Over dyeing experiment

A friend of mine at work recently made a lovely shawl.  Well I thought it was lovely, but she wasn’t all that pleased with the colours. The shawl was made from the Elowen Shawl pattern by Judy Marples of Purl Bumps. It’s a two-coloured pattern. My friend knit her’s in pink and grey. Pink as the main colour, grey the second. Since she wasn’t happy with it, I suggested she over dye it. So then we got to talking, thinking, strategizing about what colour to over dye it. And that’s when I suggested we do an experiment.

She gave me what was left of the yarn and I made them into as many mini-skeins of equal size that I could manage.  I ended up with five, see below:

Each one went into a mason jar along with a mini-skein of white wool so we’d know what the base colour was.

I added warm water to the jars and then put them into my steamer. I added enough water so the jars were surrounded by it within two inches of the top of the open jar. When the temperature of the water in the jar reached 170 degrees, I held it there for 10 minutes. Using tongs, I removed the yarn from the hot water, added carefully measured out dye (enough to make a 1% intensity) and then added the yarn back to it.

I let that simmer for about 15 minutes, then turned the heat off. After 20 minutes I emptied the water from the pot and let the jars sit for another 20 minutes. Then I let them cool some more on my windowsill.

When it was completely cooled down, I removed them from the jars, rinsed them in soapy then clear water and set them to dry.  Here’s the result:

Not too inspiring. There is not a great difference between the grey and pink yarns, especially when there is already some red in the dye — as you can see with the pink and purple samples. The most dramatic difference is the yellow, but even so, not enough to inspire you to make the change.

If I were to do it again, I would use less dye and see what kind of effect a pastel over dye would have.

That will have to wait for another day.

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