What Happens When Math Trips You Up?

Having an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fiber, and in particular, Shetland wool, I decided to dye a fleece that I bought in 2018 for a project. This lovely fleece came from a sheep named “Orianne”.

I had been thinking about weaving a blanket using traditional Arts and Crafts period colors: terra cotta and forest green.

I found a dye formula that seemed to give me the colors I wanted. I dyed the forest green color first, and that’s where math tripped me up. When calculating the proportion of dye solution to fiber, if you use grams and milliliters it’s “easy”. Except the decimal point got me.

To make a depth of shade of “1”, you use the weight of fiber (say, 100 grams) and 100 ml of dye solution. Unfortunately, I was thinking “1% solution” which is what I made my dye stock solution, and divided it again and used 10 ml of dye solution instead of 100 ml.

So instead of a deep forest green I got…

Looks like lettuce. I wondered what happened, but didn’t figure it out until I dyed the second color, the terra cotta. The lightbulb went off and I corrected my formula proportions for this color and got…

That was the depth of shade that I wanted.

Luckily, you can overdye (dye again) fiber. I took the lettuce green, which is the happy accident, since I like that color, too, and dyed some of it with the correct formula and…voilà…

Forest green.

By the way, I wanted a variation in color because I think that adds a measure of complexity to the color.

I’ve carded some of the red and the darker green:

Here’s the light green carded:

I’m liking it and looking forward to spinning it into yarn.

Happy accidents and math challenges. It’s all good!

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