Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Because we're Geniuses, That's Why

Or Instructions?! We Have Instructions?!
Or This is the Definition of Learning Curve
Or I'll Just Wait Till it Explodes

Quite some time ago, J and I decided to dye some yarn. So we ordered from Knit Picks, the shipment arrived several weeks ago and we've been trying to arrange a time ever since. Today was the day.
J bought some KoolAid and I pulled out my supply of fiber reactive dyes from Dharma. We asked GramRe if she wanted to play with us. She didn't and we couldn't figure out why. Why, Oh Why would someone NOT want to mix up chemicals and play with hot dyes with US? Ok, ok, don't answer that. The following post may answer for me.
As I was saying. The two of us got together to dye. I was a little unsure how it was going to work out with the 3 kiddos, but M and G played outside and E went down for a nap. J and I took turns mixing up dye. Also known as dyeing my sink. But we had a 1/2 cup of 8 different dyes, plus the 3 KoolAid colors.
Unfortunately, we had to unwind the nice neat little balls of yarn we had made with GramRe's yarn winder. That was a bit frustrating considering that the yarn had come in nice neat skeins. Oh well. Oh, and J decided to knit hers into a sock blank. Because KnitPicks has the yarn for $5 or the blank for $12. Not worth it. Buy the blank. For future reference.
We soaked the yarn in tubs. Just water for the KoolAid yarn and vinegar water for the Dharma yarn. Then J tried the little plastic tub for the KoolAid yarn since one set of instructions we were using said to use a plastic tub. Other instructions say to spread it out on plastic wrap. That's what we did with the rest of the yarn. Not that the tub didn't work. It just made it harder to see what we were doing, and you could only do one skein at a time.
After painting our yarn, we wrapped it up in plastic (the plastic wrap skeins) and microwaved it. We weren't too scientific about the times. Mostly because every set of instructions we read said something different about microwave times. Hence the "I'll just wait till it explodes" title. Yeah, dye exploding in the microwave makes a mess. Not an impossible mess, but a mess all the same. I was just kidding about the "wait till it explodes," but you never know how the universe is going to interpret the things you say. Word to the Wise.
The best microwave time we came up with was 3, 2 minute intervals at 50% power. That worked well, without exploding. Oh, and we wrapped the yarn in the plastic wrap in a kind of coil and put in on a plate. That helped too!
Then we transfered the yarn to the bin in the sink and started rinsing it in the hottest water we could run out of the faucet. Gradually, we brought the temp down so as not to shock the yarn. It is wool after all. Wool doesn't like shocks. It felts. Helpful for some applications, not for ours. One the water ran clear, we soaked the yarn in a tub with water and Synthrapol. A dandy little wash from Dharma that gets out the last of the dye. The yarn is now hanging to dry in the sun. It looks great. And the KoolAid yarn has a pleasant orange-grape aroma. LOL.

Me mixing dye
Me squirting dye. This is the yarn for a soaker for E. It came out nice a bright!

J painting her sock blank

The sock blank before it's trip to the microwave

The sock blank coil. After the nuking

Next Post:
Final pictures. Well of the yarn. You may want to just decide you can wait to see finished knitted items. J is a full time student, employed full time. I'm a full time mom of three busy boys. Do the math.


Lanna said...

One of these days I'm determined to experiment with wilton dyes. The color selection of kool-aid is a bit limited. I made the mistake of mentioning kool-aid dying ages ago, and people keep sending it. When we moved I think I was up to about 60 packets, and that was after I had given a bunch away..lol.

RasJane said...

Oooh, try it, it's fun! I am wondering how long J's yarn will smell like that, LOL
So, I'm assuming you're all moved in, with 'net?

PapaCoyote said...

Not being one to spend much time in a yard shop, but, don't the merchants stock yarn in a multitude of different colors? So why don't you just go the store and buy the yarn in the color that you desire? Hmmmm. Geniuses---don't reinvent the wheel, girls.

Anonymous said...

Okay, maybe next time I'll just watch, but I'm with Papa Coyote; I'll forgo the fun and just buy whatever color I want. Cute hands, J!


RasJane said...

Oh, dearest Papa. Oh, dear, dear, dear. Yes, I can buy yarn in many colors. But I've never seen red, yellow and orange yarn quite like the stuff I made. But mostly, it's just lots of fun. Just like I can go buy clothes. But I like making them.
And, honestly, have you priced hand-dyed yarn? Ouch. Yeah, it's fun to shop. But you don't get the experience that way. just ask Mom. ;)

PapaCoyote said...

"Fun to shop." My dear, shopping is a necessary evil to obtain what one desires and cannot make economically or satisfactorily for oneself. I am amazed that J still has not learned this basic tenet of living:-) and, you, are so closely related. Haha. Take that!

RasJane said...

AhHa! By your own logic, you have agreed that dyeing yarn is perfectly justifiable. Yes, I can buy it in a yarn shop, but I can make it cheaper. Therefore, dyeing yarn is good. Thanks! :P