The Fiber Imp

Adventures in food, fiber, and family


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New Roving Blends In Stock!

Thanks to the wonderful workings of Fedex, my order of roving arrived here 3 days early!  Yippie!  I now have 40 kg of fiber to dye, spin, and snuggle.  I spent the afternoon counting and sorting and generally organising, not to mention trying to decide what I was going to play with first.

I decided to stick with the bamboo as I haven’t dyed any plant based fibers before and it’s always fun to try new things.

I started by soaking the bamboo in a solution of water and urea.

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I then mixed up a solution of water and soda ash, poured this into 3 squirt bottles, and added dyes in the primary colours.  I mix all of my colours from the primaries, it’s simpler than having 60 different jars of dye powder kicking around (you do need to be careful with breaking colours if you do it this way).

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Next I put down a length of saran wrap (about 6 ft long) and ran the bamboo up and down the length of the saran wrap.  This way you get a good length to lay down your colours.  I then use my squirt bottles to paint the roving (give the roving a little sqeeze to help distribute the colours more evenly).

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Once your happy with the colours fold one side of the saran wrap over, then the other (it should make a sort of sausage looking thing), then roll up from one end, and tada, ready to set roving.  The bamboo is dyed with fiber reactive dyes so it’s just left to sit for 6-24 hours depending on the colour you want.  I will leave mine to soak overnight and i’ll give it a rinse in the morning.

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I had a little bit of dye left over so I tried to other methods to see what kind of effects I would get.  One is plunck in bowl, squirt with dye, cover.  And the other plunck in bag, squirt with dye, seal bag.  Pretty simple stuff 🙂

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This is a shot of the setup I use for roving.  I dye 4-100g braids of roving per length of saran wrap and 2 sets per colourway.  Since I generally dye at least 10 kilos of roving per dye day, I mix all my primaries in 4 litre pails.  I use a turkey baster to spread the dyes and small glass bowls to mix individual colours.

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Here’s a sampling of some of the new roving colours for this set!  I’m so glad that spring is coming and I can take a step back from the darker colours.  There’s nothing like a cashmere rainbow to brighten your day!

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Yay! My silk scarves are here!

A few days ago my order of silk scarves came in and i’ve been impatiently waiting to have a dye day. Today is the day!

I decided to let my daughter help out with the dyeing as well.  She’s quite proud of the fact that she’s allowed to help with “adult” jobs now that she’s 6.

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She had lots of fun and did a really good job (there are a few questionable colour combos but that’s half the fun).

The process was pretty basic.  Put saran wrap on the counter.  Lay the silk scarves on the saran wrap in stacks of four.   Mix up your dyes (don’t forget the citric acid).  Start playing.  I use squirt bottles and a turkey baster when I dye, it depends on the effect I want.  Squirt bottles will give you a more speckled look and a turkey baster can cover large areas more evenly.   When I’m happy with the scarves I grab each end and flip the stack over.  I then touch up any spots where the dye didn’t penetrate all the way through.  When the dyeing is done roll up the scarves in the saran wrap and plunk in the steamer for 45 minutes.  You can steam for 1/2 an hour but I like to leave them in a bit extra just to make sure the dye is set.  After steaming let sit until cool.  Place in a hot water bath to remove excess dye.  I use a textile detergent at this point, I also add in a cool soak with dye fixative at the end to make sure the dyes won’t bleed.   Then dry and enjoy!

We dyed 30 scarves and they are currently hanging  in the window to dry.  One thing that I didn’t realise but am very happy about…Silk scarves dry super fast.  I’m so used to yarn and roving that can take a couple of days to dry inside that I had just expected the silk to take ages as well.

I will post some pictures of the finished scarves once they are dry.


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Shop updates

I shipped the kids off to Grandmas (thanks mom!) for a few days to recover from the holiday craziness that happens when you have not one, but 2 Christmas babies, and I decided to have a wonderfully peaceful dye day in the kitchen.  I made 9 colourways of yarn and for the first time, I love them all.  Now I just have to decide which ones will be hidden away in my stash and which make it to the shop…

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And some proper pictures taken with good lighting!  These are availible for purchase but won’t be up in the shop for a week or two.

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