Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It was a good day to dye...

Well, I’ve moved – I’m not done, but most of the stuff is now east of the cascades!

The first week I was here, I spent 4 full days dyeing yarn and fiber – 9 lbs. of yarn, 4, lbs of fiber, 3 colorways.

My process is fluid, and I set up the “Dye Studio” in the shade of Correy’s apple trees.

Since the temps were in the 90’s, having shade was very welcome. The first step in the process is to wind the yarn into 4 oz. +/- skeins. That took most of one day and a little of the next – with lots of help from Correy. Once wound, they are dumped unceremoniously into a tub of water with 3-4 glugs of vinegar to soak for awhile (at least 20 minutes).
Because there was silk fiber involved, I put it in first, and it soaked about 2 hours before I pulled it out (hoping it would get completely wetted – kind of successful…).

Then, the skeins are laid out, 3 at a time, on plastic wrap, the dye is applied. Since the yarn was superwash, it takes the dye really, really well – you have to work at getting it to blend together, as it strikes very quickly.

I use a turkey roaster for dyeing (I have 2). They came with little tray inserts for keeping several dishes warm. I took a 3/8” drill to them and now they’re steamers for dyeing. The yarn is rolled up into a “burrito”, and plop it in.  After steaming for 20 minutes, the package is removed, and left to cool before opening. After helping various animals birth their young, it’s hard not to see the result as something emerging from its amniotic sac… (sorry…). I then let the yarn cool completely, so that I can use the hose to rinse it.

Once rinsed, it’s hung to dry. Interestingly, even though the humidity is much less here, it took more than 2 days to get the roving to dry.

All of this dyeing frenzy was in preparation for the Shaniko Woolgathering. Shaniko, in its heyday, was the Wool capitol of the US. The Columbia sheep breed was developed here. It’s now barely above ghost town status, with only a few full-time residents. There is a desire on the part of some of the residents to bring recognition to the town.

This year was the 5th annual – I missed the last three for various reasons, so I was looking forward to going. I hauled the trailer up for us (Correy, her daughter, Brin, and me) to stay in. We also brought my large canopy, as the festival was one short. We got there, set up the canopy (it was very, very hot), and then set up the booth. I had found a number of Gridwall panels and accessories on Craigslist, which helped with the organization.

Did I mention it was hot? It was in the mid-90’s all weekend, which probably affected the turnout. Sales were very slow on Saturday, and only slightly better on Sunday.

Correy also demonstrated sheep shearing all weekend, 17 in all. The sheep weren't all that pleased to have their insulation removed...

However, Saturday evening, we had a spinner’s gathering by lantern light, and were entertained by a 5 month old corgi pup chasing moths – you had to have been there, but we were laughing a lot, and had a very good time!

Now to get ready for Oregon Flock and Fiber…


  1. Soooo, how much do you have left and how much you want for it? lol

  2. I see the lovely Water Lilies! I am enjoying mine very much; I guess those who attended Shaniko just didn't know beauty when they saw it. I hope sales are MUCH better at OFFF; can't wait to see you again. (-;

  3. Your booth looks absolutely fantastic. And the colors that came out of your dyepot! Yum!

  4. You're off and running with a great start. WooHoo!