At the WWKiP festivities yesterday, Buffy Taylor of Shelridge Farms (that’s her in the apron at the very far end of the table) led a workshop on dyeing sock blanks.
(Sock blanks, for those who haven’t encountered them, are machine-knit rectangles made up of two strands of sock yarn, knit together. You can dye them any way you like, and then unravel them to knit them into socks or other small-scale treasures. With the two strands held together, both pieces will end up more or less identically dyed, so you can actually get a matching pair of socks out of the process.)
I tend to like semi-solid yarns more than truly multicoloured ones, mainly because I tend to knit things other than socks with my sock yarns, and find that the really strong colour changes often get in the way of pretty stitchwork. When my turn came to step up to the dye-table, I thought I’d go for verdant greens, maybe with a bit of brown, to capture the colours of the bright almost-summer leaves around us.
Well, here’s the thing about dyeing: the colours that you see at the table, or in the dye-pot, aren’t quite the same as what you wind up with. Until they’re steamed and set, the dye colours are a little murkier, a little less clear, than the finished product. I’ve encountered this before, in my few experiments with dyeing, so I forged ahead, although my sock blank looked more like a cesspool of puke than a brilliant spring day.
Cari, who was helping with the workshop, was actually being charitable when she called it “swamp muck.”
(No, I didn’t take any pictures of that stage — partly because it was so extremely ugly, and partly because my hands were covered in dye!)
But in the end, with help from the steam — from pots heated on the barbecue, of all places — I ended up with something much closer to what I’d hoped for. All the same, I think I’ll still call it “swamp muck,” to remind me of the process!