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Topic: Yarns, the good and the bad  (Read 19166 times)
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Horse Power
« on: October 20, 2004 05:03:03 AM »

I have just discovered through the phone book that my town actually has a knitting supply shop ~ it's hidden away in a shopping center I don't usually go by. I'm planning an trip over there sometime next week, but I have a question: is there anything special that I shouldn't leave without buying? I have to admit that I've always just used acrylics from my chain craft store or Walmart, I've never dabbled into anything exotic. Right now my shopping list is one item long: I want some white cotton yarn so I can try KoolAid dyeing. What other special yarn or items would you recommend I look for? (I crochet, and I make afghans, shawls, scarves, and hats) Thanks! Smiley
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Blond_gurl
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2004 11:21:28 AM »

That's a good question, girl.   i'm going to be checking this section often, so when you find out i will too!
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2004 11:23:13 AM »

I just love 100% wool.  Cascade 220 is great.  And if you want to do kool-aid dyeing, you're going to have to use wool; kool-aid won't dye cotton or acrylic. 
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purple_octopus
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2004 12:00:36 PM »

... And if you want to do kool-aid dyeing, you're going to have to use wool; kool-aid won't dye cotton or acrylic.

Okay, so for the most part that is true.  But not entirely.  You *can* use kool-aid to dye cotton (not manmade fibers, must be 100% cotton), but you must add something else to increase the alkalinity of the solution (increase the pH).  This is because of the molecular structure of the cotton, which is made up of long cellulose strands.  To get the dye to stick, you have to break existing bonds for the dye to react with the cellulose molecules (I am *really* trying not to get too technical here.  Sorry if I'm not explaining this well.)  Usually, soda ash (sodium carbonate) is used.  Now, soda ash is also used industrially in dye lines when working with cotton, so it's plentify and cheap:  http://www.chemistrystore.com/sodium_carbonate.htm  sells it for $1.45 a pounds for the smallest 8-lb quantity, which will probably last you a good long time.  Buy more, and it's even cheaper.  (Also check your local pool supply store.)  You soak the cotton yarn in a solution of water and soda ash.  One cup per gallon of water will do you.  Then you proceed with the kook-aid dyeing, just like it were wool soaked in plain water. 

*There are safety issues* -- you do not want to do this in food preparation areas, you will want to wear gloves, and you will not want to get this in your eyes.  You will want to rinse the yarn very well when you are finished & wash your hands well when you are done.  This would not be a good project for small children.

So that's the trick.  It's not hard, but I would only pursue it if you are hell-bent on using cotton (wool allergies, etc), or you are a chemistry geek like me, or you just love hand-dyed yarns and want to play.  BTW, any cellulose material will work with this method, but I've just personally used it with cotton & linen.  You do not have to use just Kool-Aid dye; this trick will work to both intensify the color and increase the colorfastness when using anything to dye cotton (Rit dye, whatever).  Think of it as priming your canvass  Smiley

(edited to correct a grammer boo-boo)
« Last Edit: October 20, 2004 12:16:02 PM by purple_octopus » THIS ROCKS   Logged
Horse Power
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2004 01:36:22 PM »


Thanks for the info  purple octopus ~ I thought you just needed natural fibers.  I was never much into the study of chemistry... lol!  I was drawn to the KoolAid idea because it sounded simple, so I guess I will try wool instead.

And thank you, wootwoot ~   I'll look for Cascade 220 or something 100%.

Of course, if I spot anything glittery, or lime green,  I'll probably have to try that, too, whatever it happens to be made of.

Anyone ever make anything out of alpaca or llama wool?
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lynnknits
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2004 01:53:29 PM »

I use cascade 220 alot too and have also kool-aid dyed it and it turned out great. I also like Noro Kureyon. One skein has multiple colors and knits into a striping pattern. I also just like to buy random skeins to make scarves or something quick to knit. Most of all have fun at the store and be careful- they can be addicting.
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subloke
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2004 06:09:39 PM »

If you are like me and get intimidated sometimes in stores, don't be put off if the salespeople expect you to know what you are looking for.  The first time I went into a yarn store (after years of just shopping in Walmart, Zellers, Michael's) the lady working there was quite uppity and expected me to know the layout of the store when I walked in ("Well, if you're looking for wool, you WON'T find it over there, it's all over HERE") and seemed a bit freaked out by me touching all the yarn!  Now, I'm much braver and I just wander and pretend that the salesperson is NOT being totally rude to me! 

Most of all, have fun.  If you see something that looks interesting and you can afford it, try it.  Take it home, swatch it, knit a scarf, use it for something other than what you might normally use it for...  that way you can discover your own favorites in addition to the great suggestions you will get here.
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subloke
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2004 06:11:47 PM »

I forgot the other thing I was going to say.  I can't afford the really nice yarns, so I really like going into a yarn store that stocks nice yarns so I can feel them and get an idea of what they are like, so I can find a cheaper substitute for projects.  (Last week I was in one of the yarn stores here in Calgary and the women working there cut ends of yarns for me to compare at home and show the friend I'm knitting for.  That is service!)
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if you can't be a good example then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

http://yesimadethat.blogspot.com
modkatie
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2004 12:55:49 AM »

Sorry, I don't know anything about dying yarn, but shopping for yarn, that I know about!

Even the poshest yarn shops have a bargain bin----check out last skeins and discontinueds of various types to experiment and get an idea of what you like best.  Fancy yarns make great trims, embellishments, etc and can really add something to projects without the huge investment. 

If you're afraid of being intimidated, get some info online first---most makers have websites now, describing all the features, care, etc. of their various types.  Some of my fav's: Brown Sheep Company, Rowan, Bartlett Yarns, Berroco, Anny Blatt, Boule d'Or, etc. all have sites--just google 'em.

I love alpaca for baby heirloom items, angora for non-stretch fuzzy-ness,  as well as anything in wool/silk (usually 70/30) combination--the wool is cushy and bouncy, the silk adds a subtle, sophisticated sheen--for those super-special wearables, it's fabulous. 

Be warned!---once you go, it's hard to go back!!  Mohair ruined me forever!  Smiley
Have fun!
ModKatie
p.s. http://www.woolworks.org/fibers.html  has a very clear description of different yarn types, so if a snooty salesperson starts throwing terms at you, you know what's being said!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2004 01:25:47 AM by modkatie » THIS ROCKS   Logged
wootwoot
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2004 01:01:34 AM »

... And if you want to do kool-aid dyeing, you're going to have to use wool; kool-aid won't dye cotton or acrylic.

Okay, so for the most part that is true.  But not entirely.  You *can* use kool-aid to dye cotton (not manmade fibers, must be 100% cotton), but you must add something else to increase the alkalinity of the solution (increase the pH).  This is because of the molecular structure of the cotton, which is made up of long cellulose strands.  To get the dye to stick, you have to break existing bonds for the dye to react with the cellulose molecules (I am *really* trying not to get too technical here.  Sorry if I'm not explaining this well.)  Usually, soda ash (sodium carbonate) is used.  Now, soda ash is also used industrially in dye lines when working with cotton, so it's plentify and cheap:  http://www.chemistrystore.com/sodium_carbonate.htm  sells it for $1.45 a pounds for the smallest 8-lb quantity, which will probably last you a good long time.  Buy more, and it's even cheaper.  (Also check your local pool supply store.)  You soak the cotton yarn in a solution of water and soda ash.  One cup per gallon of water will do you.  Then you proceed with the kook-aid dyeing, just like it were wool soaked in plain water. 

*There are safety issues* -- you do not want to do this in food preparation areas, you will want to wear gloves, and you will not want to get this in your eyes.  You will want to rinse the yarn very well when you are finished & wash your hands well when you are done.  This would not be a good project for small children.

So that's the trick.  It's not hard, but I would only pursue it if you are hell-bent on using cotton (wool allergies, etc), or you are a chemistry geek like me, or you just love hand-dyed yarns and want to play.  BTW, any cellulose material will work with this method, but I've just personally used it with cotton & linen.  You do not have to use just Kool-Aid dye; this trick will work to both intensify the color and increase the colorfastness when using anything to dye cotton (Rit dye, whatever).  Think of it as priming your canvass  Smiley

(edited to correct a grammer boo-boo)

Eeps!  I barely scraped by with a C+ in college chemistry.  I should have paid more attention.  Why didn't he say that it would come in handy for my knitting? 
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