Tuesday, May 26, 2009

dyeing experiment

Yesterday evening, after frogging an entire sock that turned out to be too small and was flashing anyway, I decided to try my hand at dyeing. A trip to the grocery store proved that this neighborhood doesn't drink a lot of Kool Aid, so I didn't have a the selection of dye that I wanted. All they had was grape and 3 flavors of the red persuasion. Nope. I wanted green and blue! How sad!

Upon returning home and re-checking the Rav threads, I found a lot of people dyeing with food coloring. I just happen to have a cake decorating kit, which included 4 colors of food dye concentrate! Perfect!

Here's what I started out with: yarn given to me in a swap, in colors I find I probably won't wear, as they contrast too much. I like more subtle variations. More earthy colors.

I soaked the yarn in tepid water with a bit of lemon juice (rather than smelly vinegar), then mixed up a jar full of dye. After 30 minutes of soaking, I put the yarn in the jar of dye and started heating it in a water bath. I found out today that food-grade dyes are ok to use in your normal pots and pans, but not commercial dyes.

When the yarn soaked up all the dye, I let it cool, covered, and then moved the yarn into water of the same temperature. I gradually decreased the temperature to avoid shock (even though it's already superwash), and squeezed it out.

Obviously, I over-saturated with the greens, but it was so interesting to watch the yarn soak it up and leave the water clear! If I go with greens, I won't use so much so that the yellow and blue show through a little more. I made another batch with golden yellow dye and it also turned out nicely.

I'm already addicted! I ordered 6 skeins of sock yarn and am having a dyeing party with Paul, Rob, and Mo. It will be interested to watch the guys try to make what they consider to be "manly" colors. I'm guessing they'll go with brown or navy blue. I'm thinking I'll try to get a perfect purple.

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