Thursday, July 25, 2013

The pitfalls of dyeing and the joys of overdyeing

So I've been playing in the dyepots lately. I'm not an accomplished dyer but I know enough to make more pretty things than I make messes. And I've learned that I don't need to accept the messes, than I can try to make lemonade out of those lemon dye jobs. Case in point--3 weeks ago I finally got a large enough chunk of time to dye the 2 lbs. of Mixed BFL I'd been hoarding for a sweater for myself. Got out the red, purple, green and orange dyes, made stock solution, applied it to the soaked 4 oz. tops (8 of them!), wrapped in plastic warp and steamed for a good 90 minutes.

The problem was, I'd misplaced my steamer rack (still haven't found the dang thing) and had to use another steamer I wasn't very familiar with. And apparently the new steamer just didn't reach a good temperature and not all the dye set. Instead of bright splashes of color on a naturally-colored striped top, I had weak colors on a dull background. I pulled off half an ounce and spun up 4 little skeins to see if I could possibly use the top. Not. So everything sat for 2 weeks, in clear view so I could think about a solution every time I passed that 2# of ugly fiber.

The original colors

Aha! I could overdye! Thinking that cool colors would work best, I first tried a solution of soft blue on a knitted sample.

Even duller than the original colors, and now the stripping effect is almost invisible. Next I tried a soft aqua.

Top-original color; Middle-dyed with blue; Bottom-dyed with aqua

Not much better, is it? So everything sat for another week while I mulled things over. And it hit me the other day that the original red I'd used would work perfectly with the other colors. The worst that could happen is that the green would turn brown, which was quite acceptable on a naturally-stripped top. And if I used a kettle-dyeing technique, the red dye would strike unevenly and give me a more hand-painted look. This is the result, and I'm incredibly happy with it.

I'm working on spinning the second bobbin of this top, and it's coming out much like multicolored cranberries. It's a great muted red with bright and dark lengths and will make a lovely sweater or jacket for me.

1 comment:

'Kolai said...