Monochrome Graduated Colour Theory

(Don’t mind me; I’m thinking out loud.  That’s what blogs are for.)

So.  I’m planning to dye a skein where the colour is super intensely dark at one end, and white at the other, with the colour gradually fading in between.

The instructions for how to do this are simple.  Everything I have read says: ‘stick your ball of yarn into the dye, and slowly remove lengths as appropriate’.  It sounds simple, but there are complications.

When I pour the dye into the crockpot, it looks pretty dark.  Inky dark.  Can’t see the bottom dark.  When dyeing the incredibly photophobic Pretty as a Peacock yarn, I dipped it in and pulled it out, just to see how dark the yarn got on initial contact with the dye.  As it happens, it gets pretty damn dark.  Not as dark as the finished product, but a hell of a lot darker than I would want.  This is a problem.  There are several possible causes…

  • Too much dye.  I suspect that if I were using too much dye, it wouldn’t exhaust.  But it does (usually/mostly).  I could be wrong, but I think that means that I’m not using too much.
  • Too much vinegar.  I hear that the percentage of vinegar can affect the speed with which yarn absorbs acid dye.  I think that the only way to determine if a lesser amount of vinegar would reduce the dye-take up rate would be to experiment.
  • Faulty premise.  It’s possible that, as the yarn I observed had been merely dipped and not exposed to dye + heat for a prolonged period, had I let the yarn cool and washed it, the dye might have washed out (not having had enough heat to set it).  Again, this premise requires testing.  My gut feeling tells me that this isn’t it, possibly because both the yarn and the dye were already hot.

So, options? 

A) Run an in depth series of experiments carefully constructed with observations, hypotheses and controls, designed to provide answers and increase my understanding of the hot water dyeing process, or

B) Give it a shot, but do it in reverse.   Instead of having it all in and pulling it out, add it a little at a time so that the pale end of the yarn is added towards the end, when the dye is mostly exhausted.

 Logic insists that I should need half the amount of dye, as the end result should be (on average) half as dark, but I’m not sure that I believe it.  Again, I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

The other (potential) problem that disturbs me – one that no one mentions – is the rate at which to remove (or possibly add) the yarn.  How do I make sure that the halfway point of colour saturation is at the  halfway (distance) point of the yarn?  How can I make sure that, if represented on a graph, the colour intensity (axis y) to yarn length (axis x) is a 45 degree line, rather than a curve?

I might dye easy ol’ self striping sock yarn while I think about it some more.

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~ by dreadlordvellan on December 3, 2007.

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