I need the perfect storm in order to dye yarn: money for un-dyed yarn, time to spend dyeing yarn, and good weather to be able to rinse and hang dyed yarn outside. This past Saturday was one of those perfect days.
I had on hand 4 skeins of BFL lace weight yarn (400g total), non-superwash. And the last time I was in the U.S. I bought a bag of 10 100g skeins of BFL/Silk (55%/45%), DK weight (super wash). And I have still 9 jars of various colors of Dharma Trading acid dyes. AND clear blue skies and warm temps. Perfect!
First of all, I have to tell you that this DK weight BFL/silk IS TO DIE FOR (to DYE for? haha :-P). It has a nice even twist to it and shines like silk ought to. It feels like butta in my hands. I was a little bit afraid of dyeing it – what if I ruined it? It would be a pretty big investment to f-up. Oh, by the way, I bought it from wool2dye4.
First into the pot though was the lace weight. I was going for dark fuchsia blending to light fuchsia/pink. I thought I’d be clever and mix dyes based on CMYK color percentages in Photoshop. I had magenta and cyan (fuchsia and true turquoise) dyes on hand. I decided to do 2% DOS, which was, in hindsight, probably too much. I mixed 85% fuchsia and 15% turquoise in a jar with very hot water.
I let it sit a few minutes, then stirred again and added more water. It seemed to be mixing really well. I filled my big dye pot with hot water and citric acid and stirred that til dissolved. Then in went the dye solution. I only ever dye a certain weight of yarn so always mix dye for just that batch of yarn. I only dye yarn 2-3 times a year so there’s no point mixing up dye solution and storing it. I mix what I need on the day and that’s it.
When I put the yarn into the pot I held the 4 skeins together at the top and slowly lowered them into the pot, a couple of inches, then wait a couple of minutes, repeat. The last bit of yarn that went into the pot got the least amount of dye. Now, this is non-superwash yarn but man did it soak up the dye!
While it cooked, the turquoise started to foam up! That was a surprise. Was it separating? Was it soaking in at all? Or crocking?
After 40 minutes I took the pot outside and gently poured out the skeins into a sieve to cool off. Then I hung them up on my nifty yarn draining bar.
At this point I was disappointed. They were a lot darker than I wanted. But also still wet. I let them cool off and drain a bit, then took them down and rinsed them out. I lost none of the magenta in the rinse water but indeed, turquoise washed out a little bit!
On to the blue. I decided to dye just 7 of the 10 skeins – enough for a sweater but not committing myself completely to a new dye method and yarn base. I used Sapphire blue dye at 2% DOS. I already had really nice results with this dye at this DOS so decided to do this again. And besides, from experience I knew that silk takes more dye than wool to get the same saturated color. I also mixed up a separate pot of black – a very weak solution, just 2 grams of black dye powder. This time I put the damp skeins in the pot all at once and gave them a little stir. I didn’t want completely even color, but not the huge variation like the purple either. Since this yarn contained silk I cooked it at a lower temp, about 80 degrees C, for 30 minutes. Then I took the pot outside where the hot black dye pot was waiting. I dunked the skeins into the black (wearing heavy rubber gloves), dunking in and out a few times. I had no idea how black the yarn would become or how it would take up the dye. It was great! All the dye was soaked up after 4 dunks. Back into the now exhausted blue dye pot to cook for another 20 minutes.
When I hung the blue skeins up I realized two things – 1. I should not have depended on the skein ties that came with the yarn. I have 7 tangled messy skeins to deal with now. I should have tied my own separating ties. and 2. I have about 50 different shades of blue in these skeins! Amazing! See the top photo for a close up of a section of the skeins laying on a table, all dry.
Here is my morning’s work hanging to dry. Oh, and when I rinsed the blue no color at all rinsed out. Perfect uptake of color.
And here are the finished skeins, all dry. First the purple/pink.
The 3 on the right are pretty even in the amount and brightness of the pink section. The outlier on the left has very little pink. Oh well. I only need 3 to make a nice sweater and the 4th can be a shawl. :-) You can see that they did lighten up after they dried. I’m pretty happy with the results, although I was aiming for less variation in the color and not such a deep purple at the other end of the skein.
Here is the blue while still damp. You can see what a tangled mess I have on my hands.
And now dried and laying out on a table. The color is as true to real life as possible and looks pretty correct.
Look how many different blues there are! I’m really amazed at the lighter areas. Why didn’t that get more blue dye? It will be hard to tell how well they match each other until I either skein them up nicely or wind them into cakes. I find that comparing cakes of yarn is the best way to see matching or not matching colors. Better even than comparing skeins.
I’m so happy with the blue that I’m itching to knit something with it right away. Probably a cardigan. But first I have to finish my green lace pullover (more about that in a few days).
My NEXT dyeing experiment is already in the planning. I’m going to try yet another completely different technique – something I’ve never done before. DB had the brilliant idea of testing it on a swatch first. Smarty pants. I would have just jumped in with a whole skein or a sweater’s worth of yarn! But he’s the sensible one and so I will try first with a swatch. But first I need some spray bottles….