Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trying to dye Black... (part two - Amiericolor)

For my first attempt at dying a whole skein black, I am going to try the Americolor Super Black food colouring. I have heard from a few people that this has given them a better black, and that the black did not break.

What I used

  • 100g Bare Opal Superwash Fingering Weight Yarn
  • Americolor Super Black Food Colouring
  • Citric Acid and Water Mix (1 Tbsp citric acid dissolved in 1 cup of water)
  • Rachael Ray Oval Pasta Pot
  • Stove
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Towel
I started off by soaking my yarn in plain, warm water. As I have mentioned in at least one of my previous posts, I have been told that soaking in plain water will help give a more even colour. 

After the water had soaked for about 45 minutes, I removed the yarn and added the dye to the pot. I used 20 drops of the Americolor Super Black. They are not easy drops to work with, kind of thick and gloopy... but I managed to get 20 of them in the pot. I mixed well with my wire whisk and then slowly added the pre-soaked yarn. 

I realized this morning that I did not add any salt to the water. Not sure if that would have made much of a difference, but I did notice that, so I wanted to point it out.  Salt it supposed to slow down the bonding of the colour to the yarn, to make it a more even colour.

After the yarn was added, I turned the stove on to medium and slowly brought up to temperature. My husband came in after the yarn had been in the pot for about 10 minutes and said "Oh, you are dying a dark purple...nice".  In retrospect, I almost wish I had taken the yarn out at that point, because I did like the shade I got, but I was trying for black.  I might try it again later and stop at that purple stage, although I don't like to waste dye. 

I did take picture during the process, but some of them may be hard to see. Trying to photograph dark yarn in a pot of dark dye with a fluorescent light above you is a little tricky....
After about 10 minutes in the dye as it was heating. A nice dark purple shade at this point. 
I let the yarn go for another 20 minutes or so before I added any acid. I didn't want the black to break, so I wanted to add the acid slowly.  I added 1 tablespoon of my mixture and then let the yarn for for another 10 minutes before adding the second. I did this one more time, until I had three tablespoons in, then decided to leave the yarn for a while. 

After another half hour or so, I came back to check on it, and it had gotten darker, but was still very much purple. 

This would have been after about an hour in the dye
I also took a picture of how the black dye "breaks" on paper towel. I had wiped off the whisk and the thermometer, and almost instantly the colours broke apart. 
You can see very distinct reds/purples/blues in the dye after it touches the paper towel
I added one or two more tablespoons of the acid mix (at that point I think it was whatever was left in the mason jar) and then turned the heat down even lower and left it for another hour or two. 
How it looked before I added the last bit of acid
I wanted to give it as much of a chance as I could to get as dark as I could, so I actually had a bit of patience this time! At some point, my husband walked by and said "That looks black now!"

It was now time to wash dry the yarn. The water had cooled completely, and all but the smallest amount of blue had struck
Almost clear dye (keep in mind, the pot is grey)
I washed in baby shampoo, and very little colour came out.  I then wrung it out on a towel and tried to take a picture.  I am still getting used to my new camera, and it kept changing the exposure, but you get the idea... the "stripes" are from the curtain, they are not on the yarn.
After washing, before drying
I could tell at this point that I had something somewhat close to the Dark Chocolate I did in my How To - Immersion Dyeing (Part One - Single Colour) post, but the colour was not as even. Which is actually how the yarn looked after the first pass of the dye with that immersion dyeing. 

After drying the yarn, I could see a lot of different tones, a lot of lighter spots (even though I added the yarn to the water very carefully and slowly), and I could see hints of purple, of light grey, of a blueish tone, and in sone spot, you can even see where one fuzzy part decided to stay red. 
Full skein, not quite the dark black I was going for

You can see some of the lighter spots, and the one fuzzy the decided it only wanted to be red

Some darker shades on the other end

Close-up of the fuzzy....weird little guy

When I flipped it over, this was what I saw on the back. A much lighter spot than I expected

So this first attempt at black gave me an interesting multi-tonal shade, but did not result in black at all. It is more of a super dark purple mixed with a super dark brown. 

It was not quite as brown as the other skein I did, but I think a lot of that has to do with the Ghoul Aid. When I mixed that up, there was a very distinct brown tinge to it, and I did not use that in this dye stock.

I am going to overdye it with 10 more drops of black, just to see if I can even out and maybe darken the colour. I don't expect to get black... just a bit of a more even, maybe darker colour. And I want to see what that one red fuzzy is going to do!  I thought about trying another 20 drops, but the last time I overdyed the dark skein,  I would up rinsing out a lot of the dye, so rather than waste dye, I am going to soak it and try a little less dye. 

I will try to repeat this experiment with my new Wilton black in the pots, which is not supposed to break. I may try it with the WCR a well, although I know that one breaks, and expect it would be fairly close to the one I did with the Ghoul Aid.

Have you tried dyeing a full skein of black with food colouring? If so, how did it work out for you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Trying to dye Black... (part one)

So you may have noticed that this is not one of my "How To" posts, and that the title has the word "Trying" in it...

To quote, "...if you want a hank of solid black wool - just go ahead and buy one. It is very difficult to dye large amounts of yarn a true black."

And there is a very good reason for this, if you are dyeing with food safe colours.  It is because there is no such thing as a true black food colouring. Black food colouring is actually a blend of a lot of other colours, and has a tendency to lean more towards one colour or the other.  In the blacks I have worked with, the colours tend to be either more green or more red than I had anticipated.

Part of this has to do with the way the dyes strike on the yarn.  As I think I have mentioned in a previous post, reds will strike faster than blues, which can mean you get more of a reddish tinge to the yarn.  And black has a tendency to "break" when you use it to dye yarn, meaning the various colours not only strike a different times, but tend to actually separate on the yarn.  This is a great effect if that is what you are going for, but can be a pain in the butt if you are trying for a solid colour.

I have used black a few times in the past as an accent colour.  The first time I used it was in combination with some pink.  It did give me a dark colour, which looks nice next to the pink, but it is a bit lighter than a black in person, and in one or two spots, looks a bit closer to an extremely dark brown. I don't remember what I used for this one, as this was back when I was not taking very good notes. I THINK this was the new "non-breaking" black from Wilton's.   Their old formula broke really easily, while the new one seems to hold together a bit better.
Pretty in Punk
This yarn went on to become a pair of socks and a pair of mittens.
Pinky Socks

Punky Mittens
I have also dyed black using the Wilton Color Right system black.  Both times it was done on sections of the yarn, not the full skein
Bigger section of the yarn dyed black. You can see that it has a reddish tinge to it, and can see a few spots where the dye did not really strike, and there are light almost blue sections

That yarn above resulted in this sock.  Looks like black stripes to me.  As long as you don't look too close
For this one, I just painted black sections. The black was thickened with guar gum to keep it in place, but you can still see where it bled into the other colours once they were added. Mostly because they were just water, and I was not doing it over a cooling rack, so the water pooled up and caused the black to run
A swatch of the yarn above. I have not knit up socks with it yet. 
Today I am going to try to dye a whole skein, and see how close to black I can get it.  I am using 100g of my bare Opal sock yarn, and am going to try the Americolor Super Black. Even though I know this colour contains Red #3, which can be problematic, I have read that some people have had more luck with that one that with any of the Wilton colours.

I will post again either later today or tomorrow with the results from my full skein of black!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Have I missed anything?

I have been looking through the dyeing projects that I have done, and at the posts I have written so far, and I think I am currently out of "How To" posts to write... pretty much everything I do with dyeing is here.

I have covered hand painting, speckled, immersion dyeing, self striping and my few favourite, the skillet cake method. Which means I am running out of ideas for posts....

So is there anything that you guys can think of that might be missing? Is there a technique you are curious about? If I know how to do it, I will write about it, and if I don't, then I will research it and give it a try.

I haven't gotten into any kind of commercial dyes, and at this point, I don't really plan on it anytime soon. As mentioned before, I like that I can use the same equipment for dyeing as I use for cooking.  So I can't really answer questions about that, but I do know some people who use them, and could either pass questions on to them, or tell you how to get in contact with them.

For now, I am going to finish my next pair of mosaic socks (I may have finally gotten the right combination to get the fit I want), and then I will jump back into some more dyeing.  I can at least post the results of the stuff that I dye. And I may do a post or two that shows off the stuff I have dyed already, and maybe even the socks I have made.

Don't take my silence as a sign that I have forgotten about my blog... just a sign that I have exhausted some of my brain power :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Knitting: Mosaic Madness

Ah, they joys of learning something new...

I have looked at a lot of colour work socks and have wanted to try them, but stranded colour work is a bit intimidating to me, so I decided to try a mosaic pattern instead.  Enter the Ugly Duckling Sock pattern.  Designed by Karn Aida to "...make use of variegated yarns that are too busy, too vibrant, or just plain ugly."  Rather than carrying a bunch of yarn at the back of the work, this pattern works by alternating two rows of each colour of yarn, and slipping stitches to achieve the pattern.

I looked at this pattern and saw that she was already using a 2.75mm needle, so I figured I was good because that is what I use anyway for my socks. And I was confident that since my Eastern Crossed Knitting was never a problem in any other sock pattern, it wouldn't be a problem in this one either. A sock is a sock, right?

So I dyed some nice dark brown yarn to use with my Fiery Sunset yarn that I had skillet dyed a while back.  
Chocolate Brown
Fiery Sunset
I cast on my stitches and got to work knitting the sock. The colours looked great together, and picking up the stitch pattern was quite easy. It was just a case of remembering when to slip and when to knit.
The first two rows of the mosaic pattern
I kept happily knitting the sock, adding in my standard heel flap and gusset (she says you can use whatever heel and toe you like, and I like this heel). On the first sock I realized after about one and half pattern repeats past the gusset join that I had to treat the first stitch on the needle after the patterned top of the foot as part of the pattern, and had to slip it for two row, knit it on the alternating two rows. Otherwise, the pattern on the left (in the picture above) would not have it's nice brown stripe up the side.   No problem....just a little tweak, nothing major. 

I was determined to get this sock done in time to count it as that week's sock in a challenge I was doing, so I cast on Good Friday, and was done Saturday night. My first mosaic sock!
Yay! It's a mosaic sock!
Then I tried the sock on... or should I say I attempted to try the sock on.  It would not go over my heel. And I don't mean the heel didn't fit... I mean that nice, pretty patterned leg, between the cuff and the heel, decided it did not want to go over my heel. It took a lot of work to finally get it on, and I think I may have cut off my circulation while I was trying, but I was determined to get it on. 

That night, as I was trying to fall asleep, something was bothering me, so I got up and took a really close look at the sock. Had I missed something?  Turns out I did... I counted 8 full repeats on the top of the foot, but then part of my brain starting poking me, saying "but you worked your heel over 32 does that work?" I always work my heel over half the stitches on my needle... if I cast on 68 sts like I was supposed to, shouldn't the foot have been 34 sts? And wouldn't that mean a partial pattern on the top of the foot?  

Sure enough, after counting, I confirmed that I had only cast on 62 sts... I meant to cast on 24/20/24, but I am so used to casting on 20/20/20, that on my last needle, I only cast on 20 sts. And because mosaic work does not stretch as much, this 4 sts could make a big difference. 

So I begrudgingly finished the second sock. 
My first ever pair of mosaic socks

I don't mind giving socks away, so that wasn't the problem. The problem was my first attempt had not worked out the way I had hoped.  But I finished the second sock, and when I posted that it was going to have to be given away to someone with smaller feet than me, one of my Ravelry friends raised her digital hand, and the socks jumped on a plane.

For the next pair, I had a plan. I was going to use more of my brown yarn, and use the leftovers from my Pink Lemonade yarn, and these were going to be for me! 

I had been doing some online research and talking to some awesome Ravelry members about my style of knitting, and how twisting the stitches can impact the stretchiness of the sock, so I decided that not only was I going to cast on the right number of stitches this time, but I was going to make a very concerted effort not to twist my stitches. I was going to be an Eastern Knitter, but was going to drop the Crossed part for this pair of sock. 

Trying to change your knitting style takes a lot of concentration, and I felt like I was just learning to knit. I had to really think about every stitch I was making, and it was taking quite a lot of time. I was happy that I was picking it up, but when working the heel and the toe, something didn't feel quite right. It felt like they were too big, but I wasn't sure.  I decided to keep knitting.  The first sock took me 4 days to complete.  

Excited that the sock was finished, and knowing that it definitely was stretchier, at least in some spots, I tried it on. This was going to be my very own pair of Pink Lemonade Mosaic Socks!
My first Pink Lemonade Mosaic Sock!
The good news was I could get the patterned part over my heel, even if it was a little snug, it still went over.  The bad news... the heel flap was too long, you can see that the cuff come up over the top of the foot form, and the toe was not as snug as it usually is.  So I had the right number of stitches, I had not twisted my stitches, and I still had a sock that didn't fit.  It took me three days to finish the second sock.

Then it was time for pair #3.  This time I was going to use the right number of stitches, and I was going to go back to knitting the way I always did, with my pretty twisted stitches.  I really do like the way they look, and prefer them over the look of the untwisted stitch. Plus, I find that when I twist my stitches, the dot in the middle of the squares looks more centred.

I figured if 68 sts untwisted was too big, and 64 stitches twisted was too small, then 68 stitches twisted should be just right.  This time I used the pink and grey yarn from my How To - Immersion Dyeing (Part Two - Multiple Colours, Twisted Skein) post, and the green from my It's not easy being green... post. The combination reminded of some of the flowers from my back yard, so I called these my "Impatiens Garden Mosaic Socks.

I cast on the right number of stitches, decided to stick with 32 sts for the heel to keep full patterns across the top of the foot, and happily knit away, working on what was sure to be MY mosaic socks.  As I got close to the heel, I tested the stretch in the pattern, but I have had so much trouble gauging it before that I couldn't quite tell.  As the sock got close to the toe, I tried it on... it didn't want to go over my heel.  Same issue as the first pair... I couldn't believe it! I had cast on the correct number of stitches, but it still wasn't fitting???  I finished the sock anyway.

My pretty garden inspired socks
It took a lot of tugging, pulling, swearing, praying and crying, but I managed to get the sock on my foot. Other than the fact that the patterning on the leg did not want to go over my damn heel, the sock seemed to fit fine.   I wore it for about 10 minutes, and then struggled to take it off.

And then I turned to a couple of groups in Ravelry for some suggestions that didn't involve setting the sock on fire and vowing never to knit mosaic again. I am determined that I am going to make this work eventually. At which point I will either never knit mosaic again, or I will have conquered the pattern and will be able to make them for anyone I want.

One of the suggestions was to increase the needle size, and another to add more stitches. It occurs to me after reading those that any other time I had read about colour work, they said to go up a needle size.   I was a bit concerned about the sole of the foot, because I like the way it feels on the 2.75mm needles. After taking to a few people, it seems that knitting just the pattern on bigger needles and the stockinette stitch on my regular needles may be the way to go, if I decide to go the "bigger needle" route.

The other option is to add more stitches. Maybe one more column of the pattern will be enough for them to go over my heel? Or would I need two?  My worry with that is I don't want the heel flap and turned heel to be too big. Working them over 32 sts is almost too much, but I could work it so the heel is done on 32 sts and the top of the foot on 40.

I did notice this morning, when I went to put it on again to test exactly where it was not fitting, that it was a little easier to get it on. Still a bit of a struggle, but not as much as last night, so I am hopeful that maybe washing and blocking it might help.

I am sure I will change my mind at least a dozen times before I actually cast on the next pair. I wanted to start the new pair last night, but hubby said I should finish the other sock, just to get it over with. And that is probably a good idea, because I could really wind up with Second Sock Syndrome on this one. Or, I could decide to just tear the first one apart and start over, if I was able to figure out the sizing for the next one. And while I don't mind frogging something, I am sure there is someone out there that these ones are meant for. I think my cousin has skinnier feet than me, so maybe they will fit her.

It will take me a few more days to finish the second sock of this pair. It is hard to knit quickly when I know the sock meant for me is no longer going to fit, but I am going to try to hold on to the notion that the quick I finish it, the quicker I can start my next pair. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Knitting: Some history about me and knitting

The reason I dye is so I have fun yarns to knit with, so I thought maybe I should write a post here or there about knitting....crazy concept, huh?

Since I know some people are coming to this blog for the dyeing info, and may  not be interested in the knitting info, I will make sure to start my knitting related posts with the "Knitting:" text, so they can skip these if they want.

Growing up (and up until about a month ago), I would have told you "I knit backwards...." I learned to knit by watching my grandmother and basically doing a mirror image of what she did.  I never really had any problems with knitting that way until I started knitting mitts and socks.  Then all of a sudden, I was running into a problem.

For some reason, any time I knit on DPNs, everything I knit was coming out inside out. Not the end of the world, if you know what you are doing and can adapt the pattern to that, but being new to socks and mitts, I could not do that. So I put the DPNs a way for a long time and stuck to scarves, and to a cable knit trench coat that my grandfather bought me the yarn for about 15 years ago. I did managed to get the back panel done, and it is beautiful...but the front was not going to fit me.  At least my grandfather got to see the back of it before he passed away.
The back of my trench coat, made with wool from the woollen mill my grandmother always bought her yarn from.

Not knowing much about patterns or how to adapt them, the back of the trench coat went into my hope chest. I really should dig that and the yarn back out, now that I have some idea of what I am doing. Maybe I can finally finish it.  Although I did just look at it again, and there is a hole in it :(

I am going to need to figure out how to fix that...darning was never my thing.
The hole at the edge of one of my cables :(

At one point, back around 1999 or 2000, I decided that I wanted to knit this cute little crop top cable knit sweater for my then sister-in-law. She was just a tiny thing, so I could make the smallest size. It actually turned out quite nicely, although I think I made the shoulders too wide for her.  At that point, I had decided I would knit bigger items, and amassed a huge collection of sweater patterns. But, the sweater took a long time to knit, and I just didn't want to put that level of commitment into everything I was going to knit, so I knit scarves. Really long, thick, comfy scarves.

The revival of the Dawn of the Socks
Skip forward to around 2008 or so, and I decided I really wanted to knit socks and mittens. My grandmother used to knit socks for all of us at Christmas time, and I wanted to bring back some of that tradition. I bought some sock yarn with a pattern on the inside and set out to try to make socks. I made one sock, inside out, with loads of holes around the heel. Turned the sock inside out, got frustrated, threw it in the giant Rubbermaid tote with the yarn, and ignored it for quite a while. I went back to knitting scarves.

In 2011, we had just moved into our new house and I was going through our many totes when I found that one lonely sock... Sitting in the tote, surrounded by the rest of the yarn I had purchased. I can't remember if I ever actually knit the second sock... I should go find the tote and see what happened... see if it is still lonesome...if it is, I may frog it and turn it into the beautiful sock it should be.

Looking at that sock I knew I needed to conquer socks. But I knit inside out and backwards, so how was I going to do that?  Enter,  the internet... It finally occurred to me that I could probably look up videos and tutorials on how to knit socks, and that might help me.  The first video I found on knitting was one of the videos by Knitting Tips By Judy.  I don't even remember what video I watched, but she knew what she was talking about, and she had a Facebook page. I found her Facebook page and posted a message to her, asking her if she knew why I knit inside out, and how I could fix it. She told me I was knitting on the inside of the back needle instead of the outside of the front needle.

Huh? I was more confused than when I asked, but I took the time to find some videos of DPN knitting and finally figured it out.  I knit with my stitches on 3 DPNs. If you lay them out in their triangle formation, with one needle flat right in front of you, and the others on the sides, forming a pyramid, I was knitting on the left side needle, instead of knitting on the needle that was right in front of me. Took a little bit of time to retrain myself, but I finally figured it out, and was ready to venture into the world of socks again.  This time, armed with YouTube videos.

I read through some patterns and tutorials, but was feeling a little intimidated by heels, so back to You Tube I went. I found this great step by step tutorial by Dorett Conway I watched it a few times, then felt confident enough to pick up my yarn and needles and start knitting.

Now, one thing I wasn't thinking about at the time was gauge. I randomly grabbed whatever DPNs were close to me (I think they were US size 5), a couple of balls of worsted weight yarn, and a pattern meant for US size 2 needles and a fingering weight yarn. Not being able to do anything the easy way, I had decided that I was going to do the heel and toe in a different colour.  I proceeded to knit my sock. The result?
My giant sock
A sock that was way too big to be a sock (although my cousin tried it on and wants a pair to wear as slippers), but that let me get a really good look at the anatomy of a sock.  Other than a kind of gaping hole at the edge of the heel flap, probably from where I changed the yarn, it didn't turn out too bad.

I then started paying a bit more attention to the needle sizes and yarn weights that were suggested, and have since worked out what works best for my style of knitting. I tend to use a US size 2, 2.75mm needle for women's socks, and a 3.00mm for mens.

I also have a couple of go to stitch patterns that I use, including one that will fit from a women's size 6 to a men's size 9, just by altering the number of rows and the size of the needle.  Recently I discovered Hermione's Everyday Socks, and have adapted them a bit to use the heel and toe I am used to using.  I love how it is such an easy pattern, but adds such a nice touch to pair of socks.
My self striping socks using the stitch pattern from Hermione's Everyday Socks

While working on learning these new sock skills, I listened to a podcast from a lady who had knit 200 pairs of socks in her life, and all of a sudden, I had a goal. Never mind that I waited until I was almost 40 to set this particular goal.... I had a goal none the less.  Not counting the jumbo sock above, or any other pair I may have attempted before I started to get serious about socks, if I have catalogued and tagged them properly in Ravelry, I am currently at 50 pairs, with sock one one pair 51 on the needles right now. Wow... I am 1/4 of the way there!

Knitting socks came really easy to me...for some reason, I was able to turn a heel and pick up the Kitchener Stitch quite quickly, but I had serious issues with mittens at first. Thumbs intimidated me...plain and simple... I didn't like the afterthought thumb because I didn't like the way it fit, and I was having a heck of a time with the gusset thumb.... finally one day I just sat myself down and told myself to suck it up and figure it out. I needed mittens, and I had a great pink and black yarn I wanted to use to make myself mittens.
Mittens for me!  This pattern actually has a left and a right mitten, although the pattern was not very intuitive.
I did wind up using the afterthought thumb for a few pairs of mittens that I found that used Seed Stitch, because I could not figure out how to add a gusset to them and not screw up the seed stitch.
Seed Stitch mittens with afterthought thumb
I don't have very many pairs of mittens at this point... probably less than a dozen. I may do more, but socks are more of my obsession at this point.  It is good to know I am able to do the mittens if I want/need to.  And someday, if I can ever find a picture of the yarn my grandmother used, I will make mittens for my whole generation, as a throwback to what we got as kids.  That was why I started all this in the first place, but, unfortunately, no one has any of the mittens and I can't find the yarn anywhere. I know it was a base of orange with brown, yellow and white in it, but none of the ones I can find are quite the same, and I can't remember the proportions of the yarn, or else I would just dye it myself and make the mittens.  I may just dye my own version of it one of these days, and start a new tradition.

My Style of Knitting
One other thing I recently learned was that there is a name for the way I wrap my yarn. I know I am a thrower (I hold the working yarn in my right hand), but I always just said I wrap my yarn backwards. I wrap my yarn over the top of the needle, then around to the back.
Wrapping my yarn
This is opposite from every video and tutorial I have read on how to make a stitch, so I just told people I knit backwards.  Thanks to the Ravelry group Combination Knitters, I now know that I don't knit backwards... I am an Eastern knitter... Eastern knitters wrap their yarn that way.

But, of course, I still have to be unique.  When you wrap your yarn this way, you are supposed to knit into the back of the stitch, because that is where the leading leg of the stitch is when you wrap the Eastern way.  I knit into the front of the stitch, like you would do if you wrapped your yarn the Western way. The result is that I twist my stitches. So I am an Eastern Crossed Knitter.

Most of the time, I have no problems with this.  I have to pay a bit more attention to some patterns, especially if I am doing lacework, which I rarely do, and there are lots of great people out there willing to help me. I have been watching a couple of classes from Craftsy on Combination Knitting, including one by Patty Lyons called Improve Your Knitting: Alternative Methods & Styles. This class is really helping me understand the anatomy of my stitches and how to work with them, even if she does say not to twist them, and that is what I always do :)

Part of the reason I have gone into this little history of how I knit is to help set things up for my next blog post. I have recently become obsessed with Mosaic knitting, one sock pattern in particular, and due to my knitting style, I have a love/hate relationship with it.  More on that in my next post... Knitting: Mosaic Madness.

Friday, April 8, 2016

It's not easy being green...

In most things in my life, if I try something and it does not work out, I hide it and try to forget about it and move on.  But with yarn dyeing, I don't mind sharing what I intended and what actually happened.

I wanted to do something fun with the yarn I dyed in my How To - Immersion Dyeing (Part Two - Multiple Colours, Twisted Skein), and thought that I would continue my recent obsession with mosaic socks.  I mentioned this to my husband, who took one look at the yarn and said "dark green."

So yesterday, I embarked on a dark green. But what shade of dark green should I go with? I wanted a sort of jewel tone to go with the tones in this yarn. I broke out my box of dyes, and looked at the greens.
My tickle trunk of dyes
I pulled out the Americolor Forest Green and the Teal.  Now, as a photographer and a baker, I should know better than to completely trust the little dots on the bottle, or the pictures that show up on a website when you Google a colour. But, I was thinking about socks and had apparently banished the logic side of my brain in the corner.  I showed the two colours to my husband and we both agreed that Teal looked like a nice colour, so teal it was going to be. A nice dark teal with the pretty pinks and purples.

I didn't take pictures through out the process on this one. Not really sure why...probably because I figured "it is just a solid colour...who needs pictures....", but I should have.

I soaked my yarn, then mixed up my dye stock, starting with 6 globs of teal food colouring. I say globs because Americolor does not come out in nice drops like Wilton Color Right does.... Added my 1/4 tsp dissolved salt, added the yarn, brought up to temperature and left the room for 10 minutes. Came back and it was looking pretty, but very pale.  So I removed the yarn, added in 6 more globs, mixed, and put yarn back in. No acid yet...just dyestock and yarn.

20 minutes later it was a very pretty almost Tiffany blue, but no where near where I was looking for, and there was lots of blue left in the water. So, I decided it needed yellow. In went 3 drops of WCR yellow and a tablespoon of my citric acid mix.

Walked away again (walking away and doing other things is the only way I can be patient), came back and had green, but it was too much of a mossy yellowy green, so I mixed up 8 drops of WC blue with 3 drops of WCR yellow. Took the yarn out of the pot, added the new dye stock, added the yarn back in with another tablespoon of citric acid mix, then put the yarn back in and left it for an hour. I know! Can you imagine?? I actually let it alone for an hour!!! Yay me.

When I came back, it looked nice and dark in the pot, so I added some more citric acid mix and took it off the burner (I needed the burner to make supper).  It cooled for about half an hour or so, then I pulled it out, tangled it putting it on the plate, let it cool a little, then washed and dried it.  I was lucky that when it came out of the dryer, it only took me a few minutes to fix the tangle.

I started out aiming for something like this:
A very misleading swatch of teal
And I wound up with this:
My pretty garden green
Not quite what I wanted, but it turned out to be the colour I needed.  I paired it with the other yarn, and started my mosaic socks.  The tones seem to match quite well.
The two yarns with their yarn baby on top
I am not working on my Impatiens Garden Mosaic Socks, and hope that this pair might actually fit me.
Close up of the yarn baby
Yet again, what I had in mind when I started out, and what I wound up with, were two totally different things, but it still worked out.

The moral of the story?  There are no mistakes in dyeing yarn... your yarn is just telling you that it wants to be something else, and if you listen, you might wind up with something beautiful.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Immersion Dyeing - Experimenting With 3 Colours

I had so much fun with the pink and grey yarn that I wanted to do another one today, and I even remembered to document the process!  I won't go through al the How To steps, since I did that in yesterday's post, but I will show you what I did.

I did a skein a while back I called Pink Lemonade (shown in the How To - Skillet Dyeing post) that was a combination of pink and yellow, and that I totally loved. It has since gone on to become one pair of Hermione's Everyday Socks and one pair of Mosaic Socks.
Pink Lemonade
I decided to play around with that idea with a twisted skein of yarn, and I had an idea of how I could add a little punch of colour to the whole thing.

So I dyed the yellow first:
6 drops Wilton Color Right in Yellow
Then I dyed the pink:
6 drops Wilton Color Right in Pink
Looks a bit orange because you can see so much of the yellow, but it was pink
When the pink was almost entirely exhausted, I decided to add some hints of a third colour.  I had pink and yellow, so I figured if I added blue, I would get some purples and greens mixed in.   So I mixed up a tiny bit of blue.
2 drop Wilton Color Right blue in one of my disposable shot glasses
Then I use the medicine syringe to inject small amounts of blue into the skein, putting some in the pink and some in the yellow.
Some pretty blue dots
What I hadn't really taken into account when I did this was that blue is the colour that takes longest to strike, which means it has more time to travel.  And it did travel down into the yarn.  When I saw the slightly pink dye bath start to turn green, I decided it was probably time to take it out. I put it on a plate and zapped it in the microwave for 2 minutes - the blue had not been in there for the standard 20 mins, so I wanted to make sure to give it that extra shot of heat.
On the plate, cooling after being zapped
As with the other skein I dyed, I had no idea what the bottom was going to look like, and was pretty happy to see the colours when I flipped it over.
The hidden colour treasure!
I untwisted the skein a bit to let it cool faster, and was very pleased with the mixture of colour I was seeing
Slightly untwisted, still wet (and hot..there was a lot of steam)
I washed, rinsed and dried the yarn, then reskeined it. I used to hate reskeining, but am starting to like it more and gives a new perspective that you don't quite get when you wind it directly into a cake.
Lite Brite Colour Way
My friend Natalie named it Lite Brite, after the fun toy we used to play with as kids (and of course, now I want one again...)
A close-up of the end of the skein. So many pretty colours!
I will definitely be playing with this method more often... For the next one, I might try a complete submersion of the first colour, then re-twisting the skein and doing a full submersion of the second colour. If I do that, I might even do something radical like not aim for a super saturate colourway.... Can you imagine? I might use less than 6 drops of colour per shade!!! I don't normally purposely dye anything pastel, as much as I love pastels, but I might try to go for even just 2 drops of each colour and see what I can build up :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How To - Immersion Dyeing (Part Two - Multiple Colours, Twisted Skein)

Full disclosure - this is the first time I have ever done this method, but it definitely won't be my last! I was super happy with how this turned out, and am looking forward to trying it more often.

Since I had not done this before, I asked a Ravelry friend (Distracted Knits) how she does it. She always has beautiful yarns, and she was able to confirm the method she uses.  I have added her shop to the links on the sure to check her stuff out!

If you are going to try this method, one of the things you need to be aware of is the impact of mixing colours. The colours are going to mix together, so you want to make sure you are picking colours that play nicely.  For example, blue and orange look awesome together, as separate colours, but when they mix, you get brown. If you are not looking for brown, you don't want to mix these two.

What you need/What I used

  1. 100g fingering weight yarn (I used Bare Opal sock yarn)
  2. Dye - I used Wilton Color Right for the pink and a combination of two different Kool Aid flavours for the grey
  3. Acid - For the colour that was done with the WCR, I used citric acid. For the colour that was made up of the Kool Aid, I didn't need to add any. For the citric acid, I used my standard liquid mix of 1 tbps of citric acid powder to 1 cup of water, then used that liquid)
  4. Non-iodized salt
  5. A large pot - In this case, my oval pot worked very well, since it let me lay the twisted skein flat in the dye
  6. A stove
  7. Mild dish soap or baby shampoo
  8. Tongs
  9. Towel
Step 1 - Soak and twist your yarn.
For this one,  I soaked the yarn as the flat skein and then twisted it. I think for the next one, I will twist it up first. It is a bit of a pain in the butt to twist the wet skein.  The skein was soaked in plain water.
Soaking my yarn in plain water

I soaked my yarn in the dye pot, so I had to remove it to prepare the dye stock. I squeezed out most of the water and twisted it at this time. I tried not to twist it too tight, because I wanted the colour to penetrate the skein.
The twisted skein... a bit of a pain when it is wet. Wrap it loosely

Step 2 - Prepare the dye stock 
For the pink, I used 6 drops of WCR pink. I put enough water in the pot to cover about half to 3/4 of the twisted skein, then added the pink. I also added 1/4 tsp to very hot tap water and stirred until completely dissolved, then added that to the dye stock as well. 

Step 3 - Dye the first colour
I added the skein to the dye stock and gradually brought up to temperature.  I kept it there for 10 minutes, added 1 tablespoon of my citric acid mix.  Left another 5 minutes and added another tablespoon of the citric acid. I let the yarn sit in the dye stock for another 10 minutes, until the dye stock was almost clear.
Pretty in pink
Step 3.5 - Prepare the second dye stock.
I called this one 3.5 because I did this while I was doing step 3.  For my second colour, I wanted a grey, and it is hard to get with food colouring. Most times you get a green or blue tinge. But there is a neat combination of Kool Aid that works. 
6 Pink Lemonade, 2 Great Bluedini
I mixed the powder in a cup, added 1/4 tsp of salt and some very hot tap water, and mixed well. 
My grey dye stock

I had to mix it for a few minutes to make sure it was really well mixed. I could see particles of blue stuck to the side of the glass, and the last time I used this grey, I did not mix well, and wound up with blue spots. So by mixing very closely, I was able to make sure that there was no colour particles sticking to the side of the glass

Step 4 - Cool and rinse the first colour
I used the tongs to move the yarn out of the pot so it would cool faster.  And so I could see how it looked. 
After the pink, before rinsing
One thing I wanted to show was the effects of acid on red #3.  The WCR pink has red #3, and even when I add the acid slowly, I find the colour likes do this funky thing to my pot, that has also dyed my fingers (see my post on gradient dyeing). It took multiple washes to completely get rid of it. Make sure you take the time to ensure that all of it is gone, otherwise, pink pasta for supper!
Pink residue - took 3 washes to get it all out of the pot.
I put the yarn in the sink and ran warm water over it to slowly cool it down. You can just leave it to let it cool naturally, but I was doing this on my lunch break and wanted to get to the second colour. I started to slowly cool it down until it was cool enough for me to handle (it was still pretty warm)
I accidentally untwisted the skein when I was rinsing it, so I had to re-twist it. I was originally going to just flip the skein over and dye the undyed section (like my skillet cake dyeing post), but it didn't work out that way, and I am pretty happy about that. 
Re-twisted, ready for the second colour
Step 5 - Dye the second colour
I added the grey dyestock to the pot, and then added about the same amount of water as I did for the pink (okay, maybe a little more).  I found the side of the skein that has the most bare yarn showing, and put that side down in the dye.
In the grey
I was a little concerned at how the grey and the pink would react, and was pleasantly surprised that the grey and pink worked together to provide me with a very pretty purple. Probably because the grey was made up of pink and blue Kool Aid.

I find with some of the Kool Aid flavours, it can be hard to tell when the dye stock is "clear" because it seems to stay cloudy. So I let it go for about 20 minutes total, then turned the heat off and let it sit for a little bit.  
After the grey has set - see the pretty purple?
Step 6 - Cool, wash, rinse and dry
At this point, I had not seen the bottom of the skein, only what you can see here in the pot.  So when I took it out and put it on the plate to cool, I was very happy at the bottom of the skien and the depth of colour I had. 
The top, that I could see in the pot
The bottom of the skein! Look at the glorious darkness of some of the colour!
I untwisted the skein to wash, and was even happier to see all the colours running through the skein
In the sink, ready for a bath
As usual, I washed in baby shampoo, rinsed well and prepared to wring it dry in my dyeing towel
Before being dried
The final skein!
I am super happy with this yarn. I have white, light pink, dark pink, light purple, dark purple, light grey and dark grey. 

I will try this again where I just flip the skein and do not re-twist it.