Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adventures in color

So, last week I decided that perhaps the last day of school would be the PERFECT day to dye some yarn. Well, it did seem perfect with it being warm and all. I forgot to factor in the kid input, but overall it didn't go too bad.

I had a knit picks sock blank and a skein of "bare" sock yarn, also from KnitPicks. The plan was to dye the sock blank in a rainbow pattern. And I had decided I liked the roygbivroygbiv as opposed to roygbivvibgyor pattern. The skein I wanted to go from a very light blue to a very dark blue. I was using food coloring--designed particularly to use as cake frosting dye. Specifically I was using Americolors gel dye. I took a class about 18 months ago and used this process with good results. In looking through my notes, I found them to be rather vagues, so I wanted to document the process here. I also decided to document my progress via photos.

So first, you soak the yarn for a few hours in a solution of water and vinegar--this part I had spelled out in my notes--3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. So after marking out the spacing on my blank, I soaked the skein and the blank for 4 hours.
marked blank

Then I set up my supplies. Outside.
I had small paintbrushes, the dye, some water to mix it up, saran wrap, paper towels and gloves.
Then I laid out the saran wrap and it blew away.
So then I decided I'd mix up the dye and then do the saran wrap. Basically my notes from the class said a squirt of dye and water added until it looks right. I have no idea what "looks right" meant at that point in time. I fudged it. I think if you wanted to be more exact some old socks would make a great place to test your color palate out. I added probably a teaspoon of dye to 1/2 cup of water. And STIR! The red I bought was not americolor, it was a paste dye and it took significantly more stirring to mix it up and I was not satisfied even then with how it mixed up.


Then I laid out the saran wrap on the table and put the sock blank on that.
laid out
Then I painted the colors on. You do have to really use a lot of liquid to get it to go through. Knit picks shows them using a squirt bottle, and this probably would work too--I liked the feeling of control that the foam brushes gave me. Even with all the liquid I used, the color didn't fully permeate the sock blank.
And as you can see--the red doesn't look RED. Man I'm still mad about that.
rainbow blank

I mixed up the blue and indigo on the rainbow because in the containers after mixing they all looked alike. Another note to make for next time--MARK the colors too.
After you get it all painted, wrap it up in plastic wrap and microwave in two minute increments until the water runs clear.
The "water" actually pools on the bottom. I'm not sure I got this cooked enough, as later the red kinda bled a little (stupid RED). Anyway, I let it cool while I did the skein. Now, I ran out of color on the skein and I never did get my light blue to look light enough so I went with some green too. I thought it looked pretty. It will probably pool like mad.
dyed skein
I had to really really work at getting the skein completely saturated, it was skeined up too thick I think. I flipped it and massaged it and poured dye into it. I still have some white spots. Anyway, I wrapped that up and cooked it too.

Then after everything was cool, I cut them open--because the plastic wrap gets a little um melted I guess. Then my instructions weren't clear as to whether I should rinse everything or not. So I did, because it still smelled vinegary. Will probably have to rinse again though. The red bled a little (ha a rhyme, not funny though) when I rinsed, so perhaps a bit more is in order, then I hung everything up to dry.

Several things worked well. I would not have done this inside. It was messy messy messy and the dye stuck really well to porous objects Although it washed out of cotton really well much to the dismay of my daughters who "tie dyed" some socks at the same time.
I got really bright colors--brighter than I remembered getting in the class--although I got a better red there! I'm STILL mad about the red! And I am really looking forward to knitting on these.

The next time I do this (and yes there will be a next time) I will:

* try to arrange for the kids to be gone. Because they wanted to help. I do think I might buy them each a skein and let them go to town, then make socks from the results for them. Perhaps as a back to school project--the knit picks skeins aren't too expensive, cheaper anyway than most store bought sock yarns (and my daughters love the hand paints, so you know I'll be actually saving money even if I have to buy 12 more colors of dye).
*I will not buy any paste color--just gel. I will probably test on some old socks how the colors are going together.
*I would probably Flip a sock blank over, just to be sure it was saturated, and I think I might spread the skein out more. Also--I'll be more careful with the colors if that is an important design element.


Trisha said...

Wow, what a process! Very cool. I can't wait to see the sock blank knit up.

Knitterella said...

Wow - how fun!