Monday, November 17, 2008

Experiments with dye

In my recent post about Stitches East, I noted that I had bought some dyeing supplies from Indie Dyer. This past weekend, I had my first opportunity to try them out.

I started by watching The Superwash Manifesto. This 70-minute instructional video was made by Jenna (the Indie Dyer) and Cheryl Potter of Cherry Tree Hill Yarns. I’m so glad I took Jenna’s advice to buy this. In the past, when I’ve read about dyeing, it seemed so daunting – using chemicals and additives I’d never heard of, and making me think that if I didn’t follow every step to the letter, all the dye would bleed right out of my yarn, or everything would turn to mucky brown. Jenna and Cheryl, however, do a great job of making the dyeing process much more approachable. After watching, I was ready to jump right in.

For my first project, I pulled out a skein of KnitPicks bare superwash merino sock yarn – I had bought it for a project that called for just a little bit of white yarn, so I had almost the full skein left. I decided to try fairly bright colors on this one, so I mixed up some squeeze bottles of kiwi, rosebud, robins egg blue, and sky blue dyes. I put the yarn into a big shallow pan, and started squirting the colors on, letting them merge just a little where they joined. After heat setting the yarn in the microwave, I rinsed out the excess dye and let the yarn hang to dry. The great thing about starting out with a superwash yarn is that I could feel free to manhandle it as I dyed and rinsed without having to worry that it would felt. Here’s the end result:

After the sock yarn, I wanted to experiment with some roving. I rummaged through my (way too big) stash of fiber, and found a bag of undyed wensleydale. This time, I went for subtler, more fall-like colors, using nutmeg, golden pineapple, and a little bit of sky blue. The blue ended up merging with the nutmeg and pineapple to form a soft green. The end result looks a lot like the colors I was seeing as I worked on a table out in my back yard.

The end result really reminded me of something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Finally, after staring at it for a couple of days, I realized that it looks very similar to the colors in the Yarn Harlot’s One Row Scarf.

To round out my experiments, I got some loose kid mohair locks that I had bought from the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm. I had to pick through these a bit to pick out some vegetable matter and loosen them up. I did one batch using rosebud and kiwi,

and another using kiwi, golden pineapple, and sky blue.

I’ve got one more skein of undyed yarn on hand, and a fair amount of white wool and mohair … going to have to restrain myself from buying lots more to play with until I spin and knit some of what I already have!

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