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Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter yarn dyeing project - part 2

Once the yarn was dry (and occasionally whilst it was still the teensiest bit damp) I knit some swatches. I may be gaining more enthusiasm for the process of swatching after listening to Christa Giles talk about using a whole skein for a swatch, I even did the thing of making nice garter stitch borders.

UK Alpaca dk in foxy

This baby swatch was my first attempt. I tried to do a bit too much, going for a brown/yellow variegation. What I got (due to too much dye and too much water) was a really gorgeous solid, fox colour with loads of subtlety.

Rowan 4-ply soft in blue/purple

My next attempt, a slightly larger mini-skein of Rowan 4-ply soft, was the only one that really worked to plan. Right amount of dye to yarn and water evidenced by all the dye being taken up by the yarn.

UK Alpaca dk in gold

UK Alpaca dk in turquoise

Two more successful failures. I wanted the top to be a mix of red, green and yellow. For the second swatch I was aiming at jade and turquoise. The first time round the colours were too different, the second time they were too similar. I'm really happy with the results though.

Handspun in green/yellow

Again, more variegation gone astray. This actually does have some places where you can see the original yellow.

I learnt a few things from my experiments.

I really like dyeing yarn.
You can get some incredibly subtle shades using just red, blue and yellow food colouring.
If I want variegation I need the different colours to be further apart in the dye bath and to use less dye.
Alpaca works really well for hand dyeing.
I need to be more scientific about the ratios of yarn to water and to dye.
Vinegar really smells when you heat it. Yarn dyeing is something I can do only when the boyfriend is away for the weekend and I have time to air the flat afterwards.

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