Here’s a nice video with tips on how to do a good looking Navajo ply. From Sarah Anderson at Interweave Press.
There’s a really interesting post on Ravelry.com in the forums regarding a hi-lo spin technique from Maggy Casey, where one ply is spun thick, low twist, the other ply spun thin, high-twist, and then the two are plied together.
This is in a thread about spinning Falkland wool. Direct link to the post that also has pictures:
You need to log in to Ravelry.com to be able to access the above link.
I have a nice, hand-dyed braid of Merino top from GLBLF that I think I will spin this way. Hopefully in the next month or two.
So last month I dyed some superwash merino yarn, which came out beautifully and pretty much just how I envisioned it:
Basically, I wanted something dark to knit mittens and hat for my son, but not black. I wanted a variegated type of yarn. I decided to try kettle dyeing again. Last time I tried this I used way too much water. The dye went all over the place. I may have been doing other things wrong, too, but for sure I had too much water. So I went back and read the “Hot Pour Method” in the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook more carefully. A key point is to have what they describe as 1.5 inches of water in the bottom of the pan. Really, I think that may even be too much, but as they point out, with less water it is difficult to regulate the temperature in the pot. It’s important to keep the water just below boiling for the dyes to strike in one spot (also along with the correct pH level) instead of having the dyes wander around the pot for a while looking for fiber to attach to.
So I am not getting a drum carder any time soon. Some day, maybe. But for now, I have hand carders. I mentioned a little while back that there is a Knitty.com article which shows very nicely how to use hand carders for blending colored rovings. So finally I got around to trying it this past Thursday, Dec. 10th.
So here is a little photo documentation of what I did…
I had some inexpensive Merino top that I had dyed a few months back in a few bright colors. Here they are:
From left to right: Black, some brown and a golden blend I made. Sun yellow (I think?). Kelly Green, turquoise, and I believe Sapphire blue. I did not use the darker blue on the far right in this blending.
I’ve already dyed some silk hankies, although I feel that I didn’t do the best possible job. There wasn’t full saturation (although I soaked for over 24 hours) and so some of the hankies had white spots. Also, I think I heated it too high and it might’ve lost some of it’s luster or shine. Not sure.
Anyhow, for the next time… here’s an article with some hopefully helpful tips on dyeing silk hankies. I don’t want to forget these, so saving the link here:
So I decided to dye some yarn again. I wanted a dark, masculine color for gloves for my son, but not pure black. And I looked around for something I liked and didn’t find any. So I got some Superwash Merino Bare Worsted from Knitpicks and decided to try dyeing it myself.
I used 4 color of Jacquard acid dyes: Sapphire Blue, Navy, Brown and Black. I had solutions of these already prepared from several months ago, so I just shook them well and it seems they were fine to use.
To start, I soaked two skeins of the Bare Worsted in water with a couple drops of dish soap for a bit over an hour. Then I squeezed it out and put it in the dry dye pot. I was following the method for Hot Pour dyeing from The Twisted Sisters Sock Workshop. So I prepared my vinegar solution. I knew I wanted only enough vinegar solution to barely cover the yarn, if that much. Too much water and the dye will just go all throughout the pot and not stay in one spot on the yarn. Also important is to have the correct amount of vinegar.
All told, I ended up to use about 8 cups of water with 1 tsp of vinegar. It seemed like barely enough at the beginning, but in retrospect I wonder if I might’ve gotten by with less, as it seemed there was too much liquid in the pot at the end of the dye process.
I put the vinegar solution into the dye pot over the yarn and started to slowly heat the pot up. You’re supposed to get it to 190 degrees F. So steaming, but not boiling. I found it hard to get a uniform temp throughout the pot. The center was quite hot, but the edges were cool. I tried moving the pot around on the burner to even out the temperature. Stirring really isn’t an option.
Eventually I decided it was hot enough to begin. The temperature is important so that the dye strikes where you put it and doesn’t disperse throughout the pot.
I started with the sapphire blue. I made a stripe across the pot, and the dye seemed to stay put in that stripe. However, after poking my rubber-gloved finger through to examine, it was clear that the yarn on the bottom was not getting much if any color. This situation was repeated through all the colors. I ended up having to move strands of yarn aside with my finger or a spoon to reveal missed strands below and trying to apply dye to the still-white yarn strands. I ended up to use quite a lot of dye and didn’t have the control I would have liked. Somehow I thought if I used the right amount of vinegar and had the temperature correct, that it would work as described in the Twister Sisters book.
I did turn the heat up and the pot was simmering. I was glad I was doing Superwash wool, so I didn’t have to worry about felting.
It seems to me that direct painting of the yarn might allow for avoiding some of the issues with color distribution and placement and afford more control than this “Hot Pour” method.
A while back I dyed some small batches of solid color merino and am planning to use the blending method posted on Knitty.com at
for blending the fibers. Just saving the link here for me so I can find it easily again within the next couple of weeks…
So, there’s lots of different dyeing techniques…
Here are two that I read about on the Ravelry forums and would like to try at some point and don’t want to forget…
from Post #8 in the Stinky Wool thread (must be logged in to Ravelry.com from preceding link to work) on the Dying to Learn Dye! Restaurant group at Ravelry, Maddie writes (in regards to dyeing raw fleece):