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Playing With Color


Yesterday was the nicest day so far this year, and I woke up with a mission.

Okay, I woke up, drank two cups of coffee, and THEN I had a mission: dying the recycled sweater yarn I’ve been sitting on for months.

It’s not the same yarn as from my Recycling Sweater Yarn Tutorial, but this one is also white and needing some color. This one has a gorgeous feel, though – at 42% rayon and 17% cotton it’s firm and strong, but the 20% wool content fluffs and softens it some, topped with 5% rabbit hair for a suggestion of luxury. There’s also a 16% nylon content but… whaddyagonnado, it’s recycled sweater yarn. It’s WPI is about 14-15 with loose plies – I could re-spin this batch to tighten the plies but I decided not to because I didn’t want to ruin its loftiness.

I needed to know how many yards I had in the dye batch . So I measured out 17 yards and weighed it, coming up with 6 grams. Using the formula of grams over yardage, I figured that each yard weighed .353 grams.

Time to separate the sections.

I wanted long color changes, so I decided I would change colors every 20 yards. I sacrificed precision for speed and used three chair backs – each wraparound a bit longer than a yard, but whatever.

There are devices that one can use to make color-changing yarn dying easier. I did not wait to secure one of these devices, so chair backs it was.

I wrapped all of the balls together, deciding I would sort them back out later. I am patient with tangles.

I took my three conjoined bundles and dunked them in hot water to soak. The dye instructions advised I add salt for cotton or plant fabrics OR vinegar for wool fabrics. This yarn was both. I added neither – knowing that this would be a color gamble anyway. Plus I was out of white vinegar.

Time to dunk. I used bamboo skewers to stir my yarn in the dye bath, poking and prodding for 30 minutes.

Although they didn’t look like I had originally planned, the colors looked really good together when rinsed. Yes, they were muted. Yes, they weren’t what I had envisioned in my mind’s eye – but dying them and getting something a little surprising was a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s good to not get exactly what you want – it forces you to innovate and move outside of your comfort zone.

In the end I am thrilled with my first recycled yarn dye attempt, and am practically hopping up and down in anticipation of stitching with it.


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