Fun with dye

Last summer I bought a bunch of acid dyes thinking that I would start doing some dyeing. And then I bought an bunch of undyed top and had great plans for doing my own colorways to spin.

And then, predictably enough, life got in the way and I never got around to it. About a month ago, I came across a thread in the Norah Gaughan fan group on Ravelry about a celebratory sweater - she is designing a sweater for the group to knit as a free pattern. She posted a schematic and I decided to paw through the stash and see if I had anything appropriate.

I found this yarn I got in Italy a couple of years ago and thought “Wow, that might be perfect if only it were a slightly different color.” One thing led to another and I found myself some time later hovering over the stove with lots of little jars with 1 oz samples of yarn/top bubbling away. Now I’ve got a notebook filled with dyed samples, and I decided to give the yarn a try.

Dying samples

Dying samples

Click on this picture to see which color I was aiming for

I pulled out the Italian yarn and got to work.

Italian wool

Now, that there one of two skeins of this stuff, resulting in 815 g of worsted weight yarn. I do not have a pot the appropriate size that I can donate to the non-foodsafe dyeing cause, nor did I want to drop umpteen bucks on something just for this one experiment. Instead I went to the local Target and got myself a large plastic box. Since I live in the South, and it is 90 degrees until November, maybe I could do this outside.

Solar dyeing

I soaked the yarn with the appropriate amount of vinegar (according to Deb Menz, Dyeing Goddess Extraordinaire) and a whole whack of water. Technically it was supposed to be 31.87 liters, but I didn’t have that much distilled stuff on hand so I just filled up the tub about halfway with the hose and threw the yarn in to soak.

Solar dyeing

Then I pulled the yarn out and added the dye directly to the soaking bath. Deb Menz has very specific formulas for the amount of water needed per dry weigh of yarn/fiber, but I’ve seen more then one other person say that the amount of water isn’t the critical factor, so I decided to wing it.

Solar dyeing

Devil wanted to help

I put a big piece of plywood and a Crepe Myrtle log on top to keep out inquisitive squirrels and children and left it overnight.

Much to my surprise, I came out the next morning and found this:

Solar dyeing

I knew from my 1 oz experiments that with this particular formula, the turquoise didn’t exhaust completely, but I was shocked to see how much of the dye had exhausted!

But...I rinsed the yarn multiple times, and found that it was still loosing a lot of the blue/purple dye. So I put it back into the dye bath/rinse water and added more vinegar and left it for a couple of days.

Then I pulled out each skein individually and wrapped them in plastic bags and steamed them in my very large lobstah pot (which gets lots of use down here, let me tell you). I figured that the dye had gotten into the yarn in the outside step, but still needed to be heated to complete the process.

Overdyed Italian wool

It seemed to work. So now I’ve got 815 g of dark blue yarn with purple undertones. It turns out that the NG pattern calls for DK weight yarn (perfect for the bag of purple Silky Wool I have hanging around), so this will get to be something else. But I'm definitely more excited about it now!