Archive for May 15th, 2006

Wanna see what I did this weekend?

Here’s a clue:

Yep, my house smells like sheep, tossed in fruit salad with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Mmmm Mmmm Yum. After the hint from KnitFit about her experience with EcoWool, we played scienist and devised our own process. Since there are a bazillion blogs with posts about the right way to dye, I decided to show our deviations, instead. There are a lot of pics here, so be warned.

First, as you can see above, we soaked the skeins in vinegar water. (By the way, we learned why other people soak their wool in large pans. We needed the sink later.) Most directions say to dye the yarn, then make compact little packages with Saran wrap. We found that this left blotchy patches (see the pale purple), so this is what we did instead:

The hank (1 oz) was set in the pan, then the dye was poured into the center of it. We mostly used a 2:1 ratio, 2 packs of Kool Aid to 1 cup of hot water:

My assistant then mooshed the liquid (here, 4 pkts to 2 cups hot water) around until it was all submerged and looked even:

Yes, he did end up with lovely blue fingernails. Instead of draining or just paining the dye on, we gently folded over the Saran wrap, leaving several inches of head space for steam. Then, it went into the microwave for 2 minutes, then a 2 minute rest, until it had been nuked for a total of 6 minutes. I firmly believe that simmering in dye liquid, then steaming in the microwave makes a huge difference. The pack was then dumped in the sink:

Notice how the remaining liquid is milky, but not colored. The package was hot, and removing the wrap was tricky. Once it was off we then ran hot water on the side of the sink to rinse it. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but no actual dye drained out of the wool itself. We had very little dye wash out of any of the skeins, and only in one color flavor (grape). Also, we didn’t really need to coninually adjust the temp of the water to cool the yarn down. I think this was because the sink itself was rather cool. Chilly rain (that won’t ever stop) must be good for dyeing?

(Here’s the method he used for his multi-colored ones:

For the most part, the color travels up the yarns, but you can see him spooning some on.)

Here’s my assistant’s feet, as he lays the skein out to dry:

Yes, yes I do need to finish some handknit socks for him. Wait! Here’s one now:

Its mate is nearly ready for the heel flap, but as I only work on it during lunch breaks it goes kinda slow. I started a boot sock for my dad while dyeing on Sat. Nothing like Mother’s Day to remind me that Father’s Day is coming up. Afghan, you ask? What afghan? In my knitting fantasy land, socks will hold him over.

Ahhhhhh, here we go. The finished mini skeins:

My dear assistant helped with a few of these. The top left is grape, but as it was a 1 to 1 ratio it looks a bit faded. Also, the hank was wrapped in Saran wrap without any additional dye, and just steamed instead of simmering. And by the way? Its the only one that smells like burnt sheep. The dark one on the bottom left will create 3 stripes when knitted up. It was made with Grape, Cherry, and Orange, but at a 4 to 1 ratio, which is why the color is soooo dark. Aside from that, I don’t remember which flavors go with what (that was his job, and now I can’t remember and am at work). If you’re terribly interested, pop an email over and I’ll have my assistant work it out.

The real mystery in all of this is Olive the cat. At NO POINT during the dyeing did she cause trouble. That’s right, no batting skeins, no dumping permanent dyes on the counter, floor, or the butcher block. Nothing. I went to bed Saturday night expecting chaos (or at least cat hair) with seven skeins drying on the sweater rack. Sunday morning, I staggered to the couch, waiting for the coffee to finish perking. I looked at the yarn…it was fine. As I was gazing at it in disbelief, Olive went dashing over to the rack. I held my breath. As I stared at her, she proceeded to lick the yarn. She likes grape the best.


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