Friday, June 25, 2010

It Is A Good Day to Dye

Last Saturday Sarah and I had our first annual dyeing day. Sarah's good enough to store all our dyeing junk in her garage, so when I got up there around 11 AM I started hauling it out and setting it up like a whirlwind because I had about eight skeins of yarn I wanted to dye.

We ordered a bunch of new acid dye colors from the Dharma Trading Company so the first couple hours was consumed by making stock solutions, but by about 1:30 or 2 I was ready to begin. As it turned out, I was only able to get four skeins dyed, but I'm extremely satisfied with my results, and I was so pooped I could barely move on Sunday, so I guess I worked hard enough. (Sarah managed to dye three sweaters' worth of yarn! I don't know how she did it.)

I keep thinking I should learn to love some of the more random techniques, so I "jar-dyed" my first skein. I hadn't done this before - I picked up the technique off a Ravelry forum called "Love To Dye". You take your dry skein of yarn and stuff it in a quart size canning jar, then toss in small amounts of several colors of dye. Then you fill the jar with a mixture of vinegar and water and microwave it until the water is clear. It's pretty cool when you pour the water in and the colors *poof* into being down the sides of the jar!

Here is the resultant skein:
The yarn is Knitpicks' Bare Sock Yarn and I used little spoonfuls of Dharma's Caribbean Blue, Deep Magenta and Strawberry Red plus Jacquard's Scarlet. If I use this technique again I'm going to layer in some dye powder while I'm stuffing the yarn in the jar, since very little color migrated to the inner layers of the skein. I sort of like the white-plus-color look I got here but I'd been shooting for a red-and-purple skein. I name all my colorways even though I have no intention or ability to go into production and sell my skeins, so this one is dubbed Surprise!

The other three skeins were somewhat fiddly handpaints, so that's why they took me so long. I like knitting patterned socks in semisolid yarns, but I also LOVE knitting plain socks in self-striping yarns. I wore last year's favorite pair of hand-dyed self striping socks
IMG_4215 006
clean through the heel in just under three months. (Cue sad, sad face.) This particular yarn was 100% superwash merino, and clearly I am too hard on my socks for this, which is why I'm switching back to yarns that have some nylon in them. Enter my new favorite: Sheila's Gold from! This yarn is a blend of wool and nylon, and it's tightly plied so it looks like a string of beads when you get close enough. It's light and fluffy, and the only drawback from my perspective is that it's thinner than the sock yarns I like best, which can only be described as "beefy". I love the ones that are right on the edge of Sport, about 360 yards per 100 grams, while Sheila's Gold is listed as 400 yards to 100 grams. Still, that's why they make little needles, isn't it?

Prior to dyeing day I wound three long skeins, about 25-30 feet around. I tied them in a bunch of places, chained them up like a warp to keep them from tangling, and soaked them over Friday night. I wanted the socks to end up with two highly contrasting ~1/2 inch stripes sort of like Dorrie the Little Witch's stockings, or maybe Pippi Longstockings. I dyed half of each skein solid black and then painted the other half in a variegated colorway.

Here's the first one:
I love, love, love the pale apricots and pinks and yellows I used on the colored half of this skein. They remind me of Valentine's Day cookies or petit fours or tea cakes. The black half of the skein is actually black-brown because the dye stock I used had been in storage for a year and the color sort of went off. It fortuitously works out, though - I think of it as devil's food cake and that goes with the tea cake/petit four thing. The colorway names for this set of yarns come from book titles (I'm getting my librarian geek on), so this skein became Sympathy for the Devil.

I mixed new black dye stock for the other two skeins, so they have true black as their dark half. For There's Something About St. Tropez,
I used Dharma's Caribbean Blue and Jacquard's Sun Yellow. The skein really makes me think of ocean waves and beaches.

The last skein is my favorite, though. I called it Vampire Kisses,
and it's got all the rich juicy reds I love.

Now I have a terrible problem: I can't decide which one to knit first! I think I'll put them in a bag and pick one at random: that's the only way to be fair!


Bug's Mommy said...

And how long have we been waiting to use that blog title? The yarn is scrumptious as usual. Can't wait to see the socks.

Anonymous said...

LOL on Bug's comment! Nicely dyed, these are beautiful! Looking forward to seeing the socks you make out of them. (Though I still think this sure is one labor-intensive hobby, know I'm very impressed. :-)