One of my favorite assignments for my level 3 Master Spinners class was to spin a 100% silk yarn suitable for embroidery. I think I have mentioned how much I LOVE silk? To make an embroidery floss, the singles must be fine and the final yarn needs to be a fairly high twist. I ended up with an average TPI of 10.5. It could have had a bit more twist, but the finished yarn turned out to be lovely. This is the first time I have ever spun z twist singles and plied s…. for those in the lay world, I spun the singles counter clockwise and plied clockwise. My teacher had mentioned that spinning Bombyx silk this way would bring the sheen of the silk out even more.
I decided to dye my yarn so that I could make a beautiful sampler. Out to my stash of dye stuffs in the garage that I never seem to have the time to use. I pulled out Logwood from our class dye session last year, cochineal from our class dye session in level 1, madder I used last year…. those would all be secondary baths and the outcome could be a bit unclear. For primary baths I pulled mountain mahogany root, Marigolds and coreopsis. My skeins only weighed in at .7g each. Most of the dye baths would have 1 skein per bath, two would have 2 skeins. Just so you know, that is a very small amount…. I calculated my alum and cream of tartar for mordanting. The dye baths were done in quart mason jars. I used WAY more dye stuffs than I was supposed to. Mostly because I wanted vibrant colors and also because I would in no way be exhausting them and so I would have some dye baths pre-made for a future date especially if I liked the color. I was anticipating a purple (logwood), a pink (cochineal), red/orange (madder), red (mountain Mahogany root), Yellow (coreopsis), and another yellow or possibly orange (marigold). I probably should have pulled out some Cota to really get an orange… but oh well. I poured two cups of water into the jars with the dyestuffs and then simmered them in a water bath for about 2 hours. I strained the dyestuffs and then added the skeins to the jars and simmered them for another 2 hours.
I ended up with a brown/black out of the logwood… very disappointing. Cochineal gave me a really nice pink, but I think I did not strain it well as there were these blackish smudges on the skeins possibly from the bugs. I had added a touch of washing soda to the madder dye bath and got red out of it. Mountain Mahogany gave me a rust color. I got two different yellows from the coreopsis and marigolds.
Originally I was going to embroider some flowers. The biggest problem with that was I had no green. I could have saddened the yellows with Iron, but was not up to that. Then I realized the Logwood would be a nice way to outline a butterfly. So I embroidered a butterfly and used all the other colors to decorate it. I borrowed an embroidery stitch dictionary from a friend to help with creativity. I think It turned out great.