Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spectrum Dip Dyeing


I'm forever experimenting with dyeing.  I love it.  It's good fun and the worst thing you can end up with is brown yarn, and I look good in brown, so, no loss.  This is my most recent experiment.  I teach both knitting and dye classes at my LYS and so to best advertise my dye class, I use hand dyed/painted yarns when I knit along with the students.  Having another project class coming up before my next run of dye classes, I was due to pull something fantastic.  Here is the result.


Run of the Mill Cascade 220 in a color that is so not me - Mint.  Why did I purchase 2 skeins of Mint you ask?  Because I had wild ideas about hand painting this to look like scattered sea glass before I came up with this idea.  And because Cascade 220 is a wonderful basic yarn you can do most anything with that takes dye beautifully, has a wonderful hand and is CHEAP.

So, Step 1 - Fuzzy Math.


I wanted to do a 9 step spectrum working with three dyes over two skeins of yarn to get a vibrant gradient for a shawl.  No, I don't know what possessed me. Don't bother asking.  To do so, however, the skeins need to be joined into one and divided out into nine not quite equal parts as you ultimately need more yardage for the bottom edge of a triangular shawl than for the cast on/beginning.  I tried to do math.  I researched, I calculated, I erased, I invented new math and in the end, I winged it.  Mostly.  I divided out nine sections of increasing yardage and tied each.

Step 2 - Acid Bath

Just a water and vinegar soak to prep the yarn.  Meanwhile...

Step 3 - Dye Prep

How to explain this.  Okay - large jars from left to right got the following:
1 unit emerald, 1/2 emerald/1/2 turq, 1 unit turq, 1/2 turq/1/2 violet, 1 unit violet
Small jars from left to right got: 1/2 emerald/ 1/2 emerald/turq, 1/2 emerald/turq / 1/2 turq, 1/2 turq/ 1/2 turq/violet, and 1/2 turq/violet / 1/2 violet.  Follow all that?  There will be a test.

Step 4 - Load the Yarn

(About now I realize just how ambitious it is to try to prevent 9 sections totaling 440 yards from tangling.)  All yarn is soaking up the dye and magic is starting to happen.

Step 5 - Heat Set

(You should have seen the look on my husband's face when I asked him to help me move 9 jars full of acid dye, linked with a continuous thread of yarn, into the microwave - priceless.)  Heat setting is easy this way.  Couple minutes on high, rest a couple minutes, repeat until dye is exhausted.

Step 6 - Rinse
Sorry - no photo.  Again - delusions of grandeur thinking this wasn't going to get tangled.  If you do this - tie, tie, tie.  4 is okay - 8-12 would have been better.

Step 7 - Dry

I untangled as much as possible and run it out over a dowel.  As with any dye project, there were some surprises.  Some colors blended, some broke a little, and two went total tie-dye on me.  Either way - I love it.  Bright, vibrant, unexpected, fun, colorful and contiguous!

Step 8 - Winding

Love, love, love the colors.
Then I began to wind cakes.
Hate, hate, hate tangles.
Love, love, love a helpful, patient hubby!  Smooches Babe!!

Step 9 - Admiring Cake

This picture doesn't do the yarn justice.  I re-divided the skeins back to two and set both cakes up as center pull so that I can do a continual knit from one to the other.  Because the short yardage sections in the small jars are only about 6 yards long (just to blend color changes) they get lost in the cake.  I promise to post pictures of the final project, once I figure out what I'm making from this and complete it.

Final Analysis: would I do this again? Yes - but differently.

1) More ties.  The tangling wasn't awful - really only put about 30 minutes into correcting twisted bits, but it was like being on a rollercoaster in hell during the rinse stage.  Like I knew it was turning to a twisted nightmare of knots, even if it wasn't - the stress level was unacceptably high.
2) Either really blend the dyes or don't or plan better.  I'm all about surprises in my dying, but now I know I can have more control over placing the tie-dye look or doing a true spectrum.  I got a fun mixed bag out of this, but could have gone for a clean blend or full out party.
3) Setup with Future in Mind.  I should have put all dye jars on the microwave turntable tray from the start - it simply would have been easier.
4) Use Less Dye.  I'm heavy handed when I mix dye stock because I like vibrant color.  On the flip side, this means waste and lots and lots and lots of rinsing.  I wasn't able to truly exhaust my dyes - they were over saturated.

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I'm not a professional, but I play one at my LYS. Have questions about my process or sanity - Visit me on Ravelry here: jesseknits.  If you try to duplicate this project, please know, I'm only responsible for boiling over dye in MY microwave, not yours.  Dial 911 in the event of a suffocation by tangled yarn emergency.