Blame it on the heat

I couldn’t help but notice that admist the recent heatwave, everyblog and their brother has been complaining about the heat. “It’s too hot to knit,” they cry. And while I understand that the oppressive temperatures preclude knitting a giant sweater on your lap, I am a little disappointed in everyone. Where is the innovation and creativity of the knitter? In the spirit of ‘when given lemons…’ I have decided to use the heat to my advantage, and do a little solar dyeing. I mean, shoot, if it’s already 90 degrees outside, I’ll let the sun do the work of dyeing my yarn for me.

I have an old roaster tray that I use for dying. i lined it with foil and made two foil trays to separate it into two parts. I soaked my yarn in some water and vinegar, rang it out a little bit, and put it in the trays. then i added the dye. next, I covered the roaster pan with saran wrap and sealed it with tape – the more like a greeenhouse, the better. I have collected several candy thermometers at garage sales, so I decided to dedicate one to to dyeing and I put that through the saran wrap so I could have an idea of how hot it would get inside.

I watched the temperature climb about 10 degrees every 15 minutes, and top off at about 120 F. i left it out there for several hours (maybe 3-4?) until the all the dye had been absorbed from the solution.

Solar dyeing
excuse the crappy camera-phone picture

I had a little dye leftover so I thought I would do one more skein to use up the dye. Only, the sun had moved to the other side of my apartment building and there was no more sun on my fire escape. you know how knit bloggers talk about how their neighbors must think they are crazy because they see them taking pictures of yarn outside… well, here is where I have them beat. I took my yarn to the hottest place I could think of. My car. Parked in the rock-star space right in front of my apartment building, i thought I could make a quick dash there without getting the neighbors attention. Wrong. i ran into two of them on my way to my car with a roaster full of yarn and then started taking pictures of it.

Dyeing yarn in the car

Wow! this really did the job. 2 hours later when I went to get the yarn out, the handles of the roaster were so hot i had to use oven mitts! the thermometer read 145 degrees. sweet.

I am pretty happy with how the yarn looks so far. Usually i use an immersion technique, not a paint on the dye technique, so there are some flaws in the first batch. I didn’t really work the dye through the yarn, and some of the yarn in the middle has white patches. i think will look nice in the end though. Look for dry, reskeined yarn photos soon!

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