I’ve now done a few more sets of yarn samples for the painted-warp cape, testing out a few more dye approaches for the double weave warps. I started by trying the fuchsia/orange/yellow and deep indigo blue idea, dyeing these three skeins:
The top skein is dyed using Fuchsia and Golden Yellow MX fiber-reactive dyes; the middle skein is dyed using Fuchsia, Soft Orange, and Golden Yellow. The bottom skein is dyed using Strong Navy. (All names are Dharma Trading Company (Procion) MX fiber-reactive dye names.)
What’s interesting about the top two skeins, if you look closely, is that Fuchsia and Golden Yellow strike about equally well on cotton and silk – there’s no difference in darkness in the threads in the top skein, which is only Fuchsia and Golden Yellow. But in the middle skein, which contains Orange as well, there is a noticeable difference in the areas that are orange – the strands of silk yarn (the shinier strands) are lighter, suggesting that the orange dye either absorbs or binds preferentially to the cotton yarn.
You can view this differential dyeing as either a fault or a positive trait. Or both. I happen to like it in the fuchsia/golden yellow/orange skein, and in the dark blue skein below it (where the silk strands are noticeably lighter than the cotton strands). However, it’s dreadfully inconvenient in this green sample, where I wanted different intensities of a single shade of forest green:
As you can see, I wound up with strands of pale yellow-green and bluish moss green instead, because the yellow and blue component dyes struck differently on the silk and cotton. (There’s no such thing as a “pure” green dye, alas.) The result is a gorgeous skein of yarn – that is not at all what I wanted.
I solved the green dye problem by doing what Ian and Teresa (and perhaps a few other people) recommended a few blog posts ago, and overdyeing. I dyed the top skein in the photo below variegated dark blue two blog posts ago; now I’ve overdyed it with gold. Now it’s a lovely dark forest green, with some subtle variation in color – but not nearly as much as the skein below, which was simply painted with green (blue + yellow) dyes in a single pass.
Of course, neither skein is “right” or “wrong”; they’re both attractive color combinations, and both could create beautiful projects. However, the top skein is much closer to the effect I’m looking for, so I will paint one warp blue and then overdye it to get mottled forest green.
And the second warp?
I was not really happy with the combination of fuchsia/orange/yellow and dark blue. I’ve been working with that color combination for quite some time, and this time it didn’t “sing” to me.
Fortunately, I had decided to try another skein of fuchsia and green, this time using Golden Yellow instead of Sun Yellow. This was for technical reasons. Sun Yellow is a weak mixing color, meaning that it takes a LOT of Sun Yellow to shift either red or blue noticeably from its original color. So here’s the first skein, where green + fuchsia produced purple:
One of the things that happened (I think) was that the Sun Yellow simply got overpowered by the blue and the fuchsia dyes, resulting in purple and fuchsia. Golden Yellow is a MUCH stronger mixing color, and better able to hold its own against other colors.
Anyway, the next skein came out beautifully. Here it is, with the first skein (the one that produced fuchsia + purple) below it, for reference:
The first skein has much more subtle color variation, and much less dramatic differences between the threads. It looks much more unified than the other skein.
I think that’s because I applied just enough blue dye that – in the darker threads – the blue dye is the same darkness as the pink threads. I’m not going to go into all the color theory, but keeping the colors similar in darkness means they will blend together visually.
At any rate – I had eyeballed the dye mix for that particular sample, so the next step was to mix up dyes for another set of skeins using much more rigorous (aka, reproducible) measurements. Out came the digital scale and the measuring syringes. And here are the two final samples:
The top sample uses about 1/3 more blue than the bottom sample, so produces a cooler green. (The bottom skein looks more yellow on my screen than it does in real life; the top skein looks bluer than it ought. I could write reams about color inaccuracy in digital photos, but perhaps another time….)
I like the bottom sample better, so will be using that ratio of dyes.
The next step will be to test what my dye application method does on an actual warp. To dye the skein, I simply spread the skein out, dabbed bits of green dye on it, filled in the undyed areas with pink dye, flipped it over, and did the same on the other side. This produced what appeared to be unified areas of color. BUT – I don’t know whether those areas would continue to look unified if the dots and dabs were put into a warp. How would the threads rearrange themselves? How big would the areas of color be? What would it look like once woven?
Interesting questions. I don’t know, and I would like to know before dyeing, beaming, and tying on a monster 2,640-thread warp (20 yards long!).
Since Maryam is tied up with a different project, I’m arranging to borrow my friend Alfred’s Louet Jane table loom, so I can wind, dye, and put on a short warp, weave a little bit, and see what happens.