Killing yarn

In my schedule of planned events, this was supposed to be spring break, and I was going to grit my teeth and jump into dyeing wool and yarn. Instead, there has been job hunting and me being in the beginning stages of a cold. I decided I was not about to let this derail my ambitions, and I set aside today for dyeing.

Patrick has been teasing me when I say things like:  “I’m setting aside tomorrow to dye.” “Today I’m going to be dyeing all day.” “Before bed, I might do some more dyeing, because I’m not quite finished yet.” So I told him I’d call it “killing” so that he could stop being so sad.

He wasn’t convinced that was any better.

In any event, I “killed” 1 pound of falklands and 2 skeins of sock yarn. I had a good time, and even though I blundered through everything, I have some gorgeous products to show for it.

The only casualty was my initial skein in the crock pot, some yarn I got in a swap that I was never going to be knitting with that was really oddly colored. When I got it wet before dyeing, the color bled like mad, and it STANK! Like, skunky stank. It’s dry now, and still doesn’t smell any better. I’m going to pitch it, because I just don’t think there’s any saving it.

I did two skeins in the crock pot, but wanted to try the handpainting method too, and did the rest in the microwave.

I was a bit of a mess initially. My printer is still unhooked, and I don’t have any good books, so I kept running downstairs to check proceedures. For every stage, I would do this, so I got quite a bit of exercise. I finally settled down and decided that if it turned out to be a mess, it turned out to be a mess, and I would be just fine.

My first job was to make dyestock solutions of the powders I have. The literature had me pretty scared of the dye itself, but I was less concerned once the potential for inhalation went away. I scored a bunch of free 16oz bottles from a local business, and I put them to great effect. I also found a good chart for color mixing in a book, and totally ignored it (but bookmarked it for future endeavors).

The handpainting was interesting. First I ended up with way too much dye. Then I had way too little. Can you sense the Goldilocks moment? I ended up figuring out what the deal was: the dye was exhausting right away, and once I figured that it wasn’t a liquid/quanitity thing, but rather a visual coverage thing, I had a much better time of it. My last two batches were just right.

I belong to the school of thought that you just have to jump in and do a thing in order to know what questions have to be asked. I’m also chickenshit, and I love to read up, so things tend to get postponed until I feel I’ve amassed enough information on my endeavor to forge ahead with some confidence. In the end, I jumped, and I now have plenty of questions that are actually useful rather than hypothetical.

I’m still struggling with how wet to leave the fibers when I lay them out. Too dry, and they don’t take up the dye, too wet and it’s just a mess.

I think I should be using more acid for the Jaquard dyes. My red in particular was not very colorfast. No, strike that. It worked fine, it just ran a lot, the only color to do so.

I definitely need to get the rest of the base blending colors. There is so much I want to do, but I couldn’t achieve the colors with my current red/yellow/blue set. I also need to think of an alternate way to work with the gaywool dyes. Since they come mixed with acid, there’s nothing to worry about there, but I just have a feeling they are going to be useful in different ways than the Jacquard dyes.

Mostly I am just mulling things over. When I can find some batteries for the camera, I’ll take pictures and post the fruits of my labor.


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