Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter. (And dye stuff.)

I know, I know. A week late. You see, around here, I'm pantheist with a sort of lean toward Norse paganism and Taoism (they aren't as far apart philosophically as you'd think), and the husbeast is don't-give-a-shit-ist. So we're raising the Goob exposed to all religions and not intensively in any one. The way this applies to us celebrating Easter is, last week we were informed by the in-laws (who've been remarkably tolerant about the whole religion issue) that all religion aside, every kid NEEDS a basket of chocolate and toys in the spring and it MUST be done.

My only comment was something about how if I'd known it was required I'd have done it on the Spring Equinox like normal pagans.

So, today, when the Goob woke up from her nap, I ducked inside her room and said "I think the Easter Bunny has been here." She looked like this at the news:

The Easter bunny HAD been there, because there were tracks through the house (a husbeast family tradition):

One of the bunny hops landed on the cat.

Sorry for the blur; she was annoyed and moving.

Anyway, she followed the tracks through the house:

and got her basket full of candy and puzzles and a Domo (every kid needs a Domo), and was allowed to eat all the candy she wanted all afternoon (another husbeast family tradition), and is at the moment staggering as she races around the house hooting and hollering.

I dread bead-time, and am allowing the husbeast to deal with it, since the 'free candy' was his bright idea. All I will do is sing "Twinkle Twinkle" and run.

However, this afternoon, I found the husbeast taking a photo of this:

An earless chocolate bunny. I kind of laughed, and he informed me it was "blog-worthy". I don't know as he's ever deemed anything blog-worthy before, and it is funny, so there you go.

If Google botches this photo load I swear I'm gonna go kick the husbeast.


Yesterday I was a big vague on the dye process that produced the pound of Purple Trainwreck. I didn't want to bog us all down on details and more discuss the big picture. Inevitably, there were questions (that'll teach me about 'bog'). So here's the explanation.

My terminology was basically 'mordant yarn, fling dye, wash and rinse'. And that IS the basic dye process, in a nutshell.

The mordant I used was good old vinegar. Sometimes I use alum and cream of tartar. They're both reasonably safe. So is citric acid. If and when I ever get a dedicated dye studio (and am not dyeing things in my kitchen, surrounded by food and cooking utensils), I want to play around with iron, tin, and copper sulfides, which are used quite a lot in natural dyeing. (Natural dyeing, it's not the dyes that will kill you. It's the mordants.) Traditional turkey red is madder with an iron mordant, for instance.

The dye I used was Wilton's "Violet" food coloring. Which is in fact a combination of two dyes (food colorings), red 3 and blue 1. (For international terms, you gotta look 'em up. Sorry.) See, red 3 sticks to everything - even things you don't want it to, like THE WATER YOU MIX IT UP IN. Yes, really. So pretty much the instant you pour it on a mordanted protein fiber, it sticks. Bam. Right where it landed. Then the blue 1 sort of soaks in, oozes around, and takes more time 'taking up' into the fiber. You can see it best in these spots off the roving:

In old-fashioned dye lingo, the dye is 'broken', meaning it took up into the fibers in a strange and funky manner, due to how it was handled. Usually this indicates a huge mistake in the dye process, but with this stuff it takes nothing short of a miracle to get it to dye evenly; I've managed it in the past, but it has taken some really crazy handling. Instead, I've quit fighting it and break it on purpose, and call it "Purple Trainwreck". That's where the name comes from. It's broken. It's a trainwreck.

The old adage about ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack comes to mind when dyeing roving, especially this one. The bag this roving came in had the volume of perhaps three quarts (or three liters). Now, I've stuffed it into a big plastic storage tub with a ten gallon/forty liter capacity, and it just fit.

Gonna take forever to spin it. And I'm still not sure how I'm gonna dye The Bells Fiber.


Mandy said...

I always think that is one of the cool things about dying my own fiber with food colors - I never really know what I'm going to get, because the colors do take up so differently. It's an adventure! If I wanted it perfectly even and stuff, I'd just buy it that way, and let someone else stress over it - I do it 'cuz it's fun!

Leonie said...

I just love the faces the goober makes, cracks me up!

The way the dye takes up is interesting, sort of like the way thin layer chromatography on paper works with textas....hey do a tlc on paper with your dye and see if the dye travels the same. Need details of how to? email me. Might make it less hit and miss when trying a new dye if you have some idea of how it travels...

TinkingBell said...

My kids had enormous fun with mordanted (vinegar) yarn, paintbrushes and food coloring - and I had fin microwaving and knitting it for them

3 hours of gigles and remarkable peace. Happy Easter Goober - you will be able to do the painting thing soon - Spray and Wipe gets it off most things if you get it before it dries!

historicstitcher said...

Lovely dye job.

And I'll never understand the fiber-poofing phenomenon...which is the exact inverse if you send raw fiber to the mill. You can send in a 45# bag of raw fiber that barely fits in the bag half of a minivan (ask how I know...) and it'll come back weighing 38# and fitting in a single normal-sized box. Losing 7# to washing and carding is normal, and does NOT account for the missing volume, since as soon as you open the freaking box, you'll never get it back in. Ever.

Donna Lee said...

I love the way it all fluffs up and makes way more than what it looks like in the bag. And the purple trainwreck is one of my favorites. I like the blue/red/white and somewhat purple colors all mixed together. I'll be interested to see how it spins up. Are you just going to pull it into strips and spin it?

Roxie said...

What a happy little face! Love the bed. Love the bunny tracks. Adore the earless bunny!

Wilton Violet, huh? with vinegar? Wheee! Too cool for school!

Anonymous said...

Exciting to know that it was indeed food coloring! Shall have to try it soon.

Galad said...

It is fascinating how the color takes up so differently. It is an adventure every time!

The Goober obviously enjoyed herself and the bunny tracks are inspired. At our house it was a chocolate egg trail (which doesn't work well with pets)

And a good time was had by all :-)

Amy Lane said...

That is ONE happy little pantheist there! Love her expression! Your Easter sounds a lot like mine-- lots of chocolate, some ham-- I guess mine was just a week early. And I'm really excited to see what that roving does when spun... one of my favorite yarns (Arucania) looks like it's dyed like that--the dye is so broken you only ever get a couple of stitches in a row that are the same color.

Robin said...

I love her expression!! I also love the bunny tracks. I used to have some dark gray eye shadow and on Christmas morning EARLY before the boy woke up, I'd touch their noses with the eye shadow. It was supposed to be soot from Santa's finger. You should have seen their eyes when they looked in the mirror!

Alwen said...

Well. I share the Easter belief that kids should get a basket with chocolate. My parallel belief is that moms get to raid the basket, so only buy good chocolate. None of that cheap nasty waxy stuff that doesn't melt in the mouth!

I took the Belief-O-Matic quiz over on and came up Unitarian (100%). Which cracked me up, considering my mom is a Christian Scientist & that's where I went, growing up.

Is Red #3 that brat that sun-fades on silk?