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What's purple and aqua and so, so soft?

Why, my latest hand-dyed mulberry silk, of course! Mulberry silk is absolutely my favourite base to dye, but boy can it be temperamental! The finished product is always stunning; nothing beats the sheer lustre of an A grade mulberry silk base. And it’s so soft! Kinda like I-live-on-a-cloud soft. And not just any cloud. Like a beautiful, soft, rolling-down-a-mountain cloud.

I’ve been working on a custom dye order which is just absolutely beautiful – bright aqua and purple – which has inspired me to dye up some more silk on the side.

How do you use silk? Have you dyed your own before? Do you have any tips to share?

Things I have learned from this dye session:

  • To achieve a consistent colour, it’s easier to use silk in sliver form
  • I like dyeing brick more than sliver, just add some twist to stop the dye penetrating the whole way to get a resist effect (OK you got me, I learnt this one not-exactly-on-purpose haha!)
  • Soak soak soak! You can’t soak your silk enough! Add a little detergent to speed up the process            
  • Dyeing over natural coloured tussah silk can still produce bright tones, but a bit "earthier" when viewed side by side with mulberry

So.. what’s the difference between a sliver and a brick?

Sliver is a combed preparation, similar to combed tops but a much thinner, and is very easy to draft from – the sliver I use is about an inch wide. A brick on the other hand is prepared like combed top, quite thick compared to sliver, and has been tightly wrapped, ready for transport. It can feel quite hard and dense (hence the term brick!), but softens when you unravel it and give it a big squish.

On the left, sliver, in the middle, a brick after receiving the "squish" treatment, and on the right is noil, a by-product of making these beautiful silks!

Both preparations can be dyed and spun, and everyone has their preference. A couple of tips from me based on my recent experiments:

  • Attention to detail is important! Make sure there are no twists or folds in the silk sliver or brick when you dye it (unless you want a cool resist feature *wink wink*)
  • When dyeing brick, make sure you unfold it all the way
  • It takes ages to dry.. especially when your tiny yard gets about 30 mins of sunshine in the morning before the shade takes over! Patience is a virtue, or so I've heard ;-)

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