Archive for January, 2015

Kool-Aid Dye Results

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2015 by whimsyknitter

Alright, folks.. here’s what I found, and why I started doing this.

Quick breakdown- While the general consensus is that you can dye wool (or any protein fiber) there’s a myriad of ways that are presented on the internet on how exactly to do it. I have a bunch of curly curly fleece that’s going to need some serious color soon so I decided to investigate. But.. something bothered me- one site had mentioned dry yarn and wet yarn. Their assertion was that one would produce more vibrant colors than the other. So.. yeah, I had to test it.

To do the test, I decided on four distinct sample runs- for the dry a simple 15 minute and 30 minute application. For the wet, I let them soak for the 15/30 minutes, followed by a five minute soak in the dye. All test yarns were done with Lion Brand Alpine Wool in their Vanilla color, and all were between 5 and 5 and 1/4 inches. The dyes were all prepared the same way- one packet of powder in a 20 oz. washed and dried soda bottle, plus a quarter teaspoon of distilled vinegar and 1 cup of warm water (warm to aid in the mixing of the powder into the water) These bottles were shaken vigorously until there were no visible traces of powder in the bottom of them, and then re-agitated right before they were sampled.

The tests themselves were run in half pint mason jars (I’m a woman of many talents), with approximately 1/4 cup of solution. This.. might have actually been a problem. Some sites I have read on the subject have suggested that it’s possible that the dye can be interfered with by having too much pigment trying to into too few fibers… at least that was my understanding.

After their soaks of appropriate length, they were wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. In almost all cases (I’ll discuss the exception below), after the first 30 seconds the water was running clear so I rinsed them and placed them to dry. Then I mounted them to a foam board.

The point of  my post is not to give instructions on the proper way to do this- there are plenty of tutorials available on the Internet and I am by no means an expert. I simply wanted to answer this one question that was bothering me- is it true that dry yarn produces a more vibrant color? Cause boy howdy, if it does that’s the way I want to go- I like bright and work almost exclusively in bright colors.

So.. what did I find?

Here, in a nutshell:

Kool Aid 01Kool Aid 02 Kool Aid 03

These are most of the colors I was able to get a hold of- I still have packet of Pink Swimmingo and Rock a dile Red left over from the summer’s limited edition run. I’m loathe to use the Rock a dile Red.. it has sentimental value, you guys! Anyway I suspect that it’s not going to be tremendously different from say, the Strawberry up there. All pictures are cropped and rotated a bit, and were taken in natural light- there has been no retouching save for the cropping and rotation. Yes that’s my turrible handwriting and graphing fails- except for Orange.. I had a little helper for that one.

My results and conclusion-

In general, yes you DO get a more vibrant color with dry- however this should be taken with the following observation- for many colors it simply didn’t matter and there *were* cases where the wet yarn produced the more intensely colored variant. For many cases, the color differences were very minor between ANY of the four samples and in a significant number of them there was no perceptible difference.

For those cases where things seemed a little off (Ice blue Raspberry Lemonade comes to mind)- I’d like to redo the test on those at a later date to confirm my findings. One test is simply not enough for a solid data pool, but I’ve got to have my focus elsewhere for the next few weeks, so I won’t be able to replicate the experiment for a bit. I’d also like to expand the whole thing a bit and actually have some fun with color combinations. I’m going to see if I can find a reasonable source for tangerine Kool-Aid, which apparently is good for toning down some of these other colors.. makes me wonder if Orange would work as well.

Oh, as mentioned above- Grape and Purplesaurus Rex were the solutions that just wouldn’t run clear for me. Honestly, when I pulled the yarn out to microwave it, the samples looked gray and not purple-ish at all. I’d read it was a dingy purple color and I have to say I agree, but the color did resolve itself a bit better than gray, so I didn’t press to figure out how to get that blue back into the fiber.  In short if you’re looking for a super violet color, you’re not going to find it in grape- I’d suggest maybe some Wilton colors (which I have a few of those so maybe I’ll do a future post with those as a focus.)

In conclusion, it seems worthwhile to further explore some color combinations and perhaps rerun a few of the more quirky results in this experiment. I’ll admit I wasn’t as hard and fast on the timer with the first few samples and that might have made a significant difference. Oh and if you made it this far, you rock!

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Drinking the Kool-Aid

Posted in dye, homemade, kool-aid, yarn with tags , , , on January 5, 2015 by whimsyknitter

So, because my husband loves me, he got a very unusual gift for me this past Christmas. I received, under the tree with a bow and everything- a box full of dirty, smelly lamb fleece. I was… thrilled. No sarcasm, this was easily my top gift of the season. You see, with the rekindled interest in dolls, I’ve been percolating different ways to do their hair. You see, the one problem I’ve always had is that the necks have been weak and they tend to flop around quite a bit. It’s a design flaw, and while I’ve improved upon the design I haven’t really every truly solved the problem to my satisfaction. I’m picky y’see.

So, there’s two things I”m trying- 1) Putting in an actual armature (read: wire skeleton) to support the neck better (bonus- they’ll be poseable) 2) Using hair that’s not as heavy as a whole mess of yarn. To that end comes the fleece. And needle felting.

I’ve tried this already (you can see the results in my previous post- the dolls on either side have needle felted hair) and it works fantastically. However, fleece comes in but a few colors. Hence my other problem- if I want the crazy colors I want in the lengths I want I’m going to have to roll up my sleeves and dye it myself.

So, being ever the resourceful (and humble) one, I looked into various types of dyes. Food grade dyes seem to be the easiest and as a bonus, they’re entry price is right up my alley- cheap.

However, as the Internet is a great and wondrous place, there’s only like half a million different websites that offer instructions on how to do this. While the general gist is the same, they have some pretty fundamental differences. Chances are if you’re reading this, you know what i”m talking about.

So, now the science. I’m an empirical kind of gal. The two large debates I saw come up are “vinegar or no vinegar” and “What difference does wet or dry yarn make?”

Here’s my solution: I used vinegar (if it doesn’t matter, then by reason it’s not going to hurt.) and… I started testing.

Here’s the idea, the summation of what I’ve read:

Dry yarn takes longer to absorb the dye and can be really difficult to get to soak in. However, the result is a more intense hue. Conversely wet yarn (it’s been soaked in water before placing in the dye) is generally a lighter shade, but works quickly.

What’s a girl to do? Why, start testing of course. I’m even making a handy dandy reference board. The results I’ve gotten so far are interesting, and I’ll post them in the next couple of days.