Six months ago I found this great sweater; it’s a lamb’s wool, angora, nylon, cotton blend. I bought it at my secret thrift store, where good sweaters are still $2.00 each, and they sometimes are half-price. Don’t even ask. I won’t tell you where it is.
I used a veterinary syringe with no needle to paint/draw the dye onto the sweater. These are food-grade, non-toxic dyes, so my safety measures were pretty lax, consisting of putting some wax paper under the sweater.
Here it is, fresh out of the oven…well, microwave. I rolled up the sweater and microwaved it, 3 minutes at a time, until there was no more dye in the water.
The picture of it hanging to dry in the backyard revealed too much ‘backyard junk’ to be fit to show the public, so imagine it drying on an old fashioned clothesline, in a thick, grassy yard, surrounded by a white picket fence. The sky is bright blue, with a few lingering, drifting, Simpson’s clouds. The light breeze slowly wafts the sweater dry, as the ice slowly melts, and condensation drips off the pitcher of lemonade/tea/margaritas on the picnic table. Got it? Good.
The sweater was in good condition, which made it easy to deconstruct (unravel). It was a cardigan, so I couldn’t do anything with the front panels, but I couldn’t throw them away either, so they’re in reserve in the scrap crate, awaiting fresh ideas and inspiration.
And here is the final swatch. The cast-off edge in the upper right shows the interesting ‘Ramen’ effect of an unraveled sweater. About the only way to get the crimps out is to respin it, but this yarn came out so great as it was, I didn’t see the need to spin it.
I love the randomness of the whole thing. I painted the colors in sort-of-stripes, but then there is the unravel. The lengths of the original rows come into play here, determining the lengths of the colorways. Then there is the make-up of the fiber itself. The nylon did not take up any dye, and the cotton, just a little pastel tint, while the angora and lambswool took up most of the dye, resulting in the darkest colors. But Angora, the good little fiber it is, continues to throw off, sinfully soft stray hairs, making it’s signature halo, and softening the color of it’s dye. With all of these factors, it would have been impossible to try to force a particular outcome. So I just pick some colors that I like, and rest assure that I will like the outcome. I just love the randomness of the whole process. Did I say that already? Well, I do.