Saturday, May 05, 2007

Reinventing the wheel

Disclaimer: some of the posts are outdated. During the week I do things, I take pictures as I do them, but writing about them may have to wait a while. This was certainly the case with this little project.

I have been wanting to try self-striping dyeing for a long time, thinking about it and scheming. heh. I have lots of white wool that begs to be tested, and this time I decided to play with three wide stripes of blue and green for a pair of indoors socks. They will have to be indoors, as the yarn is baby wool, and won't survive regular use.

I started by dividing the yarn into three large sections. Using my newly-acquired swift I brought from home. It belonged to one of my late aunts, and I am so happy to find that it survived the rushed clearing of her possessions. I remember her joy and pride, showing it to me when she first bought it, and will always think of her this way when I see it.

I made one section, moved it to the center of the swift and made the rest. Moving it to the cente was essential, as when I put the first section outside the swift on the floor, I got this:


And here is where the title of this post comes in: why does the expression 'reinventing the wheel' have such bad connotations? I am sure that this trick is well-known to those who have used swifts before. Of course, I didn't know about it at first. But when I did discover the solution to this little problem, I felt so happy! What's wrong with reinventing the wheel, if it gives one such a thrill? In fact, I liked it so much, I hope I reinvent many more wheels! Hurrah for cheap thrills!

... anyway... After all sections were sorted and tied up with little rugs, in it went to warm water for about 20 minutes. Another little experiment I did (as these would be my learning dye socks) was using some pieces of fabric that I knew would bleed heavily. I wanted to make little specks of colour along the sock, like little dots here and there (another case of wheel-reinventing? Perhaps.)

Then, I put each section of the yarn in jars, filled with colour. No picture of this stage, unfortunately. I had to wear gloves as my fingers turned blue very quickly without them (what was I thinking?), and there just was no right moment to take them off and take pictures.

I used RIT dye, two different colours plain and one mixed. The whole process was finished very quickly, no stirring, no boiling, and I let the yarn in for no longer than 5 minutes. I know from past experience that this yarn takes up the colours really fast.

After scalding my fingers squeezing the excess water off the yarn, I rinsed it 'til it called for mercy (o.k., 'til the water run clear), and then let it drip and dry on my favourite instrument for this job: a broomstick. Over the tub (doors closed so kitties won't end up with blue tongues to match my fingers).

I am very pleased with the end result.

Ying and Yang sock yarn

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