Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Art Update - Yarn Dyeing Adventures!

Today I had some yarn dyeing adventures! It had been probably close to five years since I last did anything with handmade yarn, so I decided this week that I was going to get back into spinning and dyeing it. I still need to break out the spindles later tonight, but I had a bit of wool yarn left on one of them that I thought would be good for practice. I wanted to test that the Wilson's cake icing dyes I had were still good after being opened for probably seven years.

Judging from how well they dyed my hand when I was adding them to the water/vinegar mix, the answer to that was a resounding "yes". They were very thick after this much time (hence why I needed to use my fingers to pry the colors off of the spoon), but the dye was still good.

I dunked the small skein into a mix of two greens and two browns:

But when I drained the water, I immediately realized my mistake when I saw that it was mostly an icky light brown color. Greens and blues absorb slower than reds, so the brown cleared out the water leaving most of the green behind rather than on the yarn:

I drained the pot and tried a different approach to make it darker by dipping the one end into just the two greens. (The other end is just sitting in an empty pot to keep it from dripping on the stove or, ya know, catching on fire.)

I left it in for the better part of an hour. Bingo! Now the green was nice and dark:

The brown still looked awful, though, so I switched around the yarn and dunked the other end into the two shades of brown. About an hour later with that, I ended up with much nicer looking yarn than I had in the beginning:

The colors in the photo aren't exactly right since it's a rainy day and the lighting is bad, but I'm really happy with how this came out! I'm looking forward to using this yarn on a pair of dreadfalls later. :)

The only snag I ran across is that the darker brown didn't seem quite up to snuff after this amount of time. I'm going to have to replace that particular bottle, but my greens and the lighter brown still worked fine even after several years. (In hindsight, I seem to remember having problems with my reds before where they'd lose potency faster than the other colors. No wonder brown did the same!) Of course I probably wouldn't want to eat it after seven years, but for dyeing yarn it was okay. Then again, I know I was using more than I did last time for the same amount of darkness as a result, so I probably should at some point replace all of the colors. I do love using this dye, though; since it's food dye mixed with just vinegar and water, I can use my regular pots and cooking utensils.

Now the next trick is relearning how to use my spindles. Eep! I'll blog later about how that adventure goes.

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