The Gauntlet has Been Thrown

I was presented with 2 challenges this week, both of which I aptly accepted.

The first was from my husband. We decided to embark on some BFF dyeing (an idea we shamelessly “borrowed” from Laura of The Dyer’s Notebook podcast).  The overall idea is that you work together with someone else throughout the dyeing process.  Each person gets to use whatever colors they like and whatever techniques they like, taking turns, and in the end, you get an awesome, completely unique work of art!

Instead of tag-teaming the dyeing process, my husband and I decided that he would do the dyeing and I would do the spinning and knitting of the finished yarn.  That was probably best since the hubs and I have a completely different color sense (and this way, he could ensure no yellow came on the scene, lol)! This is the end result of my husband’s dyeing experiment:

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This is 4oz of Falkland. See that? No yellow, no purple or pink… Anyhow, the challenge came in when I asked how he wanted it spun. With these long color repeats I immediately thought of fractal spinning and a fun winter hat. His idea: self-striping socks! Oy! I haven’t begun spinning it yet, and even though the idea of spinning for self-striping socks is a bit daunting, I’m totally up for it.  Unbeknownst to the hubs, for our next dyeing date, he’ll be responsible for the spinning 😉

A few progress photos (so he can have his moment in the limelight)…

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Next challenge: someone contacted me on Etsy with a custom dyeing request. It caught me off guard since she wants yarn and not fiber, but I again accepted the challenge head on! Here’s the inspiration photo of the colors she wants. Here’s what I was able to come up with:

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Not an exact copy, obviously, but I’d say pretty good, considering I didn’t have the original recipe! So now, I’m just waiting to hear back whether or not she likes it. If not, this pretty skein will become a new hat for Boy.

So, this leaves us with two things to consider:

1) Should I foray into yarn-dyeing alongside dyeing fiber? I had a really good time dyeing this yarn, and I’ve had quite a few instances of people telling me they really like my work, but they just don’t spin…

2) I’ve officially switched over to professional-grade acid dyes. Before, I was only using non-toxic dye solutions (read: food coloring) which worked great, but in the end, it doesn’t make much difference as far as environmental safety is concerned, and on the business end, it’s not as cost-effective.  Food coloring isn’t cheap as it is, and the amount needed to get truly saturated colors caused me to have to restock a lot more often than I’d like. Small Business Success Tip # 108 (or whatever number I’m on): Spend as little as you can on materials.  This doesn’t mean use crap. But if I want to see any kind of a profit, I need to spend every dime wisely, and I was probably paying twice as much for food coloring than I will be on acid dyes.

Anyhow, that’s all for me for today! Hope y’all are finding fun ways to stay cool this weekend– happy crafting!

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4 thoughts on “The Gauntlet has Been Thrown

  1. I love this teamwork! I use acid dyes and I never ever dye in my kitchen. I mix the dye bath in my laundry room and then dye the wool outside on the side burner of my gas grill. The packages say the dye is only dangerous while in powder form but I treat it like a total biohazard.

    Knowing you used food coloring was a big reason why I bought from you. Maybe you can keep a food grade line and price it through the roof for goofy granolas with money.

    I also like you offering wool that is not superwash. That process scares me almost as much as hair relaxing (says the chick with European hair.)

    Keep the beautiful art coming and good luck growing your business.

  2. Thanks for your encouragement! I thought of keeping a line of “granola-friendly” colorways, I just hadn’t decided whether I would keep that option active in the shop, or reserve that for custom orders and items for sale at shows (although, I’ve yet to do a show). As far as relaxed hair goes, all the ladies in our house have dreads, so we likely share the same sentiments!

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