Monday, September 03, 2007

Arbutus At Best

Oh, you gotta love four day weekends... By Sunday morning I didn't know what to do with myself (my body was telling me that my weekend was over and I should be in my cube neck deep in Excel and drinking lots of coffee), so I dug out some Patons Classic Wool that I had bought recently and decided to play.

Andrew walked in on me in the sunroom, walking backward around two lawn chairs. "Um, Jo - what are you doing?" Me: "I'm going to dye this yarn with some Wilton's icing dye." Him: "Please tell me *not* in the bathtub!" Me: "Huh?" (I really was confused - why would he think I would do this in the bathroom? We have a *small* bathroom.) "No - I'm doing it here in my crock pot." He walked away, probably muttering to himself about what a nutcase his wife is.

I created a long skein - my intention was to create self-striping yarn so I wouldn't have to continually change colours while I knit hats this winter. I love the look of striped hats but really am lazy about changing colours (see previous post about my hatred of weaving in ends). Then I tied it up at various intervals, using a different colour yarn at each point behind the chair to mark the division in yarn colours.

Willow helped to poor the vinegar in and smush the yarn together so it would soak up the liquid. She wasn't pleased me with afterward. She insinuated that I didn't inform her that vinegar is stinky and that the smell would stay on her hands...

I was halfheartedly following Julie Theaker's tutorial from Knitty Spring 2007 for this exercise. She didn't have anything specifically geared toward self-striping yarns, so I tried to use my head (dangerous, I know) and stuff I had seen in various blogs in the past. I put half the skein in my crock pot, topped it off with water and a bit more vinegar, and let it start steaming (about 30 minutes on high).

Then I dissolved about a half to three-quarter teaspoon of Wilton icing dye in 'Teal' in a cup of boiling water (note to self - next time stir it longer!) and poured that into the pot. I gave it a brief swish with a spoon to distribute the dye evenly, but on the pot, and set the timer for and hour and forty-five minutes.

At that point the dye had been sucked up and the water was clear. I pulled the skein out and piled it into a pie pan to cool overnight.

The next morning I repeated the last few steps with the other half of the skein.

And added in some Wilton's icing dye in 'Brown.' One small problem... I had read on a few different tutorials that the purple dyes sometimes act weird when exposed to vinegar. Basically, the blue and red of the purple become their own entities and the yarn is dyed splotches of red and blue rather than purple. Apparently brown does the same. As soon as it hit the water, it divided up into pink-auburn and light beige. I panicked and mixed up another batch of brown, hoping to counter-act the division, but was only somewhat successful in the end.

After everything had been taken out of the pot and cooled down, Willow helped me wash the yarn in her Mango Madness shampoo and put it through a spin cycle in the washing machine. Then I hung it up to completely dry on the sweater rack and walked away for a few hours.

You can see here where there are differences in colour in the brown half of the skein:

And this is what my beauty looks like all skeined up again!

The colours weren't quite what I was looking for - my desire was to have a more aqua and chocolate coloured skein, but I don't think this is bad for a first try with Wilton's icing dye. I was looking at the skein in the sunroom with the light on it and it made me think of an arbutus tree, so I'm calling the colour 'Arbutus At Best.'

And a bonus shot - all caked up and ready to go!

I want to try this again with sock yarn - but I have to say I am a bit afraid at the diameter of skein I will have to pull off to get the stripes I want!

And finally, a blurry Willow action shot:

We were at my in-laws' house today for lunch and Willow was having her own little bubble party in the backyard. I was trying really hard to catch her but she was running a mile a minute to make the bubbles dance behind her.


Nell said...

Great job on the yarn! I know it's not exactly what you wanted but it's really nice.

Batty said...

Wow, the yarn looks beautiful! Such vibrant colors, great job.

Zonda said...

Not too bad there! I like all the info on dyeing with the crockpot, I like that way and may try it! Thanks

turtlegirl76 said...

You know, I quite like what that brown ended up doing. That'll be one cool looking hat when it's done!

Elizabeth said...

I just loved your post today. The yarn turned out to be beautiful. I love the colors together. You and Willow did a fantastic job. said...

I totally love that hand-dyed! I'd buy it if it were in a LYS!!

Robyn said...

Wow, what a project!! Personally I like what the brown did. I think it's beautiful!! Very interested in seeing what the finished project looks like.

Woman who knits said...


I can't get over how gorgeous the yarn is!! I need to get away from using Kool-Aid!!!!

Sarah said...

Love the yarn, even if you aren't 100% satisfied with it.

I've had that happen with Wilton's purples and even one of the three greens I've used. I've found its worth testing a bit first.

Jo said...

Ah, guys - you all are making my head swell! Thank you for the compliments. I will make sure to post pictures of the hat when I start knitting with it so you can see how my stripes worked up.