Dyeing to Meet the Challenge!

Q –  This is my dye challenge the Fair Isle Beret featured in Prima November 2009! Will I be able to take the raw yarn below and dye it to match the purple, brown, and pink colors found in the beret?  Saturday was rainy, windy day so I couldn’t go outside and use the Jacquard dyes, I don’t like using them inside.  I stayed warm and dry indoors and used food color dye.  I know, I know, these colors tend to be WAY to bright, but that’s what was in the house.  After rewinding the yarn onto the nitty noddy, it was soaked in a mixture of Kookaburra Delicate and vinegar for 48 hours.  Since I don’t need as much brown and pink yarn, I made small 20 gram hanks which were soaked in the mixture for an hour.

I used Wilton’s Food Coloring in brown, pink, and purple.  See the dye splotches? I was just checking to see the colors.  Very cool!  They really do look BRIGHT!  The brown looks more greenish.  We’ll see!

I started with the brown.  It really looks green.  Amazing how you can’t tell what color the yarn will be based on the color of the liquid.    I added about 8 cups of water into the crockpot and poured in about 2 tablespoons more vinegar for mordant.  I poured in brown dye until it looked as if it were dark enough.  I was trying for a tan color, not dark brown.  I’m thrilled with the crockpot that I found on Friday for $8!  Another one of my fabulous thrift store finds. Thank you to the person who gave it away.

Turned the crockpot to high.  It took about an hour for the dye to be exhausted.  Took the yarn out and cooled it.  Really wasn’t 100% happy with the color so after I dyed the pink and the purple yarns I redyed the brown and it turned out perfect!  The first time it was too mottled and there were green spots.

The pink yarn was dyed next. Rather interesting that the pink dye left a pink rim around the inside of the crockpot.  It turned out a bit to bright, even though I used about 1/8 teaspoon to 1 cup of water.  It was then diluted further when only a tiny bit was added into 8 cups of vinegar – water mixture in the crockpot. Everything I’ve read said that adding vinegar to pink food coloring or easter egg dyes would make a lighter color.  Didn’t work in this instance.  I put it into Oxyclean and desaturated it a tiny bit.  Rinsed really well.

Last to dye was the purple.  It really came out mottled.  I had soaked the yarn in yarn soak for about 48 hours so the yarn was throughly wet.  I have about 100 grams of wool.  It took a few hours to exhaust the purple. After I took it out it didn’t look as if it was the purple I was looking for. It’s hard to see but the yarn is too periwinkle blue with lots of hot pink thrown in – definitely not what I’m going for! Pretty, but not up to meeting the challenge. So, I decided to wait until the morning to check it in morning light. Since yesterday was sunny, I took the purple yarn outside and studied it.  It really was too periwinkle blue – hot pink- blue instead of a purple.  It had to go back into the dye pot. Re-soaked the yarn for an hour. Then I made a mixture of two purple Kool-Aids.  Kool-Aid has citric acid as the main ingredient so I didn’t add any more vinegar to the water mixture.   Added the yarn, plugged in the crockpot (lol), and heated the yarn-dye bath until all of the dye was exhausted.  The dye was perfect.

Original purple which had to be redyed:

Voila! The results!  The colors in “real-life” turned out quite well.  Recap time:  1. The brown had to go through the dye bath twice, but the food coloring worked just fine, 2. The pink frosting turned the yarn “hot pink”.  Redyed with pink lemonade and the results were a much softer pink. 3. The purple frosting gave a periwinkle-hot pink-blue color so I redyed with purple Kool-aid!  I think the results are close enough to meet the challenge.  What do you think?

A note about yesterday – It was one of those days!  Sister Barb, Curls, was having a wonderful day, with her husband, at the bike race in Los Angeles.

While riding along doing wonderfully well, her bike fell over on her.  I personally think the bike turned into “Christine”. lol  She ended up with a bruised, swollen ankle.  Thus proving my point that yesterday was really Friday the 13th!

Poor Curls is RICEing her ankle today so we aren’t having our Monday Meeting.  When she’s feeling better she’ll probably tell you all about it.

Ok, I had a tax reprieve from yesterday – they’re not due until tomorrow!  So, ta-ta I’m off to have real fun! lol  I just have to resist the call of the Siren aka Mariah the Spinning Wheel.  Taxes, taxes, taxes!

To Dye or Not to Dye

Years ago I read an very funny article can’t remember the author, think it was Gene Sheppard, or what the entire article was about.  What I remember is the description of  a car the author had that was an awful shade of green.  He referred to the color as “goat-vomit-green”.  That’s how I feel about this yarn.  What was I thinking?  Try as I may, I could not get the digital camera to show the true ugliness of this yarn! I did make a yarn cake holder for my sister from the yarn  Now, I’ve decided to try some Kool-Aid on it.

I had a left-over mixture of Blue Ice Lemonade and Lemon- Lime so I tried that first.  It turned into a beautiful green color.  But, I decided it looks to much like a primary school color and that’s not what I’m after.

I decided a reddish color might just be the ticket.  I put a sample into Black Cherry.  The sample is such a beautiful dark red-orange color.  It is stunning.  This is the comparison:

Out came the nitty noddy and the ball was turned into a skein.  I love my home-made nitty noddy.  Made it from instructions found on the web at The Lost Pages.  I brought the measurements to the hardware store and had them make the cuts for me.  I spray painted it pink since I didn’t like the PVC pipe with the black writing on it. I made sure that I tied the skein in four places so the yarn won’t tangle.

Skein went into the Kookaburra Delicate soak for 20 minutes.  Since Kool-Aid already has citric acid added as the first ingredient, I didn’t add any vinegar to the soak or Kool-aid solution.  I know different people have mentioned they add salt to the mix. I didn’t since salt is the second ingredient in Kool-Aid. Go figure!

While the yarn soaks, I prepare the Kool-Aid mixture.  It is recommended to use 1 package of Kool-Aide for every ounce of yarn.  I have 2.5 ounces of yarn so I used three packages.  I added about 72 ounces of water. Using my handy-dandy, recycled, plastic, 48 oz, mixed nut container as a measuring cup.

After 20 minutes, I squeezed the excess water gently from the soaked yarn.  I don’t bother to rinse the yarn out.  The yarn goes into the Kool-Aid mixture which is the same temperature as the soak so there isn’t any temperature shock to felt the wool.  I push the wool into the dye bath so all parts are under.  Now, I turn the stove on to a medium heat – just enough to cause the bath to simmer. I keep checking until I see that the dye has been depleted.  You can see that the yarn has absorbed all of it.

This lot only took about 25 minutes.  Now I dump the yarn into a colander to drain. To cool the yarn down, I transfer the skein to this fabulous boot mat that I got for $2 at Target!  I have to go back for more.  I need some for planting my seedlings.  What you can’t see in the picture is that there is a slight variation in the way the dye was absorbed so the yarn has a great variation of colors. Now all I have to do is wait for the yarn to cool, gently rinse it, then soak in the Kookaburra Delicate, squeeze, and dry.  I’ll post the dried yarn later.

I’m going to stay home today and go out into the garden for awhile.  My flowers are screaming for attention!  Really have to get my flowers blooming.  My house’s totem butterfly, the Gulf Fritillary, hasn’t been around much thanks to the winter.  I had one last week and I’m sure it followed Barb home because she said it showed up at her place!!  We live about 40 miles apart.  I told her she’d better bring it back. This is the basket I keep by the back door and always take into the backyard. As a Girl Scout, I’m always prepared.  It contains: camera, butterfly book, bird book, sunglasses, a book to read, and binoculars.

“You’ll Not See Nothing Like the Mighty Quinn”

q8~Today’s spinning retreat was AWESOME!  To paraphrase the song, Cecelia Quinn proved to be a mighty teacher.  She’s a traveling teacher from Alaska and if you get a chance to take one of her classes just do it!  We learned a great new way to join so there wasn’t a clunky seam (as I usually get). Split open the bottom, put the new yarn in the middle perpendicularly, then bend the new yarn down.  Really looks good!  Spun with a wide assortment of fibers – even cashmere!  The visual demonstration of carded yarn vs. combed yarn was perfect for understanding how the two differ.  The main technique for spinning was the long draw.  I just started spinning a month ago and hadn’t gotten to the long draw yet.  Now to practice!  Why do instructors make it look so darn easy?

Of course there were all types of goodies to purchase!  After much deliberation, I selected  a 20% silk, 40% wool, 40% camel blend.  The yarn is from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks by Nancy Finn.  It’s so gorgeous!  Fingers are itching to start spinning. I think it will be the perfect yarn for Jojoland’s Berry Tam. All of the colors will segue beautifully.  On our Northwest fiber journey we saw a model of the hat at Yellow House Yarns.  What a wonderful shop!  Friendly, helpful, staff and wonderful yarns!  Got a few great ideas which we will be slowly sharing with you.

30% change of rain over the weekend here in San Diego, Ca.  If it is nice, as today was, I’m going to do some dyeing.  Barb works Saturday so I’ll have to have fun without her. I have some great undyed top screaming out to dye.  I’m thinking forest colors.  But, I do get in a rut and pick the same colors  – my “comfort” colors.  I’m trying to step outside of my comfort zone and pick a different pallet.  See the orange in the roving above?  That’s what I’m talking about.  Maybe something with these colors, Browns, Grey, rust, golden yellow, peach:

Using the dropper in Photoshop can help isolate a great pallet!

Ah, my special iris.  This is the great-whatever-grandchild of an iris my grandma planted in the 1940’s.  My mom took some rhizomes from grandma so we had this iris at every home we lived in as children.  When Barb and I grew up and had homes of our own we snagged rhizomes from mom.  This is a family heirloom.  We’ve told our kids that they have to keep the tradition alive!  This iris brings back so many memories every year when it blooms.  We live in San Diego so things bloom earlier here.