Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Day 4 Creativity - Dyeing with Meadowsweet- part two

This morning I decided to dry all 500 g worth of dyed skeins. This is to give me more time to decide on the project for them. Usually I leave the skeins wet when using additives.

So having changed my mind completely from the woven scarf in meadowsweet and meadowsweet and iron I am still thinking of a knitting project.

The skeins look like this :
The lighter one has tin additive
The dark green one has iron additive - rather a lot
The darker meadowsweet has copper additive.
The bigger skein ( background ) is meadowsweet on its own.
In real life the meadowsweet skein has a definite greeny tone to it.

Part of the reason for drying them was to compare the skeins. I dyed 2 lots of 200g and the the remaining 127 g with some handspun yarn with it - this was interesting and I'll explain further on.

I dyed one lot of 200g in an aluminium pan and one in an enamel pan but with EXACTLY 400 g of meadowsweet. The enamel pan took ages to get to boiling point and then I forgot it at lunch time so the yarn was in for quite a bit longer BUT the colours of both sets are identical. This amazes me. One might think the meadowsweet had reached its capacity for reacting with the dye. However, I think not as the separate 127 g is definitely a deeper dye. I weighed the total amount of yarn in the pot and doubled this for dyestuff so I think it must be due to the hand spun yarn not taking up so much of the dye for its mass compared to commercial yarn. I find this perfectly normal for all sorts of reasons. I also included a small sample of non scoured, non mordanted yarn to show how essential it is to scour yarn well and mordant thoroughly. This is the skein on the right. The odd skeins, ie the non commercial cone, are much browner in colour – again difficult to get right here but I have done my best. (I do hate it when the ipad think for me!!)

The ‘odd skeins’ – the one on the right is the non scoured, non mordanted one ! (Apologies for the lack of clarity in the picture but it’s the colour that matters in this context)

So back to my choice…… At the moment I am pondering on knitting a yoked sweater in meadowsweet colour with a fair isle yoke - using 4/5 yet to be dyed yarns using the exhaust dye and additives. I have tried the yarn 'on my front' to see if the meadowsweet colour will be good for me as a sweater - answer is 'yes'.

Or, whether to change more of the meadowsweet yarn into other colours using additives and knit a fair isle jumper.

I intend to knit either jumper on the knitting machine - once I have designed a pattern! But I think I have 2/3 days to make my choice as I want to you the dye exhaust at its best.

What a lovely choice to have to make!!!!
(Apologies, no idea why the text size has a mind of its own today!)



  1. Hi Janet, what beautiful colours. I'd be very interested to know why handspun yarn takes up less dye than commercial. Joy

  2. I think there are several reasons and I do not know which is the most important :
    Hand spun yarn tends to be less dense than commercial - more air in it
    Handspun yarn often has less twist in it - again making it less dense
    The commercial yarn may have been bleached or treated in some way, not an alum mordant.
    These are my personal thoughts, I would be interested to hear what you, or anyone else, thinks!

  3. And of course the much more vigorous scouring that is likely to take place to remove the lanolin etc in commercial yarns compared to handspun!