Thread, Felt and Fabric Dyed and a Couple Lessons Learned

A couple cones of thread, a couple yards of felt and a couple yards of flannel sat in a pile waiting for days for a time of transformation, which was yesterday. Dyeing day.

dyeing 9

Winding all that thread (3,00 to 4,000 yards) into hanks (or skeins) took a couple days. My sweet canine companion kept me company for much of the laborious process of thread winding. One of her favorite places to nap is in a box half filled with fabric which she can fluff and rearrange to make the perfect bed. The box gets moved around the house so she can be with me in comfort.

Fortunately, all that was needed to prepare the fabric was to cut it into smaller pieces, so that took minutes instead of days.

The first half of dye day was preparation time with presoaking the threads and fabrics and mixing dye concentrate colors. The second half of the day was actual dyeing of fibers.

dyeing 1

The fibers that were dyed are cotton perle thread in sizes 8/2 and 5/2, cotton flannel and 35% wool/65% rayon felt. They were all dyed with procion MX dyes, a fiber reactive dye for cellulose fibers. Although the felt contains wool, a protein fiber, the rayon takes the dye very well.

Since there were many dye baths of different colors, a low water immersion method using plastic zip lock bags is an efficient use of small space. I do think that after experiencing two of the bags springing a leak, that I will switch over to using small plastic reusable containers for dyeing thread in the future. Fortunately, the leaky bags were on a plastic tray, so the escaped dye did not get very far, making clean up easy. And none dripped on the floor or on my furry buddy tucked in her box under the table.dyeing 10

Another lesson learned from this round of dyeing was in making hanks. After each hank is wound, then they are tied at intervals all around with yarn that weaves through the threads and is tied to keep all the threads from tangling while being dyed and subsequently washed. For this, I prefer to use a synthetic yarn for a couple reasons: it does not hold dye so does not leave a dark stripe of color on the thread or yarn being dyed and it does not bleed color and effect the color of the thread or yarn.

dyeing 6

Well, at least that was what was supposed to be used, but somehow I accidentally used a wool yarn on some of the hanks and found a third reason to use a synthetic yarn for tyeing the hanks- the wool shrinks and acts as a resist leaving little white marks on the thread where the dye could not reach the thread. In the picture above, you can see I have pulled the top few threads to the right to show how the thread remained white where yarn acted as a resist.

dyeing 3

Today was wash and cleanup day. All those lovely dyed goods had to be washed and dried, and either folded or wound into twisted hanks.

So, after all these years of dyeing different fibers, I still had something to learn and from that, a couple tips to share: zip lock bags spring leaks and can make a mess so consider a more durable container for dyeing and check the yarn used to tie off the hanks to make sure it is a good choice.

dyeing 5

The two pieces of fabric above are flannel that will be used for making pillowcases.  The picture below shows the folded edges of the felt pieces.

dyeing 2

Dyeing mottled fabrics always yields interesting and unpredictable results. In the pictures below, the one on the left is a full view of one piece and the picture on the right is a close up of a small area about 2″ x 3″.

dyeing 7

And in the next picture, a black dye applied to wadded up felt causes the dye colors to separate, creating areas of interest. This is a close up of a small area. Notice how the felt has a heathered appearance where the rayon took the dye well and the wool did not.

dyeing 8

As inspiring as white thread or fabric is for dyeing, the resulting dyed goods with all their luscious colors are even more inspiring for possible creative endeavors.

dyeing 4



Three New Temari: different sizes and different purposes

Three new temari finished, each with a different function and size.

temari 77Temari #77, a very small temari (about 3/4″ in diameter) was made to be a book marker and given to another book lover as a thank you gift. The threads used for stitching this temari and for the braided cord are embroidery floss.

temari 78Temari #78, a medium sized temari ( 2″ in diameter) serves as a pincushion on one of my temari project tote bags. The decorative stitching is around the equator and on the bottom, leaving the top blank, except some small seed stitches to make sure the thread wrappings don’t move. Perle cotton threads in #5 and #8 were used for stitching. All are hand dyed except the off-white thread. When it is loaded with colorful pins, it looks like the top of a cupcake with sprinkles.

temari 79Temari #79, a large ball (about 7″ in diameter) was made just for looking at and the joy of making it. Three different sizes of thread were used to stitch this ball. A fine #8 perle cotton for the pentagons and triangles. #8 perle cotton was used for the blue diamonds. The thicker black thread and variegated threads are actually a silk/bamboo yarn. Except the black, all the decorative stitching threads are ones I have hand dyed.

Hand Dyed Felt

In the past year, felt has reentered my fiber world. During art school year, I dabbled in felt making, creating a number of interesting felt objects. Due to an allergy to lanolin, the oil in wool, I have shied away from working with wool.

But recently, I discovered that working with already felted wool, especially the rayon/wool blend, does not cause itching. Probably due to all the processing and reduced amount of wool.

Of course the selection of pre-dyed felt colors just does not quite meet my needs, so time to dye my own. What a great excuse to dye. I have just started with creating a stash of hand dyed 65% rayon / 35% wool blend felt, but decided to share pictures of the first batch.

hand dyed felt

That lovely warm yellow in the middle of the batch has already been cut up and only a tad bit remains.

An upcoming post will feature the temari that sports a coat of that gorgeous yellow felt. It is a most unusual and unique temari that represents something very common and abundant yet is seldom noticed. Come back soon for the answer to the mystery.

A Half Dozen More Temari and Hand Dyed Threads

All of these temari feature hand dyed perle cotton thread, all of which I have hand dyed except in one of the temari.

temari 39

temari 39

For temari 39, the “solid” color threads are not really solid, but slightly mottled. I can buy or dye solid colors, but slightly mottled colors have a certain appeal to me because of their unevenness of color.

temari 40 view 3

temari 40

In Temari 40, both a mottled green and a dark variegated thread are used to create a bold design. The color variation in the dark thread gives added interest to the simple shapes while the bright mottled green ties the design together and gives definition to the crossed spindles.

temari 41 view 2

temari 41

For temari 41, the color scheme was reversed in that the large squares are stitched with the mottled thread and the variegated thread is used for the outlining and the marking threads.

temari 42

temari 42

This temari, number 42, was stitch with interlocking triangles and set aside with the feeling that it was not finished. Later, the crossed spindles that interlock with the triangles were added. Here a true solid color, the rose pink in the crosses, was used to show off the single strand of variegated thread in the center of the spindle bands.

temari 43

temari 43

Temari 43 is a wee little temari at 3/4 inch in diameter. The marking thread is a cotton machine quilting thread and the stitching thread is a size #10 perle cotton.

temari 44

temari 44

Although temari 44 sports a couple variegated threads, I did not dye them, only the yellow. They were a couple of skeins I picked up an embroidery shop.

This temari was a project that I brought with me to a convention to work on during lectures when I was not taking notes and during the break between lectures. Since this one would be finished before the convention was over on the second day, I brought #42 and finished that one too. It was a good convention that I left with much new information crammed in my head and two finished temari in my littlest of project tote bags.


Hand Dyed Threads and Two New Temari

My son’s science project required dyeing of fabric, which meant we had to take out  all the dye stuff. After he was done, I decided to leave it out and dye some threads in different weights and colors, with quite a few being variegated.

I really like how variegated threads add interest to temari and quilts. I used to buy variegated threads to couch on quilts, now that I have a source for white thread to dye, I will just dye what I want. Besides, it is fun to do.

hand dyed cotton and rayon threads

Here are two temari sporting hand dyed threads.

temari 36

The variegated thread is the only hand dyed in the one above. It is a simple 8 division of the ball with braided or ribbed stitching using single threads.

temari 37

Wanting to explore the braided or ribbed stitching some more, I created this C8 (complex 8 division) ball. The triangles were stitched from the outside to half way to their centers using the variegated thread. Then purple thread was used to stitch the squares in the same manner, but interweaving with the other thread where they cross over. There was a small gap along the marking lines, so I wrapped the ball with two double thread bands that weave through the center of the woven squares.

The whole ball was stitched with doubled thread. It was very tedious trying to keep the threads flat and untwisted, especially when it got down to the last few rows of weaving. I persevered and finished it. It was a good project to take my mind off of being miserable with a sinus infection.

Both the variegated and the “solid” purple are hand dyed. The purple is not really a true solid as it has slight variations in value. If the fibers, whether fabric or thread, are not agitated during the dye process, then the colors will be uneven and not leveled out to be solid. Solid is easy enough to come by at the store, but I tend to lean towards the almost solid and the variegated in preference.

I am sure there will be lots of temari with hand dyed threads in my future and quilts too. These are nice weights to either hand stitch with or to couch with the sewing machine.

Temari 35 and Hand Dyed Threads

temari 35

This temari is the result of wanting to try out my newly hand dyed threads. I had purchased some 5/2 perle cotton and 5/2 bamboo thread from the Woolery during the Christmas holiday. It took me a while to get around to doing the dyeing as I was trying to give my injured arm a rest. Trying is the operative word; I learned that there are many things that can be done without using dominant arm, such as dyeing.

This is a C8 (combination 8) division of the ball with the six spindle exes stitched in some of my new hand dyed thread. The little squares and the exes are outlined in a solid color purchased light purple thread. The ball just did not look finished until I added a French knot at the intersection of three points.

Below are some the hand dyed threads from the first of many batches yet to come. The perle cotton 5/2 come as one pound cones, which translates to about 2,100 yards. Enough to last a little while.

hand dyed cotton and bamboo threads

The second from the left is the one used for this temari. I plan to use the one on the far right in my next temari project. I imagine some of these will end up being used for couching to quilts or the finer weight ones (which I have not dyed any of yet) used in the bobbin for quilting.