Thursday, March 20, 2008

My wool dying adventures

I had a new skill to try and master this week - dying wool. It was a lot of fun, but so far I really suck at it. I went in a swap with the girls on my EB knitting group at ravelry, basically you get given someone's details - their colour preferences etc and dye them up some wool and someone will do the same for you - easy peasy I thought, but I was so wrong.

My dying efforts were a bit of a disaster, I have completely ruined a skein of the knittery merino - I still shudder every time I look at the tangled mess of wool. I managed to save my first effort - I was intending some lovely aqua, lilac and pink, but somehow got deep dark almost black purples, deep red and deep blue - kinda nice, but not what I wanted at all. I saved it by rinsing out most of the dye before I put it in the microwave and had 'set', it's still not that pretty and tbh, I'm not sure I would even use it in it's current state, so I am going to have a go at over dying it at some stage to try and make it look a bit better - fingers crossed!

The deep dark disaster

The Save

The Tangled waste of beautiful wool :(

What I sent off in the end to my swapper turned out reasonably nice though - not what I wanted, there was supposed to be bright pink in there, but it kind of disappeared and the blue is a phantom blue - I actually dyed that bit purple, but because I have no idea what I am doing it turned blue - at least it kind of looks like it is meant to be there lol. It looks waaaay better once it is balled up, so hopefully my swapper will like it. I felt a bit bad though, so put in some BBR from monster knits in the night rainbow colourway to make up for my dodgyness ;)

I was soooo lucky to my stunning swap today in the post - my swapper sent me this gorgeous pink and purple colourway on BWM - I love it!

If you did want to have a go at dying with food colours in the microwave - this is the basic gist of it - easy if you are clever - I'll share the error of my ways so you may have better luck ;)

1. put your wool into skeins if not already (I had balls, so wound them around three chair legs)

2. soak in a 50/50 water/white vinegar solution for an hour or two, overnight if you want (I used malt vinegar for one batch cos I didn't have anything else, still worked but it STUNK)

3. squeeze excess water off (I rolled in a towel)

4. make a little bed for the skeins out of glad wrap - I put a length of glad wrap on the bench and kind of pinched the sides up to ensure no dye escapage, I also tried it laying the glad wrap on the bottom of the microwave dish and laying the wool on top as in the deep dark disaster pic above

5. mix up your dyes - I thought you needed a lot for vibrant colours, but no - this just makes a very dark muddy mess - see above ;). I started out with a few drops in say 10ml water and poured a little on, if I wanted it darker I added some more dye. It is easier to get it darker than lighter - so start out lighter and darken if you want to. I have also been recommended to cut a length of wool to test on, before pouring on your dye. Mop up any excess colour, then move on to your next colour.

6. once you have the wool all pretty colours, wrap it up tightly in glad wrap, then put in the microwave for 3 mins, then rest 3 mins, then 3 mins, rest 3 mins, then 3 mins, then leave overnight to cool down

then rinse, put a little shampoo or wool wash in if you want to get rid of the vinegar smell and bob's your uncle, lurvely wool!

If you have made a mistake and want to overdye it, just repeat the steps above, inc the vinegar soak.

As much as I would love to keep on trying to perfect the art, I already have way more wool than I know what to do with, plus trades up my sleeve with two of the best dyers in Aus, so I think I will just leave it to the experts and expand my crafty horizons other ways :D

1 comment:

~Tanya~ said...

Nice yarn you got there Sue- who sent you that ;p