Friday, March 27, 2020

Thread Color Bleed

This is the red thread color-bleed that I encountered while trying to block my solid apple design.  Since this was one of 5 different designs in my 'Spokane Beauty Apple' series, I was concerned about what would happen when I blocked other designs in which an area of white tatting was incorporated into a design with areas of red thread (as seen in the second photo).
The thread is Anchor Mercer Cordonnet. 

L: First blocking water;   R: Second rinse of blocking water from the 'Spokane Beauty Apple'.

Color-bleeding happens when fibers get wet and dye leaches out into the water.

In general, there are several reasons why color-bleed can happen:
1.  Incorrect dyeing techniques (ie. wrong dye type used for the type of fiber) or poor quality dyes were used.
  1. The dye was not properly rinsed out leaving an excess of unattached dye in the thread.
  2. The manufacturer did use a fixative or mordant to bind the dye to the thread/fiber.
Red dyes in general are not more prone to bleeding than similar dyes of other colors. The problem is that red-dyed fibers are often dyed with a kind of dye called 'direct dye'.  Direct dye, whatever its color, tends to bleed in every wash, unless the fibers have been treated with a special cationic dye fixative. Using only cool water for washing will help, because higher temperatures decrease the ability of direct dye to remain associated with fabric.  Avoid direct dye, as well as all-purpose dye, which contains direct dye. Instead, use a fiber reactive dye.
  • Direct Dyes are a class of hot water dyes for use on cellulose fibers such as cotton.  It is one of two types of dyes that are mixed into 'All-Purpose Dyes'.  (The other type of dye in All-Purpose Dyes is an 'Acid Dye'--which will not stay in cellulose fibers for very long.)   Direct dyes are usually the cheapest forms of dyes.  The colors of most direct dyes tend to be duller that those colors obtained by fiber reactive dyes.  Expect anything dyed with direct dyes to 'bleed' forever. The color-bleed problem can be reduced by following direct dyeing with use of a cationic fixative/mordant after-treatment.
  • Fiber Reactive Dyes are the most permanent of all dye type.  Unlike other dye types, it forms a covalent bond with the cellulose (ie cotton, rayon, linen) or protein (ie. wool, silk) molecule.  Once the bond is formed you have one molecule.  The dye molecule has be an actual part of the cellulose fiber molecule.
  • All-Purpose Dyes are a mixture of Acid Dye (for dyeing animal/protein fibers such as wool as well as nylon) and Direct Dye (for dyeing cellulose fibers such as cotton, rayon, linen).  All-purpose dye cannot be used to dye polyester or acrylic.  It also cannot be used in cold water.
  • Acid Dyes are used to dye protein fibers such as wook, angora, cashmere, silk, the milk protein fiber called Silk Latte, the soy protein fiber called Soy Silk, & the synthetic polyamide fiber nylon.  Acid dyes are non-caustic and in some cases non-toxic (ie. food coloring dyes).  They are named for the mild acid (such as vinegar) used in the dyeing process and for the types of bonds they form to the fiber.
  • Vat Dyes are an ancient class of dye based upon the original natural dyes, Indigo and Tyrian Purple. Both cotton and wool as well as other fibers can be dyed with vat dyes. Vat dyes are difficult to work with.  They require a reducing agent to solubilize them. The dye is only soluble in tis reduced (oxygen-free) form.  The fiber is immersed repeatedly in an oxygen-free dyebath, then exposed to air (oxygen), whereupon the water-soluble reduced form of the dye changes color as oxygen turns it to the water-soluble form.  Indigo will change from yellow in the dyebath to green, then blue as the air hits it.
  • Cationic Dye Fixatives (aka 'mordants') have a positive charge. The positive charge allow the fixative to cling to the negatively-charged dyes (such as those found in direct dyes, acid dyes, all-purpose dyes and even fiber reactive dyes).  They 'swell' dye molecules in the fibers so that they stick better.  They cannot stick to basic dyes which already have a positive charge.  Cationic dye fixatives help, if not fix, the problem of color bleed on improperly dyed fibers. There is some evidence though that cationic dye fixative may reduce the lightfastness of some dyes. This means that the color may fade faster by light than by laundering.  Do not wash fiber that have been treated in cationic dye fixatives in hot water.
    • Commonly used fixative/mordant agents are tannic acid, alum,  and salts of aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, sodium, tungsten & tin.
    • Vinegar and Salt are NOT dye fixatives.  Soaking in either will not set your dye.  At best it will just be another 'wash' which will help to remove some of your excess dye.
    • Look for a product called Retayne,  possibly found in quilt stores as a common cationic dye fixative.
For us as tatters, the why of color-bleed is really of no concern--the damage to the thread is done.  The issue is how can we control the color-bleeding?  How do we avoid color bleed from one area of a tatted piece into a different color region? (eg. My apple examples above.)

    1. Avoid use of hot water that can wash out the dye fixative/mordant.  If the fixative is washed out, it will no longer hold the dye to the fibers which will allow the release of dye from the fibers = color bleed.  Always use cool/cold water to block your tatting.
    2. If you suspect a color to potentially color bleed, then test it by soaking it in cool/cold water for a few minutes and see what happens.  If you end up with 'colored' water, you have a color-bleed problem.
      • If you have a color-bleed problem you have two choices:
        1. Keep soaking the thread, various washes, until the color-bleed is not as intense/diminished.  (This is what I did with the red thread before tatting the multi-colored apple designs.  I had favorable results when I did block my apples, in cool/cold water.)
        2. Find a cationic dye fixative such as Retayne and use as directed. (I am just learning about this product as I write this article.)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Teneriffe Lace Loom Manufactured by/Prototype of The ShuttleSmith

One of the 'OTHER' lace types that I study/teach/make is Teneriffe Lace. Another name for this lace type is Sol Lace. Sol is the Spanish word for 'sun'. This is a good descriptive name because many of the traditional motifs are round & have radiating threads (warp threads) upon which a design is stitched with a needle. Thus it is a form of 'needlelace'. To create the lace the warp threads are laid down in a overlapping, radiating fashion on some form of a 'loom'. There are many forms of looms. In my Teneriffe Lace classes, we use a plastic canvas shape which is cheap and (usually) readily available (Hobby Lobby, Walmart). There are many different antique looms from the past. Some looms are more cumbersome to use because they entail having to use a needle to manipulate many (think several) yards of thread in dozens of maneuvers to lay down the warp threads, all the while hoping that you have enough thread cut from the ball to work continuously.

The loom that The ShuttleSmith is recreating is a unique loom in that the warp thread can be laid down continuously from the ball of thread source. This makes the warping step fast. Another benefit of this loom is that it is reusable. It is used by Brazilian lacemakers today. I found reference to this style of loom in an antique German publication/book.

So I tried to recreate this style of loom in plastic for myself by using a 3-D printer. I called upon my newly-graduated son (in mechanical engineering) to create 'CAD' programs for several sizes of Teneriffe Lace looms to my specifications. The following photos show my teneriffe loom design being 3-D printed for the first time at my local library. Most libraries today have a 'maker space' of some form, many with 3-D printers. I paid a nominal fee to have my prototype loom printed. It did take about an hour to print but was fascinating to watch.

The 3-D Printer--Note the thumbdrive in the computer monitor to the right.  This is how I imported my loom design file to the 3-D printer program.

Early stage of 3-D printing my Teneriffe Lace loom
Mid-to-late stage of 3-D printing.  Note the area to right is still showing a hollow matrix whereas the area to the left is starting to fill-in the outer side.  The computer-aided-design program (CAD) creates a somewhat hollow piece to minimize the amount of material (plastic) needed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Antique Thread/Spool Cabinets Found Recently

I just thought I would share some thread antique thread cabinets that I found in an antique store in my hometown of Wisner, Nebraska (population ca. 1200 people).  I was passing through town recently to or from visiting my family/parents and stopped in to find these beauties.  The local antique dealer has a great gig going on because many of the locals (mostly farmers) let him go into their homes and barns to 'pick' (think 'cherry-pick') their antiques. My own family is one of them that 'invited' him into our lives to rid of us of our 'junk' that he turns into 'antiques'.

I haven't bought one yet. I'm still waiting for the perfect one from a thread company that I know and love.

Monday, March 16, 2020


Anchor Cordonnet 20--My favorite thread of all time!

Manuella 20 solids (missing black & grey that are being tested for a project)

Inner basket:  DMC Cordonnet & Cebelia 20.  Bottom right: Manuella 20, variegated (my favorite thread to tat crosses and baby socks).  Left: Olympus & Altin Basak in various sizes.

LizBeth 20

Left: Old Handy Hands LBH thread.  Right: Perle Cotton (I think)

Size 10 collection from various manufacturers

I have been taking inventory of my thread stash & have a bunch of patterns ready, HOPING that I will get quarantined! However, it is just wishful thinking that I would get two weeks to tat. I work full-time in healthcare and in healthcare it’s like “…we ride at dawn, bitches!”. There is no ‘working from home’, at least not for those of us actively providing technical services. I am the lead of two clinical (think diagnostic) specialized laboratories at the Nebraska Medical Center. My main, active job is as an Electron Microscopy Technologist working with human kidney & muscle specimens with the end goal to get to the proper disease diagnosis which then leads to the proper treatment for the patient.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Happy International Tatting Day---New Book Announcement!

Well, since it's International Tatting Day, I will celebrate it by announcing that I have a new tatting book published. It's number 8 in my 'Fun with Split Ring Tatting' series. It's titled "Illusions of 3-D in Split Ring Tatting". You'll either 'love' or 'hate' the designs. I had a lot of fun creating these. I love the way color and geometry can trick your eye into seeing something flat as being three-dimensional.
Right now they are only available on Amazon....

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Yikes! I'm a bad blogger!

Yep! I just realized that my last web post here on The ShuttleSmith website was in 2017! 

I have been busy with The ShuttleSmith projects in the last year, you just haven’t seen any of it here.
I have been occasionally posting to my TheShuttleSmith Facebook page, probably because it’s a bit easier to do so and because I had lost the address/password to my website at work when I had to get a new computer.  Actually it was two new computers because they (my employer) said my computer(s) were compromised with a virus.  They pointed to my attempts to go to Georgia Seitz’s pages, which when I try to go there comes up as blocked by the companies software.  I told them ‘yes, I had tried to go to that website’ but that I didn’t understand why it was blocked.  Anybody have this same issue with Georgia Seitz’s website????  But I digress….It was due to this blockage and thus suspected virus alarm that my employer gave me a new computer…which in turn wiped out all my bookmarks and stored passwords…which is why I couldn’t get into my WordPress software to create blog posts as easily.

What I’ve been doing in 2018 synopsis (tatting related):
I have been working on book number 8 in my ‘Fun with Split Ring Tatting’ series.  It seems to me that these books are what keep the spark in my tatting world.  I just love every step of the creative process.  I originally titled this book ‘Mathematical Designs in SRT’ but now that I am about 90% done with it, I think it will be called ‘3-D Illusions in SRT’.  It will be one of those books that you will either fall in love with the uniqueness of the designs or totally hate…but I’m going to publish it anyway.  More about this book and designs in upcoming blog posts.

I have been working with a very talented tatter (Diana Howe) to tat many of my designs into real thread because I just don’t have the time anymore to keep up with tatting everything in my books myself.  (Keep in mind that I work full-time.)  More about my relationship with Diana in upcoming blog posts.  I may also post about my unique full-time job.

Last year (2017) my time was totally devoted to moving (physically) from one house to another.  I didn’t even get around to getting a real vacation.  This year was different.
  • My husband and I went to Grand Junction, Colorado for a ski trip in January.  We took the Amtrak train there and back.  The train offers me a whole day to relax and tat while traveling.
  • I had two weeks to travel in July via motorcycle to/from Colorado.  Of course I had my tatting with me, even while traveling via motorcycle.  Don’t you just love how portable tatting is!?
  • In September, I traveled (alone) to Georgia via motorcycle to teach at/attend the Palmetto Tatters Workshop.  I had two weeks to get there and back and camped along the way as much as possible.  I am especially happy when I can put several passions together (motorcycling, traveling/camping, & tatting).  More about my (fantastic!) trip to Palmetto in upcoming blog posts.
  • In October, my husband & I traveled again by train to CO to relax and motorcycle in the area for one week. (We have motorcycles stashed there.)
I still have a shop on where I sell my books and enameled tatting shuttles (shop name: TheShuttleSmith).  I will be spending more time in the near future updating my Etsy shop, probably with more/new shuttles & all my books.  More about my Etsy listings in upcoming blog posts.  You will probably see postings about how I create my enameled shuttles too.

I just recently was given a huge stash of vintage enamel supplies to use in my enameled tatting shuttle production business.  I just got them organized so that I can use them.  I am looking forward to experimenting and using them in the very near future.  Enameling gives me a different creative outlet to experiment with using ‘color’ and ‘enameling techniques’.  So look for upcoming blog posts on new enameled tatting shuttles and enameling techniques. You will probably see postings about how I create my enameled shuttles too.

I have been asked to teach 2 tatting classes (plus one short Teneriffe Lace class) at the upcoming 2019 IOLI Convention in Spokane, Washington. I love that venue because each class is 4 days, 3 hours of class per we get a lot of time to explore a technique or idea.  So I spent some time this summer working with Patti Duff, the Convention Tatting Teacher Coordinator to design two unique tatting classes:
  • Class #1 is titled Modern Tatting for Modern Tatters and will introduce 4 very different class projects in the four days of classes. 
  • Class #2 is titled ‘A Bounty of Tatted Delights’.  This class will focus on how the host state of the Convention (Washington) is the producer of many fruits & vegetables.  Thus a whole new book of tatted designs is in the design/planning stages to be published in time for this convention.
  • More about my these classes/designs in upcoming blog posts
I’m nicely settled into my new home in Iowa.  Other than mowing the fairly big lawn of a small acreage, the house hasn’t taken up too much of my free time.

So that is what I have been up to so far in 2018.