Theoretically, I shouldn't have anything to show you today except for another picture of my mom's shawl, scrunched up on the needles and not much bigger than the last post. Luckily, I am easily distracted and have wandered off the highway onto a charming little side road called "Dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid." Too much fun!
I've been planning to try my hand at dyeing yarn for quite awhile. Months ago, I ordered a skein of dye-ready sock yarn from Knit Picks and stocked up on a rainbow selection of Kool-Aid packets. But the yarn languished in a drawer and the Kool-Aid sat lonely on the pantry shelf, carefully labeled, "Yarn Dye! Do Not Consume!" There was always another Christmas project to get finished and I just never found the time.
Then I was browsing Eunny Jang's blog the other day. Eunny used to be on my must-read blog list, but she inexplicably stopped posting on December 21 of 2006. I've missed her insights and enviable projects, so I was flipping back through old posts I hadn't read. Before I knew it, I ran smack into this. Wow! So very cool but also simple enough for a novice like me. Eunny's post then led me to this link, and then this Knitty article. By the time I'd devoured all of these references, I couldn't wait to try my hand at it. I tucked a couple of pairs of latex gloves from work into my purse and thanked my lucky stars I already had the yarn and Kool-Aid waiting for me at home.
I didn't snap a picture of the few rows of sock I knit as a gauge swatch - you'll have to use your imagination. I determined that I'd need 35" of yarn per row. I settled on a 3 color pattern as follows: 2 rows pink, 3 rows red, 2 rows pink, 4 rows purple. So for each color pattern repeat, I'd need 385 inches. I was wrapping the yarn around chairs with backs that were 14" wide, so I placed them 178.5" apart. (14" + 14" + 178.5" = 178.5" = 385") Then I slowly and laboriously wound the yarn around the chair backs.
This step took FOREVER! When I do this again, I will take the time to wind the undyed yarn into a ball before I wind it around the chairs so I'm not fighting to keep a skein untangled. My daughter took pity on me and held the skein toward the end, which did make it a little more manageable. I used some yellow yarn to tie the skein to keep it from tangling, and then I carefully measured off lengths and used green yarn to designate the four sections. (2 pink, one red, one purple) To help me keep things straight, I put one, two, three, or four knots in the yellow ties in each section so I would know where I was. I soaked the yarn in cool water with a little shampoo while I mixed up my jars of dye.
This is the three jars of dye and yarn placed in a pot of simmering water on the stove. I used 2 packets of pink lemonade, cherry, and grape respectively because that's what I had. In retrospect, 3 packets of each would probably have made deeper colors. (Another helpful hint for next time) It took almost no time for all the dye in the jars to soak into the yarn, leaving clear water in the jars. I was supposed to let the jars cool before I rinsed the yarn, but I was too excited to wait for room temperature and settled for sub-scalding. This yarn is superwash, so I could afford to be a little reckless because I knew it wouldn't felt.
The yarn did not take the dye evenly, especially the pink and purple. Those colors have a more mottled, almost tie-dyed look. I also have some paler spots where I transitioned between colors and where the yellow yarn was tied. To try to solve these technical difficulties next time, I plan to use more Kool-Aid, tie the waste yarn more loosely, and soak the yarn longer before dying to make sure that it is evenly saturated.
I rinsed the yarn in the sink and NONE of the dye rinsed away. It just soaks into the yarn and stays - it's really cool. Then I hung the loooong soggy hank in the basement to dry. It was bone-dry this morning, and I knew I'd never make it through the whole day of work without getting to play with it. So I packed the yarn, my niddy-noddy and my camera in my car and spent my lunch break winding the hank into a neat little skein.
I hereby present my first skein of self-striping sock yarn. I wouldn't call it "smugworthy" like Eunny's first attempt, but I am inordinately proud. It is absolutely killing me not to cast on some socks right away, but I am trying to be disciplined and get back to the shawl. The socks will be my reward for getting it done - can't wait!