Monday, March 4, 2013

Dyeing a wool sweater for an art project

I have been wanting to make a 3D assemblage using a blue wool sweater. I planned to felt the sweater so it needed to be pretty big so it would look "regular size" after felting.  I could not find a sweater that would work, they were too small, not the right blue, etc.  I finally found one I thought was the appropriate size, and decided to try to dye it. This was a while ago, and I forget what I did, but instead of a nice blue sweater, with was muddy blue with blotchy gray spots. Recently, since I still did not find a new sweater that would work, I thought I would try to fix the dye job on the one I had. 

I did not expect good results so I didn't take any pictures before or during the process. First, I soaked the sweater in water, and wrung it out (I did not want any dry spots, so the remover would work uniformly). I made a bucket of Rit Color Remover outside (it is stinky stuff). I just used one packet of color remover and about one and half large steamer pots of boiling water.  Boiling water and wool typically is a bad thing, but I plan to felt the sweater so I am not concerned about it felting/shrinking. I let it sit in there for about an hour, then rinsed the sweater in the tub in the tub. The sweater was now roughly a heathered oatmeal color.

For the dyeing, I made a batch of about 1/2 tsp of Jacquard acid dye Turquoise in a big pot of water (pot is for crafting only, not cooking). I have been using too much dye powder in all my previous acid dyes so I only used 1/2 tsp as I did not want a dark sweater.  I cooked it on the stove for about a half an hour.  When I took it out is was more greenish than blueish. So I made another pot of dye, this time using Sapphire blue. I heated the dye pot on the stove and when it was hot, I took it off the stove and set it in the kitchen sink. I then dipped the sweater in the dye pot. . I would dip about 3/4 of the sweater in the dye and lift it partially out again.  I did leave about 1/2 the sweater in there it sit for a bit.  I did this dunking a few times, then I left about five inches of the sweater in the dye pot (for maybe a half hour?).

I got a great ombre affect, the very top of the sweater is still the greenish color from the turquoise bath, and then it goes into a medium toned Sapphire.

I hung it on the line to dry that is why it has a line across it. I plan on washing it on hot in the wash machine so it will felt a little more and to rinse out any extra dye. I sewed one sleeve to the sweater body with wool, as this is part of the art piece I want to make.

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