Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pre-planning for October

I've been wanting to make a sweater similar to the Chromatic Sweater by KnitPicks.

Problem is that I'm allergic to wool, so I need to find a cotton or acrylic alternative.

Second problem is that I need to watch my budget and can't afford to spend a fortune on the yarn.

Third problem is that finding yarn dyed on a gradient, in non-wool, is not something that is easily found, let alone affordable.

I've decided to try to buy plain yarn and dye it myself.

Second issue is finding 100% cotton yarn in Fingering weight without spending a fortune for it. I needed about 400-ish yards dyed in a gradient and over 1000 yards dyed in a dark contrast base color at the same weight.

I found several options that would cost over $120 for the sweater, and still required me going through the dyeing process. That's more than I want to spend on yarn I can dye (and mess up). I couldn't find any gradient dyed yarn options at all, not even out of my price-range yarn. The exception was Wolle's Yarn - which I have used before. This is "ok" and definitely gives gradient, gradual color changes. However, it is basically 8 strings strung together (not plied nor spun together) and the color changes are implemented by knots placed periodically to change one string color at a time. I don't like the knots and the strings are difficult to work with. I wanted something else for this sweater.

I was online complaining about my budget issues and someone pointed me towards 'carpet warp'. I found 800 yard cones of 100% cotton in fingering weight (8/4 carpet warp) for under $8 a cone. I bought one cone in white for dyeing and 2 cones in a vibrant medium blue for the main color. Under $30 for the sweater and I should end up with almost 1000 yards left over which would be enough for a second sweater. I have no idea how 'soft' this cotton will be (or won't be) but it's cotton. If it's not soft from the cone, it probably will be fine with washing.

Next step is to buy the dye and another dyeing bowl (I only have three right now for dyeing). Cotton dyeing requires an acid dye which is NOT foodsafe. My bowls I use for dyeing are set aside and not used for cooking. I buy inexpensive pitchers from Dollar General for $1 each. I figure if it doesn't work out and I don't want to store them any longer - they are simple enough to toss out.  I do most of the pre-dyeing soaking in vinegar (which is obviously food safe) in a wash tub that I also use for cleaning.

I have FOUR main colors I want to dye out of the 400 yards I plan on dyeing - Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue.

Divide the yarn into the following sections should give me the gradient look I need for the sweater:

A) 70 yards which will be the darkest of the red - dyed in the red pot
B) 40 yards which will be the next lighter shade - which will spend half the dyeing time in an orange pot, and before the time is up get moved to the red pot to get a blended color.
C) 70 yards in the orange pot, that will stay in the orange pot for the whole dyeing period
D) 40 yards which will be the next lighter shade - which will spend half the dyeing time in a yellow pot, and before the time is up, get moved to the orange pot to get a blended color
E) 70 yards which will be the lightest shade - and in the yellow pot for the entire dyeing period
F) 40 yards which will start in the yellow pot and get moved halfway through the dyeing process to the light blue pot for a greenish (I hope) gradient between the yellow and blue
G) 70 yards which will stay in the light blue pot the entire dyeing time

70 + 40 + 70 + 40 + 70 + 40 + 70 = 400 yards. I'll probably add a few extra yards as I spool the yarn into each of those sections so I end up with more than 400 yards (because more is better than less when it comes to one-time custom dyed yarn. I don't want to run out.

I'll post pics when I have the dyeing day which will probably be the first weekend in October if things go as planned.  With any luck, I'll be able to pick up the dyes and vinegar for under $20 which combined with the cost of the yarn and shipping is still under 50% of the cost of custom-dyed yarn (if I could even find it).

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