My approach to dyeing is sort of “right-brained”, which is biologically not really a thing, but meaning I don’t measure things out or go by recipes, even though virtually all of my standard colors are mixtures of at least 2, if not more, powdered dyes. You would think, being a scientist by day and all, I would take careful notes and measure things out. But I don’t; I do it all intuitively. And if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?
Plus there are some very practical reasons why recipes and measuring spoons would not improve my methods. Consider the photo below. Here I have 4 veils that I’m taking through multiple dips in 3 different dye baths (copper, purple, teal), but let’s just talk about the purple. I blend my own purples using 2 dyes. Look at the purple region of each veil. They are not the same. The top veil is more blue-purple, and the bottom veil is more fuchsia-purple. Yet they all were all dipped in the same dye bath for about same amount of time. See, the dye bath doesn’t just get more dilute with each piece of fabric dipped. The blue components get eaten up by the fabric faster than the fuchsia in this particular mixture. So I not only have to account for overall concentration; I also have to adjust for the constantly shifting ratios of hues. So I throw in some more blue and re-dip each veil, this time working in the opposite direction, so the colors get evened out. Not ever color mixture shifts around like this one; each dye has its own behavioral quirks.
I think even across time, my consistency is very good. The colors are in my mind’s eye. But when I dye matching veils for troupes, I always do then together (like the 4 in the above photo) in one or a few small batches, so I can keep the colors very consistent.
Here’s another reason recipes don’t work well: you run out of a color and buy another jar of it, and it is different. Dharma Trading, you HAVE to do better with your house brand acid dyes. Below is a picture of dye lot inconsistency in one of my favorite dyes for mixing golds, and it is really, really annoying. Actually, this is not really a problem for my long-beloved Jacquard acid dyes, just the Dharma house ones.