I’m not quite sure which of several candidates will wind up being THE indigo blue (the skeins are drying right now and won’t reveal their true color until fully dry), but I’ve found the right color family by blending brilliant blue with magenta. I suspected this would work but needed to do the sampling to find out.
I have also, after a diligent day spent over the dyepots, finished another set of 66 skeins in combinations of Sun Yellow, Fuchsia, and brilliant Blue. Making dye samples is about as exciting as doing loads of laundry or violin finger exercises, but it’s necessary to build a color palette. Essentially, I’m mixing (and recording) all the different combinations of a particular set of three colors. The end result of all these experiments is several hundred small skeins of yarn in a multitude of colors. At that point, I have a color palette and all I have to do is pick a shade I find pleasing, and reproduce it.
Of course, it’s not that simple. If you want pastels, you need to re-sample because sometimes the colors shift in low concentrations. If you’re after a specific color, you need to understand color theory enough to know how to get there. And so on.
I haven’t the time or the inclination to build all this knowledge base (I should live so long as to master every discipline that interests me), so I settle for making several hundred dye samples and then using that palette to choose a set of colors to reproduce. It’s not the same as being able to mix up every color that I fancy with exact reproducibility, but it allows a heckuva lot more variety than simply buying commercially dyed yarn/fabric. Since I favor medium to dark colors (I look awful in pastels), I dye all my samples in medium shades. If I need a pastel (which has only happened once), I take a stab at the right color and then test the paler shades.
The nice thing about working with fiber-reactive (cellulose) dyes is that sample skeins are easy to come by. I bought 220 skeins of white embroidery floss to do my first three sets of samples – a nice, convenient 2g apiece, cheap, preskeined. Just ordered another batch with which to test the new dyes that arrived today (golden yellow, bright red, black). Next week, once the skeins of embroidery floss arrive, I plan to do another three sets of samples – and that should give me a wide enough palette to do almost anything I want with cellulose fibers.
In a way, it’s fortunate that I’m unemployed – dye sampling takes a good solid two hours for each batch (and it takes four batches to complete a set of samples) – very hard to come by that much uninterrupted time at home, especially when I’m both employed and training. So now, in each unemployed workday, I can get a full set of dye samples done if I hustle. Next week will be busy.
I hope I get employed soon, but meanwhile, there’s no time to waste.