Handdyed Self-Striping Yarn

Handdyed Self-Striping Yarn, originally uploaded by Buxtrosion.

If you look closely, you might be able to see one of the 20 or so knots. Apparently the yarn got chewed on between skeining and dyeing. Serves me right for being a procrastinator.

This is my first time with acid dyes, and my first time dyeing yarn black. The black came out better than I expected. I've heard people griping about black dyes before, and I've seen a few skeins of hand-dyed sock yarn in stores that had issues.
How much more black could it be? None more black. I actually said that to Bryan when I finished dyeing.

The yarn is Knit Picks Bare merino sock yarn, and I used Jacquard acid dyes in Fire Red and Jet Black. I was actually going for a real red, but it was taking forever to exhaust. I actually really like the hot pink, though.

I wound the yarn to be self-striping on a sort of warping board. Here's the links to the resources I used for that. I had some plastic pegboard with wooden dowels for uprights, but the dowels started leaning toward each other as more yarn was added. I'm going to make a PVC device like this.

I'm thinking the damage to the yarn happened in Austin. Oh, please let it have happened in Austin!! Here, everything's sealed and up off of the floor. It's the garage, so no carpet beetles. I went through my stash and didn't see any obviously damaged skeins or any visible larvae. A week or two ago, I found holes in the prototype of a bag I designed. That was another thing that sat around for a long time in Austin, and I've realized that the creepy little bugs (often dead) that I saw all the time in the corners of (carpeted!) rooms were probably carpet beetle larvae.

Back to the educational part-
I made stock dye solutions in big jars. I used about 4 tsp dye powder (almost the whole jar) in 800 mL of water. I know measuring by weight would be more consistent, but I don't have the right kind of scale. It's kind of fun to be a sloppy scientist on purpose. If I make a mistake I don't have to worry about my brain slices dying, not getting any data for the afternoon, or looking like a dumbass in front of the department.

The yarn was presoaked in water with a couple glugs of vinegar and however much Euclan (wool wash) was stuck to the inside of the empty bottle. Apparently I have a horrible memory for vinegar. I always assume I have the particular kind I need. I forget that I had to get rid of everything liquid during the move. When I was about to dye, I assumed I had a big jug of white vinegar. Last night when I was cooking, I assumed I had rice vinegar.

I dyed the lighter color first. For this yarn, I used 50mL of the red dye stock. That should be about 1/4 tsp of dye powder for 50g of yarn (half the skein). I added a few glugs of white vinegar to the dyepot. I've heard of people adding salt, but I didn't. The dye and vinegar were added to enough water to cover the yarn. We can call that "excess H2O." There's probably some physics involved with how likely dye particles are to bump into yarn when there's a ton of water, but for practical purposes the amount of water doesn't matter. It's gravimetric, or something like that. :) As long as you don't add more dye powder than the yarn can handle, which you shouldn't cause it costs $, all the dye will be taken up by the yarn.

As you can see, that was enough for a hot pink, but I would have needed more for a true red. It seemed like the dyepot didn't really want to exhaust, so I just went with it. Maybe I didn't squeeze enough water out of the presoaked yarn, or maybe I skimped on the vinegar in the presoak since I ended up using white wine vinegar (which I felt ok substituting since it was even more acidic than the cheap stuff). Whatever.

For the next round, I used a little under 100 mL black dye stock. That works out to about 1/2 tsp dye powder for the 50g in the second half skein. As you can see, I got a nice dark black. The dyepot was pretty much exhausted when I turned off the heat because I needed to leave the house. I can't say exactly how long the yarn should simmer on the stovetop. I was being pretty cautious because our range is sort of "off." It seems to run pretty hot compared to others I've used and to directions in recipes. I ended up leaving it for over an hour on medium, which might be like medium-high for other people.

Other junk- The pot, colander, and gloves (not pictured) are from IKEA. I marked all the dye supplies with masking tape so they wouldn't get confused with kitchen supplies- I use an identical pot for food. I used wooden spoons to gently move the yarn around. I wouldn't even say "stir." The spoons I bought are actually way too rough for this. I'm going to try sanding them.

Remember to use appropriate precautions for airborne particles when you're working with the dye in powder form. This likely will mean a N95 (at least) rated mask or respirator. You should read the MSDS for the particular dye you are using to find out if there's anything you need to be concerned about other than particle inhalation. As far as I know, the only Jacquard colors that contain "hazardous materials" are Chartreuse and Emerald. They both have direct blue 86, a copper phthalocyanine dye. I found this page with some potentially relevant information. It's written for pregnant painters, so the level of caution they recommend is probably trustworthy.
I put down damp paper towels when I was measuring out the powder to catch stray dust. A lot of people cut hand-sized holes in the sides of a clear plastic tub and line that with damp paper towels. I'll probably be doing that in the future. If you have a sink in your utility room or garage, you could do the measuring in the bottom of the sink. How much do you think it would cost to get my own personal fume hood? :P

Reskeining the yarn was exciting with all the chewed-through parts. I got it all done in one train ride, though- about an hour and a half.

I haven't swatched to see if the yarn stripes the way I intended, but I will eventually. :)
I have a LOT of WIPs that need to get finished before I can start anything else with a clear conscience.


Jasmin said…
Woo for long draw! You should totally try some of the bison if you're into woolen spinning.
Baywood Yarns said…
Nice work for the effort!

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