Last May, I purchased 4 ounces of Very Special combed top, 50% alpaca and 50% Cormo wool. The specialness was in part due to the award winning and dream disturbing nature of the Cormo wool (see my blog entry June 23, 2010).
By the end of July, I’d spun up this lovely fiber into a skein with 472 yards that ended up weighing 3.85 ounces. See?
My plan was to then knit myself a small triangular shawl. But as much as I loved the fiber I wasn’t excited about a white shawl. Maybe I should dye the yarn? But it’s so beautiful! What to do….what to do….
This is what I did. First, I let the yarn sit in my stash for a few months, giving it time to mature and me time to debate the pros and cons of dyeing.
I mentioned my hesitation to a number of folks. To my surprise, I got the same advice from several completely independent sources: dye the yarn with tea.
Oh, yeah! But how? I asked around, and then I hunted around on the internet. Each source provided different directions. Personally, I like simple directions, so I did a test with the simplest directions I could find (essentially to just soak yarn in tea until it’s the color you like).
I found a small skein of handspun in my stash that was up for the test: an old skein, of some unnamed white wool, weighing just under 1 ounce. I had Navajo plied it; clearly one of my early attempts, because the plying (and the spinning of the singles for that matter) is pretty darn inconsistent. Perfect for sacrifice.
I boiled about 2 quarts of water, then let 8 tea bags of plain ol’ black tea steep in the water for about 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, I took my then-white sacrificial skein and soaked it in very warm, nearly hot water. When the tea had steeped for that little bit, I removed the tea bags and added the wet skein.
Oh, I started this process in the afternoon. Then I just let the yarn soak in the tea until the next morning. The “dye bath” was still very tea colored, but so was the skein. Then I rinsed the skein in cool water (same temperature as the tea water had become overnight). Then I washed the skein as I usually do in some warm water and Eucalan. Hung it up to dry. And, voilà! I got a lovely skein of fawn colored yarn. I like the color. I haven’t yet dyed the alpaca/Cormo yarn, but that will happen soon. Then I can get to knitting!
Here’s the test skein.