Not that long ago, I told you of a gift of roving and Easter Egg dyes that I received in the mail from Aija of sock prØn.
Yesterday, I got the urge to do some dyeing. So I got out the Easter Egg dyes and the Henry’s Attic Superwash Merino that Aija had sent, and I got to work.
First, I soaked the wool in some lukewarm, soapy water. After a short time I dumped it out on my in-sink dish drainer to let the excess water run away.
Then I picked out some dye tablets to mix up. I was hoping for pink and yellow. There were six tablets in each packet, and I don’t have a clue what colors are normally included these days. So it was grab, mix, and hope.
I got, left to right, red, orange, and purple. Okay – not what I was aiming for, but I could work with it.
I laid out the roving on some plastic wrap on the counter, got out the turkey baster, and started applying the dye.
The leftmost color is a splash of purple on the points where the roving curves around into the next row. The next patch to the right is the red on the left, blended directly to the orange on the right. Then another space of white, and a big patch of purple. I also put purple tips on the roving ends on the right, but not until I’d already taken this photo. I used about half of each color batch on this side.
With some difficulty, I folded the plastic wrap over the roving and turned it over. This was hard because the roving was soggy. Note for the future: All the dyeing instructions I’ve seen say to gently squeeze out the water after the soak and before applying the dye in this way. This is something I have consistently failed to do each time, and I wind up with excess moisture everywhere. I need to try to do better on this.
When I looked at the back side, it was clear that even though I had pressed on the roving to try to move the dye through it, it hadn’t penetrated. Good thing I’d reserved half of my dyes! I repeated the applications in the same locations and got good, if soggy, coverage.
I had decided to use the crockpot rather than the microwave this time. Good thing, I think – I don’t think I have a microwave dish that could have contained this 4 ounce pile of roving.
I coiled the roving around in the crock of my largest crockpot, the one with the control panel on the front that lets you set both a temperature level and a cooking time. Set the pot for 4 hours on High, and walked away.
I checked the pot now and then to see if the dye was exhausted. It took a while. I finally decided after about 3 1/2 hours that it was as done as it was going to be.
And here comes the number one lesson about these experiments with alternative dyes such as Kool-
Aid, food colors, and Easter Egg dyes. Don’t get too hooked on a specific result.
Why? Because after three and a half hours, a batch of roving that looked like this:
Came out like this:
Once upon a time, there was purple in there. Don’t deny it, I know you saw it, too!
I can only believe that the blue component of the purple Easter Egg dye was a fugitive color that breaks down with prolonged heat.
Placing the roving in a crock like this, too, the extra water in the cooking helped the stray, unbonded color migrate to other parts of the roving. Once, I had distinct white areas left between the colors. Now, they’re all a muted pink/orange/salmon.
I let the roving cool in the crock for a while, then dumped it out into the sink drainer.
I squeezed out the excess water by hand, then laid it all out carefully on a towel so I could roll it up and squeeze out even more water. Then I hung it in the shower on this great scarf hanger I got for $1 at Target several months ago.
You know, I actually rather like the result I got. It’s obviously neither what I originally hoped for, nor what I thought I was going to get based on the dye pellets that got mixed. But this batch serendipitously joined the family of pink/orange/yellow blends that I seem so fond of. The colors all transition softly, and they make a harmonious palette that is pleasing to my eye.
Success, I’d say!
Now I just have to decide if I can wait until I get my spinning wheel at the start of December, or if I’ll need to try this out on a spindle sooner than that…