spin-dye-knit-a-scarf:

KO Cashmere

It takes a lot more concentration to spin this cashmere. It's fine, it's slippery, and spun so fine, it needs a good amount of twist. Tough to hold onto it without it getting away from me! This is all I could manage before my mind was pooped. Pooped, I say! Because it's only 2 oz I'm spinning it as fine as is comfortable for me, to maximize yardage. Since I have very little experience, uh, I mean, no experience spinning singles on the wheel, the plan is a 2-ply. When it's not overtwisted, the 2-ply is oh so soft. The fiber feels quite soft while I'm spinning, too.

My mind was pooped but I was still in the mood to work on something. Guess what this will become?

Guess what this is!

Last week my IK Hurt Book Sale books arrived and I'm quite happy with my selection: 

Spinning Designer Yarns is full of instructions on how to make all kinds of novelty yarns, from boucles to beaded and textured yarns.

In Sheep's Clothing has information on a variety of sheep, including photos of the wool, description of the sheep and fibers and primary uses. A good reference.

Hands on Spinning is full of instruction and photos on spindle and wheel spinning, and includes carding, plying and a few projects as well. Looks like a good starting point for a beginner.

Hands on Dyeing is the one I used to take this:

Yarn soaking
mini skeins of yarn in natural and brown/grey,
washed and soaking, each approximately 13g 

and turn it into this:

Red on brown/grey Red on white
mini skeins dyed with cherry red Jacquard dyes in different concentrations of dye

The left and right photos are the same concentrations, just different base yarn. Interesting, eh? The brown/grey gave a very cranberry/claret color which I dig. How can I reproduce that on natural or white yarn??

Here they are dry and in sunlight; the lighter colors are to the right:

Red on brown/grey Red on white

and laid flat; maybe you can see the color gradations better here:

Red on brown/grey Red on white

The colors are better than the photos, the richness of the deeper colors doesn't come through.

It may be obvious to you, but I learned that it doesn't matter how much liquid you put in, it's the amount of dye that determines how deep a shade you will get. For this experiment I emptied 6 salsa jars (will keep Scott busy for the week) and filled with 300cc water. I then added dye in the following percentages: .25%, .5%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%.

How does that work?

The dye solutions I mixed up before were 1% solutions: 20g dye to 2000mL water.

For a 13g skein, .25% dye = 13g x .0025 = .0325g dye. Kinda hard to measure, eh? But working with our dye solution, .0325g dye = 3.25mL dye solution. That is measurable.

Why 13g skeins?

Well, it was 15 wraps on my swift. I was shooting for 10g. Oh well.

I filled my electric roaster with hot water, added the jars of water + measured dye solution + yarn, and heated, stirring occasionally. The .25% and .5% jars started to exhaust even before I added acid.

Once it was heated up I pulled the skeins out (with chopsticks; that's how everyone dyes, right?) and poured in 10mL of vinegar. Or was it 15? Anyway, stirred that a lot in the first few minutes to make sure it distributed evenly. I continued cooking for the rest of the hour, stirring occastionally, and watched the progress.

In the end, the 3% and 4% jars did not completely exhaust, there was still a hint of pink in the water; but the rest did. They say you should leave the yarn overnight so the dyes get fully absorbed and all that, but I pulled out the yarn once it was a bit cooled and transferred to similar temp water and reused the jars for the next batch.

Things I learned:

  • lighter shades are tougher to get uniform, probably because the dye exhausts so quickly. Less vinegar and more (gentle) stirring would probably help.
  • dyeing is fun, though high school chemistry was not so much fun
  • I feel pretty confident I can reproduce the results for more yarn by weighing and measuring yarn and dyes
  • I still have a lot to learn!

The next couple of weeks will probably be more color studies, first continuing single colors on the same two yarn shades, and then moving to mixing 2 colors. I plan to make me a color wheel so I know what the dyes will do alone and together, and so I can figure out how to get different intensities. There will likely be a session involving adding black, too.

I keep saying this and some of you may not believe me, but I'm color illiterate. I don't know no color theory and work on gut reaction. When I'm trying to use more than one color yarn, I usually hold it up against any and every yarn I have and go by my gut reaction -- ick, or hmm, or coooool. Occasionally, I think about all this dyeing business and think, what the hell are you thinking? You, dyeing??? Hahahahahaha, good one. But mostly I'm excited about experimenting and playing. Once I've done some thought out experimenting, I plan to go back to being more whimsical and adventurous about the process.