Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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Kettle Dyeing Experiments

Malabrigo Yarns makes this gorgeous Rasta yarn. It's super chunky, variegated due to kettle dyeing techniques, and super soft to the skin. The kettle dyeing technique is one that I've been wanting to try for some time, but never really got around to doing until this last week.

Rasta Cowl
Recently a new yarn shop opened up in Longmont, right on Main Street.

Isabel, Cathie, and I went there to shop around and the one yarn that I couldn't just let lie to languish there was this Archangel (hi archangelbeth) colored Malabrigo Rasta. I loved the colors, and it felt like a cloud next to the skin, so I had to buy it. I even went back to the store just to get the size 15 needles so I could knit the cowl. I also got one of the ribbon yarns, too, in colors that Isabel really liked. I knit the ribbon yarn scarf first. Isabel loved it so much, she bought it from me.

A while back I'd made one of the Yarn Harlot's "Pretty Things", which was a simple light cowl/neck gator, which I gave to Bonnie for Christmas, and I realized that i wanted something like it, but heavier. So the Rasta turned out to be the perfect thing.

It's turned into this beautifully heavy cowl that keeps the wind out when the Colorado wind really picks up, and I've been walking in sub-zero degree weather with it on and it's perfect. Thick enough to keep the air out when I want it to, and my asthma hasn't triggered once this winter due to the cold. I love it, and it's the main reason I've been keeping my step counts up even when the weather got truly cold.

I've known for a while, though, that these yarns are kettle dyed. Knit Picks sells a kettle dyed line of sock yarns, too, and while I love the varigation of those yarns, it's actually fairly obvious, after a skein or two of it, that it's actually a printed pattern. The Malabrigo Rasta was as obviously NOT printed, and I loved the way it changed and changed and changed. There was no pooling of colors and the shifts were unmistakable. I loved it.

A neighbor was trying to get rid of an old Crock Pot more than a year ago, and I got it, thinking that I was going to kettle dye with it sometime, and I just hadn't been able to get around to it, so I thought I'd try.

Blue Kettle Dye
This was the first attempt at it, and it's actually the result of THREE different dye jobs. I did one with some turquoise, chartreuse, purple, and sapphire blue. Lots of the yarn stayed white, so I just turned it and added a bunch of sky blue and more purple to it. Finally, when big chunks of it was still very pale I finally just made a purely turquoise dye bath and overdyed everything.

It turned out a little TOO even for me... and I realized that I had to put a whole lot more dye than I'd even dreamed of into the kettle to get yarn to turn out the way I really wanted it to turn out. I love saturated colors and the silk and wool blend really soaked the stuff up.

I had a skein of a wool and nylon blend, and I found out that nylon pretty much dyes the same way wool and the animal protein fibers (like silk) dye. So I used that for my next experiment, this time with powdered drink mix.

Drink Mix Dye Job
I know, I know... Kool-Aid dyeing is supposed to be kid stuff, but it turns out that the reds and oranges are brilliant and stay that way. They're not super light fast, but they are color fast, and I really like being able to experiment-dye with a ten cent packet of powder.

I also mixed a green acid dye and a yellow acid dye along with the orange and red drink mix (a generic Kroger brand packet). The drink mix blues blends were just awful and don't actually dye all that well. But this one I just did four quadrants, pouring the four colors into their four corners and trying to keep the green away from the red.

I was not successful. I put way more green than I really kind of wanted to; however, I really do like the end result. I did manage to put ENOUGH dye on the whole pot to actually color all the yarn, though, which was a vast improvement. I just cooked it in the slow cooker on high for an hour, let it cool outside, and then washed the yarn and got this. I love how the colors are grouped and how they flow from and with and through each other.

I bought a half pound hank of Cascade Yarns Magnum, and I intend to do something fun with that sometime soon, too.
Tags: dyeing, yarn

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