Monday, December 30, 2013

An Experiment with Snow, Yarn, and Dye

Mentioned this on Sis’s latest podcast and said I would ‘talk’ about it with pictures on my blog here.  Mom came across this idea of dyeing yarn with snow… I have been playing around with dyeing yarn on and off for awhile now (Kool-aid and acid dyes) so the idea intrigued me.  This holiday visit home to WI had all the factors in line, both mom & I, time, and most importantly – lots of snow.  Did some amount of research to see how others did it (this was the best post about the process) and went for it. 

Due to mom’s allergies to various animal fibers, she decided to use Ultra Pima cotton yarn by Cascade and got a tie-dye kit for her dyes (red, blue, and yellow).  For me DyeForMe baby llama glow by Plymouth Yarn Company and acid dyes in bright yellow, russet and brown.  Dad got these various metal mesh screens but we aren’t sure what his plan was with them so mom decided to use them to set up drainage areas in the basement.  One large screen over the basement drain for her yarn and one smaller screen bent over the basement sink for my yarn. 

First step is to prep the yarn.  Mine we just got wet.  Could have soaked it in a vinegar bath at this point but more on that later.  Mom’s cotton yarn required more prep.  Needed to be soaked in a wash to remove sizing then soaked in soda ash.  After our yarn was prepped it was time for the snow layering.  One layer of snow – bout an inch, then the yarn, then two to three inches of snow on top of that.  

Mine is the two top pics, mom's is the bottom pics

 Now for the dye!  We just squirted it on… light to dark color sequence.   

 And then wait for the snow to melt…   At this point, mom was pretty sure she would end up with Jerry Garcia puke, mine was looking to be this coral color with brown spots. And more waiting… and waiting.

Mine is to the left, mom's to the right
 We got tired of waiting after awhile and mom pulled hers out and mine we took off the top layer of snow off.   

Mom's on top looking very tie-dyed at this stage; mine on the bottom
We then let them sit a bit more and let the snow melt off that was still stuck to the yarn before we started the post treatment process.  Mine I wrapped in saran wrap and microwave one skein at a minute at a time making sure they didn’t get too hot (cool between microwave stints) and stayed damp.  I probably did a total of 5 minutes of this microwave steam heat setting.  I then soaked in a vinegar bath, a cool rinse then a soak in my new wool wash I got in my stocking.  Mom put hers in a plastic Ziploc bag and placed by heat vents since her post treatment required the dyed items to sit for four hours at 70-80 degrees.  Then her yarn was to be rinsed, then washed again with the same stuff from the pre-treatment, and finally rinsed again. 

Mom's is the pink yarn on top and mine is the peach
 We did not expect the results we got but are quite pleased.  Mom’s while variegated, is not in your face variegated and is predominately pink with yellows, lavenders, and blips of blue and green.  

Various shades of pink with some variegation
  Mine became quite tonal of a peach coral color with a blend of tan.

Can't see the sparkle but it goes nicely with the coral peach color!

Now this is where the vinegar discussion comes in.  Using the vinegar during the prep treatment would probably prevent the colors from blending like they did so I probably would have this coral color but with more distinct brown sections. 

Now after all this work, is this way of dyeing worth it?  Well if started earlier so I’m not up til 2am… As mom said it was like watching paint dry when we were waiting for the snow to melt.  It would be interesting to compare a pre or post vinegar treatment.  Two skeins of the same yarn with the same dye, just one is soaked in a vinegar bath during the prep treatment and the other is soaked post dye and see how they differ. 

All in all it was a fun experiment to do with my mom and honestly we had a lovely time just the two of us while sis and nephew were at her place.


Picture of the environment I worked at for my last job (that is a NASA satellite in the background)