Important Things about Dying

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Ramblings

Ha, whoops, I meant dyeing.  As in dyeing yarn.

I don’t do this very often.  For one thing, my color sense needs instant gratification, so I tend to buy predyed yarns for that reason alone.  For another reason, my yarns don’t always turn out as envisioned.  (Rephrase that:  the yarn has never matched my vision.)  But my finished skeins often seem to satisfy me regardless.  For the third reason, it’s messy and takes a lot of time.

Well – no.  Microwave dyeing doesn’t take that much time, and it’s not that messy.  So that was today’s project.  I want to design and knit a pair of fingerless gloves with Kraemer Yarns’ “Sterling Silk & Silver” (a sock-weight yarn with real silver strands in it).  So, on hand here are six colors:  tomato red, chestnut brown, peacock blue, denim blue, dark navy, and undyed.  I need two colors for these gloves.  Tomato red and brown?  Possible, but boring.  Brown and peacock blue?  Also possible, and that was my top choice for a while (during the mental glove-design-time).  I need all the dark navy for a cardigan project, so that’s out.  Peacock blue and undyed?  Yeah, but the white will get dirty.  Blah, blah, blah, my usual indecision.  None of these color combos really grabbed me.

Since these gloves only take one skein of each color (well, much less than one skein), I had a rummage around in my dye box to see if there was anything that would go with the colors on hand.  Blah.  Jet black, fuchsia, vermilion, azalea…really, nothing that seemed to go!  It seemed like I’d actually need to – gack! – go out and buy more yarn.  No!

Well…no.  There is no cash to spare for yarn, especially when this house contains a ton of yarn (and dye) already.

But after a further rummage around – VOILA!  A mostly-empty jar of Jacquard’s Chartreuse dye. 

Yarn dyed with Chartreuse, ca. 2004.

This is what the chartreuse dye was mostly used for. 

 

Suddenly the vision struck me:  use this for one color, and the peacock blue for the other color.  Yeah!  Eyesore galore!  (But you all know how I am about screamingly annoying colors.)  There was just about enough dye to do one skein.  So I used the microwave dyeing technique to dye this one skein, and now that it’s done, here are the Important Things about Dyeing that I learned and want to share with you:

  1. Dye in the pot…or dye in the water…does not necessarily match the color it will be on the yarn.
  2. A dye pot really, really needs to be big enough for the yarn.
  3. When you dye a skein, you won’t be able to use it until tomorrow.

Yes, items 2 and 3 are old hat, but they still made a difference today.  I was going for an allover chartreuse color, and ended up with a sort of banded semisolid skein.  Bands of pale, bands of medium, big sections of dark.  This is because the dye pot was too small for the yarn to expand freely.  This particular item is a toughie when you’re microwave dyeing, because you need a pot that will allow the yarn to swim freely but also fit in the microwave.  Difficult.  Maybe someone should invent a very long microwave.  Then we could have long skinny dye pots so the skein could be stretched out completely!

Item 3, well, I was really raring to go on these gloves, but by choosing to use dyed yarn, it guarantees that I can’t start them until tomorrow or even the next day.  Since it’s raining here, the yarn is drying in the master bathroom (hanging over the shower head).  Air-drying takes a long time, but you can’t machine-dry dyed wool, or it might felt.

But item 1!  I’d forgotten about this.  The jar was clearly marked Chartreuse, but the powder in the jar was mustard-colored.  (Urgh, nobody wants mustard-colored yarn, do they?)  After mixing it with some citric acid and warm water and stirring until the clumps broke up, the resultant liquid was a deep olive green.  But I kept the faith and dyed the yarn, and after a good rinsing outside, here’s what turned out.

Chartreuse Sock Yarn, 2010

So my final Important Thing about Dyeing is that if you’re laid back and willing to accept some variations in your vision, things will usually come out all right!

Check back in a few days for pics of the gloves in process.

Comments
  1. thepaintedpony says:

    Love, love, love the color of the yarn, Donna. Very nice! I can’t wait to see it when it becomes gloves. Very pretty!

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