Over the last two days, I’ve been cleaning up my studio, and also contemplating dye samples. 400 mini-skeins (not warps, just skeins) are landing on my doorstep this afternoon, and I’m thinking about what to do with them. It takes 66 skeins to make a single sample set (see my dyeing page for details), so while it sounds like a great deal, it’s only enough to make 6 sample sets (assuming no botches and assuming I don’t use them for sampling anything else). So I have to choose carefully what I want to sample.
First of all, I’ve been using two different kinds of dye, and both will dye silk. I use an acid dye (Lanaset/Sabraset), and a fiber-reactive dye (Sabracron F). Acid dyes are meant to be used on protein fibers; fiber-reactive dye is meant to be used on cellulose. Both will work on silk, so I could dye my samples with either. So far I like the Sabracron F colors better, but the fiber-reactive dyeing method is not supposed to be good for silk, so I’m interested in exploring acid dyes as well.
(To make matters even more complicated, Sabracron F, like most fiber-reactive dyes, can be used as acid dyes as well. More possibilities!)
Anyway, each type of dye comes with roughly six primaries: cool yellow, warm yellow, cool red, warm red, cool blue, warm blue. There are also some secondary colors which you can’t mix, like Sabraset Violet, and which are quite pretty. But there are 8 possible combinations of just the six primaries, in a single dye type.
There is also dye intensity, expressed as a % of dye relative to the (dry) weight of whatever you’re dyeing. 0.25% DOS (depth of shade) gives a pale result; 2% usually produces a pretty intense color. Shades can shift at lower intensities; just because you got a specific brown at 2% does not mean you will get the same-but-lighter brown at 0.25%!
So now there are 8 possible combinations of primaries, and roughly 8 possibilities for shading (the human eye can only distinguish seven or eight steps between white and black). That’s 64 sets of samples for each set of primaries (and we’re not even including the “interesting” secondaries!). Multiply by two kinds of dye and you get 128 sample sets that you could dye for a full palette.
Makes 6 sets (400 skeins) look totally inadequate, doesn’t it?
So I have to choose carefully, and I’m still mulling over what to do.
Meanwhile, while mulling over dyes, I’ve been busy with more mundane tasks, like cleaning up my studio. One full morning of cleaning later, it is still quite messy, but at least there’s room to move about! So I think I may declare “victory” and start work on other projects.