Speckled Socks

After trying some ice dyeing and really enjoying the results, I though I’d give a try to a combination of speckle dyeing and painting. Normally I tend to dye fibre to spin but it’s a little bit hard to maintain defined spots of colour in the spinning process, plus, while handspun definitely has it charms, there’s a lot to be said for the near perfect regularity of mill-spun yarn.

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Another dyer had recommended Yarn Undyed for having a good range of plain bases for a reasonable price, so I thought I’d give a try to two of their sock weight bases, the merino, cashmere and nylon mix (80% superwash merino 10% cashmere 10% nylon) and the extrafine merino and nylon mix (85% superwash extrafine merino 15% nylon). Superwash merino is a bit of a strange fibre and can be a bit squeaky to knit with but I find it usually has a nice, smooth finish. It’s not as ‘fluffy’ as normal merino and the added durability is a bonus.

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I can’t fault Yarn Undyed for their customer service, everything arrived impressively fast but beware their dangerous discounts that may lure you into buying far more than you actually need! The deluxe sock, which is just merino and nylon, is quite a tight fibre – it’s soft, but not overly so, and would give a very nice stitch definition.

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However, the 10 % cashmere transforms it into a lovely, snuggly lofty pile of fibery loveliness. Sadly, the one thing the internet can’t quite transmit is texture but, trust me, that while the deluxe sock is eminently sensible, very practical to knit with for orderly stitches, the cashmere blend makes the kind of skein you just want to touch and play with, rather than trying to turn it into anything more useful.

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I pre-soaked both fibres at acidic pH and then sprinkled the acid dyes on top. Depending on how wet the fibre is after soaking makes a different to how much the dye ‘runs’ through the fibre. For the cashmere blend, I injected some dye solution into parts of the yarn before sprinkling some additional dye on top.

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I’m always surprised quite how far even a little bit of dye powder goes so both yarns ended up a little more densely coloured than I was initially expecting and, as I used the same colours for both yarns, it’s interesting to see how different a small adjustment in how I dyed each skein made to the final finish.

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Sprinkle dyeing is really quick and saves a lot of washing up of syringes/brushes/your painting tool of choice. On a health and safety note, if you’re going to have a lot of undissolved powder sitting around, it’s a good idea to use a dust mask as even though most dyes aren’t incredibly toxic in themselves, any powdery substance can cause respiratory irritation. Asides from that, have fun throwing some dyes around, preferably on the fibre!

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