pretty ugly

I'm going to show y'all some yarn today. I've been knitting lots, but some of it needs to remain secret until Christmas and the rest, frankly, isn't all that interesting. So, yarn it is!

Let's start with the black yarn I bought at Door Creek Orchard the other day:

I don't think the picture shows much, since it's, you know, black, plus the weather has been gray and gloomy the last few days, so I've had a hard time catching a time of day to best use what little natural light we have. You can't really see this in the picture, but the yarn is rustic with bits of vegetable matter and has a pleasant crunch to the touch. It doesn't feel terribly scratchy in the skein, but I think it would still work best in a comfy big cardigan of some sort. I've got a couple patterns in mind, but your suggestions are welcome! It needs to be fairly simple, since fancy stitch patterns won't show up well in this dark color. My very favorite aspect of this yarn, though, is the smell. Yes, I sniff yarn! This yarn smells natural and woolly with a slight hint of apple cider. Maybe it's because the Black Welsh Mountain sheep from whence the wool get fed apples from the trees up the hill from where they safely graze (now that tune is in my head for the rest of the day), or because the yarn is sold in the same building where they press the cider, or maybe it's a little of both.

And now, some yarn I dyed myself! Well, I do have a little helper:

I've been experimenting with dyeing sock yarn with Kool-Aid and Wilton's cake icing gel off and on since last spring. For now I'm sticking with food dyes because of safety with small kids underfoot, but one day I may try using acid dyes like the pros do. Kool-Aid is the easiest because it dissolves so quickly and has so much citric acid in it that you don't need to add vinegar to the dye pot for the colors to set. It's also very cheap; even though you need to use half a dozen packets for 100g of yarn, that's still less than two bucks per dye job (not including the yarn, of course), which is a bargain when it comes to hobbies. Unfortunately, you don't get many color options with Kool-Aid, and once I had pretty much exhausted the red/orange possibilities, I was wanting something different. (Yes, there are a few blue and purple KA colors, but they look terrible on yarn for some reason.) So I tried Wilton's cake icing gel, which comes in many more colors, and the colors are way more intense. You have to add vinegar or citric acid to the dye pot so that the yarn will absorb the color, and that gets a little tricky. I've had mixed results with Wilton's, and I suspect that the pH level of my dye mixture has something to do with it.

The following three yarns came out pretty nice, in my opinion. This first orange skein was done with a bunch of Kool-Aid plus a couple drops of green food coloring to tone it down. It's a nice pumpkin color.

This next green is a completely different color than i was envisioning. I was shooting for a dusty teal color, but I ended up with pine green instead. As long as it's pretty, it's fine with me.

This last one was Daniel's idea. We made a cake last week, and I let him choose colors for the icing. He wanted to mix "Royal Blue" and "Violet." The icing was a beautiful periwinkle - maybe a little strange on a cake, but lovely all the same. I tried the same thing with yarn, but I think I must have used far far too much of each color because it came out intense and bright. Still nice, though.

I saved the ugly for last:

This is the dyeing disaster I mentioned the other day. If you look closely, you can see that about 1/3 of the yarn came out a nice light grayish blue-green. But the rest is ass. That's what you get for using grape KA, folks. Grape KA is never a good idea.

Those of you who suggested I overdye it with black have a good point. It's certainly worth a shot, since the yarn is quite unacceptable as is. Wilton's has a black color, though I've read on some Ravelry forums that you have to be careful about the pH level of your water or the colors break up and you get weird variegations. I'll let you know how it goes.


Anonymous said…
I love that black wooly wool!

It's so true about grape kool aid. I think if you want real purples you gotta mix in some reds and blues too. Hm...
Could you get some Rit color remover and use it on the yarn that looks like ass? Would it remove the dye from the yarn like it does from clothes? Might be worth a shot to try that before you dye it black.
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound harsh by calling the yarn ass. I was just repeating what you said. I really don't think the yarn is that horrible.
Suze said…
Nope, Jenn, it's ass and you didn't offend me one little bit! I'm so new to this dyeing thing, I'm just happy when something turns out looking nice. I have yet for anything to look the way I actually MEANT it to!

And I have no idea how color remover would gut tells me it would be too harsh on the yarn, though, since I've never heard of anyone using that on a bad dye-job before. The safest thing is probably to just overdye it.
Dee said…
I don't think it looks that bad.

You could over dye it a dark blue or dark purple or even brown if you are worried about the black. I imagine the lighter areas would take up more color so may still have some variegation but it might be pretty.

Dee Anna
Rosemary said…
My niece M and I are both yarn sniffers, too.

For the black wooly-wool, take a look at the Tea Leaves Cardigan or Amelia.

Be careful with the Wilton's black--every time I've tried to use it the dye split into many colors.

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