Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I've Been Dyeing To Do This

An Introduction to Fabric Dyeing

About six months ago, I knit Amy this scarf with some cheap cotton yarn that I got from a bin at Lidl.  I bought a ton of white, generic yarn figuring that I could dye it to be whatever color I wanted later.  I knit up a Summer Flies Shawl, a pattern I'm a big fan of.  Then it sat for ages because dyeing is actually really intimidating, especially if the instructions are not in a language you speak.  

In a burst of productivity, I finally dyed it.  The results were satisfactory.  In the future, I will dye my yarn before knitting with it.  Nevertheless, you may find yourself in a situation wherein you have something that just needs color.  Do not be afraid--especially if you live in America where Rit dye is everywhere and easy enough to use that I was allowed to instruct small children in its application by the age of seventeen.     

Luckily, I had learned how to use this particular dye two years ago while making something for my last job.  It had been a while so I skimmed the instructions but there are those pesky things like grams and liters.  However, I knew that powder plus boiling water and salt made dye.  So, that's where I started.

Red and Blue Make...

I added the water to the dye and mixed in the salt.  I think that's what you were supposed to do.  Seemed right.  Each box contained two packets.  I figured one package of each color would equal one box of purple dye.  But the dye turned this horrifyingly dark shade of almost black.

Submerging Scarf

However, as I saw the dye work its way up the scarf by osmosis, I could tell that it was, in fact, a nice shade of plum purple.  

I set the timer for 20 minutes and waited anxiously.  We got this great little egg timer from a friend who left the city.  It has this unique function.  You know that time is up when you suddenly find you're not annoyed anymore because the ticking has stopped.  Some people might say this means it's broken.  To them I would say, "fair assessment." 


When I dumped out the dye and started to rinse out the scarf, it looked black.  Distinctly, not-purple-in-any-way, black.  But after much work rinsing, it did end up purple.  This is part of the frustration of dyeing yarn after knitting it.  It took forever to rinse out.  In the end, I threw it in the washing machine with some black clothing to get the rest of the dye out.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, though!  There are some patches that for reasons beyond my comprehension are a totally different shade.  Still pretty!

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