Triumph and Tragedy

Sorry about the torture. I didn’t mean to make you wait this long, but today became a little bit intense, and although I still have things happening on the stove, I’m finally able to sit down for a while and actually start enjoying (most of) what has happened in the past 20 hours or so. 🙂

With good reason, I’ve been in agony wanting snow! I had some neat new ideas to try out with snow dyeing, but once I was prepped, we started getting nothing but rain. It seems far longer than the 5 weeks I actually waited, most likely because the weather clock was ticking toward spring, and everyone was getting blessed except for me. I’m terribly glad I thought of the car trick last night when the snow came. It’s definitely not as nice working with “warm” snow, and it seemed to respond a little differently than the brutally cold stuff I used last year, but the unpredictability is something that makes this process so dear to my heart. In that regard, I most certainly wasn’t disappointed! Before you read too far into this post, there are very detailed instructions on my very first snow dyeing post from last year. Click HERE if you want to read it. If you click on the “Dyeing” option in the topic cloud in the right hand sidebar, you will see several other experiments with this technique.

So, what’s the new technique I thought up? Well… One of the things that keeps snow-dyeing unpredictable with acid dyes is that the component colors of dyes strike at different speeds. You might put on purple, and all the reds run through, leaving you with yarn that is more blue than anything else. Thinking about this, I started wondering what would happen if the dye had a lot more layers to traverse before ending up in the washer. Would other colors strike in the lower layers? The more I thought about this, the more interesting the concept became to me. Then I thought of the perfect way to experiment. I made a very long, open meshed blank on my little  Innovations knitting machine (purchased for this purpose) using 2 skeins of sock yarn single stranded. Suffice it to say, I had a very long tube when I was done, and my arm was aching! This machine does what it’s supposed to do, but it doesn’t do it quickly or easily. I watched 3 movies the night I knit 2 blanks! It’s a lot easier to bear if I keep in mind how much faster it is than doing the project by hand. 😉My goal was to create yarn that would graduate through some sort of changes from one end of the 800+ yards to the other – awesome shawl yarn! In order to do this, I accordion pleated it back and forth on top of the base snow pack, ending up with a stack that was actually 28 layers deep, if you consider that the tube was double layered. Then I capped it with a good dose of more sloppy snow, and poured on the colors. For this project, I decided that greens would be good. I hadn’t experimented with those shades yet, and as much as I love it, it wasn’t hard to find 6 different greens in my Jacquard Dye tub. I used Brilliant Kelly Green, Chartreuse, Teal, Olive, Emerald, and Spruce, mixing them very unscientifically by putting a splash of cold water (Hot melts the snow instantly – not a good thing!), a glug of vinegar, and a shake of dye powder into the mug and stirring well before spooning randomly over the snow cake.One thing about it… warm, wet snow melts very quickly, and by the time I woke up 6 hours later, all that was left across the screen on the washer was my very soggy, very green blank. I wasted little time wrapping it up and tossing it into the microwave.Once it was out and cooled enough to rinse, I got my first really big surprise. I don’t know whether it had something to do with the extremely wet snow, which packed totally different than dry snow, if it was the haste with which I was working, beings as I was up well after I wanted to be in bed, or if it “just happened,” but regardless of what caused it, the inner layers of my blank had been exposed to very little dye at all, and interestingly enough, much of what it did pick up was sky blue! I definitely achieved enough of what I wanted to accomplish to consider the project a success, but I’m also feeling driven to try it again with a better snow than I had to work with this time around.

However, the finished yarn is awesome! I let it partially dry before I thought to skein it, so it’s wavy, but that doesn’t bother me enough to wet it down a second time. It will knit just fine. 🙂So my title alludes to a tragedy, and so far, everything has been pretty positive, so what gives? Well… After I was totally done with this yarn, I pulled out the ball bands and looked at them. Did I ever have a terrible shock! I bought this yarn in a bit of a rush. I needed undyed, and there was a heap laying there in the shop just waiting for me. I picked up a skein, checked the fiber content, feel, and yardage, grabbed 3 more skeins and headed over to check out. Unbeknownst to me, there were actually two different yarns in that pile, then only difference in label and appearance being the name, and I bought 2 of each – 2 merino bamboo blend skeins, and two that were wool and nylon. Because things happen the way they happen, when I knit up the blank, still not noticing there were two species of yarn, I managed to use one of each in the blank. I didn’t even bother doing a burn test to confirm my fears, because the two sides of the skein feel totally different now that they have been soaked and nuked and rinsed and are dry again. This means that instead of having one long variegated skein nearly 900 yards long, I have two shorter ones of about 450 and 435. Quite frankly, I could cry! I had plans, and they didn’t include two small shawls from the same colorway! With the great difference in fiber content, I really can’t use the two skeins together as planned. The drape, feel, sheen – everything – just don’t match.  I’ll have to wait until they are totally dry to see where the break between skeins is in the color, and until then, I won’t have a solid idea as to what I really have now. All I know is that it was a terrible jolt, and a lousy way to end an otherwise exciting experiment.

Thankfully, there is Ravelry, where I spent about 2 hours looking at patterns, trying to pick out some options, and depending on how the individual skeins look, I think I have at least one good option. Sort of needed that to soothe the pain, but it meant that this post is going up quite a bit later than I’d planned. And also thankfully, it wasn’t the end of my experimenting today, but the rest of the story is going to have to wait until tomorrow… 🙂

Published in: on March 12, 2011 at 8:54 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You know, De-De, it pleases me to no end that other folks have these kinds of days as well, as evil as that may sound. (grin) But, on a positive note, you DO have two lovely skeins of yarn, and if nothing else, they’ll work for scarves or socks!

  2. The coloring turned out spectacular. You can do a shawl in each skein-there are lots of shawls with just 425 yards! Really. This is more triumph than tragedy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: