Monday, September 4, 2017

Dye Job (and what a job)

Once again, in an effort to clean up a corner of my house, I end up in the middle of a bigger project.

The goal was to clear off a window sill of two sweaters that have been waiting to be pulled apart in order to harvest the yarn. After a day's work, I had some nice yarn:
 Wool/angora/nylon from a Carole Little sweater
 and a kitchen-sink blend from Ann Taylor Loft:
 The yarn felt great, but I really didn't think I would use it in this yellow colour.
So I thought I would dye it before I put it away. I set the yarn to soaking and started to concoct plans and sort my supplies. I'm mostly off of KoolAid dyeing these days because the Wilton's dyes offer a lot more control and options.
I mixed up jars of icing dye, water and vinegar in yellow, pink, blue and red.

Once the yarn had soaked, I laid it out in a baking dish:
For the first skien, I poured a little dye from the jars and "smooshed" it into the yarn to make sure there was enough coverage. This looked a little muddy from the colours mixing so for the next skein, I applied the dye mixture with a toothbrush. That took a little too long and there wasn't quite enough coverage, so on the third one I did a mixture of both. Then, on only the third skein, I added some drops of straight yellow and pink icing dye in an attempt for more vivid colours.
Once the yarn was covered with dye mixture, I laid it into a casserole dish with a lid. There was enough liquid from the dye that I didn't have to worry about the yarn drying out during the heat process.
I popped the dish in the microwave and did 2 minute heat and rest cycles. The first two skeins only took three cycles (6 minutes of heat) before the water was clear and the yarn appeared hot enough (~180^).

Here's the yarn fresh out of the microwave oven:
Once it had cooked enough, I set it aside in a pie plate to cool in its own time.
After I had cooked all three skeins,  it looked like I had a weird pasta dinner going on the counter.
Once they were cooled, I rinsed them and the first two skeins were hung to dry. The third one wouldn't stop bleeding yellow, so I ended up rinsing it a lot of times. I assumed it was bleeding excess dye because I added drops of straight colour. When the rinsing wasn't really working, I put it through two more heating cycles as well. Finally it stop bleeding colour.

The colour of the rinse water was yellow or orange, but the extra processing somehow washed out all of the blue dye and caused the colours to spread and mix. The yellow was overwhelmed by the red and pink. Here are the three skeins after they had dried:
Skein 1:
The colours are muddier because they mixed more in the baking pan.

Skein 2:
Applied with a toothbrush, instead of being poured, the colours are more distinct.

Skein 3:
The colours are saturated, but all of the blue is gone and the red and pink overpowered the yellow.

That was the end of phase one.

Phase two was to overdye the skeins with blue while leaving spots of the colours from the first dye. I decided to only overdye skein 1 and 3 because they had similar yardage and it would be enough for a pair of socks.

So I tied some tight cords around the skeins every 6-8 inches or so:
You can see here, that in places I split the skein and tied the two parts in different spots:
I was trying to tie up the particularly bright spots and I wanted to make sure that all the spots wouldn't be spaced the same. (I didn't want them to "line up" when I was knitting them.)

The overdye with blue was a lot of work. Blue is a tricky colour anyway--it doesn't seem to set during the heating process. You have to let the yarn cool in the dye water and the dye seems to set more during the cooling process than during the heating.

So the actual dyeing in a pot was easy enough, but the yarn would not stop bleeding blue. Once again, I'm not sure if it was excess dye in the pot (I used quite a bit because I wanted a dark blue) or if it just wasn't sticking to the yarn.

I did multiple rounds of soaking the yarn, rinsing the yarn and heating the yarn. Finally the rinse water started to clear up.

Skein 3, which came out with the stronger blues:
and Skein 1, which was more on the teal side:
Presumably the strong yellow tones in skein 1 shifted the blue more green

And now it was time for the unveiling...what would the yarn look like under the resist ties?

I unwrapped the white yarn and didn't see much of a difference:
Before I had a chance to get too worried, I opened up the tightly wrapped yarn and saw that there was still lots of colour inside:
Here's a picture of skein 1(left) after it was re-hanked (to mix the colours up) and skein 3 (right), where you can see the colour blocks because it was not re-hanked:
And in case you can't get enough, here they are again:
And a close up of skein 1:
Isn't that so pretty!! The colours are pretty subtle, but I think they'll add just the right punch to a pair of dark blue socks.

Still want more? Ok, here it is caked up:
This is skein 1 and 3 caked together (double stranded). Even though the two skeins came out quite different colours, they will make a beautiful blend as I knit with a strand of each held together.

Here is skein 2 caked up:
Since it was an odd yardage compared to the other two, I left it after the first dye. I decided I would use it for contrasting toes and/or heels on the socks.

In fact, here is the toe of the sock I couldn't resist casting on:
I've chosen a subtle textured pattern for the body of the sock which will be done in blue. Not too detailed since you wouldn't be able to see it on the dark yarn, but something that will break up the plain field of knitting. The scattered purl stitches should highlight the pops of colour in the blue.

And that, people, is how you clean off a window sill.

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