Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"I'm a glugger."

I decided to forgo the usual punny post titles and just let you know that Melissa is not exact measurer when she dyes. I got to learn all about dyeing yesterday and dye my own yarn for this project:

I've talked about this cardigan before, and I'll be talking about it more in the future, and not just because I'll be knitting it!

Melissa just started her yarn dyeing business. She works out of her home.

Here is her assortment of dyes and equipment.

Here are two of four skein winders that she has.

This is where she sets up the dyes she will use, next to the stove.

I decided to use 100% Alpaca (Misti Alpaca) {and not cashmere or cashmere silk or merino silk or wool/angora/cashmere}.

I put each skein on a winder and added two more cotton ties to make sure that it wouldn't come apart when it took the dye bath.

Then I added each skein to a tub of warm water to soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour. They sunk automatically.

Here are all skeins submerged in the tub.

I picked out the color I wanted.

She showed me a sweater that was exactly the color I wanted - a dark aubergine!

We chose ProChem dyes Persimmon and would add Raven (black) to make it darker.

We needed to make some dye, so we boiled water, put on the haz mat gear (so as not to breathe any of the dye dust), added just enough water to a beaker to make a paste. It was very gritty. Then added more water.

We filled a squirt bottle then put the remaining liquid dye into a separate tub.

Below is the HUGE pot that contained water. Melissa added some vinegar to the water to make sure that the dye would stick to the yarn.

We added the liquid dye to it.

We took the tub that the yarn was soaking in and poured the water out of the tub.

Then we dropped the skeins into the pot and stirred and stirred and stirred.

We kept adding more dye to make it darker.

We increased the temperature gradually to almost a boil. At the end we added more dye, so we let it cook longer. I think the whole yarn in the pot process took about an hour. We turned off the heat and let it sit for a bit.

Then we poured the pot's contents into a strainer. By this point the fibers weren't felted put were sticking together quite a bit. "This is normal for alpaca," she assured me.

We rinsed off the yarn and let it sit for a bit. Then took each matted skein and worked to separate it from the others. Rinsed each one of those off, straightened out the skeins and placed each one into the black tray.

Her husband made her a wood frame that she could dry her skeins on. We put each skein on a peg.

Here is a close up of the yarn while it's drying.

I have a whole new appreciation for this process. It was SO labor intensive! That process took about four hours. And my work isn't done yet! I still have to untangle the skeins to wind them into balls!

I'm suck a dork, I love this kind of stuff. I begged her to let me take home a tangled skein of yarn so that I could make it beautiful again. It took two hours - it was 420 yds!

In knitting news: I finally received my urban aran pattern. So I ordered the elann yarn plus some more Eucalan. It will most likely be here by the end of the week. I have to finish my sock and am VERY close to finishing the special project - so the few days will give me time to be ready to start a new project.

I am now starting to search online to find yarn stores in Italy and France. We'll be traveling there next year and would love to check some out!

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