Monday, May 14

Dying for Stitches

Long time no see! I took some time off to deal with a family matter.  Now I want to dive straight back in because I have lots of yarny goodness to share.

A few weeks ago, I attended Stitches South in Atlanta, GA.  For those who have never heard of it, Stitches is a knitting convention.  As you might expect of a convention for people addicted to yarn, there were classes to expand your knowledge, social events because we all love to talk, and a market because *dude* yarn!  The meals were excellent.  You can see the mini pecan pie we had for dessert the last night.  The classes were extremely worth while.  As a long time English-style or throwing knitter, I'm trying to remember to practice the Russian continental style I learned.  I loved the class where I learned to spin for knitting.  I may yet end up adding another craft to my list of hobbies, but for now, I do not need a second stash for fiber.  They also offered classes for the non-knitter  There were crochet classes and combined knitting and crochet classes.  I took the class that explained how to combine knitting and crochet in one piece of seamless fabric.  Awesome!

Part of getting ready for Stitches South was to prepare homework and collect supplies before the class so you would be ready for the lesson the teacher had prepared.  For example, I had to crochet a granny square to prepare for the combination knit and crochet class so I had a piece of crochet to practice the variety of connection options while in class.  One of the classes dictated that you bring wool specifically because of some of the forgiving properties of wool that make it easier to work with when learning a new technique.  Some classes also called for yarn of more than one color, hopefully the same yarn weight and fiber mix because a change in size would change your gage, or the size of you stitches.  Well, I had a lot of natural wool lying around as a gift/destash from a lady I helped finish an afghan.  So, rather than haul 5 different kinds of yarn to Atlanta with me, I decided I would use the Fisherman's Wool for all the classes and dye some of it for my secondary color.

I had never dyed wool before, so I thought I'd look it up.  No one seemed to agree on everything.  So I followed some of the most common recommendations.  First safety rule for anyone thinking of doing this at home.  NOTHING that you use for dying can be used to prepare food EVER again.  Commercial dyes are BAD for internal consumption.  Now that we've gotten the PSA out of the way, here's how I did it.

First, I skeined the yarn so the dye could get to all of it.
(I love my new Amish swift, don't you?)

Then, I let it sit in a room temperature bath of water and white vinegar for an hour.  Some people recommended letting it soak overnight, but I didn't allow that much lead time.

Break for food.  Mmmm, three kinds of meat and two kinds of cheese.  I know there aren't any veggies, but I figure the whole grain bread is healthy, right?

At the end of the hour, the yarn should have bloomed.  It will look all swelled up and water logged.  This allows the dye to get to all the fibers.

I stove-dyed mine.  You heat the water and the dye according to the instructions on the dye container.  Then you submerge the yarn in the dye solution.  I tried not to agitate the yarn too much because wool agitated in hot water tends to felt.  I also dropped in a few cotton handkerchiefs to see how cotton takes the dye.  Since I'm one of those people who figure curiosity may have killed the cat, but I'm bigger, I also wanted to see what would happen if I did't do all the elaborate preparation of the yarn.  So I wound another skein off the same ball of yarn and threw it straight into the dye pot.

I pulled the yarn and handkerchiefs out of the dye pot and dropped it all in a tub of slightly cooler soapy water.  I continued to switch it to cooler and cooler baths until the water was cool to the touch and ran clear of any dye.

This is the wet yarn and the handkerchiefs.  As you can see, the wool takes dye much better than cotton.  You may also be able to detect a slightly darker shade of red in the hank of yarn at the top.  Believe it or not, that was the yarn that I did not prepare, I just threw it in.  I'm not sure if it will come out in the wash, but there does not currently seem to be a down side to skipping the elaborate yarn prep.

I then hung the dyed items to dry.  Again, the darker yarn, on the left, is the yarn that was not 'properly' prepared.  The laundry baskets are set up so the cat does not try to help the process along.

After a few days of hang-drying, I wound the skeins into a pair of center-pull balls.  You can see my furry cheering squad in the back.

I wound another 4 center-pull balls of white wool to take along to stitches.  This wound up being a bit excessive.  One of each, maybe a second ball of white, would have been more than sufficient to complete all the homework and in-class swatches.  So now I have lots of yarn prepared to grab for small projects or to try a new stitch.  My next post should be mostly about the most recent additions to my stash.

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou for sharing how you do your dyeing so others can learn. Cause you can do that with most threads from what I know. So you helped more than just knitters. I always dealt with dyes outside. But you are right..never ever use what is used to dye to eat with. Yes, you are also right eating good is a big key to keeping yourself healthy too.