Monday, April 9, 2012

Dying to Dye

Instead of dyeing Easter eggs this year I thought I'd give yarn a try. I know, you're shocked. It was at Gauge, and taught by Doug from White Bear Fibers. I was rather excited about the class - there had been other yarn dyeing opportunities, but the timing had never worked out. I had taken the indigo class, but I hadn’t gotten to play with other colors. And so, when I learned I could bring my own yarn, I took time out of the baby blanket making (pictures coming) to spin up some white superwash merino. As with any crafting project that requires wearing rubber gloves, I was a bit sketchy on taking pictures.

The yarn has to be soaked in an acid bath* before you dye it.
What's in the buckets?
Spaghetti yarn!
The dyes are made up of very small particles that turn your lungs all sorts of different colors, and do nothing good for your health. So, Doug had an apprentice making up all the dyes for the class in a back room.
Dyerista?  No, no let's not call anybody that.
I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to make the dyes ourselves, but can’t argue much with safety. Not mixing the dyes meant that we could focus on color combinations and the different possible dyeing techniques.
The table before the dyeing.
Before the class I’d taken some pictures of the wildflowers as reference for a combination of colors for a skein.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any really good shots of the bluebells mixed in.
Hand painting was one of the techniques I wanted to try; I thought it would work best for the wildflower skein.
Almost finished. I added blue for the bluebonnets, even though they weren't in my photo.
If you are hand painting yarn, and using complimentary colors, you want to wrap up your yarn like a sausage. If the complementary colors mix, you get an icky brown - wrapping the yarn keeps the colors from touching.
Not the best lighting; the yarn is actually purple.
If your yarn colors aren't going to make an icky brown mess, then you don't need to wrap it.
Hand spun, hand dyed. Yeah, it's awesome.
Then you stick your bowl, or yarn sausage, in the microwave to set the dye. Use caution, people! According to Doug hot yarn is like hot noodles**, only worse.
Isn't this the coolest rack? When you are done you can slide the sticks back in for easy storage. The yarn is pretty cool too.
The yarns I dyed. Not that I'm proud of them at all. No sir, not me.
I love my wild flower yarn, especially after I reskeined it. It is not like anything I’d usually buy, but I can’t wait to knit it up. I’m dying to see how the color changes work together. I didn’t put as much planning into the other skeins. I dyed one in the dye and highlight technique. The other I dyed the dye and hand paint technique. Those turned out fine. I haven’t reskeined them, but I’m sure I’ll like them more once I do.

Of the three techniques, I preferred hand painting best. It took longer, and I had to remember to flip the skein, but I had more control.

Now the big question – what am I going to knit?

*No, Mr. Yarn, I expect you to dye.
**DH thinks Hot Noodles sounds like a J-pop band. I think of this NPR piece that has scared me away from ever eating instant cup o' noodles again.

1 comment:

MaryAnne said...

LOVE the wildflower yarn!

And that drying rack is awesome.