Friday, March 30, 2012


This is an interesting way to dye. Instead of messing directly with dyepot and fiber until you get what you think you want, this method has a Christmas morning effect, where you go to bed full of hope and anticipation and jump up with excitement the next morning to see what Santa brought/the dye did. And here it is:

Whoa. Not what I expected. The dye was a lot stronger than I thought. A whole lot stronger. I was expecting to see a sort of medium blue. Instead, I got navy blue with some slight tinges of other colors. [Note to self: this dye is waaaaay stronger than I realized. Use less next time.] Let's turn some yarn over and see what the underside of a skein looks like:
Oh dear. We've got dark blue on the top and pastel/white on the bottom. Yikes. [Note to self: snow dyeing colors mainly the exposed top surface. The color doesn't penetrate through the yarn much, even though it's soggy with vinegar water.] Better take the skeins out and see what they really look like:
Kinda like if Holstein cows were navy-blue and white instead of black and white. I really don't want this much dark/light contrast in the knitted fabric.  What to do? I could overdye it all by immersing the skeins in a vat of lighter blue, but that might overwhelm the little tinges of purple, aqua, and yellow that show up in the current state. They're neat. I like them. (Click on photo to enlarge it and see them better.) So here's what I did instead:
Poured off the dye juice from the bottom of the tub into a pot. Arranged the skeins one at a time white belly side up on the rack. Using a cup, poured the dye runoff onto the white areas of the skein. (I had realized that my fears of muddy brown sludge were unwarranted here because of my overuse of the strong blue.) Here's what that skein looked like after The Treatment:
The poured runoff gave a faded denim color to the white areas. The pouring also allowed me to direct the light blue away from the tinge-y areas and to keep the unevenness going because it's one of the hallmarks and my favorite things about yarns dyed with these sorts of methods. So here are all the skeins after their light blue addition:
There's contrast, but it's less stark. Refer to the blue Holstein picture for comparison.  At least it's closer to what I had in mind at the beginning. Now to wrap 'em in plastic and steam to set the dye:
(It just so happens that I had a surplus of blue plastic wrap that I used for this. I like blue, OK?) They were steamed for half an hour, then busted out of their plastic cocoons and rinsed. And now here they are nearly dry and ready for their closeup:
(And I do suggest that you click on it to see the detail of a bigger picture.) Eight sibling skeins. There's a family resemblance, but each one is distinct in its range of colors and the amounts of each. The result is a surprise, but a very pleasing one. I had no idea such tiny spots of yellow would yield big patches of green, nor that there would be very little purple, and what there is turned out a dark eggplant, nearly (dare I say it?) brown.

Next time (and there will be a next time) I will start with yarn that is a base color, not white. Snow dyeing seems best to me as an embellishment of color, not a full dye job. Definitely a lighter hand with the dye powder; a little goes a long way! Might be interesting to experiment with applying a strong dye solution in squeeze bottles to the snow and see if it diffuses and blends more than the straight powder. I'd better get cracking if I'm going to do it--this winter's giant snowbanks are melting in the 40 degree heat!

1 comment:

  1. I think you need a few more comments! Or maybe a few more readers? Enjoyed your pics and comments about snow dyeing. And I like blue too!!!