Friday, March 9, 2007

Dyeing with Superwash Wool

My next experiment was to repeat what I had done with the 4 colors of Kool-Aid but this time I followed the Twisted Sisters' directions and used superwash wool. The yarn I used was called Cleckheaton Merino Supreme superwash wool. I found it at my lys. It is a heavy worsted weight yarn and luxuriously soft! I was very pleased with the results. I improvised a bit, after I was done, and soaked the green in a bit of watermelon cherry to get a blush effect in the middle of the green. I am not sure what I will make with it - can there be sock patterns for heavy worsted weight yarn?

Dyeing With Kool-Aid - Continued

The second skein of yarn I dyed using the method found in the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook for dip-dyeing with Kool-Aid for superwash wool. The book warned of mixed results if you don't use superwash wool, and lo and behold, my results weren't quite what I wanted. The colors were a bit too muted for me, with the orange looking more like mustard color and the grape coming out a bit liver-colored. Still, when I knitted up the yarn it worked out o.k., the colors just weren't as bright as I'd wanted.

First you dunk the skein in a solution of Kool-Aid that is a mixture of lemonade and lemon lime, with vinegar and water added similar to what I did with my first skein. You keep the yarn in the solution until it has absorbed all of the color. Then you overdye parts of the yarn in a lemon-lime solution. You repeat the process by dyeing a section of the skein in orange, strawberry and grape, leaving part of the skein the greenish color. See the book for the exact measurements. Once you are done, you heat-set it. Once again, I put the skein in my dyepot, filled with steaming water, and steamed it on low for about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the yarn started to felt a bit, but I was able to pull it apart without any problems, it just made some of the strands a little nubby. When the skein was cool I rinsed it out and let it dry.

Since I was a bit disappointed with how the colors turned out, I decided to try it with some superwash wool and I was much happier with the results. More on that coming in my next post!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Dyeing With Kool-Aid

I tried my hand at Kool-Aid dyeing recently. It was very easy (so much easier than dyeing with acid dyes!). I took ideas from many different sources, including The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, Kool-Aid Dyeing, and even the Dyed in the Wool article on Knitty! There are many others available if you just google around.

I had somewhat mixed results but was ultimately I was pretty happy with the dyed yarn. Here is a sampling of what I created.

The yarn I used was Paton's Classic in the Aran color (off white). I used 2 skeins and tried 2 different processes with each skein. First I wrapped the skeins around the back of a kitchen chair and then tied them off loosely, using cotton string in 3 different places to secure them. I then soaked them in the sink for about 30 minutes in tepid water with 1 teaspoon of synthrapol to wet them. I let the sink drain and gently squeezed out the yarn so that it was still wet but not too wet.

I usually prefer to dye outside but given that it is winter in Chicago I opted for my kitchen table. The first skein I dyed using a hand-painted method. I mixed up various colors of Kool-Aid in different paper cups, adding 1 Tablespoon white vinegar and 3 Tablespoons hot water to each cup along with one packet of Kool-Aid. I also tried mixing a few colors together to get different looks, but mostly I used the colors straight from the packet. I then used an eye dropper to drop bits of dye on the skein. I didn't have any blue flavor, so for the blue color I just used some food coloring I had around, using 1 teaspoon of color with the same amounts of water and vinegar. I was pretty pleased with the result, although I went a bit overboard with the pinks and reds. Next time I would leave more of the skein white, as the colors tend to bleed together when you are done. I left the skein to sit for a bit, mashing it in places with my fingers to get the dye to spread, and then I heat set it in my dye pot, steaming it for about 30 minutes on the stove. Once the skein was cool, I rinsed it out and let it dry for a day or so. I used it to knit some children's socks for the afghans for Afghans project (post coming soon!). I especially loved how fruity it smelled when it was dry!

Mother Bear Project

This worthy cause, creating huggable bears for children in Africa and other emerging countries, many of whom are suffering from HIV/AIDS, is one of the charity knitting projects I've been involved in lately. See the link to their website in the "Links" section of the blog. Here is the first bear I created, using Lion Brand Wool-Ease. They suggested a soft-feeling yarn, but next time I think I would use 100% wool, as there are so many soft ones available and I didn't really like the feel of this yarn as I knitted with it. The bear is a quick knit and there is also a crochet pattern available. It's also a great way to use up leftover yarn!