Cinderella Yarn, or The End of the Ugly Mohair…

So… I have about 10 blog posts written in my head, for all the good that does… This one is getting out today, though.

Last weekend, I hostessed a four day knitting retreat – a retreat with a twist, as it was an online venture for one of my Yahoo groups. I honestly can’t believe it would have been any more work to have done this in person somewhere, and I came out of the experience totally wiped, but sky high with the excitement of having produced a wonderful, four day event for friends who weren’t able to attend any sort of in person event this spring. We had a blast! The Cyber Fiber Retreat included four workshops and two game nights with loads of laughter and prizes, and despite my total exhaustion, I hope we do it again next year. :o)

So, I’ve really been itching to show you what I did in our first workshop, as I’m extremely proud of the results – and besides, I actually finished it! Oh… and it was a first for me, too. ;o) On Thursday night, we handpainted yarn with Kool-Aid – something I’d been so tempted to do, but just needed a little shove to actually get brave, risk perfectly good yarn, and make what I assumed would be a dreadful mess. (Wrong!) I rounded up some unsweetened  Kool-Aid packets, a jug of vinegar, plastic wrap, and a couple skeins of white yarn to be my victims, and hopefully my projects for the second and third retreat workshops, and with a bit of trepidation, plunged into the project Thursday along with everyone else. Here’s how the spa treatment went for my two little skeins.

01 Dyeing soak blog

First a nice, long soak in some warm vinegar water…

02 Dyeing painted first skein

Then relaxing on some plastic wrap while I dribbled a mixture of warm water, Kool-Aid, and vinegar liberally and erratically. I found that for this skein, the dye discharged instantly into the yarn, so any excess fluid was clear. It also meant I had to turn the yarn over to get the back saturated. I used Grape, Pink Lemonade, and Berry Blue (discontinued) on this skein.

03 Dyeing first skein rinsed blog

Next came a wrap in plastic and a trip to the sauna – or in this case, the microwave – for one minute on each side. Then after a cooling period, a swim in tepid water to be sure excess dye was removed. (There was none.) I’m not sure how the yarn was feeling at this point, but I was definitely getting pretty excited!

It was hung to dry while I turned to the second skein…

04 Dyeing skein two dipped blog

This skein I coiled and dipped for a totally different effect. Colors are Great Value (Walmart brand) Tropical Punch and Grape.

05 Dyeing skein two rinsed blog

I don’t know if it was the brand or the color, but the red ran and ran and ran and ran… I must have been rinsing for over a half hour total, with a break in the middle for another vinegar soak and nuking. I was getting worried that the red would fade so badly that it would look nasty, but in the end, it came out looking lighter, but still quite satisfactory.

My two skeins were hanging to dry, so it was time to clean up… well… should have been time to clean up. However, I kept looking at my five mugs still holding lots of Kool-Aid dye, and it seemed such a waste to throw it down the drain. However, I did only have the two skeins I’d bought, and short of handpainting cats, I couldn’t think what would be satisfactory to color. I finally found myself pacing through my stashed yarn on Ravelry, wondering if there was something there I could sacrifice – not an easy task, since I tend to purchase yarn I like. ;o) Then I spotted it! I’d bought a KidSilk Haze destash last year – my first of this yarn – and when it arrived, I was totally disgusted by the color. It had turned out to be a very beige-y pink, not only a color I couldn’t wear under any circumstances, but one I disliked so intensely that I didn’t even think I could bear to knit it for someone else. I’d actually been intending to put it back up for trade or sale. Dare I experiment with pricier yarn?

06 Dyeing Kidsilk original blog

Yes! The call of the dye won out! (Or was it the thought that no matter what happened, the yarn would no longer be this color?) It took me 3 podcasts to get it all out of ball state and into skeins,  but after that, it was and almost instant miracle!

07 Dyeing Kidsilk skeined

I dyed and nuked one color at a time, starting with the Pink Lemonade, genteely jamming a third of the two skeins, which I was holding together, down into the mug of the remaining pink brew. WOW! I was so tickled with the improvement that I actually remembered to take a photo to show the comparison! Now this is a color I can live with! :o)

08 Dyeing Pink comparison

The other two sections went into the Berry Blue and Grape in turn, each color nuked as I did it. I tried to keep a bit of lighter color between each section, so it would fade in and out more gently. Here it is prepped for the second trip  into the microwave. Couldn’t believe the only plastic wrap in the house was green…

09 Dyeing nuke ready

When it was done and rinsed, hanging to dry, I had a difficult time going back to the kitchen to clean up. I just kept wanting to stare at it. What an awesome transformation!

10 Dyeing Kidsilk drying blog

I thought it was interesting to see the difference in the way the two different yarns took the color – especially the blue. The fiber content was different, as was the base color, but I was still surprised to see such a variance.

11 Dyeing color compare

Here’s the evening’s work skeined. The pink/blue/purple wool blend I’m calling Good Friends; the red/purple is Apple Grape in honor of my friend, Joy’s, adorable 3-year-old daughter, and the KidSilk Haze absolutely demanded to be called Cotton Candy.

12 Dyeing nights work

Tempting as it was to keep my pretty skeins to just admire, there were classes coming the next couple of days, so I went ahead and wound my two smaller skeins into balls. Love them!

14 Good Friends Ball blog

13 Dyeing Apple Grape Ball

My Cinderella skeins of KidSilk Haze are still prettily twisted, regularly petted, paraded in front of anyone who gets near me, and tormenting me terribly, as they really want me to knit them into something wonderful… NOW! Maybe a Laminaria or Leaf in a Leaf or Flowers and Frills…

If only I didn’t have absolutely no choice but to knit these white socks first…  Hmmm… maybe…

More Cyber Fiber Retreat stuff later…

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