Sunday, February 3, 2013

when life hands you lemons




Well, here's a funny thing.

The moment I added that crazy "Pink Lemonade" to the dyepot, it was apparent: at maximum saturation it was exactly the soft color I was looking for!  

But...I only had one packet, not the four that would probably be necessary.  The last thing I had expected was that I would want to use a full-tilt Kool-Aid color for a pale pink dye. (Seriously.  At full saturation, Kool-Aid tends to be either primary color or neon.)  I had the requisite four packets of several other flavors on hand, but only one Pink Lemonade.  So a loop of yarn floating near the top of the dyepot soaked up all the dye in a heartbeat, and the rest of the yarn was...white.

White, white, white.

Scrambling for more pink dye, I hastily mixed up a packet of "Cherry" flavor in a separate measuring cup, to see if it might work.  As one might expect from something called "cherry," it was red.

Vampire Novel Book-Jacket Red.  Ugh.

It seemed that the only thing to do was to admit defeat, let the yarn dry, and dye it again when more Pink Lemonade was available.  And hope that the overdyed yarn would not be blotchy.  Which it almost certainly would be, darn it.

Then I spotted the box of food coloring which has been gathering dust on the shelf over my stove for about a decade.  Don't ask me why.  Absolutely no idea. 

(To clarify: I know why dust has been gathering, I just don't know why the food coloring was purchased in the first place.)

What's to lose?  I scooped two cups of hot water out of the pot, added one drop of red food coloring, then returned it to the pot near a section of glaringly white yarn.

Not a bad blend.  Quite nice, in fact!

So I did it again, and again, and again, rolling the yarn gently to reveal white sections, until it seemed most of the yarn had been exposed to some kind of dye, and all the dye had been absorbed.

Then, because I had no idea whether the food coloring would wash right out, I tried to wash it out:


Seemed to be sticking...

At this moment, the washed yarn is draped over a shower rod in several loops, drying.  There is a much more light/white than what I had originally envisioned, although the picture below does not capture that. Trust me: still lots of white.  My fingers are crossed that the white sections will enhance the intended project, but only time and a lot of knitting will tell.

Unplanned or semi-expected results seem to be the nature of this kind of dyeing - at least, it seems to be that way whenever I do it, but I'll be very interested to hear from others about their experiences with food dyes!

I'm sure this yarn will look different again when it is dry, but I wanted to take a quick snap to post before the light was gone.  A fun project, another learning experience, and a hank of yarn that will soon be on the needles for a special project  :)

Whew.  I came this close to vacuuming today!
~~~~~


25 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see the special project this will end up in. It looks very pretty in the pictures.

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    1. Thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing what color/s the yarn is tomorrow morning, when it's dry :)

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  2. I had to laugh when I read this post... it covered all the fear I have stored up in all of the cells in my body, which have prevented me from ever attempting to dye my own yarn... so far. After this post however, I might just have the courage to try it! I am looking forward to the dry results and even more so the knitted up results (secretly I think it is going to ROCK!) :D
    Hugs,
    Beth P

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    1. Many people dye small amounts of yarn - "mini-skeins" - in lots of Kool-Aid colors and combinations of colors. That would be a lot of fun if you have the natural yarn to play with, and a project that would use the short lengths. I've just never had a hank of undyed yarn I've been willing to cut into pieces. And I've already got a big jar full of the "mini-balls" left from sock-knitting...don't want to create more of those on purpose! ;)

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  3. I love all the pictures. I, too, want to see how it is going to make up.

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  4. I like how it turned out. It's a very pretty pink. The light areas just might work out and look great. Can't wait to see your project.

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  5. Looking good! I haven't done much dyeing with food colourings but I don't think they wash out once heat set!

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  6. Ha, so glad you escaped the vacuuming! Your colour looks lovely, it will be so interesting to knit up with the lighter variations in there. Intrigued to see what the special project will be.

    We don't seem to have Kool Aid over here, I think the closest we have is..jelly crystals? I haven't tried dyeing with these (but am very tempted to!) although have tried food dye on a few occasions. A little splash of vinegar in the dye pot seems to help set the dye. Always lots of fun and a total surprise as to what the results will be..one has to live dangerously every now and then, right? ;)

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    1. I think your jelly crystals might be our jello...does it make a wiggly wobbly gelatine dessert? Not sure what it would do to yarn! Good to know about food dye and vinegar - thanks! KoolAid powder is acidic, and I had put that in the pot before the food coloring, so that may be why I lucked out on the food color sticking. I really had no idea what would happen, but as you say...living dangerously! ;)

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  7. I have been there, having almost the same experience. But your yarn turned out much nicer than mine. And I bet it was far more fun than vacuuming :)

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    1. SO much more fun than vacuuming! ;)

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  8. Ha! Great outcome, I'd say -- far better than vacuuming.

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  9. Love the Pink Lemonade! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished item. Defintely better than vacuuming!!

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  10. I've never dyed anything before except Easter eggs and my hair. :) The yarn looks like a lovely shade of pink to me, no matter the bits of white. Sounds like you had fun experimenting. Have a great week. Tammy

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  11. Is Cool Aid a drink? the mind boggles as to what it does to one's stomach! :-D

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    1. Yes, and it must be very popular! I can't describe the taste because when I was a child I wasn't allowed to drink it, and as an adult I admit I have not been tempted. ;)

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  12. probably the same as coke a cola!!

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    1. And now I am craving my semi-annual bottle of coke!!

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  13. Dying with KoolAid and food coloring is a lot of fun. Easter Egg dyes too! Love, love, love those pinks.

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    1. Never thought about Easter egg dyes...hmmm. Maybe I'll watch for the day-after-Easter sales this year - thanks for the idea! :)

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  14. So pretty! Do you know I only recently learned about the magic of koolaid-when the girls both dyed a piece of their hair with it : )

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    1. How long did the dye last on their hair? At first that sounded like something I'd do by accident, but now I'm starting to think about how long February can be...!

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  15. When I first learned how to make paper, I turned to kool-aid for it's dyeing properties. (Gesh.. I just reread what I wrote and it sounds so scholarly!! So not me!) Anyway, it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. That will be the closest I come to being scientific!! LOL I agree with one of the previous posts... dyeing with vegetables is a good idea, too!

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    1. So you use KA to dye handmade paper? That sounds like a lot of fun! I'd love to see some pictures.

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  16. Quinn, I'm just not a pink kinda gal; actually I don't care for pastels much at all, any of them. When I use KoolAid to dye, I use a LOT so I can have rich, intense...yes, even neon, colors. I'd rather my dye jobs be over the top as barely there. I do like the intense color, even though it's pink -grin-, of your yarn. Nice dye job! Did you set the dye with white vinegar? That tends to help.

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