Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dyeing for fun!

Yarn / Fiber Dyeing Tutorial

Dyeing your own roving or yarn can be very rewarding and a lot of fun. It can also be very useful if you find yourself in possession of some wonderful fiber that just isn't quite the right color for you. There are some great colorists out there that work wonders with dyes - let them inspire you. Everyone has their own unique eye when it comes to color and you will create something that is very much your own. I have outlined the basic steps here to give you a starting point to get your feet wet so to speak.

Fill sink with water as warm as you can still handle and add about a half cup of vinegar.

Prior to dyeing, soak wool for about 20-30 minutes to open up the fibers.

Measure out dye and hot water according to recommendations on the packaging or throw caution to the wind and do it however you like. Remember, the more dye, the more saturated the color, the less dye the less saturated. Dye should be mixed in a disposable container or glass container that will only be used for this purpose. Utensils and containers cannot be used for food preparation after being used for dye. You can experiment with variations and depth of color, as well as blended colors.

Add vinegar to your dye mixes. I like to use several variations of the main color and will often mix the main color and disperse it to three different containers. Keeping one container as is, I will 'doctor' the other two enhancing the shades with differing colors or just making them lighter or darker.

Squeeze water from the wool or yarn, do not wring or twist. Lay out two sheets of plastic wrap overlapping the sides then add a third sheet covering the overlapping seam. This helps to keep the dye from leaking while steaming. Lay out the wool/yarn in the center of the plastic wrap to apply dye.

Dye can be applied using many things. I typically use a turkey baster, paint brush and straws. You can saturate the wool or leave areas of the original color showing through. In this case, I saturated the wool using dyes in different hues but the same tones then added some areas of darker tones, then some darker tones again. I also flipped the wool over to make sure both sides were saturated through. You can dye it in stripes or blend colors throughout, or a combination of both, whatever works for you.

Once the wool is dyed, roll the wool in the plastic wrap lengthwise keeping as much air out as possible then secure the ends by twisting them very good. The ends can then be twisted together forming a circle and the cirle laid in the steamer. Cover and steam until the dye has exhausted. When this occurs, the water in the plastic wrap will appear clear or at least much lighter. For dark shades I usually give it at least 30 minutes, for light shades it can be quite quick.

Once the dye exhausts you have to cool the wool prior to washing it so it doesn't felt. I would do the same with superwash even though the felting isn't a problem. You can remove the wool from the steamer by picking it up by the twisted ends of the plastic wrap. Holding both ends up, untwist one and set that end in a strainer, hold the other end up and untwist slowly. This will allow the water to start draining out and the wool to slide out without having to touch it. BEWARE - IT IS VERY HOT! Continue unwrapping until wool slides into the strainer. Then allow it to cool to the touch (this takes awhile, just leave it be until it cools) and squeeze out the excess water. Do not wring or twist, just squeeze.

Fill the sink with warm water that matches the temperature of the wool or warmer. It is very important not to place warm wool in cold water or the fibers lock down and felt togther. Once the sink is full turn off the water, put some soap in your hand and rinse the soap into the water. This adds the soap without causing suds - you do not want sudsy wool, it takes forever to rinse.

Once the soap is dispersed into the water (I use liquid hand soap), add the wool and just let it soak for about 20 minutes. Do not stir it about! Wet wool felts and you don't want to do that accidently after all your hard work. After it soaks, squeeze out the water again and set it back in the strainer.

Fill the sink with clean water the same temperature as the water you washed it in and add about a quarter cup of vinegar. Add the wool and soak for another 20 minutes. The vinegar cuts the soap so it rinses clean and doesn't leave any residue. Again, do not stir it about or handle it any more than absolutely necessary.

After 20 minutes, squeeze out the water again and set it out on an old towel. Fold the other half over and step on it to soak as much water up as possible.

Hang the wool to dry and put an old towel under it to catch any potential drips. Unless it is really humid, wool usually dries in about 24 hours.

Once it is dry, admire your work and your wool is now ready for use.

I will add some helpful hints and suggestions in a follow up post with the lace yarn I overdyed next. If you have any questions, or if I missed something let me know and I will add it. This is only one way to do it, there are many others including kettle dyeing or even baking it in the oven. Each method yields different results, it is all your preference. Experiment and enjoy!

Monday, April 24, 2006


So far the job is going great and I'm surrounded by a lot of really nice people. I appreciate this so much because my last job wasn't quite that way. I am working in good ol' downtown Detroit. I have to post some pictures when I get a chance. Considering the current economic state in Michigan and the automotive industry and manufacturing, Detroit doesn't feel depressed. I was so happy about that. The city has been through so much since I was a kid and it's probably going to be another rough stretch but it's not giving up. Downtown is full of flowering trees and tulips and daffodils in the islands, the streets are clean and the window cleaners are all out. The old turn of the century architecture is still beautiful and of course there are an awful lot of Red Wings jerseys out and about :) Everybody I've met has been wonderful and full of spring fever, like me!

Speaking of spring fever, Kya now spends a great deal of time behind the couch so she can catch some rays in the sunshine. As a celebration of the new job I bought the girls a "Good Cus" squeak toy. Kya loves it so much she has been dragging it around with her everywhere and not sharing too much with Lily. I think it is hiliarious that if I give them a plush stuffy toy the first thing they have to do is unstuff it then play with it's remains but she will drag this goofy rubber toy around like a teddy bear.

I have a bunch of photos to post tomorrow too. I dyed up some roving that I love and that merino lace from the last post that was pooling in ways I couldn't control or enjoy? I over-dyed it and I think it may blend it nicely to keep the blue jeans feel but match the pattern better. Amy said you can get it to stop doing that by tweaking the number of stitches cast on and stuff, and I could have done that but I felt I still wouldn't be too excited about it. Stay tuned and you can tell me what you think.

Now that the initial chaos and stress is fading a bit I can concentrate a bit better and have knit a bit on my Twisted Stitch socks but I really have to get my color work projects back in swing. Hopefully soon!

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes!!! I will be back to responding to each message now that I have a little more time. Between the new job and the volunteer work with the greyhound rescue group, (Michigan Greyhound Connection) I have been so busy I haven't had much chance to keep up! I've been helping them out with adoptions and it is a lot of work! But so rewarding, you can see the latest group of dogs and their new families here. I helped every one of them find a new greyhound to love :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rip it good!

Ok, it's over! This is one WIP that hits the RIP pile. I love the simplicity of the Town and Country pattern and the yarn is a very nice merino lace that I won in a contest over at Boogie's, but together? ick! I don't like all the crazy pooling that the color is doing, it's just awful and I will never finish this project because I don't even like to look at it. So it gets ripped. I think I will toss the yarn in the dye pot and see if I can even out the color to something more soothing for me. I'll see how it turns out.

Next on the RIP list is the baby sweater I was designing. I don't think there is any problem with my general design ideas but the width of the sweater in the yarn I was using doesn't fit any available circular needle size! Who knows what I was thinking? So it's back to the drawing board for me and this sweater.

That feels a whole lot better!

On the job front, they rescheduled and I don't start until tomorrow. I've been pretty stressed out about the whole thing. It's been an odd situation. It's a consulting job through a subcontractor so I have to talk with 4 different people every time something changes and I don't meet the actual people I'll be working with until tomorrow. They want me to come in 2 hours early too and the commute is about an hour and a half or so. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel excited, right now it's just a bit surreal.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In Not Knit News Today........

I know, I've been quiet. I've been really busy and swear I've talked to a hundred people on this job quest thing. Some days I'm going a mile a minute and others I'm in Murphville. Murph, murph, murph. Blah, blah, blah. Murph, murph, murph. I hate that I can't concentrate on projects in times like these and when I try I seem to frog a lot. I even started to get nervous about finishing anything because I didn't know when I would get my next fix. I started thinking in terms of lace simply because very little yarn goes a long way. And I started hording fiber.....can't spin it, what if I can't get more??? This is not the creative excitement that I usually approach life from at all! This is soo not me! This was getting downright pathetic.

I've been on the phone for ages, lots of talking, emails flying, great reviews, but always the interviewed, never the hired. This just had to end.

Friday I got the 98% call, just in time for my birthday. How cool is that!?! Today I got the 100% call. They want me, period. Not to interview, to hire. Sign here, start Monday. I'm cool with that. Now where did all of my projects get off to???