Sunday, June 10, 2007

The plunge into hand dyeing

All of the hand painted sock yarn I've discovered since I've started listening to Lime & Violet has inspired to try my hand at it. If you remember a while back I did a skein of kool aid dyed yarn. Although I loved the results, the selection of kool aid colors available here is very limited so I bought me some acid dyes and several skeins of undyed yarn and decided to have at it. I did order a book on yarn dyeing from Amazon, but haven't had time to read it yet. There's plenty of instruction and inspiration online, though. Just search yarn dyeing. Here's a quick look at how I did it (and what I learned in the process).

I started with a skein of Knit Picks Bare merino/silk blend fingering weight yarn. I love their yarns. Their fingering weight is a bit heavier than the other undyed yarns I've got waiting to dye. Some people suggest reskeining into a longer skein so I did that first.Stuart insisted on "helping". The chairs were set about 2 feet apart and I ended up with a skein about 40-something inches long. This process took forever and killed my back (not to mention the constant cat wrangling). Next time I'm going to try painting as skeined or winding it on the ball winder and then reskeining onto the swift set at a wider diameter. Then I soaked the yarn in warm water with some vinegar while I mixed the dyes.
These are Cushing dyes. I only had yellow, turquoise, crimson & black. I was aiming for yellow, purple, orange and black and figured I could mix colors to get the right shades. I didn't succeed so well with the purple. I know from grade school you should be able to mix blue and red to get purple. Apparently turquoise is not close enough to blue for this to work. My ultimate goal was to emulate some cool Halloween yarn I saw someone else do. Their's was mostly orange with touches of purple and black. I drained the yarn and squeezed out most of the water and spread it out on plastic wrap. I must get wider plastic wrap and make sure I tear off a long enough piece. I tried piecing my plastic wrap and ended up with leaks. Which brings up an interesting observation. This dye did not seem to stain very much. I splashed yellow dye all over my shirt (a cotton/poly tee shirt) and from the leaking plastic wrap there was a big splotch of black dye on the counter. The counters cleaned right up with a little spray cleaner and I used a bit of stain spray on the tee shirt and washed it later that day and there's not a bit of stain on it. Perhaps the acid dyes truly do need the acid and heat to make them stick. Anyway, back to the story. Here's the yarn after I applied the dyes.I ran out of orange and rather than mixing more I just decided to just use all the colors a little more evenly. At this point I had abandoned the Halloween yarn (I've got more dyes & yarn coming so there'll be plenty of opportunity to try again). I wrapped the yarn up in the plastic, plopped it in a glass dish and microwaved it in 3 minute bursts, letting it rest for 5-15 minutes between, for a total of 9 minutes. Then I let it cool completely before rinsing.Most of the dye had absorbed so there was very little discharge in the water. I used just a bit of Eucalan in the water to give the yarn a nice scent. Then it was out into the sun to dry.
When it was dry, I looped it back over the chairs and rewound it onto the swift. Again, this took forever and I had even more trouble with Stuart (apparently the colored yarn is even more enticing than the white.) In the end, although it's not what I originally intended, I'm very pleased with the finished yarn.
I haven't come up with a name yet. It seems like most of the hand dyers come up with cute and witty names for their yarns. Me? Not so good with the cute and witty. Now I'm just interested to see what it will look like knitted. Damn, another project in the queue!

Isn't this the most awesome fabric?
This is my Death Eater bag. The shadowy skulls and sick green lining immediately put me in mind of the Death Eaters in Harry Potter. I'm working on making these little project bags (among other things) in the hopes of starting my own Etsy shop. I'm excited to have a potential outlet for some of the crafty things I like to do. More on that another day.

We rounded out the weekend by attending my aunt Linda's retirement party. Her daughter's threw a big picnic and a lot of the family we don't often get to see came for the occasion. A great time was had by all.

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