It now seems likely that Sharon will do the remaining work on the dress/coat, basically because we’re down to one garment to work on, we can’t both work on it at once, and some of the bits are fiddly and require her to work on them. Which means I can now start thinking about painting and dyeing.
My dream, at least for the moment, is to create a smoothly gradated set of skeins that go all the way around the color wheel. This sounds easy – just mix cyan, fuchsia, and yellow in varying proportions – but it actually isn’t. Or rather, it isn’t simple if you want specific colors in the mix. The reason is that there’s no such thing as a single “pure” hue; they all lean in one direction or another.
Here are two examples, all blends from one “pure” color to another:
The color isn’t represented 100% accuracy (flash + stitching together from two photos), but you can see pretty clearly that, depending on what blue you start with and what red you end with, you can get very different colors in between. Ditto yellow and red.
So my conundrum is fairly clear…if I want those beautiful oranges that come from combining gold (which leans to red) and red (yellow-leaning), AND those beautiful greens from combining sun yellow (which leans towards blue) with intense blue, then I can’t use just one set of dyes. Instead I have to come up with a smooth transition from sun yellow to gold, fuchsia to scarlet, etc. – and decide which of the dyes I’m going to use in which proportions.
All of which, drat it all, calls for more sampling. LOTS of sampling.
One of the reasons I work with Sabracron F on silk using the soda ash method, incidentally, is precisely because of the need to sample. Silk should ideally be dyed using acid dyes, because it is a protein fiber and could (at least in theory) be damaged in alkaline solutions like the ones I use. However, I have never found any noticeable damage from my dyeing methods (perhaps because I use a vinegar rinse afterward), and it is much much easier for me to sample fiber-reactive dyes, simply because I can purchase inexpensive, pre-made tiny cotton skeins for sampling. (Otherwise known as embroidery floss, if you’re interested.) Otherwise, for each dye triangle, I’d have to wind 66 tiny 2-g skeins of silk, which is incredibly laborious and time-consuming. I did it once (with wool) for a couple of Sabraset dye triangles, but I was unemployed at the time and willing to devote several weeks to the project. I’m not willing to do it again.
Another reason I like to dye with fiber-reactive on silk is the color range. I dye using Sabraset acid dyes (which are more fast than the Jacquard acid dyes), and the colors just aren’t as bright and “pure” as the Sabracron F colors. So if I want that glowing purple, I’m pretty much committed to Sabracron F. There are other ways of getting around that (I could also use the Jacquard dyes), but this works well for me.
The last reason I like fiber-reactives is that I can dye more colors at once. Acid dyes require heat, which means I’m limited to what I can fit in a canner on a stove. With fiber-reactive dyes, I can insulate the container with towels, and dye using warm water from the tap. This is important when you’re trying to dye 30+ shades for a single smooth transition! I also find it easier and less fiddly to get level dye results.
So…while I do use acid dyes for many things, for my gradated colors I’ve been using the fiber-reactives.