Harrisville Highland

The great dye experiment of 2013, Part 1

I have been forced to do some experimentation with my dye procedure lately. As I related in THIS POST, I have been having difficulty getting the very light colors to dye evenly. So I was very very careful with the next batch of light colors which was a very light orange and a very light gray. The first go-around with the gray was a disaster. I've never had this much of a disaster actually. I am that kid who got straight A's in high school and when my Spanish teacher gave me an A- one quarter (and it should be noted that that was the quarter I was home sick on the couch for 3 straight months and I was doing the material on my own), I flipped out. I was not the child who got an A-. I suspect that explains a lot about me actually.

I can't even show you a photo of the first gray set. I don't think I could even bear to take one. The second go-around on the light gray was better. It is close enough that the "I'll only accept A's" girl will accept it even though her inner dye critic wouldn't give it an A. (I overdyed the first light gray batch a lovely black. Turned out perfect.) The second color I did that day was light orange. It didn't turn out so hot.
It is not going to pass my critical standards. I can just hear the students complaining now. I have to decide if I will use it in one of my own pieces for a really spotty effect or over-dye it something else lovely. The yarn to the left is the gray. The blue yarn to the right was the teal I messed up and was posted in "A Bad Dye Job" post. Spotty teal yarn becomes a lovely, even blue. I hope I can replicate it!

This is what I did the second time around. I soaked the yarn using some Synthropol to help with penetration of the water. I added the right amount of glauber salt as well as some sodium acetate, I made sure I put the acid in at the beginning so the pot wasn't too hot, and I brought the temperature up to boiling maddeningly slowly. The gray passed (but barely), the orange didn't. Same treatment.

I have never had this much trouble leveling my dye baths. This is supposed to be easy after all! What has changed is that I bought pre-scoured yarn packaged for knitting. It is the same yarn, just scoured by Harrisville and skeined in knitting quantities. I started thinking that perhaps their scouring process was somehow causing the problem. So I ran a little experiment. I do have a masters of science degree and I did take chemistry, so I feel that there is a tiny bit of validity in this study, though the reliability is likely poor partly due to the abysmally small sample size. At any rate, here it is. I may have to get a critical analysis from my number one experiment-designing professor friend, though I don't know if I can take the heat.

Now I know you're going to find the first flaw in the experimental design right away. I didn't use the same dye color I have been having trouble with and certain dyes do take up better than others. You're right. I know. But I needed blue. So blue it was.

The other experimental design dilemma I had was whether to dye them all in the same pot. This should give me a better idea of whether it is the scouring of the yarn that is doing it... theoretically. Plus it is a lot less work to put them all in one pot than to do three separate runs. So, into one pot they went. I did not use any synthropol, Abegal SET, or sodium acetate for this experiment. I only used glauber salt which is my usual procedure.

The three groups are as follows:
 (The plant is Llois. She is clearly in rehab. In fact she was named after the rehab patient of mine who gave her to me. I hope the real Llois is doing better than this Christmas cactus. Incidentally, I call her Yo-is because of the double L.)
So the groups included (B1) the same yarn made by Harrisville but bought on cones unscoured, and subsequently scoured by me; (B2) skeined yarn dyed as sent by Harrisville which is supposedly already scoured; (B3) the same Harrisville pre-scoured yarn but I scoured it again. (Scouring just means you wash the junk that keeps the dye from bonding out of it in really hot water.)

All the blue in one pot. I'm getting a little nervous partway through and here is why:

And the results are in:
The yarn is hanging left to right, two skeins each: B1, B2, B3.
B1 and B3 turned out very similarly--both even and quite pretty. Both of these groups were scoured or re-scoured by me.
B2 flunked. Uneven dyeing, will have to be fixed. Of course I can't really say that there weren't other variables that contributed, but from now on I am going to scour all the yarn regardless.

A day in Taos, NM

Yesterday I took a day trip to Taos (which really isn't so far away after all). You see, I have a sort of "temporary life" which has become somewhat permanent. But the original idea was that my things were only going to reside in the climate-controlled storage locker for a few months, half a year at best. It has been most of a year now and they may languish there a bit longer. So I have returned to that point in my life (which I experienced a decade ago when I was a traveling OT and swore I would never go back to) where I make pilgrimages to my stuff which is in a Butler building (albeit air conditioned) behind a flimsy garage-type door. Oh, the security of the storage unit is quite good and I have little doubt no one will want to rummage through my piles of book boxes and loom parts, but I do miss that stuff... especially the Harrisville Rug Loom.

Honestly, I have tried and tried to love the LeClerc Gobelin loom I have in my current studio, but it just isn't the Harrisville. The LeClerc has excellent tension and it is beautiful and it tries hard to make me happy, but I miss the vertical loom and the overhead beater and the warp tensioner on the back of the Harrisville. I may have to rent myself a truck and rescue her from lock-down, though Emily may make me sleep under the loom if I bring more stuff into this tiny house!

At any rate, the trip to Taos came off well. I managed to find the last of my stash of undyed student yarn (Harrisville Highland) so that I can get that ready for the next class. And we visited some of my favorite Taos spots...

There was, of course, Moby Dickens, the excellent independent book store in Taos.

This book was fascinating. I almost took it home with me, but put it on my Amazon wish list instead. (I use the Amazon wish list so that my family gets me things I actually want, but also as a marker of things I need to get in the future. Perhaps on my next trip to Moby Dickens this one will come home with me.)

I thought this pattern was particularly hilarious--the English Bull Dog. My grandparents had them when I was a small child and I remember that they weren't particularly smart or able to walk well or cuddly... but they loved them!

And this book was displayed on the New Mexico shelves. Life on the Rocks was written by my prior landlady, Katherine Wells and I highly recommend it. It is about her work with the petroglyph project she has established in northern NM. It is also a fascinating autobiography of someone who ended up in rural New Mexico. I had the privilege of living on her land among the petroglyphs for three years. Katherine is a good writer and the book is fun to read.

I had an emergency stop at The Yarn Shop. Fortunately, though they carry few knitting needles, they had the number 6 double points I needed to finish a baby hat in the car on the way home. I found myself swearing one too many times at the short needles I started the hat with on the way south. New needles had to be had. I do miss Taos Sunflower though!

 Cassy modeling the finished hat (before blocking mind you) in the car on the way home.

I stopped at the toy store, Twirl. I love this place. The kid in me can't resist touching everything. I'm sure they hate that. (And Emily would be correct to give me a squirt of hand sanitizer when leaving.)

I came home with this toy. I had Tiddlywinks as a child and with the excuse of my new niece, I can buy toys again, right? Clearly this toy is not for a 6 month old, so I must have gotten them for myself.

(We were having lunch at La Cueva. I highly recommend this place with excellent Mexican food. Most things are gluten free and they know what you're talking about when you ask about gluten.)

Here is the real reason we went to Twirl--she got her stacking cups though she might have preferred to play with the bag.

I do like Taos. I'm sure I'll be back soon... to visit the Harrisville loom if nothing else.

View of the Cumbres & Toltec train on the way down.