Are you ready? Or more accurately, am I ready? Today marks the first class in the In My Studio Workshop Week for me. I’m excited to be in Karen Miller’s Travel class. I have several sketches from my South Korea trip to work with, and several photos otherwise. I’m looking forward to learning her process for taking an idea to pattern to finished piece.
I finally finished the centre of the South Korean wall hanging! Now I’m onto the border. Last Thursday I dyed some fibre with a friend. Last evening I finished off the dye job. Hopefully these colours will work with the rest of the wall hanging.
I also checked in with the local spinning group via Zoom and spent time at my wheel spinning some gorgeous alpaca. This will not be going into a hooked piece. It will be used for knitting. It is spinning up very fine. Just right for some lace knitting.
I hope this finds everyone well and safe, and looking forward to the week. If you have been, thanks for reading. ❤️
Hi everyone! I thought I’d do an update on the studio makeover. The main part of my studio is ready. However we are storing stuff in it until the basement guest room cum family room cum classroom is completed. The paint is drying as I type!
I’ve been working in my new studio, enjoying it for a couple of months now. It has been a great space to work! I have projects strewn everywhere. I could wish for improved lighting still. But the LED overhead lights are a great start. I wish I had some kind of track lighting to light up my gallery walls. I have two gallery walls at the moment, and hope to have a third before too long.
Check out my current photos. It’s a bit messy because of all the work going on here, but it functions for me. That is good!
My current projects are:
an appliquéd moose wall hanging or cushion cover for my nephew, in memory of his grandfather. I’m not sure which will be better for him.
Fixing a hand quilted quilt I started when I was seventeen. We won’t say how long ago that was!
Dyeing the border colors for my South Korean roof tile end caps wall hanging,
preparing for Workshop Week next week, and
getting the guest room stuff out of my studio!
Hoping to get considerable movement done on these in the next couple of weeks.
Happy Friday everyone! This week was short, but productive. I’ve been busy reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I wrote down everything I had in my mind that needed doing, then created a project list from the things I needed to focus on, and then a next actions list for the list of things to do. I’m swamped! I’m also loving it! But I can’t take on anymore.
I’ve also been working on my South Korean roof tile end cap wall hanging. It’s slow going, but looking better these days. A friend was over to help me pick out fibre for the border. I will be doing some dyeing and overdyeing.
We also went through the poetry wall hangings I want to hook. They are on backing and ready to go. I just have to finish this South Korean wall hanging and swing back to them for awhile.
I’m still sketching the South Korean designs in my sketchbook. Lots to do yet. Plus I’m still working through Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”. I’m enjoying the inspiration of the fall colours around me.
I’ve been listening to Cindi Gay’s rug hooking podcasts while hooking or afterwards. She is a very wise lady full of all kinds of knowledge about rug hooking. I don’t hook the primitive style, but I still learn from her. Thanks for doing the podcasts Cindi!
The last week of October will be a busy week. The In My Studio Workshop Week is on then. I have a Travel class with Karen Miller, a Words and Images class with Elizabeth Miller, and Intuitive Hooking with Meryl Cook. There will also be a group hook-in and a panel discussion I’m looking forward to stepping outside my comfort zone to learn more from these talented teachers and others.
If you’re interested in taking classes I believe there are a few openings left. Contact Karen D. Miller on Facebook and check into the events she is hosting.
If you’ve been reading, thanks! Have a great weekend!
I found myself really fighting my South Korea roof tile end caps wall hanging this week. I decided to not rush it and just work on it briefly each day. Instead I’ve been busy sketching more designs – both of South Korea and from Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”.
Despite spending more time this week drawing designs for South Korea wall hangings, I’m not sure how many will actually make it onto backing. I’m seriously thinking about the viewer, as well as the creative act (by me). There’s a balance that has to be struck there for me. In previous years I hooked too much for the viewer, with the odd exception. Now I’m wanting to get back to the act of just creating. It’s important for me to know what I want to say with my work first though. So I’m thinking.
I’ve been working through Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”. I am paused on finding a design that expresses how I feel joy. I did go and experience a couple of things that give me joy – walking in nature amongst the fall foliage. I picked up a variety of shapes and colors of tree leaves and have been busy designing leaf patterns and templates. But to actually draw joy is another matter altogether. I think I know the color/s of joy for me, but not sure of the shape of it…yet.
Wednesday I joined an In My Studio Zoom meeting to listen to Judi Miller talk about artist residencies. It was a very informative talk about the options available, what you need to have a successful one, and her experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and would like to thank Judi publicly for making the time and effort to do it, and to thank Karen Miller for organizing and facilitating it.
I received my ProChem dye powder shipment this week. I’m looking forward to more dyeing. I’m wanting to dye the pine trees, ocean and skies using Lucy Richard’s spot dye formulas. I’ll be dyeing the old-fashioned way – in the oven – rather than in a microwave I do not have a microwave to dedicate to dyeing, nor a place to put it.
Well that’s my review for this week. If you’ve been reading, thanks! I wish you all a happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, wherever you may be. My next blog post will probably be posted Tuesday. Take care everyone!
I had the delightful pleasure of meeting Susan Logue this weekend when she showed up on my doorstep to look at some wool for a friend. I really enjoyed contact with another rug hooker. Susan wrote the “Past & Present Antique Dyes” books, which I have and have used in the past. It was a fun time chatting with her about rug hooking, and it was nice to meet her friend.
One thing the visit made me realize was how starved I am for other artistic people in my life. I’m enjoying the online classes because of that, but somehow they aren’t the same as real live one-to-one encounters. They have their good points too though. I sure am glad to have the online experience too!
Saturday I tuned in to Lucy Richard’s FaceBook LIVE dye workshop. It was an interesting experience for me. I hadn’t microwave dyed before meeting Lucy. To be able to do a spot dye by microwave is great! And the pine tree, ocean, sky colours were great! If you head over to her website or FaceBook page you can find a link to donate to her video making efforts. If you donate $10 or more your name is entered to win a gift box of goodies. This time she is including the wool she dyed, among other things. It’s a half yard of wool folks…just saying. It’s a great deal! And a great gift. And it keeps Lucy doing videos.
I’m so anxious to get my dye studio up and going. Hubby is finishing painting the upstairs hall and then wants to do the guest room. It will be awhile before he gets to the dye studio/laundry room.
I hooked more on my South Korea roof tile end cap wall hanging. It’s slow going. It’s been awhile since I’ve hooked circles. There are a lot of circles in this wall hanging. It’s a challenge.
I started Meryl Cook’s exercises in her book “One Loop At A Time: The Creativity Workbook”. I was surprised how I could pull out one issue that was really bothering me, journal it positively, and create a rug design in under half an hour! I now have at least an 18”x18” design to put on backing and hook! I may have to expand it to 20”x20” or larger to fit in all the lettering, or cut back on the lettering.
Our sofa beds come today! That means everything will be in the house to finish the studio. It’s been a long haul! I will be so happy to have everything done. Next up will be the dye kitchen. Hubby and I are already talking.
This past weekend has been very productive for me. I was able to select photos from our 2017 trip to South Korea and put them in an inspiration folder on my computer. This past weekend I’ve been sketching possible compositions.
Sketches of South Korea
I will be taking another Karen Miller class tomorrow on materials and techniques. I’ve also signed up to listen to a talk on In My Studio by Judi Miller on artist residences on Oct. 7th. Plus I will be taking part in the Workshop Week through In My Studio the end of October. A busy fall of learning! So nice to be able to do this online.
I have also been hooking more on the South Korea roof tile end caps wall hanging. I am going slow, having stopped several times for dyeing and travels this summer. I am hoping to be finished by Christmas.
I managed to tear my Dorr wool into one yard pieces and wash and dry them in preparation for dyeing. My front loader really shrank the fabric, but it is still great for dyeing and rug hooking. It is all stacked neatly, awaiting dyeing.
I listed the fall colours swatches for sale. There are 15 of them at $3 each + shipping. They are 3” x 16” and Dorr wool. If you’re interested, contact me either here, through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
I also listed the small landscape I hooked using the swatches for sale It is 8” x 5” and unfinished. I’m asking $60CAD “as is”, or $80 CAD if you want me to finish it and include the hidden hanging system. Again, you can either contact me through this website, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
This week I’ll be working more on the South Korea wall hangings. I also want to get the issues surrounding my rug photos and branding sorted out. I am likely going to order more fabric dye powder.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week everyone!
Good morning everyone! It’s been a busy week. Monday I heard from my branding expert. She sent an email instructing me what to do with her files. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to even look at her email till Thursday.
Tuesday it rained and blew and thundered. I spent the morning taking Karen D. Miller’s online design course. It was excellent! It motivated me to sort through my over 1000 photos of South Korea and pull out about fifty or so to work on for wall hangings. Some of those are of the same subject, so in reality I’ve only got about 20 different works of art there…enough to develop a theme. Thank-you Karen! I’m looking forward to the “Materials and Techniques” course next week.
Hubby and I also spent some time Tuesday downstairs hanging more wall hangings on the second wall of the studio. We made the call to put our not yet purchased TV in the guest bedroom, rather than on my studio wall. We can watch it from the sofa bed we’re going to have in that room.
Wednesday Hurricane Teddy was supposed to blow through town, but it didn’t blow very much. So instead I phoned a friend and invited her over for dyeing fibre using Lucy Richard’s Woolly Mason Jar System. We did some spot dyeing and some pot dyeing. We dyed wool fabric while my friend was here.
Dorr wool dyed with the Woolly Mason Jar Dye System.
Drying fibre after dyeing.
After she left I continued dyeing fabric and yarn for my South Korean wall hanging. I also used up the rest of the fall colours dye solutions I’d mixed up a week or so ago. I was rewarded with this beautiful spot dyed piece of wool.
Front of piece.
Back of piece.
Wednesday morning I also received the link to the photos the photographer took of my wall hangings. I have some editing to do.
I also received my shipment from Dorr Woolen Mill Wednesday. I have natural wool for the next 3-5 years! I don’t go through it fast, but when I need it, I really need it. I also purchased some different types of backing to try: bleached linen, monk’s cloth, and rug warp.
Bleached linen, rug warp, and monk’s cloth.
I’ve tried a Walmart version of monk’s cloth before and it was not pleasant to work with. This time I want to try the real stuff for rug hooking.
Likewise I’ve tried rug warp before and found it difficult for my wrist and hand. But I wanted samples for my courses. Now I’ll have them.
The bleached linen is a novelty for me. I normally use unbleached primitive linen. But I’m thinking I might be trying some pieces with exposed backings. We’ll see. If not, I’ll use it for regular hooking.
Thursday my short shank medium Moshimer hooks arrived. If anyone wants one I’ll sell one for $20 CAD plus shipping.
I continue to hook on my South Korean roof tile end caps rug, ever so slowly. I’m going to have to pick up speed. I’d like to be finished it and onto other wall hangings.
If you have been, thank-you for reading everyone. I hope each of us has a wonderful weekend. Take care!
This past weekend we were busy cleaning out the house and preparing the yard for an upcoming tropical cyclone heading our way. Typical fall weather for here, but Hubby and I have never experienced one. We are a bit nervous, but we’re inland a bit so hopefully it won’t be bad.
One of the things we did was hang some artwork up on my studio walls. Check out the photos of them so far. We still have more to hang above the straight row on the end wall.
I’m really enjoying working in my studio and looking forward to the arrival of the sofa bed sometime in early October. That should give me seating for 4 or 5 people, should Covid ever end. Plus it will allow extra sleeping space for guests.
I’ve hit a roadblock on the South Korea roof tile end caps rug. I need to dye some wool from Lucy Richard’s dye system. I’m trying to arrange a time to get together with a friend to do some dyeing. First, I need to check and see how many other colours I’m short on. No point pulling out the dye equipment just for one piece of wool if I need to do more!
I’ve been working with a young woman on branding for my studio. It’s been an interesting and educational experience. I’m looking forward to using my new logo!
I’m slowly building up my gallery on ArtPal.com. I’ll be posting a wall hanging for sale once a day for five days of the week. It will automatically post to Twitter, Instagram, and my FaceBook business page – Jean Ottosen Studios. Follow along, and if you see anything you like, contact me through any of those platforms or through my contact button here on this website.
I had the opportunity of taking Karen Miller’s online course, “Getting Inspired” last Tuesday. It was a great shake me up course. I knew most of the concepts, but had never put them together the way Karen did. She gave me a fresh perspective. It worked great for giving me ideas on how to approach a new series or work of art. Thank-you Karen!
This week I’ll be enjoying another Karen Miller course – All About Design! Check it out by searching for Karen D. Miller on FaceBook. It’s hosted on the Zoom platform. Looking forward to class Karen!
As always, thanks for reading and have a great week!
I’ve seen two or three videos or blog posts on dyeing fall leaves this past week. It seems every dyer has their own twist. Today I thought I’d tell you one of my ways to dye fall leaves. This way is not fast, but it gives fall colours. Plus you can dye larger pieces of fabric with it. Are you ready? Here goes.
First, a safety note: all dye equipment is to be used for dyeing only. Keep separate equipment for dyes and food and store it in a different room. No eating or drinking while in the dye area! It’s too easy to cross contaminate food, drink, and dyes.
For this particular dye job I’ll be using ProChem Washfast Acid Dyes – Sun Yellow (119), Magenta (338), Brilliant Blue (490), and Black (672). I’ll also, roughly, be following Ingrid Hieronimus’ “Primary Fusion” formulas. Very roughly. I never could follow a recipe exactly! I’ll also be using a method called casserole dyeing, or spot dyeing in an old metal casserole pan.
First, soak 1/4 yard of wool, selvedge still on, in a bucket of tepid water with Synthrapol or DAWN Original (blue) dish detergent for 2-6 hours. This is one of the actions that will prevent white core. I forgot to add the DAWN or Synthrapol. I soaked my wool overnight. Hopefully the long soaking will make up for the lack of a wetting agent.
A brief aside here. White core is when the dye does not penetrate the fabric the entire way. A lot of rug hookers do not like the look of it and equate it with an inferior dye job. It means the dye has not adhered to the fabric properly and may rub off or not be lightfast.
My experience has been that white core dye jobs are not as long lasting as other dye jobs. I’m not willing to put white core pieces in a floor rug. I plan to thoroughly soak and overdye white core pieces so the dye does go completely through the fabric.
I also find white core a worse problem on recycled white or light coloured wool. Remember to thoroughly scour or clean all recycled fabrics before dyeing! Soaking in Synthrapol or DAWN Original opens up the fibres to accept the dye. You can also use Jet Dry. You don’t need much folks. Maybe 1/2 teaspoon in a 1 gallon ice cream bucket with your 1/4 yard wool.
A word about soaking wool. Never shock it. If the wool is at room temperature, use room temperature water. Shocking it will felt it. We want it fulled, not stiff like a boiled wool coat. Think of trying to hook with wool from those thick felted wool coats!
Secondly, prepare your dye space. Whether it’s a dedicated dye space with its own stove (my first choice), or your kitchen (my last choice), prepare the space in case you have a spill.
I have a second larger old metal casserole pan I put all my dyes and dyeing equipment in. You can use a cookie sheet with sides lined with paper towel or newspaper…anything to soak up dye spills. I also place my casserole pan on newsprint, a large paper bag, or paper towel. I prefer to reuse the newspaper. What I’m after is some way to protect my countertop.
Get all equipment out and handy. I use a measuring cup, measuring spoons (in my case, special dye spoons AND regular measuring spoons dedicated to dyeing), and 60 ml. syringes for this dye job. I also have a set of tongs specifically for dyeing. The tips of mine point down, not straight out. You can use chopsticks and a dedicated large dye spoon to manipulate the wool should you not have the tongs.
Third, prepare yourself! That means: bib apron, eye protection, face mask, and gloves (preferably latex or thin gloves that you unscrew and screw on dye powder jar lids). Wear closed toe shoes!
Now you’re ready to dye your fabric.
Line a 9×13” metal casserole pan with tin foil, shiny side up.
Arrange damp fabric in hills and valleys, all scrunched up, in the tin foil lined metal casserole pan.
Wearing protective equipment, place the dry dye powders in the bottom of a dry measuring cup dedicated to dyeing only. Add a bit of boiling water. Stir with chopstick until completely dissolved. Add water to make 1 cup.
Pour or syringe the tops of one half of the “hills” evenly in your first colour. I recommend going from light to dark. So apply the Sun Yellow first. Then the oranges and reds. Followed by a green, and a reddy brown. Bear in mind that colours do not always work out as you wished and you have to adjust as you go. Go ahead and adjust.
You don’t have to use all the dye solution if you don’t want to. You can store it in labeled glass jars for later use.
Add water to the side of the pan to 1/2”, if there isn’t already a 1/2” of liquid there. Cover with a tin foil lid. Pop into a 350 degrees F oven for half an hour.
Mix 1 teaspoon citric acid OR 3.5 tablespoons white vinegar (5% acetic acid) and hot water to make 1 cup. Stir to dissolve. Pour evenly over wool. Replace tin foil cover and bake another hour at 350 degrees F.
Pull out of oven, remove tin foil cover, check to see if all the dye has soaked into the wool. The water in the pan should be clear. If not, let the wool cool in pan until it has. This may take overnight.
When the fibre has taken up all the dye, rinse in water the same temperature as the wool. Squeeze gently to remove excess water and hang to dry. If desired, press it before cutting and using.
Hi everyone. I thought now would be a good time to review the results of the dye workshop with my niece last weekend. The workshop actually lasted from Thursday evening to Monday.
Her request was to learn to dye patterns with vegetable dyes. She wanted bright colors on cotton and silk. I’m afraid I disappointed. But that was largely because she wanted to use beets and blueberries, thinking they’d be good dyes. They aren’t. They’re fugitive dyes. We did have onion skin and carrot tops otherwise, and Staghorn Sumac leaves.
We found the carrot top dye to be one that develops color later. Things dyed with it were noticeably greener after being left in the dye bath 24 hours, and then left to dry out of the dye bath a further 24 hours. Nothing about natural dyeing is fast.
The onion skin dye did not dye as dark as we had hoped.
The wild card for us was Staghorn Sumac. I had heard it makes a great mordant for cotton, so I asked my sister and niece to collect some of it. They did, in spades! I made a mordant bath and put a lot of cotton in it. It turned a lovely shade of yellow that deepened with a subsequent alum and cream of tartar mordant bath. When left overnight we achieved a nice mottled effect, and when rinsed, the color paled a bit. But it was still significantly brighter than we had anticipated.
We could not get the blueberry or beet dye solutions to stick to the sumac treated cotton, however the sumac yellow was beautiful on its own!
I pre-mordanted most of the cloth before I left for PEI to teach my niece dyeing, thinking it would give brighter colors. There were a variety of pre-mordants:
Dyer’s alum (potassium aluminum sulphate),
Alum (aluminum sulphate),
Tea (decaf Earl Grey)/Dyer’s alum/washing soda,
Dyer’s alum/washing soda,
Dyer’s alum/cream of tartar,
Sumac leaves/Dyer’s alum/cream of tartar,
Rust/tea (Orange Pekoe).
For dye solutions we made up:
beet = 3 long cylindrical beets, peeled, in 2 quarts water. Brought to boil, then simmered for 2 hours.
blueberry = 3 c. thawed frozen blueberries and 6 c. of water simmered 1-2 hours.
carrot tops =478 grams carrot tops + 2 gallons of water. Used a 1:5 ratio of tops to fabric. Brought to a simmer over medium low. Turn to below a simmer and steam for 1-2 hours.
sumac = 338 grams sumac leaves to 2 gallons water. Used 500 grams of cotton fibre. Bring to simmer and steam fabric overnight (12-24 hours).
sumac, alum, and cream of tartar = half of the sumac mixture above with 4 tsp. Dyer’s alum + 1 1/2 tsp. washing soda for every 100 grams of fibre. Add fibre and heat to simmer. Turn off heat and let sit 24 hours.
We used cotton and silk fabric. In my samples I included wool and pantyhose that had been stripped of dye previous to dyeing.
Results? Not the best. We achieved great color with the beet (pink) and blueberry (purple), as my unwashed samples attest. However, I am waiting a week before I try and set them. We heat set the beet with an iron, after finding that the salt or vinegar assists on silk simply washed out the color. We hope the heat setting made a difference.
The blueberry will need to be set with salt on the cotton and vinegar on the silk. My niece has a nicely dyed silk scarf with blueberry tie dye. I’m afraid it will be toast as soon as we introduce vinegar to it. We’ll see. I’ll experiment with my samples again.
Onion skin was great on my samples, but not on the actual tie dyed cloth. I suspect it’s because the samples were left in the dye bath overnight. I achieved great color on wool and silk. Even the pantyhose showed a great yellow. When we used it with my niece it was on an unscoured, unmordanted piece of cotton. I did not expect much and was rewarded by disappointment on my niece’s part. We tried to use it to spot dye some other fabric, but it just didn’t take in the short time we had…even though we did let some of the tie dyed items sit overnight. Other colors were stronger.
Such as sumac. The Staghorn sumac leaves were the surprise of the event. They gave a firm and fast clear pale yellow on their own. They did not dye the pantyhose and there is no discernible difference on the tea mordanted cotton.
What surprised us was when the Dyer’s alum and cream of tartar were added. The dye bath turned a bright yellow! We had a lot of cotton in the dye bath, so I’m surprised everything stayed as yellow as it did. My niece had a t-shirt she wanted dyed and it was a nice mottled yellow after sitting in the dye bath for 24 hours. There was a lot of sediment in this dye bath. It paled a bit in color, but held its yellow even after being washed with regular detergent in the washing machine.
Then there were the carrot tops. We discovered you really need to wait 24 hours for the fabric to fully dry before the color develops. Mostly, though, it has settled out to a nice pale yellow, except on silk pre-mordanted with alum. There it produced a bright, clear, almost neon yellow. On the silk scarf my niece spot dyed the carrot tops produced a nice green hint throughout after being left to sit overnight.
Here are the “finished” products…not hopeful they will stay as they are!
A useful experiment though, and one that taught my niece and I a lot about natural dyeing with vegetables. Next time I go back to my serious natural dyeing with madder, cochineal, etc. That’s if my niece wants more dyeing experience. She is already proficient in using Dylon dyes for tie dyeing, and may just want to stick to that in the future. We did talk about trying different dyestuff, and not just giving up based on blueberry and beet. There’s a whole plant kingdom out there to explore!
Hello everyone! This weekly review is on the various books and websites used this past weekend at my niece’s. She wanted to learn patterned natural dyeing, not dyeing all one colour. She also is interested in growing a dye garden.
I taught her some of the natural dyeing I knew, and we spent one afternoon with Linda Wallbank, a spinner and weaver, who just happens to also knit and dye. She grows her dye plants in amongst her vegetables. So we checked out her garden too, and her animals – alpacas, llamas, and horses.
At any rate, aside from Linda’s and my expertise, I also used a bevy of dyeing books and websites to help us on our natural dyeing journey. Here are some of the websites I found useful:
I also took the opportunity to make use of my natural dyeing library with this workshop. I found the following books useful.
“Wild Color” by Jenny Dean
”The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing” by Eva Lambert and Tracy Kendall
”The Craft of the Dyer” by Karen Leigh Casselman
”The Dyer’s Garden” by Rita Buchanan
”Natural Processes in Textile Art” by Alice Fox (rust dyeing)
”Harvesting Color” by Rebecca Burgess
”Natural Dyes” by Judy Hardman and Sally Pinhey
”Eco-Colour” by India Flint
”Shibori” by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, Mary Kellogg Rice, and Jane Barton
”Stitched Shibori “ by Jane Callender
While we didn’t do any shibori per se, we did spend a lot of time on tie dyeing. Looking at shibori books inspired my niece to stretch her tie dye design repertoire. We surfed the Internet and found some interesting patterns to try.
The top three useful books for this particular workshop were: “Wild Color”, “The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing “, and “The Craft of the Dyer”. Having said that, we did have difficulty getting beet dye and blueberry dye to stick to the pre-mordanted cotton fabric, no matter whose instructions we used! And of course, we discovered they are both fugitive dyes. While I suspected the beet dye of being fugitive before we started, I did not know what to think of blueberry, having never used it. Other dyes we used were: carrot tops, onion skins, and staghorn sumac leaves.
All in all we had a great time experimenting, and the above resources were a great help. Check them out if you’re interested in natural dyeing!
This a continuation of my mordant post last Friday.
There are lots of mordants out there. Mordants cause dyes to be more lightfast, or to fade less. They act as a bridge to hold the dye to the fabric. Different types of fabrics use different mordants. Sometimes in different combinations and order. Here are some of the more common ones, and some not so common ones, I have used.
Dyer’s alum (potassium aluminum sulphate) – wool and silk
alum (aluminum sulphate) – wool
copper (copper sulphate) – wool
iron (an old rusted steel horseshoe or spike) – wool and silk
black tea – wool, silk, and cotton
Staghorn sumac leaves (used with Dyer’s alum and cream of tartar on cotton) – cotton
onion skins (a mild mordant that I use with other mordants) – wool, silk, and cotton
Modifiers can be added to change or alter colours or pH of the dyebath too. It is usually added after the dye. These help to ‘set’ the dye. Some of these are listed below.
cream of tartar
The biggest concern with mordants is always safety. Mordants are needed for natural dyeing, but you can have too much of a good thing. I won’t use the iron powders sold because they are too dangerous. Likewise with copper sulphate. I used it once and will not do so again. Nor tin, nor chrome. Alum is a much safer alternative.
The key to successful and safe mordant use is to exhaust the mordant bath before disposing of it. That means saving it and using it over and over again until it no longer works. Checking the pH with a pH strip to make sure it’s neutral before disposal is a good idea too.
The above is before dyeing. After dyeing you may get results like below…
You can see the difference a mordant or modifier makes!
Hi everyone! This weekly review is a bit different. If you’ve followed along on my blog, Instagram (@jeanottosen), or Facebook (JLT Studios) you know I’ve been planning to do some natural dyeing. So this past week I prepared some nylon, wool, cotton, and silk for natural dyes. I’m still working on the process, exploring colours and mordants.
What is a mordant? Natural dyes often need help sticking to fibre. A chemical or agent called a mordant does this job. It can be something as simple as the tannin found in tea. Or it can be a more complex and dangerous metal like tin, or chrome, which I do not use due to health and environmental concerns.
The most common mordant is alum in its various states: potassium aluminum sulphate (Dyer’s alum), aluminum sulphate (pickling alum), and aluminum acetate (used on cotton). My preferred mordant is Dyer’s alum. I have never tried aluminum acetate. Aluminum sulphate has the benefit of being safe to use, but doesn’t give as bright or clear colours as Dyer’s alum.
There are many ways to apply a mordant:
You can apply it before dyeing the fabric. This is called pre-mordanting.
You can apply it at the same time you dye the fabric by adding it to the dye bath. This is called simultaneous mordanting or meta-mordanting.
Or you can add it after the dyeing is done. This is called post mordanting.
Plus to make things interesting, using different mordants, and different combinations of mordants, and different times of application, changes the colour of your cloth.
To complicate matters further, you can use two or three mordants on a piece of cloth at any point in the process. Cotton, for example, absorbs and hold dyes better if it has a tannin mordant followed by at least one alum mordant before even hitting the dye pot! Some people prefer to follow the tannin mordant with two alum mordants.
Do you see the excitement and intrigue for me? Lots of potential to experiment! And that’s what I’ve been doing!
This week I’ve been cleaning (known as scouring) cloth to remove any finishes that might get in the way of dye absorption. I have also been pre-mordanting wool, cotton, and silk.
Follow along and hopefully this coming week I’ll have some photos, formulas, and stories to tell!
The contents vary according to the types of dyeing I’m doing, but for my most recent round of natural dyeing it consists of a medium sized Rubbermaid tote which contains:
Liquid one cup measuring cup,
Measuring spoons for measuring powders,
Mordants to set the dyes,
Washing soda (a.k.a. soda ash or sodium carbonate),
Small/medium/large syringes without needles for applying dye solution to fabric,
Wooden spoon for stirring cloth in my dye vat,
An enamel pot for mordanting and dyeing,
A kitchen weigh scale,
Metal casserole pans for spot dyeing,
Tin foil to line the casserole pans,
An old dish rag or dish towel to wipe up spills,
Dye samples for the workshop,
Fibre to dye,
Scissors for snipping and tearing fabric,
Synthrapol or mild dish detergent to soak the fibre in to prepare it for dyeing,
A strainer to separate natural dye material from the dye solution,
pH strips to test water,
A small sample finished project,
A one litre spray bottle, and
Any items particular to my specific dye workshop.
I take dye records and formulas in a binder separately from the dye kitchen. No room in the tote by the time I’ve gathered all that! I also take my reference books, if any, separately.
I just bought a metal pot too big for the Rubbermaid tote to use to scour, or clean, my fibre before dyeing it. Normally I wouldn’t take that to a workshop. I’d scour my fabric at home beforehand. But this time I’m teaching my niece how to scour cotton and silk, so it’s going with us. We will be doing some rust dyeing as well, so I have rusty metal in my dye kit.
And that’s it. That’s what’s in my portable dye kitchen. Do you have a portable dye kitchen? What is in yours?
Hello everyone. I’ve had a great week! We came back from Scots Bay, Nova Scotia earlier in the week. I spent the last day organizing myself for September.
I have a niece who wants to learn natural dyeing. So I put together a bit of a binder of information and selected a book to give her that has clear explanations with lots of illustrations and photographs. I’ve been planning a simple workshop for her using onion skins.
I also put together a portable dye kitchen to take over the next time we visit. We will spend a few days dyeing cotton and silk with her. I have wool, nylon, and silk to dye. We’ll be doing spot dyeing, shibori rust dyeing, and tie dyeing. She already does tie dyeing with synthetic dyes. She specifically asked to make cloth with a pattern, not all one even colour.
I have instructions for everything either printed out, in a book I’m giving her, or online. I ordered a few natural dyeing books the other day and a few have already arrived. I’m taking them to my niece’s as well, mostly for her mom and I to look at.
Then I reconnected with a friend. In February we went to a workshop together. She was an observer while I actually did the work and made notes. It was a weird arrangement, but it worked. It was supposed to be a private workshop for me, but the instructor graciously let my friend attend and watch.
Now my friend is all excited. She has the tools, the dyes, and the formulas. She wants to learn. So I’m off to her place sometime in September to have fun in the dye pots using ProChem dyes.
The same friend was gifted some Procion MX dyes and supplies, which are primarily designed for cellulose fibres like cotton, linen, hemp…plant based fibres. I once took a workshop in that and have a couple of books on it, so I offered to help with that too.
I’ve been busy planning for the blog future as well. I’m trying to think of fascinating (?!) topics to share with my readers. If anyone has any ideas of rug hooking related topics they would like me to write about, feel free to leave a comment or send me a comment under the “Contact” tab at the top of the page.
That’s it for this week folks! I’ll leave you with a photo of work in progress. 😊
I was on a wonderful trip to New Brunswick this past weekend. Partly to see family and partly to deliver all my scrapbooking cabinets and supplies. While there I had the opportunity to visit the gardens at the Irving Plantation in Bouctouche. I took a lot of photographs and did some sketching.
While in New Brunswick I also stopped at the Art Shack store in Moncton. It’s a friendly little store with knowledgeable staff. I picked up a couple of watercolour pads for my next retreat. I’m hoping to go to the cottage again before fall – this time for photography, sketching, painting, and hooking.
Frenchy’s!!! Need I say more? All the local rug hookers know Frenchy’s means fun! We stopped in Shediac and I went into a Frenchy’s thrift store for the first time in about ten years the other day. To be fair I lived about 1500 miles from the nearest Frenchy’s up until six months ago. I spent half an hour in the store and came out with two silk blouses, a wool skirt, a long wool vest, and lots and lots of pantyhose. Total cost was under $45 CAD.
What am I going to do with this haul? I am going to wash it, deconstruct it, and dye the nylons in preparation for rug hooking. Then I will cut it into swatches and strips to use some and sell some. It all sounds like a fun time to me!
That’s it for today folks. I hope you all have a wonderful week.
I’m beginning to think there’s no such thing as a bad dye job in rug hooking. The fibre can always be used somewhere, or at the very least overdyed to make it fit in, or marry, with other fibres.
Earlier this week I made an effort to dye some fibre to replace a plaid. It was for a kit I’ve since backed down on. It didn’t work. I’ve decided kits are low on my priority list.
Back to the dye job that didn’t work. I used two techniques – spot dyeing, where you sprinkle a bunch of spots of dye over scrunched up material and bake in an oven, and painting on wool, where you actually take a paint brush to the wool and paint the dye on. But here’s the rub. I didn’t use paint brushes. I used small 10 cc syringes without the needle.
The spot dyed wool looked better once it dried, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the painting-on-wool fabric looked when hooked! Check this out!
I can certainly see trees in the darker painting-on-wool pieces at the bottom of the photo. Yes, the bottom three samples are painting-on-wool. I layered three pieces on top of each other, and thereby sealed my demise. It was a mistake. When painting-on-wool I must remember to do one layer only.
My other mistake was not having a spray bottle to mist the dye setting agent on the fabric. That meant I had to add liquid with the setting agent in it. It was too much liquid.
We all learn from mistakes and I definitely learned from mine. And, thankfully, I managed to make some beautiful wool to hook into my wall hangings.
I hope everyone is having a good week. I’ll write more later!
It’s been overcast and rainy, interspersed with the odd sunny day since I last posted to the blog. During the sunny days I’ve been working in the yard. On the rainy days I’ve been working on organizing the house and my studio.
I’ve also been designing my first rug hooking kit to send away. It’s an attempt at “The Wind”. I’ve been in business eight years now and have shied away from doing kits. That is primarily because a lot of the fibre I use is “as is” textures from the 1960s – 1970s which I purchased from my rug hooking teacher. I just can’t find them anymore, especially the plaids.
So today I’ve been trying to replicate a plaid, or come close to it, with a spot dye. It’s drying now. I tried to use a painting on wool technique earlier, but it did not work. However it did result in a gorgeous green/gold piece of wool! It’s a one-of-a-kind piece of wool. I have a lot of those…
Another reason I shy away from designing kits is because I paint with wool strips, one strip and colour at a time. I work with values a lot. It would be very difficult for another person to duplicate my work. It just isn’t doable, even if they had the same textures. So whatever kit I prepare is going to look slightly different than the original.
Yesterday I was busy dyeing tree trunks – gradated spot dye with Majic Carpet chocolate brown and black. I think it’s a bit on the dark side, but the darker values can be used for backgrounds. The three lighter shades will go in the kit for the tree trunk. However, they are not the exact same colour as the original tree trunk. The dye formula has gone missing in the move.
I’m enjoying getting back into dyeing and handling fibre again. I love colour and creating with it. I hope the recipient of the kit is happy with it and the end result.
Hello! I had a fun week this week. I was able to attend a short workshop with Lucy Richards and a friend of mine. It was hosted by Diann McDonald, an Oxford punch certified instructor. It was a great chance to meet Diann and get to know Lucy’s Wooly Mason Dye system. I was picking up my set of cool colourway ProChem dye cards while there. So excited to have my dye jars made and ready to go! Thank you so much Lucy and Diann! The eight value spot dye swatch turned out perfect by the way.
Aside from dyeing fabric I also finished reading Karen Miller’s book “Eyes Open to the World”. It was very interesting and I can hardly wait for her second book to come out. Only one suggestion, and it’s a practical one…Karen, ask your publisher to put a sturdier cover on your next book. I’m afraid I’ve managed to bend this one. Hubby, a retired librarian, and I are contemplating ways to reinforce it so it can withstand the wear and tear I’m going to be giving it. We think our best bet is to head to Staples and see if they can do anything with it. Thank-you for a great read!
I finished the second bed sock now. They’re a bit big, but nice and comfy for bed.
I haven’t had much time for the appliqué quilt this past week. Must get back to that. I would like to have the top finished by summer. I had some wonderful rug hooking friends donate some old freezer paper to the cause. For some reason freezer paper is difficult to find locally. I am doing freezer paper appliqué and will need a fair quantity of it.
We’ve finished house hunting folks! We’ve found a cute little split level with 2 bedrooms up and 1 down. It’s in a nearby community close to Halifax, N.S. It’s an R2000 home, meaning it’s warm. It needs updating in the baths and kitchen, but it’s small enough we can handle it. Other than that, it’s just a case of painting. I’m very happy and we’re excited to get into it…which won’t be until April at the earliest. We’ll see. Lots to do before then anyways!
I’m knitting cushion covers for the new living room furniture. The yarn is Sublime Organic Cotton DK. It’s showing the patterns beautifully! I’m using stitch dictionary books from a used bookstore and a garage sale as guides for ideas: Mon Tricot’s “Knitting Dictionary Stitches Patterns” and Maria Parry-Jones’s “The Knitting Stitch Bible”.
I finished the “Heart” wallhanging and am hooking matching coasters. These are fun pieces for around Valentine’s Day. They probably won’t be ready this year, but they will be ready for next year!
I hope my readers enjoyed reading and have a productive week. Take care!
Our stuff has arrived! We are truly and for good moved to the east coast of North America!
We had a fairly uneventful trip east, aside from Hubby picking up food poisoning in Northern Ontario. We spent an extra night in Thunder Bay before moving on to Sault Ste. Marie. Other than that we made a few visits with relatives along the way.
We stopped in at the rectory in Chelsea, QC. It is home to an artists co-operative involving over 100 different artists! Some very interesting fibre work happening there.
We also stopped in to visit Lucy Richards in her home in Moncton, NB. She is the source of the Woolly Mason Jar system of dyeing fibre. I purchased one of the color card sets and some accessories to try her system next year, when we move into our new place.
We arrived in Halifax area last Monday and just set up our technology today. Too much to do otherwise! We’ve checked in with one child, but not the other. We’ve had a winter storm and Hubby is sick with a cold. We will hopefully see the other next week.
I’ve been to a SCRABBLE night with the ladies and, with their help, came in second in the game I was playing. They are very friendly people.
Our host likes games, so Friday night pizza and games continues! We may switch up the meal part a bit, which is fine by me. I’ve eaten a lot of pizzas in my lifetime!
We’ve been exploring the area where we’ve landed. We’ve discovered a pharmacy not far away, a few grocery stores, and some good restaurants. Our host is a wonderful source of where to buy things cheap! She’s a great recycler/make doer!
We’ve been to the Health Department for new health cards. Next up is to use them. This week is doctor week. I’m stressing over it already.
We’ve also discovered we are next to a beautiful small lake. In fact, we are on a hill and you can see the lake through the trees. Great for walking! Hubby has been on several walks, but I’ve been a bit slower to partake. I’m tired and still have my ‘cough’.
In fibre news, I’ve been spinning a lovely red purple Merino wool for my South Korean rug. I’ve yet to process the yarn, but will take a photo when I do.
I also have some golden yellow and lemon yellow Merino to spin together. I think. I’m not sure. The golden yellow is in the landscape down here in summer and fall (goldenrod). The lemon yellow is more of a stretch for this landscape. I’ll have to think on it before I combine the two.
I found my knitting today and think I’ll work on it as well. I’m still working on that Ravelry Dropped Stitch Scarf from home spun alpaca and silk.
I’m also checking out the rug hooking collection at the nearest library. I have a few books to read the next few week – a couple on silk stocking mats, and Karen Miller’s book.
Well folks, have a great week! Hope all goes well with everyone!
There are resources out there to help you in choosing a dye powder and mordant, and that tell you how much to use. I highly recommend checking them out. The following are my suggestions and opinions based on what I’ve used in the past 33 years of dying.
One resource is Karen Casselman’s “Craft of the Dyer”, which goes through various mordants for wool and has a handy chart that shows you how much of a mordant to use for one pound of wool. She focuses on dyeing with lichen, which can be difficult to find in parts of the country.
Another is “Dyeing Wool and Other Protein Fibers: an introduction to acid dyes” by Susan Rex. The author provides a comparison between the more common dyes and provides formulas for figuring out how much you need of each type to get the color you need. This is a difficult to find resource and you are more likely to find it on a used book site like Abes Books.
Note: neither of these books is for the faint of heart or the beginner. These are detailed dye books for the intermediate to advanced dyer.
For beginner dyers, I recommend Majic Carpet dyes. These are food grade dyes, but don’t be fooled. From the distributor of Majic Carpet dyes “My dyes are professional grade acid reactive dyes…Majic Carpet Dyes are for master dyers and beginners and everyone in between.” (please see comment section below for further comments about the dyes from Wanda Kerr). You still need a mask everyone! And separate utensils and pots.
While I enjoy using Majic Carpet dyes, and have used them for years, I also have found them to not be as lightfast as other dyes. However, lightfastness can also be affected by the dyeing process and the mordant you use. I used to use vinegar, but now use citric acid.
Books using Majic Carpet dyes are: Barbie Baker-Dykens dye books (“Formation of New Formulae” and “Basic Color Theory”), or Susan Logue’s “Past & Present Antique Colors & Spots”, Christine Little and Susan Logue’s “Antique Colors and Spots – Book II”, Christine Little’s “SkyBluePink With a Green Smell – Book I”, and “Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes – Book 1”, available from Encompassing Designs in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.
If you want to use ProChem dyes there are a multitude of dye books out there too. I like Gene Shepherd’s “Prepared to Dye”, but I also bought the DVDs for the book to clarify some issues. If I had to choose between one or the other, I’d buy the DVDs first.
There are a lot of dyeing resources available. Many more new ones since I started dyeing. Plus if you search the Internet you can find detailed instructions on different dyeing methods. Just make sure they are suited to the fibre you are dyeing.
Silk and wool are animal fibers and take up dye differently and use different dyes than cotton or synthetics. Nylon will dye with the same dyes used on silk and wool, but all three will take up color differently. I find silk to be the lightest, then wool, and then nylon the darkest. Also some colors are made up of more than one color pigment, and different fibers prefer to take up different colors. Meaning you could put nylon, silk, and wool in a medium green dye bath and get a blue green nylon, a light yellow green silk, and a wool closer to the desired green color. Of course, this also depends on the dye used.
So there’s a few resources for you to work with to get started. If you have any favorite resources, post them below. We’d like to know.
Hi all! Time for another edition of Dyeing Tips. 🙂 Bear in mind these tips are ones I go by when dyeing the bright colors I prefer to use in my wall hangings. Whether your color is lightfast or not (lasts a long time) depends a lot on the type of dye and chemical used to set the dye, as well as the methodology used for dyeing. I hope this helps people.
Depending on the wool, pre-wash it before dyeing. Because my yarns are not pre-washed, I don’t pre-wash a lot of my fabric. However, I simmer both yarn and fabric in the dyeing process, so they are ‘fulled’, or partially felted, when they dry out. Any undyed fabric or commercial fabric is pre-washed (for example, up cycled fabric or fabric I want to use off the bolt). It should be noted here that I am creating wall hangings, not rugs for the floor. You may feel more comfortable running everything through the washing machine and dryer before hooking, especially if it is a floor rug made completely from wool fabric.
Soak fibre in water with Synthrapol or DAWN original dishwashing liquid soap overnight before dyeing. Not doing this can cause the dye to absorb unevenly on wool fabric, leaving the inner part of the wool white and the surface blotched. When the inner part is left white after dyeing we call it “white core”. It is not good as the color doesn’t stay on the surface of the wool fabric as long as it normally would.
Squeeze out the soaked wool and rinse before putting in the dye bath. Some people dye with the Synthrapol in the dye bath. I find it bothersome as the foam or suds get in the way of seeing how well the color has absorbed. Plus the dye bath seems to have a greater tendency to boil over.
Never ‘shock’ the wool. If it’s been sitting in cold water overnight, put it in cold water on the stove and heat up gradually. It usually takes 15 minutes on my stove to go from cold to simmering.
Dyeing wool should be simmered, not boiled to death! We’re fulling the wool, not boiling it for a coat. Also, dyes absorb best at a certain temperature…simmering or just below simmering.
A word about mordants. A mordant is the agent used to set the dye. Rug hookers often use vinegar or citric acid, but you can also use dyer’s alum and other chemicals. Add the mordant according to directions. You can pre-mordant, simultaneous mordant, and add mordant after the dye stuff is added. I prefer to add the mordant once the fibre has been in the dye bath and comes to a simmer (approximately 15 minutes on the stovetop). Be careful not to add too much mordant. It will make the fabric stiff in some cases (alum) and cause it to disintegrate prematurely.
Vinegar acts as a mordant, but is really a ‘modifier’. It does not hold color for very long compared to other mordants. I prefer Citric Acid for this. Though dyer’s alum is good too. There are many different types of mordants and before use one needs to research the safety requirements and suitability for the fibres they are dyeing. A word about alum: be sure you have dyer’s alum and not regular alum. Dyer’s alum is a different chemical that gives different colors.
Leave the fibre in the dye bath until all the color has been absorbed. This usually takes 45 minutes to an hour on my stove. I suggest ‘cooking’ the fibre for one hour after it comes to a simmer. Not leaving the wool in the water long enough can also result in white core. It can also result in the color fading more quickly than it would otherwise.
And last, but not least, keep a record of everything you do. That way if you have to go back and dye more, at least you have a guideline to go by. Better to have something in writing than counting on your memory or trying to color match a swatch or stripette (worm) by eye. Ask me how I know!
There you go! Those are my general tips for dyeing fibre. I’ll post another final post on dyeing resources next week. Have a great weekend everyone!
Someone suggested they would like to hear more about dyeing on my blog. Often you see I will share photos of dyeing in progress and the finished fibre. But I rarely share dye formulas or methodology. There’s a reason for that: there are a lot of variables in dyeing.
Different brands of dye react differently to fibre. Different fibre respond differently to the dyes. Different chemicals in the water can cause a color to come out differently. Depending whether you’re in the city on municipal treated water, or country on well water, you can get different colors. Sometimes in the city different chemicals will be added to the water different times of year, resulting in different results in the dye bath. Also there’s the question of mordant – what you use to set the dye. Different mordants give different colors too. And there are more variables yet.
While dyeing can be a fun experiment, to actually dye a specific color twice can be a challenge. That is why commercial yarn dyers use dye lots on their balls of yarn. The best advice I can give in the dye business is to dye more than you think you’ll need for a project. Better too much than too little.
As for safety in dyeing? Always wear a mask to protect your airways from breathing in dry dye powder when you mix the dye powder with water before adding it to the dye bath.
Wear rubber/latex gloves to handle the dye powders. Dye powders can make a person very sick, so be cautious!
When mixing the fibre in the dye bath there are special dye gloves you can use that insulate you against simmering water. These are nice for just picking up fibre and transferring it between pots, sink, etc. They come in different sizes, like regular rubber gloves and the latex gloves.
Always work in a well ventilated room. When I dye in winter it is only on warm days when I can open the windows and doors and get a cross breeze flowing through the house. I keep the fan on in the kitchen at all times.
Protect the surfaces you are working on with newsprint or an old cookie sheet with sides that you are designating specifically for dyeing, or both. I actually have an old metal cookie sheet with sides that I line with newsprint flyers to set my dyes on and mix them.
It goes without saying whatever touches dye does not touch your mouth or get used for food consumption in any way, shape, or form. Keep a separate measuring cup and measuring spoons for dyeing. As well as a separate large wooden spoon, tongs, and dye pot.
Akin to the above rule is “Do NOT eat while you are dyeing fibre”. There are too many chances for things to go wrong. If you must eat, do it in another room. Do not prepare food around the dyeing process either. You would be surprised how easy it is for dye to spatter or loose powder to get on the countertop without you knowing. I just don’t risk it.
Have a roll of paper towels/some old dishcloths designated as dye cloths to wipe up spills. Comet will wipe up stains on laminate countertops. Not sure about granite and the like. Wash the dishcloths separately from your other laundry and store them with the dye equipment.
Never leave the dye pot unattended. It boils over easily in my experience. Nothing like a dye bath mess to clean up on your stove!
That’s about it for the first post on dyeing. Catch up with you later for more!
Hi everyone. This week I’ve been busy dyeing fibre in-between being sick with a cold. I must admit, the humidity from the dye pot is soothing on my system. I’ve been opening the window a bit to air out the place. Right now our temperatures are well above freezing. Hopefully tomorrow I can do some more dyeing.
I’ve embarked on a hooked wall hanging project based on our South Korean trip that uses different colors and a different palette than I’m used to using. I don’t have those colors in my stash. Consequently there is a lot of dyeing to do. I am only about half done. So far I have dyed silk, wool, and nylon. Also yarn and fabric in both silk and wool, and some old nylons. I am getting some lovely mid-tone colors.