Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What's in a name?

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what I wanted to call this blog. I had a few smart ass names in mind, but, ironically most of the ones I really wanted were already taken. Seems like there are a few of us smart ass dyers out there :)

So I started thinking about what makes me different as a dyer, and one of the things that struck me really early on in the process of learning how to dye yarn was that everyone else seemed to have much more patience than I did.  A lot of the steps I read called for things like letting the yarn cool completely before moving on to the next step in the process, or waiting for the yarn to dry naturally before wrapping it, and I could see that patience was going to be a problem for me...

When I learn something new, I don't have a lot of patience... I am an instant gratification type of a person... I want to see my results right now. I don't want to wait.  This applies to both my dyeing and knitting, but I noticed it a lot more with dyeing.

I started off hand painting my yarn and heat setting it by wrapping it in plastic wrap and using the microwave. That was the first time I decided to change things up a bit because I was impatient.  The instructions I was reading had said something about microwaving for 2 minutes, letting it cool completely, microwaving it for 2 more minutes, letting it cool completely, etc.. I can't remember how many times I was supposed to do it, because I never actually did it that way.  Instead, I did mine in 5 separate 2 minute intervals, but I only let it sit for a few seconds before I did the next interval.  (I will get into all the details of how I dye in other posts)

The next step in the process said to take it out of the microwave and let it cool completely, then remove the plastic wrap.  Wasn't going to happen... Logically the yarn will cool faster if it is not wrapped in plastic, right? So I have a tendency to come very close to steaming my fingerprints off each time I take yarn out of the microwave.  (As a cautionary side note, don't get really, really impatient and decide to take the scissors to the plastic wrap, because the sometimes the yarn sticks to the wrap... and you might wind up cutting the yarn by mistake....grrrr.... )

I also use superwash yarn, so I don't need to be quite as careful with felting, which means I rarely ever wait for my yarn to cool completely before I wash it. I typically wait until it is just cool enough to touch without completely burning my fingers off, and then put it in warm water with baby shampoo to wash it. I will cool it off a bit with the rinse water.   I have had a few colours that wanted to run a bit when using warm water, and told myself that those would be the times when I was a little more patient, but, honestly, I don't remember what colours they were, so there goes that idea.

On the occasions that I do immersion type dyeing, there are times that my dye stock does not exhaust completely, and I will decide that I don't want to wait, that I will just live with what I have. I know that blue takes a long time to completely strike, and a lot of people will recommend letting it cool and stay in the dye bath sometimes as long as overnight. I think I have done this once, but that was only because I started dyeing really late at night and was too tired to stay up, so I left it in the pot and went to bed.

Then you have to add in the time it takes for the yarn to dry.  Yarn should be hung to dry somewhere out of direct sunlight. That happened for I think the first 3 skeins....they were hung in the furnace room and I tried to forget about them until the next day.  On the next skein, I had some something funky and didn't want to wait that long to see how it was going to knit up.  Enter the shoe rack!  Superwash yarn can go in the dryer, and if my yarn was going to shrink, I figured I might as well shrink it before I knit with it, not after.

If I am dyeing in the summer time, and there is a nice breeze outside, and have a little bit of patience (usually meaning I dyed it over lunch and have to work that afternoon), then I use my clothesline. If the sun happens to hit the yarn directly, it just dries it faster

After it is dry and photographed, I try to keep it out of direct sunlight. I have managed to fade one pair of socks because I forgot they were on my dresser and the sun was able to shine directly on them for a few months before I realized they were there!

There is also one other area that is connected to my dyeing where I am impatient.  I tell myself pretty much every single time I dye a skein of yarn that I have to knit that yarn next, so I am not going to dye any more yarn until I get the current pair of socks done and I can cast on this new yarn next.  Yeah....that doesn't happen! I tell myself that, I make all these plans for what is going to come next, and then I get an idea for trying a new technique, or I get new food colouring in the mail, or some magical Kool Aid fairy sends me packages of Kool Aid, and I find myself soaking more bare yarn.

My impatience makes me, my processes, and ultimately my yarns a little different than anyone else's, so I decided it should be showcased in my blog :)

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