With the Kool-Aid dyeing experiments that I've been doing over the past few weeks, after you've been through the process a few times you no longer really need notes. So when one of my customers was in a couple of weeks ago, I cavalierly gave her my copy of instructions that I had downloaded from KNITTY.COM re the dyeing process.
Yesterday morning I decided that I would arm myself with a foil oven liner, a whole box of latex gloves, disposable cups and a pastry brush to try the "hand-painted" version of Kool-Aid dyeing that was described in the Knitty directions. At one point I thought what a good idea it would be to go to the computer to reprint a copy of the directions, just to review this new process but that sensible thought quickly got lost in the scramble to get myself ready and off to work.
I followed what I could remember of the directions, using 1 orange, 1 lime, 1 cherry, 1 tropical punch. (Don't be fooled, fellow fibre fans...although tropical punch comes in a beautiful deep blue envelope, it is RED and nothing but red.) I painted the dyes onto a ball of Mission Falls wool that I had wound (not very proficiently) into a skein. I then gingerly lowered it all into the crockpot, waiting for my lovely creation to turn mud brown. As you can see in the pot above, it looked weird but it did work. Despite the fact that my inadequate camera shows a blurry version of the finished product, you have to admit, it is fun. I can't wait to knit something up with these wild colours.
In another vein about fibres changing colour -- as those of you who get our newsletter will know, we have just started carrying Fiddlesticks' Ecoknit organic cotton. Although I love wearing cotton, I am not a great fan of knitting with it as I, the laziest knitter on earth, would prefer not to have to worry about such things as keeping stitches even, and wool does so much to help me out in that area.
However, when I was knitting up the swatch of organic cotton for the new display, I was quite surprised at how much body this fibre had. I'm serious, it actually springs back when you stretch the swatch. And the stitches looked really uniform, even for me.
Then last week I was discussing what an interesting yarn organic cotton produces with one of our customers and she asked if I had washed the sample yet. When I admitted that I hadn't, she just smiled. Yesterday she brought in a lovely tablecloth that she had recently completed of organic cotton. She also brought the cone of yarn from which she had made it. The cone was a light caramel colour with a slight green hue. The tablecloth, which had been washed, was a rich khaki colour which she expected would get even deeper with every washing. It was as soft and as full of body as any fibre I have ever felt. I was amazed. It would appear that natural cotton has a "wax" that acts somewhat like lanolin does with wool and that the washing process, in softening and removing this film, allows the colour to come through more deeply.
We consumers (and retailers) get to recognize that the world runs on waves of activities and styles (we won't call them fads, that would be a little tacky) that people gravitate to. I'm a relatively green-conscious person usually but I really did wonder if the whole organic fibre thing wasn't all just so much hype. I mean really...I'm not planning on eating my cotton sweater.
I no longer believe that to be the case at all. This is seriously beautiful stuff and I plan to learn so much more about it in the near future. I'll keep in touch.