Mad professor time..

In a former life I was a lab technician, and applied for (and was offered) a job at Stevenson’s Dyers, in Derbyshire – I didn’t take it, with one thing and another… I expect it would’ve been just a *tad* different to what I’ve been doing in the kitchen this week, though the principles would be fairly close.

I probably wouldn’t have had to have made my own glassware out of Paul Newman’s Ranch Dressing bottles, for starters….

Paul Newman's Graduated Flask!

I even attempted a spot of chromatography..


These are Supercook food colourings – the top row, yellow and red, behaved as I expected and didn’t split into anything – they don’t in the roving, either. The black and blue did some interesting things, the blue seems to contain a vivid cerise colour, as well as the turquoise which is more indicative of the colour of the dye when it’s in the pot – the black seems to contain a similar red/cerise colour, but this time mixed with a dark green. (That’s not proper chromatography paper, it’s just a bit of ordinary A4.)


And this is the result of my experiments – I did make detailed notes, of time soaking, vinegar/water ratios, that kind of thing – and tried a few different methods of applying heat. The red/blue ‘lollipop’ was, I think, the most successful and reliable method, using a steamer. The purple roving was a mixture of red and blue food colouring, initially just dyed in the sun, but despite adding salt, it came out more maroon than purple, and not all of the blue seemed to be taken up… basically, I dumped a load more blue into the ziploc bag I’d sat it in, and put it in the steamer – it came out a much more pleasant purple (there’s more variation in it than is immediately obvious in that picture, too).

There’s 25g of roving apiece in those, too – I’m going to pack them for my holiday, to keep me amused in the evenings when we’ll most likely be in the caravan (we’re staying in a caravan on the Banffshire coast, near Findochty, and I suspect there’ll be a few quiet evenings).


Finally, this is a collection of all the things I’ve spun so far, plus the Cygnet superwash at bottom left, dyed by my eldest daughter. I knitted up the very tightly spun and plied Manx Loghtan – it’s a strange material, remarkable in its sturdiness, but oddly elastic.

Seeing the Yellowhammer alongside Wee Tut, you can tell they’re not really suitable for plying together, but I’ve resolved to just keep experimenting and practising and if I find a plying partner for either of them at some point in the future, great, and if I don’t, then so be it.


One thought on “Mad professor time..

  1. Pingback: Ia! « things and ideas

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