Ok, for those of you who are still reading, here is the long and winding road...I started with an alpaca/wool blend that I bought at a church Christmas bazaar last year. It's from a local alpaca farm and I thought it would be nice. (The yarn was only about $1 cheaper than buying socks made from the same stuff (but thinner), but I like to knit so there you go.)
It's not dyed at all and I like the idea of working with a yarn that is the natural colour of the wool. You may recall I knit a sweater for Troy from the Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds in one of their undyed colours. But I may be doing some traveling in the next couple months and I started to think of what projects I could bring along. (Always my first question.) Socks are always a good travel project, but I just couldn't stand the idea of knitting with this "boring" colour. Showing the project to people who ask what I'm making and having them say, "huh" or some other less than enthusiastic remark. I mean, if you're going to be knitting, it's nice if it's something you can talk about. So I decided to dye it.
I wanted multicolours, and ideally something that gradually gradated from one colour to another. So I tried something I had read about. I re-balled the yarn by hand:
Also note...when I made the ball of wool, I grabbed both ends of the cake and wrapped it doubled. This means I will have two identical strands of wool and my socks will match.
Ok, first thing to do to the wool to dye it is to soak it so the fibres will be ready to receive dye. I dropped the ball into a pot of water,
That was about two weeks ago. Although I was a little sad the method didn't work, I was not overly upset. It would be easy to overdye the splotchy red parts and dye the rest to salvage the yarn. After a little further reading, I have learned that even when the method works, you don't get the result I was hoping for. You tend to get a solid on one end, then a splotchy mix of the two colours, and then the second colour at the other end. The two colours don't actually blend very much. And of course, it's hard to get the dye in there.
So yesterday I moved on to method two. I gave up on the idea of a gentle gradation and decided I would be happy with several colours. I split the skein into several sections (making sure they were actual serial sections, not just random clumps) and got them soaking in some canning jars.
I then started mixing some KoolAid:
Fortunately I had lots of KoolAid, so I just mixed up a fourth jar and got the colours I wanted. But then my brain started working on a new idea...
...and I added from four to ten tablespoons of that ugly brown to the other colours to change their tone:
The next issue was heating the jars. My mind had been working on complicated ways to do this on our oil stove or in the oven or even in the microwave, but when I decided to dye the different sections in canning jars, I realized I already had the perfect way to heat them--my pressure canner:
Then I let it heat up. The red colours take up very quickly. The blue takes a lot longer.
Once dry, I put it on my swift,
Now when people ask about my knitting, I feel like I will have something to talk about. "Aren't those colours pretty?" Yes, yes they are.
|Details for those who dye: |
1. The red was a 1/2 pack of Black Cherry with a pack of Orange with just a couple tablespoons of the brown mix. (This was added to the section previously dyed red.)
2. The orange was two packs of Orange plus 10 tablespoon of brown.
3. The purple was a pack of Grape and a pack of Black Cherry plus a couple tablespoons of brown.
4. The blue was a pack of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade with a pack of Mixed Berry and about half a dozen tablespoons of brown.
I believe the brown was a 1/2 pack of Black Cherry, a pack of IBRL and a pack of Orange.
The ball is 100 grams, so that's about one pack per 12.5 grams.
PS: Want something to drink with that?
When I mixed up the KoolAid colours I forgot to take into account how much volume the wool itself takes up in the canning jar. So when I poured in the dye, I had left over KoolAid mix. At first I was figuring I would dump it all out and was thinking "Oh well, it's not that expensive" when it occurred to me if I could do the math, I could just add the right amount of water and sugar and drink it! So that's what I did and now we have a rainbow of canning jars with KoolAid to drink in the fridge!! (I did dump the brown KoolAid. No thanks.)