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Monday, April 09, 2007

Lessons still to be learned

First attempt at full scale yarn dying.

At this point it was fairly clear what I'd done wrong. Far too much blue dye had gone straight on to the yarn at one end of the pit, at the other end the purple was much too patchy. The result was this.

Debbie Bliss Merino DK

It's not horrendous but it's not what I had hoped for. In my tests with the mini-skeins I had suffered from the dyes mixing together in the pot before they had had a chance to fix on to the yarn, I think due to too much dye and water in the pot. Here I had kept water to a minimum, the yarn was barely submerged, and had soaked the yarn overnight in the vinegar solution with the result that the dye barely hit the water before it was soaking into the nearest merino fiber and then clinging on for dear life.

I didn't despair straightaway. I waited for the yarn to dry and then knit a couple of swatches from the skein*, just because yarn sometimes looks much better knit up than in the skein. This yarn didn't. It's patchy and too bright in places and too bleached in others.

The plan now is to get some more food dye (I'm all out of red and blue) and over-dye the skein in some sort of deep red. I hope that the overdyeing will either work with the existing colours to create a more harmonious effect, or that it will blot them out completely (though I feel that this is unlikely).

I also plan to be much more scientific about this overdyeing, to the extent of weighing out a mini-skein, and measuring the dye and water and vinegar (yes I know, it would have been a good idea to do this in the first place), and then keeping the ratios the same for the rest of the yarn. I may also need a bigger dye pot.

* This led to a lot of annoying questions from the boyfriend along the lines of: "Why are you pulling the yarn through the ties, why don't you just untie them?", "Why don't you wind it into a ball before you knit it?", "Didn't Katie bring the winding thing on Saturday?", "Why did you dye it such horrible colours?". I answered each question with great patience and tact, considering.

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