Monday, February 27, 2017

Three times the yarn does not always mean three times the dye stock

Ask me how I know...

It is not like I just increased 6 drops of yellow to 18 drops of yellow because I was doing three times the amount of yarn... and then watched as the yellow took over all 6 cakes of yarn... and watched as I poured some very yellow water down the drain... and watched as the remaining yellow still in the cake decided that it was going to leech into the pink and give me more of an orange lemonade than a pink lemonade colourway... (FYI - I am using the Wilton Color Right food colouring system for these yarns)

I thought I was approaching it logically, but some days you have to realize that logic and yarn dyeing don't always go hand in hand.  And I also forgot one other key thing about dyeing with food colouring. For some reason, it takes a LOT less yellow to get a good colour than it does with something like pink or blue.  And the kicker is, I know this... any time I mix up my dye stocks the yellow strikes the fastest, and is the one I usually have the most of left over after I finish hand painting in multi colour... 

I bought myself a new roasting pan with a rack in it the other day and was super excited to dye some yarn in it. I wanted to try to replicate some of my skillet dyed colour ways (Pink Lemonade, Chicken Bones and Mint Chocolate were on the menu).  I was super excited to see that the roasting pan had a rack in it, so the cakes won't sit on the bottom, and that it would hold 6 of my 50g skeins.

When I got home, I wound off 6 50g cakes of Opal Sock Yarn, then mixed up the yellow dye stock using the "three times as much yarn should take three times as much dye" mentality, put the dyestock in the roasting pan, put it on the stove, and added the yarn...

My new roasting pan with 6 cakes of yarn

...and watched as the yellow seeped through the entire cakes and pretty much dyed the whole thing yellow.  I still flipped it over and dyed the other half pink, and came out with something that somewhat resembled my Pink Lemonade colourway, but not quite.

Sort of gives you an idea...better pictures to come, hopefully...

I repeated this process with the two other colourways (Mint Chocolate was green and brown, Chicken Bones was pink and brown), and realized that in the world of food colouring dyes, you can't always predict what you are going to get.

For my Mint Chocolate, using just 8 drops of brown and 2 drops of black gave me more than enough brown to get the colourway I was going for.

Pretty minty and pretty chocolatey as well
But for my Chicken Bones colourway, I dyed the brown twice (8 drops of brown, 2 black the first time, and 8 drops of brown the second time), and still did not get as dark of a brown as I wanted.
Chicken Bones, but more caramel filling than chocolate
I would have liked the browns to have been a bit darker in Chicken Bones, but I was not about to do the dye bath on the brown for the 3rd time.

So the yellow in Pink Lemonade might have worked just as well with just 6 or maybe 10 drops of yellow, while the brown in Chicken Bones might have done better if I had gone with 18 drops of brown, although 16 total drops of brown plus 2 black still did not make it as dark as I wanted.

Frustrating? A little bit... because I would like to have a magical formula that would just let me say "I used XX for one skein, so I can just double for two skeins, or triple for three." But it doesn't always work that way.  You really do have to get used to your dyes, and how they react.  Learn that colours with yellow take less, while colours with red or blue may take more.  And be prepared to overdye things if needed to get the saturation you are looking for.

I share this not to discourage anyone, but because I think it is important to share information like this. Does it mean if you have a magic number that works, you can't just double or triple it? Nope! Not at all. You might use the exact same dye in the exact same ratio and have it work just perfect for you.  I share this because I want any of my readers who embark in the world of dyeing to know that sometimes you just have to go with what the yarn/dye gives you :)  And even if you don't get exactly what you were looking for, you, or someone you know, may just love the final result.

Oh, and to share one more tip with you. Don't buy the same roasting pan I did. I got mine at Canadian Tire and it has non-stick coating. Back away from roasting pans with non-stick coating. After only three colour ways, the coating is peeling off the bottom of the pan and off the rack.  I think it is a combination of the amount of acid being used over the course of using the pan, and maybe having the roasting pan sitting on the burner of the stove. Although it is a roasting pan... you make gravy in a roasting pan on the stove so you would think it would work on a burner, but, again, here I am trying to use logic. Silly Reena...

I just bought some of that high temperature BBQ spray paint today, and am going to try to coat both the rack and the pan with that, to see if it will make them last longer.  I also just ordered two stainless steel pans, and am waiting for Paderno to do another blow out sale (or open their factory store) so I can buy some really good quality ones.  It was worth it to be able to test it out, and to be able to dye 18 cakes of yarn in a much shorter period of time. But in the long run, it was a bit of a waste of money.  At least if you are reading this and considering it, I might be able to save you some money when I tell you not to buy the pan. 

No comments:

Post a Comment