I ♥♥♥ variegated threads. I used a lot of commercially dyed ones with earlier work ( pre 2017) but when i switched completely to using naturally dyed, there was a dearth of them available anywhere, and i was petrified at the thought of doing threads! I have since refined my use and skill level of natural dyes, and while i had successfully dyed solids, i hadn’t really thought about variegating any, beyond the simple step of post modifying dipped areas.
Last week i had shown photos to an acquaintance who waxed so eloquently rhapsodic about the colour breaks in these little leaves:
They aren’t variegated threads however; they were “orts” (scraps, ends) of naturally dyed solids that i couldn’t bear to throw away. Just as i have found a use for one inch squares of naturally dyed velvet, so too do i save bits of thread that are at least 3″ long!
But i started thinking about this. Much of my work is finely detailed and there is no way to get such tiny breaks of colour, unless one becomes really neurotic about the method. (Yeah, yeah, i know:
some many a few think i AM neurotic but i ain’t that much…) But, never say never. While i will not attempt breaks of 1/2″, i can do 1″. Some of the colour combos too are practically impossible: i’ll never get a half inch of green on a predominantly pink, purple, blue thread, but i can get close in each colourway. And then use 3″ long bits, NARF.
So, for the past two and a half weeks, i have been working with thread instead of fabric, playing and testing, using different combos of 4 dyes (madder, osage, cochineal –that old moldy one STILL!–and indigo) and overdyes, post modifiers and timing and got these results:
The above are two colour breaks, pretty basic, but lovely nonetheless. Obviously, indigo over anything makes magic 🙂
And a mix of the 2 colour variegateds and solids from this work, thrilling to say only 3 dyes, and some indigo :)!
I dyed many of these in larger skeins so i can divvy them up, some for me, and *some* of these for the shop, in 10 yard lengths. All are cotton, except for the three in top photo, the bright red, bright yellow and salmon, towards the right of the photo.
Next i’ll be trying 3 colour skeins and continuing this way, i’m hoping to get to 5 colour breaks, something that my tired brain actually has to draw out to figure the correct sequences.
One thing that made me really happy was that i finally got a lavender/lilac/wisteria/whateverflavour you call it in your palette (centre of bottom photo). This one is NOT going to be anything but what it is, no modifying, no other colour additions. (Until the next time.) Again, from the moldy old cochineal. I’m not saying the mold had anything to do with it, just that there is no reason to waste a dye because it’s gone off, looks funny, or is fuzzy. Yeah, if it was completely foosty, but not as a surface deal 🙂 Obviously, if this happens to you, do some tests first with a small amount, don’t just take my word for it. *Your* mileage vary vary greatly.
I must now get back to a piece that is slated for a show, due March 31st–hurry, hurry, hurry hard!!