Fibers and Dyeing

  • Fiber and dyeing studies for Richard Killeaney's first semester textiles course.
  • Loom-spun Yarn Samples
    1. Seacell
    2. Yak
    3. Baby Alpaca
    4. Lyocell
    5. Tussah Silk Noil
    6. Tesswater Wool
    7. Llama
    8. Merino Wool
    9. Merino-Flax blend
    10. Cotton
    11. Flax
    12. Hemp
  • Seacell: A marine plant cellulose fiber manufactured using a process similar to lyocell.  Although perhaps not as plasticky, this fiber closely resembled lyocell, had a good staple length, and was not too slippery.
  • Yak: A smooth and lustrous fiber produced by a large ox found in Tibet and Central Asia and collected by combing out the spring molt. In short, Yak is the worst; the short staple length made the fiber a horror to spin, although the color is gorgeous.
  • Baby Alpaca: Noted for its softness, fineness, luster, and long staple length, alpaca fiber is produced by domesticated animals of the South American branch of the camel family. 
  • Lyocell: A lustrous, manufactured fiber composed of solvent-spun cellulose. Spinning lyocell was challenging because it had the tendency to slip off the starting thread, and if spun too thin the fibers would slide apart. 
  • Tussah Silk Noil: Refers to staple silk produced from broken filaments and inner portions of cocoons or waste silk from cocoons in which the caterpillars matured into moths.  Silk Noil was a beautiful chestnut color and a joy to spin; it had the softness of silk but was also a little grimy, so it was less challenging getting the fibers to “stick” to one another.
  • Tesswater Wool: A large-diameter, long-stapled, high-luster fiber produced by Tesswater sheep from Teesdale, England.  While spinning, this wool behaved a lot like Merino—fairly easy to handle and able to get thin—though maybe a little less soft.
  • Llama: A fiber produced by the South African llama noted for its softness, fineness, and luster. Llama was somehow a thousand times hairier than all the other hair fibers—even when I finished spinning and mounted my sample, hairs were spewing out of the yarn at every turn.
  • Merino: Superior quality wool produced by the Merino sheep. Although it may just be because we’ve been working with Merino for a while now, I found it fun to spin because I could easily get a thin, even fiber, not to mention it has such a nice hand.
  • Merino-Flax Blend: a mix of superior quality merino wool and flax, a fiber extracted from the flax plant. Spinning this was somewhat of a disaster, because flax is so straight in contrast to merino, which is more like a piece of puff.
  • Cotton: A soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of cotton plants. Above, I said spinning Yak was the worst—I take it back—because cotton, with its incredibly short staple, was just as bad, which makes them both the worst. Sorry, Yak.
  • Flax: A soft, lustrous, and flexible fiber extracted from the bast beneath the surface of the stem of the flax plant. I felt like Rumplestiltskin trying to spin straw—flax pre-water was rough on the hands.
  • Hemp: A bast fiber similar to flax with high strength, resiliency, and luster. Another Rumplestiltskin moment; I loved the color of this fiber and it felt even slightly rougher than flax.
  • MX Dye Gradient
    Magenta to orange on white muslin fabric.
  • Acid Dye Gradient
    Yellow to violet on wool yarn.
  • Acid Dye Color Wheel
    Dyed on gray (outer ring) and white (inner ring) wool yarn.
  • Drop-spun Wool Yarn Samples
          My goal in spinning this yarn was to master the making of a moderately thin, consistent thread with all three variations of wool. When first introduced to the drop spindle in class, I couldn’t seem to get away from a ghastly, thick-thin pattern which looked like an accident because frankly, it was. I was approaching things in a step-by-step manner which definitely held me back; I would pinch the yarn, spin more twist into the thread, pinch a few inches above, and let go. I neglected to work the large tuft of wool and pull as  I twisted in a more continuous motion. Once I felt familiar enough to tug on the tuft of wool as the drop spindle spun, my yarn became consistent and I felt the motions come naturally. My favorite parts of what I made are the white wool sections. Although this variety was perhaps the most difficult to handle, it wasn’t scratchy and made a tight yarn sans flyaways. In the future I would like to experiment with an artistic integration of the wool, such as an ombre or grey/white/grey/white, as well as varying widths of yarn. After seeing some of my classmates work I am also determined to make an even thinner yarn! When mounting my yarn I also noticed that I still have room for improvement in my transition between wool. The yarn was either a tad too thick or too thin around these areas. Overall I find the drop-spindle to be an important tactile experience that instilled in me the basic idea behind fibers.
  • MX Dyeing Techniques
  • Off-white muslin hand-dyed with MX Pro Fuschia and MX Pro Turquoise using BBQ skewers.
  • Off-white muslin hand-dyed with Pro MX Fuschia and Pro MX Turquoise using square wooden blocks and rubberbands.
  • Polyester Heat Transfers
  • Heat transfer dyeing on solution-dyed white polyester fabric.