First off, after having the stand on the sidelines to witness last week’s “adventures in home repair” I am excited to turn on the working brain again and get back into things. I spent a good part of yesterday just getting my house back in order — it’s amazing how much stuff got moved and had to be reorganized and put back into place.
There’s more yet to do, but I got the laundry area mostly functional:
My jug of homemade laundry soap didn’t fit inside so it sits on top. Oh well. And the Granique Arte (granny cart) now sits comfortably there as well — it use to ride around the kitchen for lack of a home to call its own.
Anyway…. moving right along.
DL wrote to me this morning to ask about over-dyeing a finished knitted project. She had purchased several skeins of a popular commercial yarn, and checked the dye lot numbers like every knitter knows how to do, and still somehow one of the skeins was “off”. As it was a circular shawl she now has a noticeable dark circle in the middle. EEEK!
She’s going to take pictures for me and we’ll discuss options on her project, but since other people have occasionally asked about over-dyeing, I thought I’d discuss the concept in general terms.
Normally, any hue of over-dye color will be affected by whatever color was already applied. Similar to painting a wall — any noticeable shapes or patterns or different colors on the wall before painting will show through as a ‘ghost’, unless you strip or prime the wall or apply two or more coats. It is slightly different applying dye to fiber, since the dye is not fully opaque, but the concept is similar. Whatever color was there to start will affect the end result. Of course, the only way to absolutely guarantee complete coverage and obliteration of the original problem is to overdye with a deep saturation of blackety-black.
Another issue is that DL’s original yarn is a mixed fiber (wool/nylon/metalic filament), so the yarn will take up dye differently. Nylon grabs color very well, wool allows more for bleeding.
Here is a project a customer asked me to overdye a few years ago, but I don’t recall the fiber content, whether it was all wool or a wool/silk blend:
Sarah knitted a Clapotis in a variegated yarn:
Notice that the primary feature of the Clapotis (the columns of dropped stitches) is lost in the variegation of the yarn.
and she wasn’t entirely happy with the colors, wanted to go more toward blues. So, after warning her that the overdye would not hide the original colors but would be affected by them, she still wanted the over-dye.
This is how it came out.
The darker and browner/golder shades affected how the blue went on it. The effect is similar to viewing something through a colored lens — everything takes on that color, just in varying degrees. This example turned out well and she was pleased.
One thing is clear — even softening the colors with a blue over-dye, you can still see the variegation and gradience, but (for this project, anyway) it really made the dropped stitches much more visible. The Clapotis depends heavily on those dropped stitches, so I’m glad this one turned out.
By the way, this is why I don’t recommend heavily variegated yarns for lacework — after putting in the effort, you want the lace stitches to be visible. That’s why I developed the “watercolor” technique, so there would be many colors working together to create an organic-appearing piece without distracting from the lacework. It is a very ‘wet’ process!
As for DL’s project, I’ll have to see the original color and see if there is a way to eliminate the solid hard circle effect from having a mismatched dye lot. And, if the original was a solid color, it might take a different procedure from what I’d do over a variegated yarn like Sara’s Clapotis. Applying a single solid overdye onto an original with two solid dye-lot colors will not eliminate the visible difference.
Of course, my biggest concern is taking someone’s finished handwork and potentially ruining it or turning it the wrong color. If I screw it up, I can’t undo what was done. So there will be dialog and consultation before I take any over-dye project.
But the only way to know if I can do something is to ask, right? And then discuss, and then do my best.