Posted by: mamakass | March 29, 2009

Yarn Dyeing

So, this was my second yarn dyeing experience, though it was the first time I dyed yarn (last time I dyed a finished object with koolaid.) I bought a cotton sweater from a thrift store with the intention of using the yarn from it (It seems to be light DK weight to me, though I haven’t checked the gauge.)

Anyway, after knitting the Moby Dick whale from it, I decided I didn’t like the color because it looked dusty, so I decided to dye it, keeping it blue, but brightening it up a bit. It’s not really that the color is that bad, it just is kind of fall/wintery, and I want to knit a summer dress with it. I wanted to dye it with koolaid again, but it’s cotton, so I couldn’t. 😦

Anyway, here’s the yarn before (all 1949 yards of it.)

See? Gross dusty blue color.

See? Gross dusty blue color.

Ok, so that’s not ALL of it, that’s only about 400 yards. But that’s a BIG ball. Look:

BIG ball!

BIG ball!

My next dilemma was figuring out how to make it into hanks. I’m a college student, so I don’t have space to keep nifty knitting stuff around, so I had t figure out a different way. I did.

Makes hanks.

Makes hanks.

Yep. It’s really makeshift, but it does happen to be exactly one yard around. I measured. If you’re curious what’s in that picture, it’s the Vogue Stitchionary Vol. 1, the Harmony Guide for lace and eyelets, a box of granola bars and a box of Frosted Mini-wheats. Mmmm…..tasty.

So, I counted my yardage as I rolled the hanks, trying to keep them around 200 yards, because I carry my knitting with me, and a 400 yard ball won’t fit in my purse. So I ended up making 11 hanks with between 67 and 227 yards each. I tied them up with various waste yarns I have from various other projects.

Then I started the dye process. First I had to decide what kind of dye I wanted to use. I went to Wal-Mart (I figured they’d have some there, and I didn’t know where else to look, what with living in the middle of nowhere as I do). And I found this: Dylon dye in Ocean Blue. It says you’re supposed to use one packet for every half pound of fabric, but since I hadn’t weighed it, I just decided to get two. Here they are.

I like the package design

I like the package design

So then I followed the directions and dyed my yarn. Here it is in the dye. It looks pretty in the bucket.

Mmm...dark blue water.

Mmm...dark blue water.

The package said that you should hand wash it separately the first few times you wash your dyed item as there may be leftover dye in it. I didn’t want to do that because I’ve had bad experiences with blue dip-dyed things getting wet and dyeing everything around them, as well as being difficult to wash because they dye whatever you wash them in, so I decided to just get it over with at the beginning. About every three or four hours or so I’d dump out the hanks into my stainless steel kitchen sink (important. This dye dyes ceramic. And not in a pretty way.), rinsed them out and then soaked them some more until the water stayed clear. It took about two days. Then I hung them up to dry.

They're drying.

They're drying.

The ones on the right have been shaken to get out the kinkiness of recycled yarn, the ones on the left haven’t. You can tell because they’re a lot shorter. And then I let it dry while I went on a lovely week-long romantic vacation with my boyfriend to Puerto Rico, where I saw a lot of ocean that was much greener than this ocean blue dye. Mmm! Yay! You all should go to the Bioluminescent bay on Vieques. It is the most amazing, magical place on the planet. But don’t go when there’s a moon, or you can’t see it. The bay glows when you move the water, so when you swim all your movements light up blue, and if you just move a little near the surface, it looks like you’re wearing clothes made of stars. Seriously. Go. It is worth it for however short you can stay. Plus the island of Vieques is gorgeous and has gorgeous beaches everywhere. Here’s a gratuitous vacation picture of the ocean on the beach by the town of Esperanza, where we stayed.

The water is much more turquoise than this picture gives it credit for.

The water is much more turquoise than this picture gives it credit for.

Anyway, to get back on track, when I came home I got to see the pretty color that my yarn made when it was done! (That’s the big hank in this picture. The little one is a little bit of the yarn pre-dyeing, so you can see what the difference is.) It’s only a little different, but just enough to make it look less frumpy. Now I can make a pretty dress out of it!

dscn1871

Now I can make a beautiful dress out of it! I’m designing the dress and I know exactly how I want it to look. It will be beautiful, and then I’ll have a new original pattern. Yay!

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