I was very nicely whittling down my projects to a more manageable level when I saw that Wendy (on Ravelry) was having a Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl knit-a-long. Too good to pass up! But… I didn’t want to wait to get more yarn for this project and I thought of my stash of sock yarn. I needed something that was subtle, that was not self-striping. I did have some undyed (bare) yarn from KnitPicks. Now was the perfect opportunity and excuse to get some dyeing done. I showcased my dyeing ‘kit’ back in January. Well, I dragged the dye stuff out, pulled the book out and got going. I have to confess, I thought it wouldn’t take too long. Silly me. It ended up taking the whole day; but it was a little like baking bread in that I had a lot of activity for a short period of time and then a lot of waiting for things to happen.
First I took the yarn out of it’s band and pulled the skein straight. It was already tied in two places, I added two more ties.
Then I had to give it a bath and rinse it.
Following that I soaked it in a vinegar and water solution. At that point I thought I was ready to go. I read the instructions again – “allow to dry until damp”. I had to go from soaking wet to damp. Darn! So I squeezed out as much of the vinegar-water solution as I could and hung it to dry on the clothes rack. I moved on to other things.
Finally, dry enough. So I mixed the dye.
Oh, yay! Ready to go! Not quite. That dye was boiling hot and it needed to cool. So I put it in the window and went off to do other things while it cooled. The breeze did the trick and when I came back the dye was ready to use. I then set up the yarn to ‘paint’ with the dye. As you can see in the picture below, I put the yarn in a plastic lined bowl (the center is just the plastic pulled up to keep the yarn in a circle).
I made three different dilutions of the dye, each weaker then the previous. To dye the yarn I just poured the different dilutions of dye, one after the other, onto separate three inch sections of the yarn. I kept doing this until I had covered the whole skein in dye. No brushes were involved. That whole process didn’t take too long. Here it is ready for the next step:
I next, gathered the plastic bag around the yarn, secured it at the top and popped the whole think into the microwave for about 2 minutes. What a great use for a microwave!
Once it was cool enough, I gave it a nice rinse to remove any excess dye. After squeezing out the water, I hung it out to dry in the back yard – and went off to do other things while it dried.
During this whole process something unfortunate happened – I had a glove fail! Now one of my fingers has a blue tip. I tried to take a picture without being rude to everyone!
Here is the final product all wound up into a muffin:
The actual color is actually closer to faded blue jeans than to the aqua you see in the picture. The photo of the skein drying on the rack is more representative of the color. I also knitted a swatch with the yarn, both to prepare for the Mystery Shawl and to see how it looked knitted up.
Well, now that I have done my first foray into the world of acid dyes I have all sorts of plans for dyeing to come. I will not abandon natural dyeing. My dye plants are blooming as we speak.
It looks great!! And I love the different tones of blue, it makes it so much more interesting than if you had made the whole thing one color. I never wait until the yarn is damp. I take it out of its bath and squeeze out the excess water and go! And it’s never caused any problems so I think next time you could go faster by skipping that step. I too have had glove malfunctions and ended up with multi colored fingers. Yours was pretty funny though. 🙂
Thanks for the tip! I’ll try it next time. It still seems to smell of vinegar, maybe I should have used soap in the final rinse.