I see beautiful days and I feel beautiful ways

Skein 1 before

Back in March, I picked up five skeins of this sport-weight merino wool at Tuesday Morning. I wasn’t thrilled with the color (especially that light celadon/seafoam shade, which reminds me of the inside contents of a refrigerator cold pack), but I figured I could either find a pattern that suited it, or I could overdye it.

Skein 1 presoaking

The dyeing bug bit a few days ago, and as Noel made preparations for his annual trip to Toronto, I took stock of my stash of Easter egg dye tablets, assembled over the past few Easters from day-after sales. My plan was to use greens and blues to try to deepen and intensify the yarn’s original colors, which struck me as faded Miami Vice. My difficulty was in figuring out what tablets might make what color; most seem to be shades of pinkish orange, impossible for my aging eyes to distinguish as yellow, orange, red, pink, or purple. Luckily I wasn’t planning to use any of those colors. But the less numerous cool colors were no easier. I did my best to sort them, but as we’ll see, I never did figure out the difference between denim blue, regular blue, and teal.

Skein 1 dye color

Skein 1 side by side before and after

Given the uncertainty of what colors my indistinguishable Paas assortment might produce, I turned to a few packs of larger tablets I had collected from some other unknown brand (I seem to recall visiting the grocery store a few days after Easter and finding the shelves cleared of all but the off-brand stuff; might be Dudley). This is the result of four tablets of green, prepared according to standard instructions in 1-cup containers with a splash of vinegar each. (“Before” skein on the bottom for reference.)

Skein 2 dye color

Skein 2 final

Here’s what came of four tablets of blue from the same brand, this time concentrated into one sixteen-ounce container of water with plenty of vinegar. This may be my favorite of all the five skeins I overdyed.

Skein 3 dye color

Skein 3 after (outdoors, sunlight)

Wait, no — this might be my favorite. Three Paas spring green tablets with vinegar in 10 oz of water. It’s all the spring green I had, unfortunately. These blues and greens are really hard for my camera’s chip to pick up accurately, so I’m picking the most accurate of the photos I took in sunlight, shade, and indoors, since it varied so much between skeins.

Skein 4 dye color

Skein 4 after (unwound)

I threw three Paas blue tablets into the dye bath for this one; two were denim and one was teal. This produced something that’s more like a darker, slightly-more-to-the-blue-side-of-teal version of the original dyejob.

Skein 4 dye color

Skein 5 after (outdoors, shade)

Seeing how I didn’t get appreciably away from the original shades on that first Paas attempt with blue tablets, I upped the ante with this one: four tablets of denim and one that turned out to be teal when I tipped a little vinegar on it to check.

Skeins 2 (left), 4 (middle), 5 (right) side-by-side blues comparison

Here are the three blue-overdyed skeins together for comparison. From left to right: unknown brand, Paas 2 denim + 1 teal, Paas 4 denim + 1 teal.

Skeins 1 (left) and 3 (right) side-by-side greens comparison

And here are the two greens: Left is unknown brand, right is Paas 3 spring green.

Skeins 1-5 diffused sunlight

All of these were done in a crock pot (which is a kettle-dyeing method); I referenced this Knit Pick blog article for guidance. I soaked the skeins for half an hour in water to cover (probably less than a quart) and about a fourth cup of vinegar (I just poured in one splash without measuring). Then I heated the water on high until it was hot to the touch, poured in the dye, and arranged the yarn (usually in a doubled circle). I kept the heat on high until the dye was absorbed, which I checked by moving the yarn with a chopstick to see if any dye would pool out into the clear water from where it was hiding under the yarn. (That’s sometimes hard to see in my dark green crock.) Skein 4 absorbed almost immediately; I kettled it about an hour, I’ll bet. Skein 1 and Skein 5 took the most time.

I like all the skeins I made better than the original colors; there’s both more variation and deeper, more consistent shades going. And with almost 400 yards per skein, there’s enough in each of my custom colorways for a cool scarf or a hat/mitts combo, or even sport-weight socks. I might try some planned pooling. Why not keep the adventure and experimentation going?

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