Dyeing to Show and Tell (nyuck nyuck!)

Back again for what will most likely be the last blog before the holiday.  Yes, there's been weaving - more on that in a bit.  I'd first like to share the completion of the long, drawn out spinning/dyeing project that I've alluded to here and there.

As a quick refresher, I purchased some merino/mohair/nylon fiber to spin for socks after hearing that it will wear well and be a bit warmer thanks to the mohair.

I spun it on my spindle because I seem to spin better on it, especially with prolonged periods of ignoring it. The wheel always takes awhile for me to refamiliarize myself with, so here and there, as I had time, I pulled out my wonderful Golding ring spindle and spun up the 6 plies.

I had already decided to try dyeing this yarn, but was waffling between trying some "real" dye or using a food-based one.  I did not want to go the Koolaid route again, but was intimidated by the scope of using real dyes.  I would have had to purchase several containers/pots to keep everything safe, so ultimately I decided to go with food coloring.  I bought some Wilton icing dye to try, since I couldn't find our ages-old food coloring in the pantry.

I knew I wanted something more interesting than a monochrome design, but felt unsure of mixing colors.  I've read about color theory, and have seen color wheels.  I also have the book "Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece" (http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Dyeing-Yarn-Fleece-Hand-Painting/dp/1603424687/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450549709&sr=1-1&keywords=dyeing+yarn which has tons of information on colors, but ultimately I decided to go with a two color blue/purple attempt.  After putting it off for several days, yesterday was finally the day!

I gathered everything I'd need - 8 containers for dye (two for the more concentrated solutions, the other 6 for 3 varying shades.

Already I could see that these wouldn't be the vibrant colors I saw in my mind's eye, but at least I was forging ahead.  Next I soaked the two skeins in a vinegar/water solution, drained them and arranged them, one at a time, in a plastic garbage bag with the middle pulled up to help control the "cross contamination" of the different dyes. This was done in a large roasting pan.

I then tried to add dye, a bit at a time, and work it into the yarn as I went, while sopping up the extra with paper towels before it could do much damage.  Some of the purple seemed to "break" into blue, which was unfortunate.  Also, the light colors were way too light, and the darks not dark enough, so a couple of times I added a touch of the concentrated solution directly on the yarns.  These are what I ended up with.  As you can see, the blues are really more turquoise or aqua.

They really looked so much more pastel-y than I was hoping for, but I didn't know what else to do, so into the microwave they went, one at a time, for 2 minutes on high, followed by 2 minutes rest.  After 4 rotations of this, the dye solution ran clear.  This is what they looked like at this point.

(By the way, the smell of steaming animal fiber is NOT particularly wonderful!).  I rinsed them under the faucet and was pleased to see that no excess dye ran out.  After a quick spin in the washing machine, I hung them to dry, which didn't take long.  These are the completed skeins (please excuse the blue acrylic ties).

There are a few spots of vibrancy, but mostly they'll make some toasty socks that remind everyone of Easter!

On the weaving front, I've completed the weaving for the first wrap on the warp, using UKI Cobalt Blue as weft. After I repaired many many ends, which of course slowed everything to an almost-halt, the weaving went quite well.  The greens and pinks popped better than I thought they would.

 I ran out of the weft yarn at ~165 inches, and even though I ordered more, I worried about dye lot differences, so I stopped the wrap there.  Finished it should end up being a size 4 or so, around 3.7 meters.

Then I started the ring sling piece, using 10/2 mercerized black as weft.  This may be kept for my daughter in law, who is hinting that they may started a family soon!  I decided to weave it less tightly packed, so that it can be a bit more moldable and easier to "bunch" at the shoulder.

It's so much easier to beat evenly when you are beating firmly.  I'm sure there will be all kinds of small variances in this piece, some of which might even out some in the wet finishing.  It worked up nice and quickly, though, and I managed to finish it this morning.

Next up comes the second wrap, this time woven with black tencel.  The beat will be firmer, since tencel is such a slippery yarn, but I also fear that the tension issues will soon be rearing their ugly heads again, as I am started to see some loose ends appearing on the warp beam.  I'm not sure how I will deal with them, but all I can do it take them one at a time and try my best!

Wishing everyone who celebrates the holidays this time of year good driving weather, wonderful times with family and friends, and memories to last a lifetime!!


  1. I think you're way too hard on yourself with the dyeing...I think it looks lovely!

    1. Thanks, Peg! I'll make my final judgement once I'm knitting with it, which will be soon, I hope!

    2. Thanks, Peg! I'll make my final judgement once I'm knitting with it, which will be soon, I hope!


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