Prep Day

The downside to any creative pursuit is the prep work. Prep work is not fun, it often feels like it gets in the way of “doing” something, but in the long run it is needed to create a better quality product.

I moan about prep work a lot. I don’t like to do lighting tests in the studio (but I do), I don’t enjoy stretching watercolor paper, and I am often tempted to dye yarn and fabric without prepping it properly but I know in the long run I will regret it so I do the proper prep work.

priming panels

priming panels

The least painful of the prep work to be done today was priming some panels for painting. It was just a couple of panels, so not a huge outlay of time. I am challenging myself to learn to paint smaller and enjoy it. I like working big, but not small so much, so in a effort to step out of my comfort zone I have prepped a few small panels to tackle.

 tied yarn

tied yarn

The next item to tackle was prepping yarn, thread and fabric for dyeing. The yarn and thread is the trickiest. I pre-plan out the colors I eventually want,  then the rough lengths I require, and finally color code with scrap yarn what each skein is destined to be. Add in two different yarns that seem kind of similar when wet and you realize what a life saver color coding is. I always dye in VERY small batches with specific ideas in mind so that I don’t have a stash of yarns just sitting there.

The threads are for a piece I am currently stitching plus a couple that are in the back of my mind. I need some greens which means dyeing the threads yellow and then a dip in the indigo vat.

scour and mordant

scour and mordant

Speaking of the indigo vat, I decided that thread was not a good enough reason to get it going again so I decided I might as well scour and mordant some cotton fabric too, after all everything else had already been prepped in this pot. A few smaller pieces of cotton were popped in as was a cotton scarf  all hemmed up. I want to play with some stitched resists mixed with indigo dyeing.

 tied yarn drying

hung out to dry

After scouring and mordanting and cooling (which took forever!) the yarns and threads and fabric are hung out to dry. Perhaps this evening some yarn will hit the dye pot; it is more than one day’s worth of dyeing. Lac, cutch madder, logwood, pomegranate, marigold and turmeric (and possibly tansy) are all on the “to dye” list. The indigo will have to wait until I get the stitch resist done. Lots to do, but at least the prep work is done for now.


Hunter Photographics & Studio H
art, photography and handmades by Debra Hunter

8 thoughts on “Prep Day

  1. I learned a lot of new words from your post! I have never dyed fabric nor yarn, so all the terms are new to me! I now have a list of wods to look up. Not sure what “clutch madder ” is either!! But found your post fascinating!

    • Cutch produces a brown dye and madder produces orange-ish reds. At least you are learning good “new words” unlike the words I have learned from electricians working on the 1946 portion of our house! LOL!

    • I have had good luck dyeing in pomegranate first and then the turmeric. Evidently this was done historically. One batch of wool I decided to dye this way and then test the limits with10 rounds of hot water washing in the washing machine followed by drying in the dryer ( I was intentionally fulling it too!); the color held through all that. Also the yarn was scoured and mordanted before as well.

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