Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dyeing Cotton-Ease, Imagine

I spent Saturday morning dyeing my knitting. I had been planning this experiment for a couple of years and had kept a couple of my less successful knitting projects hidden away, waiting to be transformed, color-wise. I fell victim to the Cotton-Ease buying frenzy of 2005 and purchased some awful colors of this popular cotton yarn. The one I liked the least was pumpkin.

Even though I didn't like it, I knitted it into a sweater. Bleaching the swatch gave me some hopes that the color could be improved. I wore it a few times, hoping it would lighten in the wash. Finally, I put it away. Yesterday, I decided that if I'm not going to wear it, I may as well experiment with it. To prep it for the dyeing, I soaked it in a strong bleach solution. You can see the sweater immersed in a white plastic 5-gallon bucket here, with the swatch floating on top.

I should have done this the day before so that any bleach remaining after rinsing would dry. Since I didn't, I held off putting the sweater in the dye bath until I saw that the other item I wanted to dye had taken the color well. I rinsed the sweater after I bleached it, but I was concerned that the residual bleach might counteract the dye.

My dye bath prep was rudimentary. I simply put 3 gallons of the hottest water I had (about 125 degrees, straight out of my hot water tap) into the bucket, added a cup of salt, per the directions, and a bottle of Rit dye. (By the way, K just repaired the hot water heater and set it to the highest recommended setting to make sure it was working. That's why I know how hot it is. Since we will turn it down soon, the time was right for dyeing this weekend.)

I sat the bucket in the sun and stirred it for an hour. I'm sure I could have gotten a better result if I had set the dyebath over heat or put it in the washer. However, it worked well enough and spared my washer from being filled with dark brown dye. You can see the Cotton-Ease swatch on the top in the photo above. It was thoroughly bleached before (you can see that in my earlier post about the sweater, which I linked above). After a thorough rinse, I put it in first. The shade of brown you see above was after about 20 minutes of stirring. What's under it is my Clapotis, knit in Classic Elite Imagine. I'm going to post a separate entry about it later.

Here's the swatch after rinsing and drying:

It came out a bit darker than the sweater I dyed later. Most likely, the swatch took the dye better because it was more bleached to begin with, and it went in first when the water was hottest and before any dye was exhausted by the other articles.
Although it looks plain brown from a normal viewpoint, if I look closely, I can see variation in the fabric. I assume the lighter patches have more acrylic content. (Clicking on the photos gives you a larger view.)

I'm satisfied now that Cotton-Ease can be dyed. However, I'm less satisfied with the results I got on my sweater. Dyeing a garment presented me with another problem--I didn't get an even tone all over the sweater. It's still drying, so I will post the results later when I can get a modeled shot.

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Marjorie said...

I prefer the darker brown in the swatch to the lighter brown, but I don't think you have to worry about the color variations. There are more and more hand-dyed yarns that have subtle changes in color, so your efforts make Cotton-ease have a quality that it lacks under ordinary circumstances.

I had my fill of unfortunate projects out of acrylic when I knitted in the 70s. I know that it is better now than then, but this is one bias I have trouble dismissing. I do like the mixes with Tencel, though.

Wool Enough said...

I like the brown, both dark and lighter versions. Looking at the pix close up, there seems to be almost a marled effect in each strand of yarn. Nice.

Corwink said...

You are so brave! I have never thought to "re-dye" something like that. I love the new color.

Amanda said...

I never would have thought to bleach then re-dye a FO. How brave (and smart) of you! I look forward to seeing the rest of your dye jobs.

Bron said...

I never would have thought of bleaching it first - excellent!

Jenny Girl said...

You are one brave soul!
Like everyone else, I would never have thought of bleaching a dye project first.