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!

almost too natural

I'm so happy to see comments on the previous post from other people who like to play with fiber-dyeing!  And of course I'm very happy to hear from fans of that most wonderful color: Brown!

But today, we're looking for pink.  And I don't have any botanical materials on hand that will yield pink, so...get out the talking pitchers, it's a Kool-Aid kind of day!

For those who do not have easy access to packets of Kool-Aid powder, here is an example of this loved/hated American beverage:

I'm intrigued by the "natural flavor with other natural flavor," but the lack of caffeine may be an unfortunate oversight.  It doesn't really matter to me how much (or how many) "natural flavors" my yarn acquires, but isn't the idea of wearing caffeinated socks...invigorating??

Please step aside there!
Dancing feet, coming through!

Well, it's a thought.

But this particular hank of yarn is not destined to become socks, so the lack of caffeine is irrelevant.

This time.

Step One:  the yarn is soaking in plain water.  The idea is that saturated yarn will be more likely to take up the dye evenly.

The next time you see this hank, it will look very different.

I hope!!