Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why you should wash on cold

Customers frequently ask me why I do things certain ways or why I make certain recommendations.

This morning I am sending an email to my club members recommending that the newest color be washed in cold water for the first wash. As I was writing the email, I realized that 1) I am way way more interested in why dye behaves certain ways than the average person; 2) I think some of you are, too; and 3) this is what my friends call "blog worthy".

There are several reasons I recommend washing Caucus Race, and other colors like it, on cold for the first wash.
  • The colors in Caucus Race were achieved using twice my normal amount of dye. It is super saturated. This means that there will inevitably be a few excess dye molecules hanging around for a few washes. No matter who is doing the dyeing--indie, commercial, yarn dyer, textile dye house, couture fabric houses, discount clothing factories--there will always always be a few excess dye molecules. Most times there will be too few to actually notice the color when diluted in a sinkful of water; sometimes you will see a transparent tint to the water. Most dyers wash post-dye in a detergent that suspends excess dyes and helps prevent most backdyeing.
  • Loosely bonded blue and green dye molecules are especially prone to hanging around after the party is over, especially turquoise-based blues and greens. Think about washing a fresh emerald green handspun for the first time. Was the wash water a light blue turquoise? That is because emerald is a turquoise-based dye. 
  •  In a well-set dye job, all the dye that was going to bond bonded already. What you have in the rinse water is the excess, the 3-4 turquoise molecules that were never going to bond. Some excess dyes will rinse out of fiber or yarn during the first rinse. Some take a few extra rinses. This is no problem for sock yarn, but spinning fiber compacts when washed more than once or twice. Better to have a blue-tinted rinse water than compacted fiber, I think.
  •  The roving is a silk blend. All silk will release dye when washed in hot water, no matter how well that dye is fixed (according to the dye gurus at my dye supplier).
  •  What this all adds up to is that I am fairly certain there will be some slight tint in the first wash with any fiber as super saturated with blue and green as Caucus Race is. All fibers and yarns? No. Some fibers and yarns? Yes. This is normal. The wool wash you use may even encourage dislodging some of those excess particles. HOWEVER, the fiber/yarn/fabric should not fade or change color if washed properly. There should be no actual bleeding or leaching of color out of the material and in to the water. There is a small risk that the tinted dye water will backdye on to anything else in the sink. If the fiber/yarn/fabric was set correctly and rinsed in a detergent, then the risk should be minimal
  •  If you do have real bleeding? Rivers of dye leaching out of the fabric and turning your hands funny colors? Snap a picture and email your dyer ASAP so he or she can puzzle out why. Sometimes mistakes happen and I would want to know immediately if my quality control failed.
 So, there's my educational "behind the curtain" blog post for the week. I hope you find the information as interesting as I do. If there are ever any other questions or topics I can expand on for you, let me know!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Customer FOs: August

Hello all - it's time for the August edition of the FO post! I, Kara, apologize for the long delay (after all, it's now October!), but your intrepid FO post writer has decided that going back to graduate school for a doctoral degree while working full time sounded like a mighty fine idea. Classes started a few weeks ago and I am JUST NOW figuring out how to manage my time so that I can do everything, including knitting (let's not discuss the serious case of cast-on fever I have right now. KNIT ALL THE THINGS!!!).

If you aren't familiar with FOs, they are Finished Objects. A finished object is any item knitted, crocheted, woven, felted, spun or otherwise transformed from Dyeabolical yarns or spinning fibers into another form (e.g. yarn knitted in to mittens, warp crocheted in to dishcloths, fiber in to a felted object, dyed top spun in to yarn).

So, let's get on with all the pretty, shall we?

First up from Katie, we have a Multnomah out of Strong Arm in Cerulean Coleptera. Katie said herself that this is a great pattern for variegated yarn and she is so right! (project page)

Rose-Marie used Bling Sparkly Sock in Be Mine for Vittorio. Is there a Dyeabolical color that doesn't look fabulous in this pattern? I don't think there is. What? You haven't knit one yet? Well get thee some lovely Alter Ego or Bling and get knitting! (project page)

Rachel herself used Worsted Superwash to knit a tiny Mochimochi Snowman. So cute!

Carrie used a 80/20 bfl/silk handspun in an unnamed colorway to knit this gorgeous Lazy Katy shawl. I just love how this turned out - these colors speak to me. (project page)

Hillary used BFL Hard Twist in Flower Shop Inferno to make a pair of Jaywalkers. Great socks! The BFL Hard Twist is a fantastic sock yarn. (project page)

Cindy knit this beautiful Celeano shawl out of Bling Sparkly Sock in Queen's Tea. I love the border on this!
 And a full shot so we can see the whole thing. (project page). Why yes, Cindy is wearing a second shawl from Dyeabolical. It is Lyrica Euterpe by Romi Hill knitted in the Ewe Knit colorway. Looks great, Cindy!

Courtney combined a skein of Alter Ego in Slither with the Bellatrix sock pattern to make a pair of perfectly evil socks. (project page

Moving on to handspun: 

Joelle spun fiber in Flower Shop Inferno to make this great aran weight yarn. (yarn page)

Kara did a little spindle spinning in August using fiber in the Sid Fishious colorway to make this two-ply yarn (yarn post).

And finally, the amazing Susan Anderson knit up a pair of mittens out of handspun in Themyscira. They look so warm and cozy! (blog post)

And that finishes up August's FOs. I'll be back soon with the FOs for September!