Monday, May 19, 2014

The lab notebook

A few years ago, I started keeping a journal in which I would jot notes about quilting ideas and new techniques.  Lately, I've taken to calling it my lab notebook, because indigo dyeing makes me oddly nostalgic for the long ago days when I was a chemistry major.  After all, indigo dyeing is all about maintaining an alkaline solution and managing oxidation and reduction.  I even have pH paper, although the color of the dye bath makes the paper hard to read, so I find myself wishing that I had a real pH meter.  Finally, the notes I take on dyeing are pretty much exactly like a lab notebook, right down to the quadrille-ruled paper:

I record my procedures, thoughts on experimental error mistakes, as well as goals for future experiments dyeing sessions, including planned variations in the dye bath to try and correct past problems.  In my next session, I'll start by writing out my "experimental objectives" as well.

When I used to do gel electrophoresis, I would tape photos of my gels into my lab notebook as part of my record-keeping and data-crunching.  Now I tape samples of fabric:

A couple of weeks ago, when I embarked upon my second dye vat, I told DH that I was going outside to "do chemistry."  Being a chem major would have been a lot more fun if we had spent our time indigo dyeing!

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