Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dyeing to Knit

Auuugh. Sorry about the pun.

Over Thanksgiving break, taking advantage of an empty house and an excess of free time, I embarked on more dying adventures. Last time, when I'd dyed the yarn for the Kool-Aid Sweater, it came out REALLY bright and colorful--this was fun, but I thought I'd aim for something a little more sedate this time. I settled on Lamb's Pride Worsted in "Misty Blue" for the cool colorway I wanted to try, and Bulky in Victorian Pink for the warm colorway.

Here's the yarn pre-dying:

Mmmm, can't get enough of that bulky single-ply.

I skeined the yarn using a piano-bench-turned-skein-winder:

For the cool colors I wanted to do, I knew that Kool-Aid wasn't going to cut it--even with a base color, the Kool-Aid blue and green are too neon and not saturated enough. I'd had good results with food coloring and vinegar before, so after some searching I found a box of food coloring (can't find a link, but you know those little tubes that look like dwarves and come in boxes of four? Yeah, those) that had pink, purple, blue, and green. Just what I wanted.

Since I wanted blue to be the predominant color, I came up with a color scheme that looked like this:

Next, I used a very very scientific method to determine how much dye to use: since I would be dying two blue sections and one each of purple and green, I poured all of the blue dye into a pyrex pitcher, mixed it with water, and then divided it into two jars. One of these jars went into the pot, mixed with more water and some vinegar (I actually did measure this, though I don't remember how much--I think 3/4 of a cup?)

I brought it to a boil and then added 1/4 of each of the two skeins I was dying (I'd sectioned them off into four parts earlier):

I cooked it until the water was clear (it was opaque when it started):

(seen here about halfway)

and then repeated the process with the other blue sections.

Then I repeated the process with the green dye, except since I was dying half as much yarn I only used half the bottle to begin with. I was concerned, though, when it still looked really clear, not dark and almost opaque like the blue solution, so I eventually dumped in the whole bottle (yes, I am very precise and scientific. Shut up) along with 3/4 cup of vinegar.

Right away I was concerned, though, when the yarn took up the dye MUCH faster than the blue had done, and when I took it out it wasn't nearly as saturated as the blue, despite having used the same amount of dye for half the amount of yarn. The color wasn't what I'd wanted either--it was much more olive-lime and less the emerald that I'd envisioned. Hmmm.

In the meantime, I dyed the purple portion (also using half the dye; this time it worked like I thought it would, just as saturated and rich as the blue) and then let it all cool.

(after it cooled I decided I still didn't like the green, so I overdyed it with some other green food coloring I stole from my mother's baking shelf. Much better).

For the bulky pink yarn, I used a selection of warm (Kool-Aid) colors, using a pyrex baking pan and the microwave. Evidently the vinegar fumes had gotten to me at this point, though, because I forgot to take a picture.

(I also somehow managed to to melt a plastic plate on the stove and drip molten plastic all down the cabinets, but let's not go into that, hmmm?)

At the end, I had some Kool-Aid still mixed up, so I dyed a few mini-skeins I had lying around.

And the end results...

Tah-dah! From left to right: food coloring on "Misty Blue" LPW; Kool-Aid on "Victorian Pink" LPB, and leftover Kool-Aid on some random wool scraps. One of them is Patons; the other, a mystery single-ply.

I really think this is my favorite yarn that I've dyed:

(reskeined so it looks like Real Handdyed Yarn)

I love it. I love it. I want to carry it around with me and show it to everyone I know. I'm kind of doing that already. I'm aware of how obnoxious that is. I can't stop.

and in its current incarnation:

(see how the fingers are striping? Isn't that cool?)

Christmas break, here we come! I'll try to keep the damage to the kitchen at a minimum this time.

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