Some Unexciting Hand-Dyeing

Well, I *did* get back into my dye studio this past weekend.

Of sorts.

I finally cleaned up way-old dye concentrate. The last time I'd had a big dyeing session was probably the end of October or early November. Perhaps even before that. I hadn't dumped my dyes because I fully intended to get back down there to use them up. Never happened.

You see, dye concentrates are really only expected to last maybe 2-3 weeks (as long as you've not added soda ash), although I've stretched mine a couple of times as much as 5-6 weeks and there wasn't a noticeable difference. My basement is chill enough, which is probably key.

But. Ahem. Four months was likely seriously pushing it. However, because I'm big into experimentation, I decided to throw a few pieces of fabric into a few Way Old Dyes just to see what happened. The results are unexciting. What happens is that Way Old Dyes lose their chutzpah. The colors aren't as strong and didn't catch as well--it felt like a lot more was washing down the drain than usual.


I did four fat quarters parfait-style (stacked one on top of another in a tall cylinder), and used up the leftover black dye concentrate, adding water so I'd get graded fabrics, the ones on top being lighter than the ones on bottom. And it worked, but they're all lighter gray than I think they would normally have been.

The one on the top in this photo is the lightest; I'd refer to it as "Ever-So-Slightly-Gray." It's basically a foggy white. The next one down is slightly darker although that's hard to see in this picture. The other two differ from each other mostly in the middles--the one on the bottom is more consistently dark than the one right above it.

I'm keeping them all, of course. I mean, really--who hasn't gone into their stash thinking, "I wish I had a really good foggy white"?


The next set was also stacked parfait-style, but this time I used four different colors. I knew, with the colors I chose, I could end up with sort of a muddy yellowy-brown thing going on, but I dig muddy yellowy-browns. I think they're interesting.

In this set, the colors clearly came out more dulled than they would usually, And the bright red spots you see here and there are the visible evidence of the fact that the red dye concentrates had gotten distinctly crusty. Chunky, even. A bit of a crystallization thing happening.


I believe (don't really remember now) that the four colors I used were Mixing Red, Mixing Blue, Golden Yellow, and Fuschia, one on top of the other. There's a couple of ways to do parfaits where you get more distinct separation between the layers of color while still getting some artistic blending. But I was just dumping stuff in to empty out dye bottles. Like I said, I wasn't particularly worrying about results--I just wanted to see how Way Old Dye would change.


I won't say I'm happy or unhappy with the results. I actually got about what I expected to get: I had assumed Way Old Dye would lose some oomph. I have distinctly less oomph at 48 than I did at 28, so why would dye be any different?

I'm not excited by any of these fat quarters, but they're still usable. In fact, I'm thinking they might be fun to use to practice free motion quilting on. I won't feel like I've got anything to lose and if it turns out looking nice, so much the better!


I wasn't able to use up all my Way Old Dye in these samples--I did end up dumping the rest down the sink. But now all my bottles are cleaned out and ready to go for when I've got the time to mix up fresh Spry New Dye.

Next week, when I'm at the AQS QuiltWeek in Lancaster, I'll be taking Frieda Anderson's hand-dyeing class. I have her book and have already used her dye techniques, but I haven't done the gradations using the recipes in her book, which is what we do in this class. So I'll have more fun hand-dyeing pictures in a couple of weeks! (And I'll be using Spry New Dye for that!)