Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dyeing to Dye

ILDERTON – 12th August will long be remembered as the Olympic day in 2008 when a small group of seemingly sensible and responsible knitting friends allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by something so much BIGGER than yarn.

Jenny - cult leader?

Reports indicate that prior to their new found dyeing addiction, the local London knitters partook in one of the nation’s most celebrated events; the pot luck dinner.

Pot luck dinner

Was the food partially to blame for their agitated behaviour? According to the province’s leading researcher “the food is one possibility that cannot be discounted, but there may have been other sinister forces at work”.

Lead by Spinning Jenny, a fantastically skilled but terribly enabling mentor, the cult-like group participated in a dyeing ritual that was held on property disguised as a water garden center, and rumored to be owned by one of the local knitters. Investigations are continuing.

Jenny demonstrating dyeing techniques

Sacrificial virgin yarns were subjected to vast quantities of kool aid, white vinegar, dish detergent, warm water and a microwave oven. This seemingly cruel dyeing process is reported to have produced some spectacular and unique colour combinations. Note: no yarns were harmed during experimentation.

This reporter caught up with one very starry-eyed young woman who exclaimed excitedly: “this is totally awesome! I think I’m gonna have a new addiction”! Enthusiasm or new obsession? This reporter was not convinced.

Following the demonstration of several techniques, the knitters reportedly commenced their own dyeing experiments. Armed with rubber gloves, wooden spoons, syringes, hot water and unbridled enthusiasm, what followed can only be described as yarn mugging!

Jenny mixing kool aid dye

Maria using kool aid dye

Barb (assisted by her granddaughter) using kool aid dye

Shelaine gloved up and ready to dye with kool aid

Kanna using kool aid dye and showing how it's done

“Yarn must be thoroughly soaked in warm water and gently pressed several times to ensure all air bubbles have been removed”, Jenny explained.

In response to a question about the addition of dish detergent to the warm water, Jenny replied that “the dish detergent helps the dye penetrate the yarn”.

She went on to explain that glass or plastic containers are the most suitable for soaking and dyeing yarn as they can be safely placed in a microwave oven. Although kool aid dyes are acidic, vinegar may be added to the water to help set the dyes.

Another colouring agent being tested by two of the participants was Jacquard Acid dyes. These concentrated, powdered, hot water dyes produce the most vibrant colours possible, but are reported to be toxic and must be handled with care. Jacquard dyes require acid for activation, and the simplest form of acid is white vinegar.

Some knitters hand painted their yarns using squeeze bottles.

Kata harnessing her creative talents using jacquard acid dye

I am making a raspberry and chocolate mess with jacquard acid dyes

Others dipped yarns in pots of colour and spread colour them with wooden spoons.

Once dyeing was completed, yarn was placed in the microwave oven for up to six minutes until the dye was completely taken up by the yarn, and the water was clear.

Jenny setting dye with the microwave

Yarn was then hung on a line to cool and drip dry. Once cooled, the dyed yarn was thoroughly rinsed in cool tap water.

When asked, one of the participants commented on the results of her yarn dyeing. “I’m not sure what to call this colour or variegation. I think it's open to interpretation and that's the great thing”.

As is often the case in these types of ritualistic gatherings, there was a disturbance - loose cannons if you will at the wrong end of a camera! The evidence speaks for itself:

Imaginations together with a kaleidoscope of colour produced some amazing results.

Kata's dyed skeins

My dyed skeins

The lone male participant seemed delighted to be involved in the yarn dyeing experiments. Surrounded by so many gorgeous women….what man wouldn’t be lovin’ it??

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