Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Learnings to Dye For

Blogger burped yesterday right before I was ready to this is my second attempt at this entry. I am trying to describe what I learned from my practice run on dyeing self-patterning yarns. Friday, if it is not "raining with thunder" we will be having our real Dye Day. I wanted to try some in a 'controlled' environment to see what issues we might have. This is part 2 of my Homework for Dye Day.

The benefit to you of Blogger's burp is that I can now add a picture. Yesterday, I had the skeins of yarn resting for 12+ hours, first thing this morning I rinsed out the yarn to see how they all came out. Here's what it looks like drying before sunrise.

I dyed four yarns. The two on the right were yellow at the start and the two on the left were a natural off white color. Two were 3/2 pearl cotton and two were individual balls of the KnitPicks knitting yarn composed of 60% cotton and 40% modal. As you can see, the color took well. I used Createx instead of Procion which we will be using on Friday but the process will be the same. I painted with four colors; emerald green, turquoise, yellow and orange. I have this concept in my brain which is mulling around...I thought these might be the colors I want.

I won't discuss the dyeing process since we have done this before. I want to indicate some areas which might be useful to consider for those coming on Friday...or doing this elsewhere in the world.

Pattern: This is supposed to be self patterning yarn so one needs a pattern. I decided I wanted to knit some I-cords so I knitted a few inches with various needles to get the look I wanted. I unwound one inch of I-cord and discovered it took about 12 inches of yarn. I got out some graph paper, numbered forty squares to represent the forty feet of the skein of yarn I was to make and simply filled in the squares with a colored pencil in the pattern I wanted to follow. I left blanks where I wanted the yarn undyed. That was my pattern.

A pattern is something which is to be followed. In retrospect, I think I only used the pattern in the last two skeins. In the beginning, I just painted what seemed interesting. I really won't know how they will come out until I knit the yarn. But I think I should have used longer patterns of color since the colors seem to wick together much more than I would have expected.

Making 40 Ft Skeins: I didn't have any trouble making the skeins. I simply placed two C-clamps in my living room 20 feet apart and wound the yarn around them. I tied [not too tightly] the skeins in 9 places using some left over yarn. Then folded up the skein and tied it with some thick yarn so it would not tangle during the soaking processes. For the KnitPicks yarn I only skeined one ball. For the pearl cotton, I skeined how much I thought would be a similar amount. The helpful hint from the book was not to use more than 60 rounds in any skein. I don't think I even got to 20. Given the mess, time and effort of the process, I think it would be beneficial to go with bigger vs. smaller skeins. I also think it would end up with less tangles.

Painting 40 Ft. Skeins: I was outside and used a round table covered with plastic and newspaper. I changed the newspaper between skeins and wiped the excess dye with paper towels. It's messy. There is no doubt about it - messy, messy, messy! Have a trash container close by. Perhaps we should all bring extra newspaper and paper towels. I untied and unfolded the bundled yarn and placed it on the table. Avoid round tables if you can, it's a pain getting the yarn to go around and around without having it touch previous rounds. My table seemed a bit small and dye would dribble over to the next round if I was not careful. I used a magic marker to mark each foot on the newspaper. In this way I could easily follow my pattern from the graph paper when painting. For painting I used a painters sponge roll which was about one inch wide. I did not need to use that much dye, I was surprised. I made sure the dye went through the entire skein from top to bottom. This was not too hard since the skeins were so small.

Wrapping the 40 Ft. Skeins: This part seems important to consider both from a result standpoint and an environmental standpoint. I used three methods. I recommend the third.

1. The yarn on the left was painted and put into a ziplock back to rest. As you can see, this method allowed all the dye to blend in with all the other dye so the pattern seems to have disappeared.

2. The yarn next to it used a different technique. I wrapped each 2-3 ft section individually with plastic wrap. This used a lot of plastic wrap and too a great deal of time. It also took some time to remove during the rinsing process. My patience level did not like this method.

3. The two yarns on the right were wrapped in the same manner. I put the plastic down without cutting it off the roll and laid the yarn across the shorter part. I folded over the plastic and laid the next section of yarn across and folded the plastic over again. This way the yarn was separated by plastic warp in all spots except the very ends. Once done, I wrapped the entire piece in plastic wrap so it would not drip. This method seemed to work well, use the least amount of plastic wrap and was easy to unwrap during the rinsing process.

What I am going to try on Friday: I am going to try to dye one more skein on Friday following this process. However, I am going to try different things to avoid the tangles I got on the KnitPick yarn.

  • I am going to use larger skeins so I probably will dye two or three balls at once.
  • I am going to tie the skein in more places with yarn that is distinctively different that the knitting yarn so I can easily find the ties and remove the tangles.
  • I am going to have larger spaces between colors to see how much the dye really wicks and check out how much mixing of colors occurs by the way the plastic wrap is used in method three.
  • I am going to use the yellow yarn with a different color at each color change.

If I have time I'd also like to try to dye one of those graduated color patterns too.

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