Winter blues

IMG_5792.JPG


On Monday, I decided to dye a light blue handknit sweater that was a hand-me-down from someone when I was 15 or so. It was knitted by a lady in Hong-Kong, I know that much. I was told it was wool, and it is certainly quite warm. Pastel sky blue with an intarsia scene of a tree, some guys fishing and a fence, in white and navy. I guess it is much what could be considered a slightly ugly 80’s sweater, although fortunately quite fitted. It does fit very well, but has been langhishing for decades in a box due to the colour scheme.

I landed a job in a cold wokshop so I decided to dye it. I prepared a dye bath with some yellow and some blue, hoping for teal. After dyeing, which was partly successful, I got some sort of undefined greyish, darkish robin’s-egg blue. Wearable. In a cold, dusty workshop. I also think now that this sweater has some synthetic blended it in, it didn’t take the dye well, and I see some sort of shininess on the fibers. It is still warm enough. I think the right sleeve is also shorter than the left (both fairly short, probably little-chinese-lady sized, but I am very small in the upper body so the rest fits ok), which is all right since I do dusty work and I wear a light wrist brace on the right arm.

Teeswater worsted in front
Texere 2 ply at back

Anyway :) with the leftover dye water I dyed some yarn! I still have about 3 litres worth of (not very saturated) dye bath in plastic bottles, that can perhaps be used at a later date (the bath I used was already partially recycled).

I dyed one skein of Teeswater 4-Ply Worsted Wool from Higher Gills Farm that I have been treasuring for a while. It takes the dye beautifully as my experience was when I dyed a pair of my Esporòfits mittens after knitting them (ombré, from dark to light green, seen at right). The yarn is glossy and a bit hairy. I still have about half a skein of natural white, and I may or may not use both the teal-ish and the natural together (note to self: if you do, check for leaks first).

So I just held the unfurled skein as a loop, dipped it in the dye bath quickly, brought it up, and then squeezed well the upper portion while leaving the bottom of the loop in the bath. I kept dipping the lower portion a few times, wrapped the loop carefully in a bowl with the darker loop at the bottom, as a bit of the dye bath, and nuked, then repeated the operation, adding a little bit more blue acid dye to the bowl. The result is a skein that is ombré dyed from the bottom to the top of the loop. The contrast between light and dark is a little more intense than it shows on this picture. Sort of Robin’s-egg blue to teal.

Now, I have to admit that I am not a great fan of variegated yarns. I rather dislike quick and strong colour changes such as the yarn I used in this project. It can be seen in the bottom picture, since I overdyed it. In this case it looks sort-of-like camo print, which is a slight redeeming quality, but still, not a fan. I do like subtle changes as in semi-solids. I am not a fan of self-striping either. I love solids. And I love ombré, which of course works best when dyeing after knitting as I did with the mitts (yes I know there are graduated-colour knitting yarns, but the choice is rather small, and sometimes the change is quite sudden).

So, perhaps I will regret having dyed this yarn like I did. Perhaps not. Will depend on the project, I guess, and if I mix it in stripes. We will see. I still love the tones.

I also wound a little (19g) center-pull ball of Texere Pure Lambswool 2ply laceweight and dyed it too. I absolutely love this super fine but still fluffy yarn. I knitted my Lucy’s Wreath with it.

After winding it, I realised I should have skeined, duh! but then I thought, let’s experiment instead :) I dipped the little ball in the bath briefly, squeezed it, put it in a little bowl with some dye water, nuked it, repeated, put a very tiny bit of black in the bowl, dipped the outside of the ball, nuked… I don’t even remember anymore all the abuse. Then I washed it best I could, squeezed well and left it over the heating for a bit before I wound it into a skein to dry. Once dry I wound it again. the colour, a lightly variegated greyish blue-green. I am pleased. Now I have to figure out what can I do with such a small amount of laceweight!

Leave a Reply