Saturday, 18 July 2009

Forbidden forest?

This months challenge in the I'd Dye for Britain group on Ravelry is to use primary colours to make secondary or tertiary colours. I thought I'd add to the experiment by trying food colouring for the first time.

I approached it with my scientific hat on, making graduated dilutions using blue and yellow colouring. As you can see the dilutions are all carefully labelled and measured with scientific precision.

One of the things I like about working with fibre is things do not always go according to plan. It turns out fibre is more like chromatography paper. If the dye is made up of more than one pigments these pigments may separate due to their different molecular weights. The first skein I dyed worked beautifully in the mid sections with varying tones of vibrant greens. The yellower and bluer ends weren't so great, especially the blue/greens which separated into indigo and turquoise rather than deeper greens.

Reskeining really does work wonders for making yarn look better, I really like the mix of greens, indigos and mustards in this yarn and may well make myself some foresty socks. It reminds me of some of the paintings I saw in the Per Kirkeby exhibition and also of the Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter which I'm rereading at the moment.

I remembered doing chromatography experiments at school and playing around with black ink on coffee filter paper and paper towels, watching the black ink magically splurge out into blues reds and yellows. I tried the same thing with the food colouring dilutions on kitchen towel to see if it correlated with what happens on the yarn.

The colours match up quite well so I'll use this technique to predict some dye jobs. Not all of them though, that would take some of the fun out of it.

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