Monday, January 21, 2008

Feeling the Urge

NO, not for another baby. I'm doing just fine with the one I have thank-you-very-much. No, the urge I'm feeling is less obvious and maternal. It is one I think many a knitter often faces. I feel the urge to dye some more yarn.

I did do a rather fabulous job dying the first yarn I tried to dye. (It knit up beautifully too. See.


I'll post pictures of Sweet Pea in the finished knit soon.) And as far as you know that was my only foray into the treacherous world of hand dyed yarns.

But I have in fact been holding out on you. My second attempt at dying has never been recorded for posterity. I'd like to say the missing record was merely an oversight on my part. That the yarn was dyed, the triumphant photos were taken and the lack of actual publishing to the blog was simply, oh I don't know, let's call it pregnancy induced forgetfulness. But the brutally honest truth is the attempt was shoved to the back of the closet because the attempt was an undisputed failure. It was not miraculous proof that I am a dying savant, that everything I touch turns to woolly gold. Not the second yarn I dyed was, there's no delicate way to put this, the yarn I dyed was fug yarn.


I'd like to say it wasn't completely my fault. I was looking at all the beautiful hand dyed yarn online and thought I could try it. All these independent dyers were creating beauty. I wanted to create beauty. All these independent dyers were creating art. I wanted to create art. I could see what I wanted to make in my minds eye. I wanted subtle shades of blue, much like the shades of green I'd created. But I also wanted shades of deep chocolate brown for interest. I could see the yarn so clearly, all deep blues and browns mixing together. It would have been a masterpiece.


I didn't know how to make brown with Kool-aid, so after reading this Knitty article I armed myself with some food dye and saran wrap. I knew I could do it. I was so confident. To avoid a disaster with the brown I soaked the yarn in vinegar so the reds and blues would take up at the same time. I carefully created different shades of blue dye. I kept careful notes of what I'd done so I could replicate the job on all the skeins (did I mention I was dying a sweater's worth of yarn so I could knit myself a sweater?). I carefully applied the dye to the yarn. I was so fearless. And the result was fug.


My blues are pastel and mostly the same shade, not the five different shade of blue I tried to make. The disaster I hoped the avoid with the browns came to fruition after all. My browns are more reddish brown, or purple, not so much the deep chocolate brown of the dye. I made fug. There's no way around the truth, I made fug yarn. I discovered I do not in fact have some savant talent for dying yarn. And the yarn smelled so bad while it was cooking. I will never dye yarn this way again. In fact as I looked in disappointment at my fugly yarn I vowed never to dye yarn again. Did I mention I ruined a sweater's worth of yarn? An entire sweater's worth of yarn. What a senseless tragedy.

So the urge to dye yarn was gone from my system. My mojo had disappeared. The desire for my own hand painted had not bothered me until today. I don't know if the smell of baking wool has finally dissipated from the home, or if the memory of the fug has finally lost its sting, but as I made the kids a fresh batch of orange play dough I was inspired.


I color my play dough with Kool-Aid. The same stuff I used to create my beautiful green yarn. I'm sure I could dye the sock yarn in my stash sherbet orange. A lovely shaded solid sherbet orange. And it would smell like Koo-Aid, not burnt wool. I can totally do this. I'm not crazy right? It's not just the sleep deprivation talking right?


Amy said...

Mamma, what about Wilton cake dyes? I think you could find that brown you want. The colors are so vivid, and although you'd have to dissolve them in vinegar, you might get what you wanted.
I'm just sayin'. Not to enable you or anything.

Jennu said...

I think you should knit up a swatch to determine the extent of the fug. You might find out that it's just not what you were trying for.

Or you could overdye the whole thing.

shiguy4076 said...

I don't think it's totally a fug. Can you bleach it and try again.
I can't wait to see more pictures of sweet pea and that sweater.

rita said...

I think it's gorgeous!!! Want to sell it?

P. S. I work part-time for Claudia (Hand Painted Yarns) and there are times when her yarn turns out like that. She just dyes it again, and if it's still nasty, throws it out. And guess who benefits from that?