Since some of you asked rather loudly for the conclusion of my dyeing adventures, here is the final installment. Enjoy!
I took my Kool-aid madness to the next level by giving handpainting a try. But first I have to tell you about the yarn that I used.
This is a new skien of handspun that I actually completed last Saturday. The roving came from a vendor at the CT Sheep and Wool festival this year, whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. All I can tell you about this fiber was that it came in a 4 oz. ball of roving and that it is wool. I originally bought it to use on the drop spinndle and never got around to it, so I figured it would be good for practicing with the new wheel.
Well, I was semi-right. It was good practice. Good practice with *awful* roving. I really wish I knew what this was, because I would never buy it again. First, it smelled funky while being spun. It certainly never was stored improperly and it didn’t smell musty, but it had a distincly odd odor. Not a pleasant one either. The other big problem? It felt like I was trying to draft nylon when I worked with it. It had the weirdest stretch and took a lot of muscle to get it to work. It spun up fairly thick because I was just too hard to draft. Has anyone had this kind of experience with a roving before? Obviously it was undyed so it couldn’t have been that, but maybe it was just processed badly? I really would be interested in hearing from anyone with thoughts on this because I would really like to steer clear of something like this in the future.
Since it was just “practice yarn” I decided to try navajo plying again, this time with the lower wheel ratio (which I now know how to do thanks to Risa!). The ratio changed helped a bit, but as you may be able to tell in the pic above, the spots where the loops change didn’t work out too well. I’m going to blame that on the yuckyness of this yarn and not on myself since my first attempt wasn’t so bad. Incidentally, after plying this and having a lot of frustration with stopping and starting the wheel, I rubbed a little paraffin on the scotch tension cord and it starts and stops like a dream now. Go figure.
So I figured this skein would be big enough for handpainting and I didn’t really care what happened to it! I assembled the tools and colors I needed:
Plastic bags to cover the counter, three different flavors of Kool-aid, and a Turkey baster. Despite what HWJF says, I really did buy the Turkey baster for the upcoming holiday cooking and not for this purpose!
The process was fairly simple. I picked up color in the baster, squirted it where I wanted it to go, then pushed the yarn into the color to make sure that it went all the way through all the plies. I started with the darkest color on the end, the blue in the middle and the green at the end. When I felt like everything was saturated enough, I picked up the skein and put it in a microwave safe dish.
That’s where I ran into a bit of trouble. I couldn’t fit the whole length of yarn in the microwave dish without bending it and then the biggest dish I had wouldn’t fit in the microwave! The transfering to different dishes made some of the colors run so my nice separate areas of color got blended a little more than I really wanted. The dark red being the biggest offender. Considering this was all one big experiment, I really didn’t worry about it too much.
After a nuked the yarn for 2 min. it was plenty hot, so I let it cool. When all of the yarns that you saw yesterday and this one were cool enough to handle, I rinsed them out, gave them each a bit of a wash in some Eucalan and hung them up to dry.
Ready for the final results? Here are the three solid colored skeins:
I didn’t stir the pink much so there are varying degrees of color in the skein. The black cherry came out really well on the gray Lincoln! And the grape penetrated the two ply skein quite well.
And here is the final result with the handpainting:
Not terrible for a first try. The red is overpowering and I (of course) would have liked more blue, but I’m fairly pleased with the results. The colors are fairly accurate on my monitor (they lack a little brightness), despite the lack of sunlight when the pics were taken.
I had so much fun with this and I can’t help but think about trying some “real” dyes now. I’ve even picked up the “Twisted Sister Sock Workbook” by Lynne Vogel in the last couple of days and I think the chapter on dyeing is fascinating. But I have one major question that perhaps some of you out there might be able to answer: How do you do this in a small apartment kitchen with limited equipment? Everything in the book talks about space and equipment that I just don’t have. Is there a way to do dyeing on a small scale? Or do I just have to win the lottery and buy a huge house asap? Any feedback on this whole dyeing thing would be much appreciated!
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