People worry that they are going to make mistakes when dyeing yarn, and that life, as they know it, will be over. I used to think that too... then this happened.
My first ever attempt at Kettle Dyeing (a.k.a immersion dyeing), was not the spectacular success I was planning. But it was the first time I learned that one person's massive failure can become another person's most favourite yarn ever.
I think this was probably the second yarn I tried to dye on my own. I had successfully done a hand painted yarn, and had watched a video on creating multicoloured yarn on the stove with food colouring. In that video, she used food colouring, but I figured I had Easter Egg dye tablets, so why not use those?
My plan seemed brilliant to me. I was going to use a blue, a yellow, and a red. In theory, the blue and yellow will combine to make green, the yellow and red to make orange, and the red and blue to make purple. It was all going to be a picture perfect rainbow, and I was going to have the greatest skein of kettle dyed yarn ever!!
So I started by adding my yarn to the pot I was going to dye in, and added lots of water. I had forgotten that the dye tablets have some citric acid in them, so I added a bunch of vinegar to the water. I think one of her previous videos has said one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water, so that was probably what I added
|Soaking the yarn|
|The dye culprits, I mean tablets.|
The water got to a bit more of a boil than I expected. Turns out this is "what not to do #1". Or at least, if you get it to a rolling boil, make sure it has time to reduce to no movement at all. Pretty sure she said that in the video, but I was new to this and, as you know, am a teensy bit impatient. Making sure it has no movement means you need to move the yarn around to make sure that the water under it is not moving! That was one of my mistakes. The water on the top wasn't moving, but under the yarn, it was bubbling away
Next it was time to add the dye tablets. I knew not to just drop them on the top, since it would not penetrate, so I moved the yarn slightly to make space, and added the dye tablets. I added all of them along the sides, hoping to get the solid colours along the edges, with the blended colours in the middle.
|All three colours added to the dye pot|
|After a few minutes|
Then I did something really silly... "what not to do #3"... I decided that I was going to move the yarn a bit to see what was going on underneath. I saw the rolling boil of the water, and then watched as the blue and yellow mixed and completely took over the yarn
|My rainbow dream go up in steam....|
|My failed experiment, sitting in a bowel while I tried to find my pride...|
|The wet dye... A couple of pretty spots, but also a couple of pretty gross looking spots|
|Once it was dry, the colours were not as horrific as I thought|
|Dried and caked, ready to knit with|
A few months later I was talking to a friend about the socks I was going to make for her. I told her she could have her pick of yarns, and asked what her favourite colour was. She was looking for something green. I told her I didn't have much with a lot of green, but that I would show here one mistake I had made a while back. If she didn't like it, which I didn't expect her to, I would custom dye something for her. I sent there picture of the caked yarn and she absolutely loved it! She claimed it right off the bat. That was they yarn she wanted her socks made out of. Turns out "what not to do #4" is convince yourself that a failure is a failure...
Still skeptical that anything good could come of what felt like a catastrophe to me mere weeks ago, I cast on her socks. And was very surprised to see that as they were knitting up, the yarn was actually growing on me. I was liking it! How could that be? This yarn had crushed my kettle dyeing dreams, and I liked it?
I finished the socks, took a few pictures, and mailed them off to their new owner. She got them just as she was on her way to Scotland, and she wore them almost the whole time she was there.
UPDATE - I discovered on YouTube today that Rebecca from ChemKnits did the same type of experiment, using Easter Egg dye tablets, back in early 2015 (I did mine in 2013), and it looks like it did something similar to her. The green just took over. In hers, more of it washed out later, but nice t know it is not just me it happens to :)