I've been sucked in by knitting. On Mrs. Mel's blog she showed some pictures of colorful mitered squares that she knitted. It's modular knitting with squares of different sizes. Given my current overlapping squares style of composition, this immediately caught my attention. But wow! the cost of yarn is amazing; even more so for hand dyed yarn. So why not dye my own? How hard can it be; I already know how to dye fabric and I've done pearl cotton threads. It's just bigger threads, right?
I ordered 4 skeins of cotton yard from Dharma. I've ordered so much from them lately that I had to tell them not to send me another catalog - I already have 3 of Fall/Winter 2006. It arrived yesterday and last night I prepared the dyebaths. I want variegated yarn, so 2 of the skeins are red/yellow/orange and 2 are blue/purple/green. Except I think one of my jars of blue dye has lost its oomph. That sort of olivey green was supposed to be teal. It sure looked like teal going onto the yarn, but it sure doesn't look like it now. I guess dye powder does have a shelf life; this blue is 6 years old. The part that does look teal is really green.
I discovered several differences between fabric dyeing and yarn dyeing. You have to be very careful not to tangle the skeins which means you can't rely on the washing machine to do the rinsing. A major inconvenience, for sure. And for the same reason, I can't throw them into the dryer to dry. The humidity here currently is 70% so this drying out could take a while. I'm going to have to put a fan on them or else they will mold before they dry.
I soaked the yarn in soda ash first and it was difficult to get it wet. It epelled the water and it took some persuasion. And since I wanted to dye each skein with 4 colors they had to be laid out so that the colors didn't migrate into each other. I spread the skeins out on a melamine board, surrounded the edge with towels, and commenced to squirt. I missed a few spots, either with the dye or with the soda ash, but I'm not going to redo it. It will just be a design decision.
Stay tuned for further progress reports on the sweater...