Summer, Summer Dayz


We may need to call this year the Centennial Summer. So many days reaching 100+ degrees. As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat it, join it!”

That’s what I did last weekend with my friend Laura. We were dyeing. No…not dying from the heat, but dyeing wool using the sun (aka solar dyeing).

Laura lives on a small farm and, amongst many things, she raises fiber animals for their wool, hand spins it into yarn and knits or weaves it into things (e.g., hats, gloves, table linens, etc). She’s fabulous and her farm is so peaceful.

Last weekend she invited several of us to visit and experiment with solar dyeing wool. I know little about all of this, so it was fun for me  to watch and learn. Here’s what we did:

1) Laura pre-washed sheared wool and we soaked it  in buckets of water.

2) We mixed acid dyes in 50/50 vinegar solution in glass mayo jars. (Thanks to Renee for supplying the Jacquard dye.) You could be precise about your measurements, especially if you wanted to recreate your results at another time. Although they were at the ready, we all decided no measuring spoons or cups for us.

3) Next, we placed hunks of the wool into the jar and set them in the hot sun. For a faster reaction time, we placed the jars on a car sun-reflector.

4) The jars of wool had to stay in the sun to get hot and have the dye react with the fibers. We knew the wool was ready when the dye solution had expired, meaning all the dye had moved into the fibers which leaves the solution clear.

The process took several hours. And instead of watching the jars in the hot sun, we went inside with the a/c. We had a fabulous cool lunch, and brought out spinning wheels (my spindle) and made yarn and talked of many different things.

At the end of the day, we took our jars home and washed our wool. What a surprise to see the intense colors! The day reminds me of Don McLean’s song “Vincent”.

Summer, Summer Dayz ~sic~
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,
Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue, morning field of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand.

Thank you Laura and Renee for the beautiful Summer, Summer Day.