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Parties to Dye For (or Dyeing Parties)
Author: Deb Wright
If you are like me it is very hard to socialize and be as productive as we need to be.
This past winter a small group of friends began productive socials.
We would gather at one of the homes and hand-paint some yarn. But instead of it being a “work” event we made it lots of fun.
Gloria Trinci of Alnglo Alpaca Ledge Farm, was the instigator and held the honor of being the hostess with the most-est.
Debbie Bratton of Maple View Farm also had experience dying and they, along with a non-alpaca owner, welcomed me into the party.
I had only dyed with Kool-Aid so I needed to learn about commercial dyes.
The worst thing about Kool-Aid is lack of colors.
So Gloria says bring skeined yarn and we’ll do it in steps and have dinner too!
I said great and I’ll bring a quiche and it can be pot luck.
I do love to spread the load around and it makes it more fun for all.
Everyone chipped in and it was quite a spread.
There is a bit of prep work to do.
A table protected with plastic or vinyl table covers is the first set up.
Well, I guess I need to back up and say that certain dyes can be mixed in advance and are a time saver.
You will want to have rubber gloves, like for dishwashing.
Gloria uses plastic plates to set the jars of dye on and foam paint brushes.
Debbie likes squeeze bottles to dispense the dye to the desired location; syringes are used for loading the squeeze bottles.
You will need plastic food wrap and paper towels, white vinegar and you probably want some dishpans and maybe hangers.
Bath towels will save some trees during the times that the yarn needs to be blotted of clean water.
Steamer pots or electric steamers are needed.
So we arrive, food and yarn in hand.
The first thing is to soak the yarn in hot water for at least 30 minutes to get it ready to dye.
While the yarn soaks, we have dinner.
It is a lot of fun; not only going nuts over what everyone brought but we compare notes about the last batch.
What we did with the last batch that we dyed and also what we thought of the results as compared to what we thought we would get.
And of course the usual did you hear the latest remedy for this and that and speculation on who is going to have what?
Husbands are allowed and they just go do guy things, that is assuming that the guys are not into dying.
Some are, but in our case, not so much.
So after we have slain the hunger dragon, the guys are off to do who knows what and we get down to business.
So to recap we have all the stuff handy, the table is covered and the yarn is soaked.
We then take the yarn and roll it into a bath towel to blot the water as to leave it just damp.
Next we put plastic wrap on the table the length of the skeins plus maybe a foot.
Now take the skein from the towel and set it so it is in a neat skein, as long and narrow as it can be.
If you are making more than one skein to use on the same project lay them side by side very close so that you will do them all at the same time.
Now is the daring time. Stop!
Put on the gloves!
Grab the paint brushes and go to work.
Begin applying the dyes in stripes across the roving. These sections of color can be as narrow or wide as you want.
If you run a stripe of color across the middle of the skein the yarn will have two areas of color about equal distance apart.
So if you are a planner, try to think on how many colors, how wide, how far apart.
You can put the colors very close or leave the un-dyed yarn as one of the colors.
One of us has even gone in a circular pattern, following the yarn in the skein; this made patches of color that did not repeat the way it does if you go across the skein. If you don’t know what to do, pick out some colors and just go for it.
Remember this is creative stuff and there is really no wrong outcome.
Also the pattern and needle size and the size of what will be knitted or crocheted will play a huge role in the final effect.
After you have applied the dye you need to blot some of the dye.
If you want a crisp color change, blot a lot.
If you want it to bleed or blend from one to another, don’t blot so much.
Okay, so now you are done adding color and blotting.
The next thing you will do is to move the skeins so that only one remains per piece of plastic wrap.
Fold the wrap lengthwise like a double-breasted suit, sealing the yarn inside.
Go to one end and fold over the excess wrap, then roll it up loosely like a jellyroll.
This will go into the steamer.
Repeat until all the dyed yarn is in the steamers.
Turn on the steamers for 45 minutes.
The coffee pot is turned on.
We now quickly clean up, sealing the jars of dye for another day.
It takes only a couple of minutes to put the room to rights with the help of a bunch of hands.
That done, it is time to call the guys back for dessert!
If you thought dinner was good this even tops that.
There is more discussion on what we each did and show and tell (if we remembered to bring our projects)!
Before we run out of wind the timers go off and it is time to do the next step.
Very important, put your dishwashing gloves back on, they will help to protect your hands from the very hot parcels of yarn.
Run hot water into dishpans a couple of inches deep and add vinegar.
With a great deal of care, so as to not burn your fingers, unwrap the yarn and place it into the hot vinegar water.
Let it sit in it for a while, this is the final “color setting step”.
Next, run clean hot water into another dishpan and take the yarn, gently squeeze the vinegar water out and place in the clean water.
Squeeze the yarn a bit to move the clean water through the yarn.
The color should be fast and not bleed into the water.
Rinse again and squeeze out excess water and roll into a bath towel.
Put on a plastic hanger and hang another hanger at the bottom.
As it dries, keep shifting the hanger position so that it dries evenly.
Gloria likes to separate the strands when she rotates the skein, it helps it to dry.
There are few things that you must remember.
Always use similar temperature water with each change.
A great difference in temperature can make the yarn felt.
Never agitate the yarn, again it can cause felting.
Read and follow the directions for the brand of dye that you are using as there are differences.
Most important of all, have fun!
Some of the things you will need:
Plastic cups or jars for the dyes
Craft sponge brushes
Plastic tub for soaking and rinsing
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