Sunday, September 27, 2009

Deep Purple

Alex borrowed Rock Band for the Wii from a friend and Friday night he and I rocked out till the sun went down. Poor Dexter had to miss his walk. I love my boy, but Alex and I are so much alike that sometimes it works against us and we don't get along easily. So it was a real gift and a treat to be able to hang out with my youngest son, doing something we both enjoyed.

In between gigs, I took time out this weekend to dye some more yarn. I was inspired by purple maples because they don't really look purple. Some are so dark, they almost look black. If you turn them over, you can see a green tint to the underside.

My idea then was to dye some yarn green, and then over-dye it with burgundy. At the last moment I decided to add tie-dye techniques to the mix. First, I skeined up the yarn, then wrapped knobs of it with hair elastics. I soaked the skeins in water with dish detergent in it, then dyed it Moss Green using Wilton Icing dye.

Janice from the Forest City Hand Knitters told me that it is vinegar that sets the dye and not the heat as I had thought. She recommended pouring in the vinegar at the end for an even distribution of color. Can anyone tell me what the heat is for? It seemed to me that the yarn didn't really take up the dye until after I poured in the vinegar.

Anyway, once the yarn came out of the green dye, I took off the hair elastics and replaced them in new locations.

Next up, the yarn went back into the warm crock pot with burgundy from Wilton. I hadn't realized that the burgundy was so pink. I was expecting a much darker color. I'm not disappointed though. Here are my results, in the original skein on the right and also re-skeined to distribute the colors on the left.

It's not as dark as a purple maple, but its on the right track. Perhaps I should have used a greater quantity of dye and more patience. I sort of rushed the process a bit by only heating the yarn minimally and then cooling it using gradually cooler rinse water.

Its a nice color and it should make a very interesting knit. The tie dye effect worked great. I'm definitely going to use that again. I'm calling this color way "September Rose."

Now for Monday morning and the beginning of my days as a commuter. I wonder if we'll see an increase in my knitting production?


  1. Yay for another cool dyeing experiment! Definitely pretty, even if it's not quite what you were going for.

  2. I love that colour combination!

  3. For me leaving the yarn in is the hardest part of dye experiments, more & longer will always give you darker, this is the time when you need the kids or dog to get into something so you can't go back to the yarn for a bit.

    It is very pretty with the green high lights.

  4. My experience is with washfast acid dyes - not sure if its the same with all types of dyes - but my understanding - vinegar is your mordant - the agent that makes the dye molecules join the wool molecules. Heat is what 'sets' them so they stay there.

    The mordant is love. The heat is marriage ;o)

  5. I love "The mordant is love. The heat is marriage." Wow.

    In almost as brief terms, heat opens the scales on the wool, thus expanding the surface area, plus it facilitates bonding. The acid in the vinegar is an essential part of the bond.

    You can get a feel for the process by playing with the order of things. If you mix the dye with cool water and vinegar, then add the wool, then bring up the heat, stirring gently, you'll get pretty level dyeing. If you hold it at the proper heat (just under a simmer usually) until the water is clear, then turn off the heat and let it sit until cool, *then* rinse, you'll get maximum take-up.

    If you start with cool water, vinegar, and wool, bring it up to heat, *then* add the dye powder or stock solution, you'll get instant take-up, but ONLY where the dye contacts the fiber. This is how to get distinct sprinkles -- dry powder on a hot acidic bath.

    To get darker colors you can go for full saturation -- use more dyestuff and the maximum take-up method (and plenty of vinegar). Or, add a bit of a darker hue like navy or black. We often use grape Kool-Aid to tint things darker.

    Definitely like the underlayment of green.

  6. I know nothing about dyeing except if I like the colour of the finished product. Yours is gorgeous. And the perfect name. That's exactly what it looks like