Starry Starry Night

I’ve been playing with yarn again.  This time I wanted to try tie-dyeing yarn.  I already had a name for it before I started: Starry Starry Night.

My goal was to make a night sky blue/violet/black with bright yellow “stars” here and there.  I decided to jump right in using 3 skeins of nice yarn.  So brave of me! “In for a penny, in for a pound” as the saying goes.  I used 80/10/10 merino/cashmere/nylon fingering weight yarn that I bought from Dharma Trading when I was in California.  It’s so soft it almost melts in your hands.  I figured if I was successful with this dye job I’d have enough yarn for a summer sweater.

First I soaked the skeins in water and a little bit of Eucalen.  Then I tied up the yarn with cotton string that I had to block it from getting dye.  I wrapped 2 skeins in 4 places, and 1 skein I wrapped in 6 places.  I didn’t wrap them at even distances (i.e. 1/4 skein, wrap, 1/4 skein, wrap, etc) but instead made the distance between wraps a little more random.  Why did I wrap 1 skein 6 times?  Well, to be honest, because the yarn was so soft that when I took that skein out of the water it kind of fell apart and started to get tangled, so wrapping helped keep it under control.  And, I figured, I can use that skein for the sleeves. 🙂

Here’s the wrap on one skein:

After all the wrapping was done I mixed up my dye colors.  I used 40% sapphire blue, 40% violet and 10% black.  From my previous experience with the black, I figured it wouldn’t mix with the other colors quickly, which was fine with me.  I wanted the colors to stay a little separate in the pot.  First I poured in the blue dye solution into the big pot and stirred well, then I added the violet and didn’t stir at all.  Finally the black, also without stirring.  Then I lowered all 3 skeins, held together at the top, into the pot.  I only gave them a slight swirl to make sure they were all under water.  I turned on the heat and let them sit, just under the boiling point, for 45 minutes.

Here’s how they came out:

It looks to me like the blue and violet mixed together really easily.  I don’t see much separation and the violent is certainly the “weaker” of the two, not making much impact.  The black, like my previous experience, stays separate quite a bit and made some nice transitions between blue/dark blue/black.  Lovely!

Before rinsing them, I laid them out on some plastic on my table outside to do the stars.  I mixed up some super concentrated fluorescent yellow dye and put it in a little sqeeze bottle.

Working around, from tied section to tied section, I sqeezed on the yellow and worked it into the yarn carefully.  I didn’t move the skein around so that the yellow didn’t spread to other parts of the skein.  When one skein was done I put it into a glass pan, with a little water and microwaved it for 2 minutes on high.

After I was finished with all 3 skeins I rinsed them all out and here is the result:

Now, when I picked up my camera to take the above photos, I suddenly thought “Damn! I’ve made the Swedish flag!”.  This was not my intention!  Whatever sweater I make from this will definitely not be worn on a trip to IKEA so I won’t be mistaken for an employee.

Today they were finally dry enough to wrap up and take a final stash photo:

My sweater ideas:

1.  Stockinette stitch in blue and when ever I come to yellow yarn, make purl stitches.

2.  The opposite of 1., meaning reverse stockinette for the blue and knit stitches for the yellow.

3.  Stockinette for the blue and when I come to yellow make a 3-into -3 Estonian lace stitch.

I like option 3. the best but will have to swatch to see if the yellow is wide enough to make it work.

I really like this technique, and there are hundreds of things you could do with tie-dyeing yarn, but does it make any sense for large volume dyeing for someone with a shop or selling dyed yarn?  I don’t think so.  Tying and untying the skeins took a lot of time and it’s really fiddly.  But for a one-off dye job to use for yourself, it’s super fun!

I have no idea when I will get around to knitting up this yarn I’m dyeing.  My shoulder is still really f-d up and I only knit about 90 minutes a day.  I’m still VERY excited about the book I’m working on and I’ve made a lot of swatches for that.  More news about that as the project progresses and I decide how much of it I want to share.

Next dyeing project?  I think I want to try making muted colors by starting with brights and then over-dyeing with their complimentary colors.  This should make some nice Fall yarn……



2 thoughts on “Starry Starry Night

  1. Betty Salpekar September 1, 2012 / 13:33

    YES! I’ll say it was successful — a beautiful job! And I had a thought for the stars: when you come to the yellow just do a 1-over-1 twist in whichever direction would keep the yellow on top. That way you would get diagonal “rays” from the star; one or two rays if the yellow is short, three or four If it’s long enough for both sts in the twist.

  2. yvonnep September 2, 2012 / 19:56

    This, my dear is one beautiful blue! Curious about what the yellow will do in knitting!

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