Sometimes, they are perfectly fine and just need a new and loving home. Other projects may have not turned out quite right: there might have been some mistakes in the knitting that I thought I could live with, or the yarn was gorgeous but not well-matched to the pattern, or my taste has drastically changed since I finished making the project...in any case, why on earth did I keep knitting?! Who knows, but I don't feel good about gifting anything that falls into this category to someone else. These projects have been relegated to the "frog pile" (or should I say, frog pond?), to be unknit on those days when I really feel like wrestling with some yarn (believe it or not, it's not unheard of!!).
Most of my unused knits fall into the above categories, but there are a few projects that don't. These are projects that turned out beautifully, with one major flaw: I don't like the color of the yarn I used. It's really a shame when you have a beautifully knit sweater in a great yarn that fits you well...but you STILL don't want to wear it!
...unfortunately, I don't wear sky blue, or pretty much any color as a general rule. My closet is filled with black and grey clothes because it's just easier to get dressed in the morning! Anyway, after finishing this project in July of 2013, I'm pretty sure that the only time I wore it was for the photos I took for this blog. But isn't it super cute? The open style is extremely forgiving and it's really the perfect summer cardigan!
After digging around in my dyestuffs, I decided to overdye this sweater Navy. Now, I could have tested the color with the swatch, but I felt pretty confident about my ability to get the desired results - and if it ended up being too light, I could always overdye it again! So, I went for it, and spent an overcast afternoon trying to turn this cardigan into something I would enjoy wearing.
Get Ready To Dye!
If you are new to dyeing, there are some great everything-you-need-starter kits out there. I used the Gaywool Dyes Lanaset Starter Kit, which is a little tough to find in stores (here's an Etsy shop that currently carries it). This come with complete instructions, a nice selection of dye colors, citric acid, and glaubers salts, plus a respirator mask and gloves.
In addition to the dye kit, you'll need:
- An enamel or stainless steel dyepot that you DO NOT/WILL NOT use for cooking
- Cups and measuring spoons that you DO NOT/WILL NOT use for cooking
- A scale
And that's about it, you're ready to go!
Here are the basic steps you will follow:
1. Fill the dyepot with water and begin to heat it up to a simmer. If I'm dyeing indoors on my stove, I always crank my exhaust fan as high as it'll go to make sure that any fumes are sucked out of the air during this process.
2. Wet the yarn, fiber, or finished kit in warm water and add a tiny bit of dish soap.
3. Measure your dye as recommended by the manufacturer, dissolve it in boiling water in a container and stir. I prefer to mix my dye outside because even though you can't see the fine powder dye with the naked eye, I'm not thrilled at the idea of those particles getting into the air I breathe. Which reminds me....make sure you absolutely are wearing your respirator mask before you start this step. Safety first!
4. Measure your auxiliaries (a fancy term for the Citric Acid and Glaubers salts, which will help set the dye). I used two separate cups I have reserved for dyestuffs to make it easy to measure, which you can see in the photo below.
5. Add the dye to the dye auxiliaries and stir, then add it to the dyepot.
6. Remove your yarn, fiber or finished knit from the warm water soak and squeeze to remove excess water. Then add it to the dyebath! I like to use some old salad tongs I inherited from my grandparents to work the dye through, and reposition whatever I'm dyeing as needed (I'm sure they would approve of this use). Just make sure not to agitate too much, as wool will felt, especially when it is in very hot water!
7. Let soak for 10-15 minutes, then raise the temperature to boiling. Hold there for 15-20 minutes, keeping a close eye to make sure that it doesn't felt or boil over. That wouldn't be good!
8. Check the dyebath - if the water is clear, that means the dye is exhausted (i.e., it has transferred from the bath onto your yarn, fiber or finished knit!). You can now take it out of the dyebath, remove the excess water, and allow to dry. I like to wait until the dyebath is completely cooled before I handle the items I'm dyeing, that way I don't burn my fingers through the gloves, plus I also avoid "shocking" the fibers by removing them from the hot water into whatever room temperature happens to be that day.
For an added bonus, I threw in another swatch in Lhasa Wilderness, a yak and bamboo blend of yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch. I have been thinking about overdyeing my Comfort Fade Cardigan, which is knit with this yarn, but I am not sure that I have the right dyes to handle the bamboo component of the yarn. So, I thought this would be a no-risk way to test things out, and see if I can successfully overdye the swatch before I attempt the actual garment. After allowing the swatch to dry, I stuck it right back into some water and fiber wash and let it sit for a good hour to see what happens. I'm pleased to report that there was absolutely NO crocking, so I can absolutely overdye this project using this same dye method. Oh joy!