Yarn Dying in Alabama
This is going to be a photo heavy one!
In October, we dyed yarn! Yarn dying always seemed a little more messy than I like, but it also seemed like a fun way to interact with the fiber. As regular readers may have noticed, I make a lot of socks for my mom. It is easy because her feet are the same size as mine, it is quick because those feet are little, it is fun because she likes funky stuff so I have a lot of freedom. Also, because she lives in the southeastern US, she doesn't have much use for anything else made of wool! She is also super crafty, so I knew she would enjoy dying the yarn for her own socks.
We ordered dyes and sock blanks from Knitpicks. Sock blanks are pieces of pre-knitted fabric that have been knit using two strands of sock yarn held together. They basically look like long loose knit scarves. The idea is that you dye them, and then unravel them and knit them into socks two at a time. The particles of dye are not healthy, so we suited up and mixed up the dyes.
From information we found online, we dyed the yarn in patterns with a basic idea of what was going to happen on the socks. Stripes might translate to dots or stripes depending on their direction and thickness. Blocks of color on the block might make blocks of color on the sock, or they might make general ideas of color broken up and mixed with other colors in thin stripes. I like control over my projects a little too much to love this, but it was fun. My mom dyed two blanks, my husband dyed one trout inspired blank, above on the left, and I dyed one, begrudgingly. I felt stressed out about it all the way through, but I like the way it came out in the end.
All per instructions, after we dyed the yarn, we wrapped it up in plastic wrap,
and steamed the little yarn wraps to lock in dyes. The smell was not great, and the pots can never be used to cook food again, but we were able to pick up the pots for not much at the Salvation Army before hand.
Here is what a sock blank looks like in the process of knitting.
And before I get on to the result, here are some socks I made for my mom to give her on this trip. They were an atonement for us not going home for Thanksgiving, but also, they were super fun to make! They are the Kalajoki pattern (the Kalajoki is a river in Finland, and these definitely have a flowing vibe). They knit up very quickly and required enough attention to keep them interesting. I changed the pattern a little bit by using the yo-yo heel. Also I finally got to use this beautiful Trekking yarn that I had not been able to make work in other patterns.
So, here are some hand dyed hand knit socks:
I went with the old reliable Skew pattern because I know it fits my mom's feet, and also I wasn't sure how the yarn was going to act. I think the nicest thing was the depth of the coloration of the yarn caused by the inconsistency of the dye application. There were some light spots, and some colors that weren't part of the original dye scheme, but came about through the dyes combining on the wool. I can certainly understand why, years ago, they were so thrilled to be able to get machine dyed, consistently colored yarns. Now we want to see the hands and the process. Especially in something you dyed yourself, it is fun to see the hands. I'm sure an experience dyer would not be as pleased, but thankfully my perfectionism doesn't extend that far.
I also did a pair for my dad! This is just my old reliable "man sock pattern" that I've been developing and feel pretty satisfied with. Finished just moments before mailing, they came out great! These were the result of long vertical stripes of dye. I'm dying them in the shot above on the right. Again, really pretty surprise colors showed up where the dyes overlapped. That overlapping happened because we didn't add vinegar to the dyes before we applied them. No regrets here on that front!
And the bonus project for this time around is a rather old one, but they came out great, so I'm sharing. I was planning to make 4, which, is just not going to happen for a while, so here they are, I'm calling the project finished. Here we have an example of inadvertent pooling that I've resolved to be okay with. I hope they have a festive vintage feel, cause that's what I was going for. They are 100% cotton, crocheted from a free Red Heart pattern.
12/28/2013 11:37:06 pm
This was SO MUCH FUN. When I wear the socks, I feel like I helped make them (even though you are the fabulous knitter in the family!)
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