Yesterday I took part in a workshop put on by the Downtown Knit Collective as part of their Knitter's Frolic weekend events - Beyond KoolAid. Our instructor, Denise Powell (aka Doctor Knit) provided us with some undyed mini-skeins, roving and fleece and put us to work with food dyes, water, vinegar and a microwave.
My wool/silk mini was immersion dyed using a food colouring gel, and although the colour was named "Burgundy" my result was a bright tulip pink. For my Cascade 220 mini, I decided to experiment with mixing colours so I picked a liquid green food colouring that gave others a light minty green result and added some brown gel to darken it up. My result? A very bright leaf green. Maybe too bright. It's still drying upstairs.
Then I decided it was time to try hand-painting that mini skein of sock yarn. I used three colours - a dark brown-red mixed by the participant two seats north of me, a purple-blue mixed by the participant to my left and that tulip pink I had made up earlier. I arranged the dampened skein on a plastic bag in front of me and dabbed small sections of each colour until the yarn was entirely coloured. Piled damply in front of me it didn't look like much. But after drying it at home and knitting it up on sock needles, it's not a bad effort. I'm calling my colourway "Hydrangea".
If you had asked me yesterday I'd have told you that I had no plans to dye yarn for myself again. It was fun to try it, but it's really not for me. The process was very messy (at least for me) and the results were extremely unpredictable. There was lots of talk of "unexpected results" and "happy accidents" in the room yesterday - which is way outside my control-freak comfort zone. Not to mention that the pervasive smell of warm, damp wool is not something I want in my kitchen. But this morning it occurred to me that in the next few weeks I'm going to need about 25 grams of flesh-coloured sock yarn. It'd be cheaper and easier to dye some natural colour scraps I have, wouldn't it? Because I pretty confident about immersion dyeing a mini-skein but I think I'll keep buying full skeins from all those talented indy dyers out there. Let them experiment and I'll enjoy the spoils of their labour!