Dying Cellulose


Cellulose is one of many polymers found in nature. It is an excellent fibre. Cellulose is the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants.

Its  challenge to dye. I’m using procion MX and that stuff smells, to say the least. Here I want to save the world one plant at a time. And the main dyes I can use are not nice. Well, dying is a fun but messy process in general. Even natural dyes (I’m very much looking forward to an indigo batch) require care and caution in the making. So I take steps to keep my waste of product to a minimum. Dyes get used up. They soak into what I am working on. They also simply end up permeating less and less intensely into the yarn and or fabric.  The rinse water goes into barrels for evaporation. I’m quite curious if the process will leave any dye powder behind that I can still use up.

Here is a partial lineup of what is coming:

A lot of these are reclaimed yarns. Stuff I bought and saved myself. Stuff people gave me. I’m a huge fan of pooling and argyling. I can’t wait to experiment some more. And lace, I’m a fan of holes! And Timbits!

Working from left to right in the above picture:

Starting with this white cotton. Its got a pretty regular variation of bumpy to smooth yarn in it. Not quite a boucle. This came from my MIL. Jesson Yarn, packaged 4 balls to  bag with a shirt and or tank top pattern included. I’m looking to see how the chunky bits dye up compared to the smooth yarn bits. About 400 grams.

Note these weights are all pre washing and shrinking – which will happen before I even start to dye anything!

This second yarn is  Pattons Martinque, a cotton and acrylic blend. With both of these white yarns I’m quite curious to see how well they take the dye after having been bleached. With about 25% acrylic in this yarn, I’m also curious if the dye will take in different tonal shades. 150 grams.

Mystery twisted cotton from an ancient sale I went to some time in my life. I have  pile of yarn that has no labels. I suspect its all cotton, but could easily be a blend, we’ll get a chance to see in the dyeing. I’m hoping the darker cream tone will also make some colours dyed in richer. We’ll see. 400 grams.

Again from my collection of ancient. A crochet cotton that I do still have the labels for! I used this yarn to edge a at project last year to very nice effect (see the cream and purple hat in the blog post before this one). 100% cotton. 300 grams.

Another Pattons, Worsted cotton 100% this time. 16 balls of this stuff. I hope to be able to do a queen sized cover from what I have here. Its starting as a weird pale khaki colour. I love how squishy all the yarn looks bundled up. 800 grams.

Another 100% crochet cotton. This one is more olive green in tone to start. They are all pretty good nuetrals to work with. These colours exist in projects out there even today. I’m hoping my experiment to prettify works! 300 grams.

My favorite of the reclaimed bunches of yarns that I am re dyeing. This is Berroco Flax (linen) that I bought from a fellow Ravelry member. 100% linen. Very smooth and fun to work with. 400 grams.

I made a champagne coloured shawl, that I’m considering frogging just so I can redye that flax yarn as well! Hmmmmmm, but maybe I should play around with hand painting that one…. OH MY! I think I MUST! Well then I guess its time to take pics of that project!

The last 3 on the table at the left are all hemp yarns. I skeined up  bunch of Ecolution hemp balls I had for macrame making. That is the whitest of the bunch on the right. The big chunky hemp skein in the middle is a worsted Hemp yarn (12 ply) that I picked up from Lana (Knits) when she was here at the Kitchener Guild Knitting show in September. And on the end is more fingering because I really, really need it for lace making.

I’m still wrapping a few last skeins before the weekend when I want to start dipping. I have a pile of mismatched Bernat handicraft cotton. So I’ll wrap them together to make a crazy changing argyle blanket with the same dye intervals. I still have some hemp to dye from the September trip. I wish I had more linen around to dye up as well! My next batch plans! Cause a bunch of Louet euroflax linen is headed in my direction. Again from a wonderful destashing Ravelry member. I’m quite torn about what to order linen-wise from Louet. The trouble is I have a choice between sport weight and a 14/2 lace weight. Sport weight is coming so ‘ll finally be able to make a decision!

Busy busy. And while I’m standing, endlessly turning the crank to skein up  bunch of yarn, I longingly look out the window. I overlook my backyard from this spot. And in my mind’s eye every laundry line and every usable branch is covered with a newly dyed, drying skein.

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One Response to Dying Cellulose

  1. pip says:

    I think it’s fabulous the way you’re keeping waste to a minimum and recycling yarn 🙂

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