Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yarn To Dye For (or a simple one pot method to make multicolor yarn.)

After spinning and plying a large amount of white Corriedale wool, I decided it was time to play with color. I wanted to try and make a self- striping yarn for slipper socks and fingerless mittens. I also wanted to devise a method that would make the smallest mess possible and would not require lots of newspaper, paper towels, plastic wrap, and many containers that would have to be cleaned up afterwards.

If you try my method, you will need the following materials:

1 skein of yarn separated into 3 bundles (one for each color.) I have to find a simpler way of doing this, but that will be the subject of a future blog.
White vinegar
Large pyrex or other glass bowl
Kool Aid
16 oz. disposable cups
1 gallon size large freezer bags
Latex gloves
Measuring cup
Large plastic collander
Large pot, bowl, or dishpan
Plastic wrap
Gentle liquid soap
Lavender oil
Large bath towel

My first step was to soak the wool in a water/vinegar mixture for 20 minutes to prepare it for dyeing. While the wool was soaking, I prepared my dye mixtures. I measured 2 ounces of vinegar and 6 ounces of water into each plastic cup. (I used 3 cups, one for each color.) I emptied 2 packages of Kool Aid into each cup and stirred the mixture. Higher concentrations of Kool Aid lead to more intense colors.

After soaking the wool for 20 minutes, remove it from the water/vinegar mixture and let it drain for a couple of minutes in the collander. Take 3 large freezer bags (again, one for each color) and stand them up in the large glass bowl. Put one bundle of yarn in each bag after carefully removing the ties holding the bundles together. Pour one of the dye mixtures over the yarn in one of the freezer bags. (Now would be a good time to put on the rebber or latex gloves.) Gently squish the yarn and the liquid around in the bottom of the bag. Repeat this process for each of the other yarn bundles and the dyes for each bundle. You may want to make sure the yarnat the top of each bundle is also immersed in some of the dye. Carefully stand up each bag in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave the bowl on high for 8 to 9 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and make sure that any liquid in the bottom of each freezer bag is now clear. Let the bowl and its contentsd cool for a few minutes. Carefully move the freezer bags from the glass bowl and place them in the collander, then gently empty each bag of wool into the collander. Leave the wool in the collander until completely cooled.

Once the wool has completely cooled, gently wash in water with a small amount of gentle soap and a few drops of lavender oil. (This will help remove the Kool Aid smell. The lavender oil also helps to protect the wool from moths.) Rinse thoroughly in cool water and roll in dry towelling to help remove excess water. Hang yarn up to dry.

Enjoy using your hand dyed yarn in your next project!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Something Old, Something New

Today I will start monitoring the Monday afternoon Open Studio at the Treasure Coast Art Association. I've requested that this studio time be dedicated to fiber arts. It will be interesting to see how many people will decide to become involved.

For myself, I have decided to crochet a small handbag using some of my new handspun yarn. I've been racking my brain for a crochet pattern to complement the yarn. Finally I went back to my bookshelves and found an old book titled The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery, which has a very well developed section on crochet. It was a lot of fun seeing some of the forgotten stitches and patterns in this old book. I finally decided to use a moss pattern. I'm going to attempt writing out the pattern for this handbag as I develop it. This will be an interesting challenge.