For many weavers dyeing yarn requires a big leap of faith. Starting out without copious dye recipe books and sample cards to refer to most of us just jump off the edge then gradually acquire knowledge for more precise decisions in colour. But it can be easy, fun and very successful from day one.
Dyeing is an imagining of a textile for a weaver because dyeing the warp and weft is only the first part of a journey. The weave, colour juxtaposition and mixing on the loom can potentially change what you start with.
In my recent Easy Ikat and Warp Painting workshop I encouraged the three participants to ‘jump’ off because you just have to attack dyeing to see where you go and gain the confidence I think. At least that’s what I do.
Painting a warp is just so special. It’s exciting to weave with because the colour changes all the time – so no boredom, and it always looks great on the loom. It also looks pretty good just in the bucket waiting to set the colour and wash out.
Each of the participants had strong colour confidence and all did very different work with a wide range of cellulose and silk fibre. There was handspun bamboo, hemp cord, silks, ramie and linen. Sometimes the yarn had a light base colour changing the subtlety of the colours. We painted warps and skeins for weft and warping. See Barb here working her magic!
The warp ikat was interesting too. Mostly I use an immersion method with this but I think painting the warp with the ikat resists in place is rather more interesting for some types of weaving.
We covered a few methods of failsafe dyeing like creating different strengths of the same colour. There are no white dyes in textile dyeing so dilution becomes the white.
Stepping across the colour wheel is also another easy method to success. For example, purple to yellow, mixing proportionately as you step to the opposite colour.
We finished up with my extra speedy way of creating a dye sample reference. This is the start of knowing your colours more intimately and what you can do with them.
I demonstrated the painting method with expensive gloves on. This was a big fail and I had to walk around with deep blue hands for the duration of the weekend. Don’t do that! Susie was sensible and used a painterly method with a brush and our better, cheaper gloves which worked. Sponge brushes work well too and I think I paint the warp differently with a brush in hand too.
I loved the workshop and a very warm thank you to the wonderful dyer/weavers who came to share their colourways. Gail, Barb and Susie – thank you!