A little green

Marlowe’s birthday is fast approaching, and her party dress is coming along nicely.  I’m done the skirt, just turning a little picot hem at the bottom – because you know. The idea wasn’t quite frilly enough. 

I have all the cabbage roses knit for around the neck, and I placed them around the other day and thought it was good, but not great – something wasn’t quite right, and the other day I realized what it needs.  Leaves – I immediately imagined pale green leaves under the pink roses on the white bodice, and scoured the stash.  An hour later I’d trashed the stash room and come up with several things that were totally unacceptable, although I did spend another two hours pretending they were acceptable before I finally admitted that this little dress was way too perfect to start compromising now.  I spent another hour cruising the internet looking for the perfect green to order, before I realized it wouldn’t get here in time anyway, and that I didn’t really want a whole skein.  I was stumped.

I called a friend and bemoaned the lack of a perfect pale green, and she said something like "It’s too bad you couldn’t dye the white silk yourself… " and a little bell went off.  Why couldn’t I? Silk is easy to dye, and so I decided to give it a shot.   I got a pot, and some food dye and vinegar and my big pyrex measuring cup, and then I thought about what I know about dyeing (which isn’t much, I’ll tell you that right now) and I skeined up a little of the white silk – just enough to do the leaves.  I have lots left – so if it didn’t work, I thought I could give it a few tries. 

First, I mixed up the dye.  The green was a little too green on its own, so in went a little yellow. 

Then I remembered that you’re supposed to soak the yarn.  I don’t know why you soak the yarn exactly, I think it’s got something to do with the dye going on evenly… so I was sure to do it. I usually don’t break a rule until I know why it exists.  (Usually. There have been some spectacular exceptions.)

Next, very carefully and strategically, I violently backhanded the entire pyrex container of dye into the backsplash, counter, floor and cutting board, while reaching for my coffee, and spent 25 minutes cleaning it up. Then I mixed up the dyes again. 

I feel sure you can skip that step.

I put about half of my colouring and some more water and a glug of vinegar into a pot on the stove.  I know you’re not supposed to use any pots or utensils for dyeing that you will use for food, but since this was food dye I felt pretty good about skipping that rule.  I brought it up to heat, squeezed the water out of my mini-skein, and plunked it in.  I gave it a little stir, then left it there – with the water just below a simmer, until the dye was exhausted and the water was clear.  (For the record, I think that’s the first time I’ve exhausted a dyebath.  I’m usually exhausted before it is.)

At that point I thought it was dark enough (if it had been too light I would have dumped in the rest of the dye) took out the  yarn, and hung it to dry.

Perfect. Just exactly the green I was hoping for, and my favourite way to solve a problem. Quickly, with found objects, and for free.  It’s like getting a Scrabble triple word score, only with yarn. 

135 thoughts on “A little green

  1. Bravo! Well Done! It’s the perfect green. But why is it, that when we do something creatively brilliant, we make a brilliantly huge mess too? Artistic license, I suppose!

  2. So that “exhausting the dye bath” is supposed to happen? I was stuck last February for anti-bullying day. There were no pink shirts left anywhere! And I only have boys so they didn’t have any in their closets. So I bought a couple of white ones and did exactly what you just said, only with white cotton shirts. When they were done, the water was clear and the shirts were pink. I thought it was weird that there was no dye left in the water and wondered what I did wrong. Now I know that I did it right! I exhausted the dye bath!

  3. What a beautiful green! It is perfect and the addition of leaves along the collar will look gorgeous! and a picot edge! Can’t wait to see pictures of the completed dress 🙂
    Are you going to post your pattern too 😉

  4. That green is glorious! Well done!
    No idea why or where – I see small pearl beads as well on this project. Maybe it is something silly to put in Marlowe’s hair? On her wrist?
    This project is a marvelous heirloom item. Love in every stitch for sure.

  5. The spill must’ve been the universe sparing you from some crazy miscolored yarn catastrophe in which you go down a rabbit hole that takes hours to climb your way back out of.

  6. I seem to have been ‘carefully, strategically, violently backhanding’ just about everything in my life lately — figuratively speaking, you understand, although the literal sometimes seems appropriate.

  7. My gods, do you inspire me, woman! And enable me. (See? You’re multitasking, and you’re not even in the same country I’m in!) However, this doesn’t mean I’m going to jump on the internet, purchase plain silk yarn, and dye said yarn colors I’m yearning for… Not yet. I have to let my credit card stop smoking from the last yarn purchase first.

  8. Scrabble triple word score…with 7 letters. Great job!
    And that would be mopping up the dye after accidentially sending it flying across the kitchen. I still can’t drink to the end of an iced drink without wearing a little of it!

  9. Perfect colour. You soak the yarn before dyeing (I put in a drop of neutral dish wash liquid as well) to open up the fibres to let the dye go right through the yarn. I know you really wanted to know that.

  10. You are talented and brilliant. A bit clumsy, but talented and brilliant. Small price to pay, in my opinion!

  11. Is Tina Newton one of your best friends, or is she not, Steph!?!?! Of course you can dye the silk yourself! Glad it turned out so well. This is gonna be the best party dress ever!

  12. A most lovely green. I am now eagerly awaiting a story about the search for the perfect leaves. Reminds me of your adventures with Tsock Tsarina’s Vintage kit.

  13. The green is perfect. I’ve done some dyeing using Kool-Aid, and it works well too. You don’t have to add any vinegar since it already has ascorbic acid in it. BUT, make sure to not use the packets with the sugar already mixed in. Oy, the sugary sticky mess I had. Of course it all washed out. But still. Sticky.

  14. Can’t wait to see the finished dress. and I have this strange urge to knit cabbage roses, which until I read this blog I didn’t even now existed!

  15. This is precisely the reason I can’t seem to cull the sewing and knitting stash. Last month I had a vision for a dress, then pulled it off from start to finish with stuff already in the house – that fact was nearly as exciting as the FO itself. Doesn’t help my cause that I also dislike shopping ;).

  16. This is going to sound stupid — especially coming from someone who took Tina’s dyeing class at the Knot Hysteria Retreat! — but can you use food dye? Won’t it…wash out?

  17. Those leaves are reminding me of the grapevine socks from a few years ago. I recall those made you very happy.

  18. Brilliant! Perfect solution to the problem – if you’d bought a skein of yarn, you would have had tons of leftovers, and had to settle for not quite the right yarn, not quite the right color, or something. Thanks for the reminder to look in less obvious places for solutions.

  19. Marlowe is going to look like an adorable little cupcake in this dress! Can’t wait to see the finished dress.

  20. Note to self: stop checking this blog at work. There’s a limit to the number of unexplained bursts of hysterical laughter I am allowed.

  21. I was just thinking the other day that I thought there should be leaves w/ the roses. There should always be leaves w/ roses, don’t you think? Beautiful!!! The green is absolutely perfect.

  22. That dress is going to look amazing! And I love that shade of green! Now I want something in that color!
    And I was thinking when I read the post that “you better not hope that it bleeds” because after all that work it would be soul-shattering. Maybe you should wash it first before you attach it to your hard work to be safe rather than sorry.

  23. What a beautiful green and out of stuff you already had around the house. Love it.
    Cracked me up to read the step where you “violently backhanded” the pyrex cup into your back splash while reaching for your coffee. I recently did something similar with a straw cup of water while reaching for something in the fridge, but in that case I pulled the whole 20 ounce cup onto the floor. I appreciated how you listed that as one of your ‘steps’.

  24. Fabulous! love the green, love your way with words! (especially the strategic part!)
    Agree with Gwyn @ 4:46 – need to stop checking these posts at work!

  25. As the woman who has violently spilled first an entire glass of raspberry lemonade, and then a large glass of water at two different restaurants in the last week, while reaching for something else on the table (nothing more shaming than watching a perfectly nice wait-person mopping up after your disaster), I got a good laugh at your description of back-handing the dye all over the whole of your kitchen.

  26. Thank you Steph. It’s been a rough day here and you provided me with the first laugh of the day. I’m going to bed now before anything else goes wrong.

  27. Absolutely gorgeous! You are awesome. (Never mind about the spill–it’s how we pay for the perfect solution.)

  28. Beautiful. I was holding my breath when I saw that bright green food color and hoping, hoping, hoping for a delicate result, and you got it!

  29. This reminds me of the “wee little leaves” you did a few years ago, and also of the twin sweaters you did with the burst-o-color button bands you added. So. Freakin’. Creative.

  30. It gets prettier each day. Marlowe is so blessed to have women like her mother and you in her life. Cannot wait to see the party pictures!!

  31. Beautiful, Stephanie. That little party dress is going to be loved dearly. it’s an heirloom-to-be!!

  32. Yes, please! Pearl beads seem necessary, maybe in the centers of the roses? I can’t stop worrying that the perfect green leaves will wash out when the dress is laundered, though. Will the vinegar set it enough?
    Pray that the birthday cake isn’t chocolate or this bit of gorgeousness is doomed. Option 2 for the birthday pictures: Marlow half naked,covered in cake, frosting and icecream with mom holding the dress up behind her. What fun!!

  33. What a coincidence! Yesterday I violently spilled my Diet Dr. Pepper on the sidewalk outside the main entrance to my office. Perhaps it was Spill Something Day (both USA and Canada). Not listed as such on my calendar, though.
    That dress is so beautiful – leaves will only make it more beautiful. You have all these creative ideas for gifts, both physical (dress) and non-physical (song at wedding). Did I mention my birthday is October 2? (I realize you don’t actually KNOW me, but keep me in mind if you desperately need to give another gift and can’t think of anybody else of your acquaintance to give one to – I know, fat chance.)

  34. the colour is perfect! congratulations 🙂 and the whole backhanding the dye across the room? been there done that. Whenever I dye materials I seem to spend more time cleaning up the mess I made than on the dyeing process.

  35. Lovely green. I thought that the “violently backhanded” step or something of that ilk was necessary. You mean to say it isn’t?

  36. Oh my that dress looks like it should be knit for my granddaughter Clara Rose. Hmm do I sense a pattern coming our in your future? Hugs and happy knitting, Ty would love to see his sister in that.

  37. It took me a moment to see the SECOND photo of the water and dye stuff … sorry you had a big spill but it’s very funny the way you describe it. “I feel sure you can skip that step.”
    The green, the rosettes, the dress .. pretty, pretty, pretty.

  38. Hi — Great blog about knitting. However, I have a non-knitting question about a blog you wrote back in March regarding your water meter and galvanized to copper pipe work. We experienced the same reaction from the meter installer. Shake of a head, a ‘tsk’ ‘tsk and the dreaded words — “can’t do the work until you get this fixed … right away”. Just wondering what contractor you used to replace the galvanized pipe by using the “torpedo thing”. Did it cost a small fortune? Thanks!

  39. This is so lovely! What a perfect match to what you’ve got going…Thank you, Steph, for sharing this with us!

  40. I have to ask if you broke your measuring cup. It’s a lovely shade of green and will set the pink off perfectly

  41. Laughing!!! At the backsplash coffee ordeal. Read it out loud to my husband and just got a blank stare. Odf to email link to knitting friend. Too funny.

  42. I was just thinking today that Marlowe was about to turn 1. My daughter just turned 1 year today and I remember seeing the post welcoming Marlowe when we got home from the hospital. Watching this dress develop makes me want to knit another dress for my daughter, it is so beautiful and I can’t wait to see it done.

  43. And to think you had the foresight to document it with your camera. Come to think of it, I guess you even document the things that don’t work so well. Just think, that means you think like Edison.

  44. Like Presbytera, my past few weeks have been full of people or things I’ve wanted to carefully, strategically, and violently backhand. Or, as I put it to a colleague at work today, “If I could literally put my hands on (Person X), (Person X) would never need a laxative again because I would strangle the living s**t out of (Person X)!”
    Now that I’ve cause some tea, beer, or screech to come shooting out your nostrils, consider this: A somewhat darker shade of green for some of the leaves would really bring those lovely roses to life! (Don’t destroy the kitchen, however!)

  45. Spectacular – exactly what that precious dress needed. I love paleness entwining. Makes me sigh deeply every time I see the little dress.

  46. Hmm. No heat setting? Like tossing it in a microwave? Maybe I missed something. Maybe it isn’t necessary. Check with Tina.

  47. I love that little dress! She is going to look so precious in it, and I can hardly wait to see the pictures! I dye with food color in my pots and crockpot all the time, and then turn around and cook in them. It’s one of the reasons I won’t even try commercial acid dyes – I don’t have separate facilities or equipment, and they scare me.

  48. It’s just beautiful. Good job! And the dress is going to be lovely. Marlowe’s a very lucky little girl.

  49. Hi Steph, Lovely dye job! The dress is going to look brilliant; Marlowe is a luck baby! I wanted to mention that you could have saved yourself a pot to clean, stuck the yarn in the pyrex cup in the microwave for 2 minute intervals.

  50. I laughed so hard at the carefully and strategically backhanded part, I do things like that all the time! And the way you worded it was fantastic 🙂 Glad it was a successful endeavor, can’t wait to see the finished dress!

  51. Oh, I laughed so hard when I got to the violent backhanding. 🙂 I’m sure it was less funny in the first person, but I’m glad you included it here.

  52. Counting: one hour trashing the stash (not counting the putting it back nicely so next time you can oversee the stash in less time) two hours contemplating using a wrong colour, 1 hour searching the net for the perfect colour, half an hour cleaning the kitchen because of a split second unawarenes of the dye at the countertop, comes to four and a half hours. Woman, you lost more than half a paid workingday by that time. How lucky you are you ended up with the right colour (I found out the hard way wet paint is darker than the same when dry! As if I did not know that by heart). The soaking is meant for large quantities, because dry yarn tends to soak up paint from the outside of the lump of yarn to the inside, so the outer wool etc. gobbles up most of the dye, that’s why. I love the picot hems, we call them “mouseteeth-ies) in the Netherlands. Boys had kneesocks with the knit 1 purl 1 (or 2) border at the knee, girls had mouseteethies. It was considered a bit iffy to knit boys socks with the mouseteeths. A girl was mostly a bit disappointed when given socks with a k1p1 border. Ah, customs and traditions, who cares about that nowadays, although, boys/men with chewinggumpink Ipads or handies, still looks a bit odd. But a man in a kilt, wow, look at Celtic Thunder (song Caledonia, I lOVE it)with the solid darkgrey kilts and kneesocks, could not be more masculin in trousers, well, it seems I have a Celtic heart.

  53. Wow! that looks perfect, and those little bottles of dye are the exact same ones as I played with growing up, so a bit of a blast from the past!!
    I’m very much looking forward to seeing the finished dress, and i’m sure it’ll be treasured.

  54. Way to go Stephanie!!! That beautiful green silk yarn looks exactly like the green of new leaves. I’m sorry that your previous Pyrex full of potential dyebath behaved so badly that you had to violently back hand it. Apparently that did the trick because your next dyebath behaved beautifully! I’m just sorry for the cleaning up part. Just so you know it could be worst. I once had the misfortune to drop an open 1 gallon container of dyestock onto the cement floor of my dyeroom. Dye exploded out of the top like a bomb and covered everything including me. It took forever to clean that mess up and by the time I noticed that there were quite a few drops and smears on me that I had missed it was a little too late, it had already stained my skin. Of course it was dye for protein fibers so I was a little extra colorful for a while until I could get it off. Lets face it, there are just some places on the human body that you do not want to use Reduran on LOL!!! (Reduran has grit in it like Lava soap and is used to get dye off of your hands. It’s really gritty! When I say dye went everywhere, I mean dye went everywhere!)
    I can’t wait to see the finished dress. Congratulations on your lovely dyeing!

  55. “Next, very carefully and strategically, I violently backhanded the entire pyrex container of dye into the backsplash, counter, floor and cutting board, while reaching for my coffee, and spent 25 minutes cleaning it up…..”
    Coffee just came out of my nose.

  56. I’m still laughing about the backhand move. I have so done that!! It came out great in the end though. Congrats! (P.S. – will the vinegar keep it from running and make it colorfast? Never used food dye before so I was wondering).

  57. Wow … leaves are going to be the thing that makes that dress 100% perfect! And that green is very beautiful. I can’t wait to see it!!

  58. Stephanie
    You make knitting an adventure – and I love the green. It is perfect. The dress is going to be so very beautiful and special!

  59. Cha…CHING! You’re my kind of girl (lady, woman, broad). I love your solution, including the optional steps. Perfect. Just perfect.

  60. I doubt I will ever get a chance to knit something so sweet for a little girl, but I am VERY excited to see what this looks like when it’s done.

  61. You are the knitting McGyver! I am always in awe of your solutions. Well done, as so many others have said, can’t wait to see the dress finished

  62. A little warning to set down beverages before getting to the backhanding part would have been good. Did not see that coming.
    Beautiful, perfect shade of green!

  63. perfect green! Love it! Loved your post! How very independent minded and resourceful! AND I love that you “violently backhanded” the first lot…lol. That is something that “just happens…” and you described it, oh, so well. Thanks. Can’t wait to see the dress finished. It looks fab so far!

  64. i really love the “very carefully and strategically” move. well done and i’m sure i would have included that step, too. thank goodness you didn’t break the pyrex. 🙂

  65. I love the part where you strategically dump everything. I’ve done that several times and it’s a marvelous addition to the process… LOL
    That being said, the green you got was GORGEOUS and I can’t wait to see the finished dress.

  66. Hello there, simply became alert to your weblog via Google, and found that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate when you proceed this in future. Numerous people shall be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  67. I hadn’t noticed until I looked at your photos just how much those little plastic food dye bottles look like wee gnomes. Your green one, now world famous, needs a wee green cap, non?

  68. The green is beautiful and was just the shade I was thinking of, when I saw the green dye in the measuring cup. I’m sorry you made a mess,nthough. Sounds like something I would do! I can’t wait to see the dress on Marlowe!

Comments are closed.