Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Day of the Dyed

First: Did you go VOTE?

Warning: This post contains many pictures (but really, you should expect this from me by now). I apologize to anyone using dial-up internet service.

Credit Where Credit is Due: I followed Nicole's great tutorial on dyeing yarn in her dorm room. As my kitchen resembles a broom closet, her instructions worked really well for me.

It all started with some KnitPicks Bare Superwash/nylon sock yarn, and four little jars of dye (also from KnitPicks. Maybe I should just buy stock in that company and reap the benefits of my unstoppable shopping habit? Maybe?). And then we skeined up that yarn into the Giant Loop Of Doom at Heather's a couple weeks ago, with the help of Tipsy the Cat (who enjoyed trying to kill the yarn every time I walked around the chairs).
Then (time lapse narration here -- there were about 2 weeks between skeining and the "then"), I put the yarn in a pot filled with water and a glug of vinegar and soaked it overnight.

(I floated a smaller pot lid weighted with a glass jar on top of the yarn, as it had a tendency to pop up out of the water.)

On Friday (the Day of the Dyed) I took the yarn out of the giant soaking pot (after getting anxious looks from Nick -- "That's my good pasta pot. Are you going to be dyeing in that?" So cute.) and put it in the colander over a bowl to drain...

... and set up the table for some hot dyeing action. Yes!!

Lots of layers of Saran wrap all over my table. Like an idiot, I didn't put anything under the table. Thankfully the dyes didn't decide to go exploring.

By this time I had Anna (who had done some dyeing herself the day before) and her boys, Heather, and Beth all over because no one in our group has ever dyed before and the process was intriguing to all of us. At one point I got irrationally nervous because everyone was looking at me and I really had no clue about what I was doing. But then I calmed down, because they had no clue about what I was doing either, so I could totally wing it.

And the dyeing began. You can see that the Giant Loop of Doom was too big to lay out on my puny little table (but thanks, Mom & Dad, for giving to to me for free!!). I had to make a double-layered "C" out of it, but it worked.

I started with the yellow/orange (1/4 tsp yellow, 1/8 tsp salmon), moved to the blue (1/4 tsp sky blue), and on to the pink (1/4 tsp pink)

Bright, isn't it?

Then I wrapped the whole thing up in the Saran wrap...

... and plunked it in a Pyrex baking dish (I spiralled it all up first) and put it in the microwave.

Now, Nicole's tutorial says she microwaved her yarn (this sets the dye) for 4 minutes, let it rest, cooked for 4 minutes, let it rest, and cooked for 2 minutes. I followed this exactly, not remembering that sometimes, some microwaves are stronger than others and that my microwave is a big beefy bodybuilder in the land of microwaves.

I burned my yarn.

When I took it out of the microwave, I noticed these dark spots on the pink and yellow bits. I thought the blue dye had migrated and I was kind of sad, but thought "Oh well, it's my first attempt and everything else was going so well and this is just a little bump in the road and it's not so bad and it'll be okay and DAMMIT!" When the yarn had cooled and I was rinsing it, I still thought that it was the dye. After a long stint of drying in the shower, I realized what it was.

I had scorched my yarn. I am the girl who burns yarn.

Oh my god. I can never show my face to knitters/dyers again (clearly I have moved on since then). But I kept my cheery, can-do, it's-my-first-attempt-and-I'm-learning spirit about me and said "Whatever. It's my yarn and I like it!"

Then I took the Giant Loop of Doom and wound it up into a Much Smaller Loop of Doom, and this is what it looks like now:

(both pictures remarkably true to color) and I love it. It's 440 yards of sweet socky goodness. And I think it came out pretty close to the inspiration, too.

(doing the happy dance!)

What I learned: Don't drain out so much water from the yarn! Maybe temper the uber-bright colors with some softer colors next time. Always have friends around with you when you dye yarn, because the process is way more fun. Mixing colors together gets you better colors, and more bang for your dyeing buck. I am now addicted to dyeing yarn.

And now: I'm off to VOTE!


Nicole said...

I'm so sad that you burned your yarn! I feel partly responsible sorta... I think my microwave is less strong becasue my roomate sophmore year put a metal pot in it for a few minutes... it's never truly recovered it's strength.

Anyway, it does look great though!

femiknitter said...

I love the colors--that yarn looks great! I actually like the bright colors, too, but I see what you mean generally about having some milder colors mixed in with the brighter ones. As for the burn marks, I say wear them proudly, so long as the burned parts are still strong. Tell people they're a design feature. If they don't believe you, you can attack them with your ninja skills.

Renee said...

Wow! That looks JUST LIKE my bridal party. Same colour dresses, same colour flowers. Great minds think alike!

Anonymous said...

I love your dyeing story and I say as long as the yarn is still viable show the world your scorchiness! Sorry I missed the fun. Hopefully I'll see you soon 'fore you forget what I look like!

Shelley said...

Your colours look great. I have been thinking of ordering the dyes from Knit Picks and trying those. I've bookmarked the page with the instructions for the future. I've never tried the microwave method...I just hope I don't burn my yarn either.

Nik said...

That yarn burning incident is a classic. We all have our screw-ups.

KathyMarie said...

Nicole - of course it's not your fault... my microwave is a strong little bugger and I should have realized that. I was high on wool fumes.

Femiknitter - thank you. :)

Renee - is it possible that we are the same person, just living two different lives? :)

Sandi - we did miss you, and I'll make sure you're at the next dyeing party.

Shelley - thank you, and fear not the microwave! Just consider your micro's strength before zapping the yarn.

Nik - I have been chuckling to myself. I know I'm in good company sharing my mistakes. :)

Alison said...

Despite the scorching I think the yarn looks great. :)