted all over the orange portion. I said a VERY bad word and hopped around the dye studio punching the air with my fists. Then... I composed myself and started to work with it. Move the dye around. Add more orange.
As I have said in my QU classes, it is impossible to make an ugly piece of hand dyed silk. It's just flat out NOT something that a human can do. You can't. Zero possibilities. Even if you spill purple dye on top of orange dye.
Here is another picture of my mistake. It reminds me of a desert sunset. Jes, if you are looking at this- you may want me to make more of this because it is exquisite. This is why I keep coming back for more.
I could dye silk until my last breath escapes me. There isn't anything I would rather do.

Here are the veils I have finished. I have more curing in the dye studio right now. More pictures tomorrow. I am a happy dyer. A very, very happy dye baby.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Veil production begins

Today I start dyeing what you see above for A'kai Silks. 7 veils will be dyed today and then I'll work on the box of stuff sent as odds and ends. I'll show you what comes out of what I hope will be a productive week of dyeing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Show me what $2,000.00 of hand dyed fabric looks like-

There is an event this Saturday that involves fiber and it's production from field to loom to the dye vats. This opportunity came about suddenly so I have to move fast.
I have been systematically digging out all the hand dyed fabs and silk scarves that have been taking up space and washing them, ironing them, folding them and putting them in a big box.
When someone does something nice for me, I let them chose a scarf. When I go somewhere, I take a hostess gift which is a silk scarf. When it is someones birthday- they chose a scarf. When someone who does fiber art isn't looking, I deposit fat quarters on their doorstep, ring the bell and run away. How fun is that? Very fun.
So this week, I have been pulling out fabs that were duds, experimental, ends of runs, and just stuff I have had around the Dye Studio for eons. I have washed it, overdyed it, cut it up and am ready to sell it. I had NO idea how much stuff I had in boxes and stuffed under tables and on the shelves. Here is almost all of it. It's hard to see the immensity of the pile. I am going to be selling it all, even the scarves for half price. Hopefully, it will go fast and I'll be done.
It feels so good to have some breathing room but best of all, it feels great to be selling it all off to good homes. Hopefully, this fabric will be turned into fiber art which in turn will make more people happy and productive.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Sodium alginate stuff

The last lesson in the new Quilt University class called "Thick and Thin" includes how to paint on the thickened dyes to make color gradations and then stamp or stencil patterns on top of the gradations.

This one is an experimental piece I tried using red as the base and then yellow as the stamping color for subtle results. The possibilities are endless.

These wooden stamps were purchased from Lilian Vernon years ago. Very cool.

I'm excited about the last lesson in the class because I teach you how to actually work with the flaws in the system. So the first four lessons are how to use the thickeners properly and the last lesson is how to mess with them and not play by the rules for more fabulous results. For instance, if not mixed properly the dyes streak which is not necessarily a bad thing! If you do not rinse out the dyes well they also streak. Not a bad thing either. It's not often that you can actually break all the rules and have terrific results. I think this medium may actually be klutz proof.

I absolutely love this piece of fabric. I can't wait for you to take this class and show me what you can do.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finishing up-Batik II

Here is the final outcome of the waxing, dyeing, removal of wax, and repeating the procedure for the final lesson of the class I teach called "Batik Seminar" which is finishing up at Quilt University this week.
You can see the progression below...this is how batik is done- Old School! Lots of work but worth the effort. I call this pattern, "Party At My House".

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Dye Studio E-News sent out today!

I just sent out the fall issue of The Dye Studio E-Newsletter. If you did not receive it or would like to be put on my list, email me and let me know.

In this season's issue I discuss the new QU class I am putting the finishing touches on called "Thick and Thin".
Sodium alginate is an awesome medium to use with Procion MX dyes to make a substance that is far superior to fabric paints in that once the dyes are set, the alginate washes away leaving the brilliant color and design behind with absolutely NO hand or stiffness the way paints do even when thinned down with water.

Here is a picture of one of the projects I finished for my small writing table in the kitchen-I love those table runners! I used one of the wooden stamps I bought several years ago from Lillian Vernon, of all places! I must say that is the first and only time I have ever placed and order with them. I bought them because I thought they were beautiful- not that I would ever use them! I thought the same thing about the brass batiking tjap I bought from Dharma. That thing is not only a work of art, it is a fabulously balanced and makes perfect wax stamps every time. Not once in awhile- EVERY time. Wish I had 60 more.
Watch for this 5 lesson online class soon at QU. We do not have a starting date yet but will later in the year. I expect standing room only so register as soon as you see it on the roster. I will let you know well enough ahead of time so that you can get your supplies.
If you would like a supply list now, email me.
Happy dyeing, stamping, mess making everyone!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Batik Seminar-The Plaid

A little over 3 years ago, I wrote the sequel class to the Quilt University class called Batik It! Carol or Roger creatively called the sequel-The Batik Seminar. Ha. In the last lesson of the sequel I did a very lame attempt at the final project and vowed that I would come back soon-very soon- and do it again so that every time I see the pictures I would NOT cringe and yell at myself. Three years go by pretty fast. Never fixed it.
This semester I have several students who have done fabulous stuff which I will be posting in the student gallery for next term. In the meantime, I redid the lesson and am glad to report better results! These pictures will replace the old funky ones:

First step- wax out the areas to remain white.

Painted on the colors in this order- red, yellow, blue.

Wax over the areas to remain red, yellow and blue.

Apply a second intensity version of red, yellow and blue but shift the order to blue, yellow, red. Red now becomes purple, blue now becomes green, yellow becomes orange. Remove all the wax.

Apply wax on diagonal exposing areas of white, red, yellow, and blue. Leave dots open and close some dots.

Paint on orange dye.

Wax a squiggly line in orange panels and close some dots to save the color beneath.

Overdye a second intensity brown.

That's as far as I have gone for now. Tomorrow I will iron off this waxing and soak in paint thinner and show you the final piece.

Better,eh? Yes. Lots better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Princess 1996-2009

Okay. One last picture of The PrinCESS. Her story is a rags to riches tale. She had humble beginnings but the last 5 years with us were glorious.
She was not long on the brains but she knew who she loved.
When she came to us after her first owner's death, she got to go to the beach and the snow and on vacations and got to ride in the car like a big dog. She went from Podunk to Disneyland and truly became a royal-the fulfillment of her first owner's deepest dreams.
All dogs go to heaven.
Moving on now....

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Princess ends her reign. Fare Thee Well.

An hour ago I had to take The Princess (left) to the vet to make the journey to the other side. It is a heartbreaking day. I will miss her. She loved me like no other dog ever loved me. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So it has been three weeks since I blogged! I am the worst blogger in the universe. I still stand tall and do not feel shame. It's not as if I didn't THINK about it once or twice. Okay. Maybe once. Then I see that there are people who follow this blog and hopefully you aren't disappointed when you come here and see that it's still the same old thing. Take heart. I now have something to show you...
This is how it will look when you do lesson two in the new QU class I am writing even as we speak. I hope it won't be too daunting a task...maybe you can tell me if you think it is over the top. We mix 12 colors....and from those 12 we make a sampler like this....
And as your reward, you can let loose on an extra piece of fabric with the left overs and make a mess like this...

What else have I been doing? Dyeing fabric. Lots of fabric. Some went to Australia. Some went to Tokyo. Some went to Ohio. Where else? New Mexico.
In between dyeing sessions I work on the new class which now has a title: Thick and Thin. Carol named it. Maybe Roger.
Using thickened dyes is going to make you so excited! I'm excited to show you how it's done. Hopefully it will be done and ready for editing this fall and then we will publish at Quilt University maybe around March or so.
Tomorrow I will show you some more preliminary pictures of the lesson projects.
Thanks for looking. You are so faithful!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tea and spice dyeing starts this weekend!

If you would like to learn how to stain cotton and silk fabrics using tea, coffee, spices such as turmeric, mustard powder, onion skins, cranberry juice, blueberry juice, and on and on then join us at for my three lesson course. Class starts Friday!

Student work above covers the gamut from Easter Eggs to a tea stained table runner to silk ribbons.

While I do not endorse it but we do discuss it in class, students use Koolaid and Crystal Light for some eye popping, nauseating colors if you're into that!

See you there?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Newsletter sent out today!

If you are not on my e-newsletter mailing list and would like to receive The Dye Studio news, please email me and I will send you the latest copy that went out today. My email is
I write something about fiber art four times a year- winter, spring, summer and fall.
In this season's e-news I talk about silk- the history of it and why it is so amazing and the end of the world for some of us who dye, sew, wear it, and love it.
E-news is about things I don't post on the blog or talk about in my QU classes. It's only meant for your amusement and brain expanding. If you want it, come and get it.
Dye on, and dye hard.

About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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