The predictive text feature on my cell phone is missing some really important words. Like “douchebag,” “crappy” and, most unbelievably, “brunch”. Anyway, what it lacks in being able to predict how I text, is more than made up for by having lots of words that I’m pretty sure have never been used in a text message in the entire history of texting – like tonsorial. And mordant.
Why do I mention this? Because it’s annoying, but also when I first got my phone, I thought “WTF does mordant mean!?!?” And now, I’m proud to say that I know exactly what it means. Because I have mordanted. I am a mordanter.
When we were at MA Sheep and Wool, the Daft Crafter and I bought ourselves a natural dyeing kit. Natural dyes require a mordant – a chemical additive that improves the light and color-fastness of the dye. You can either pre-mordant your yarn in a mordant bath or mix the mordant with your dyestuffs. And a few weekends ago, we mordanted the crap out of some yarn.
Incidentally, doing stuff like this with other bloggers is awesome. Because they're taking pictures of random crap just like you are. And no one thinks it's at all weird...Plus, they write fabulous posts about it, too...
The whole dyeing experience was extra exciting because we also tried out the new Knitpicks sock blanks. They’re machine-knit into a long rectangle in such a way that you can easily hand-dye SELF-STRIPING SOCK YARN. And since the sock blanks are knit two strands at a time, you theoretically end up with a pair of matching striped socks by knitting one sock from each strand. Fantastic.
So how did the natural dyes look? Well, on the right is my first effort, striped in Cutch and Madder. Mordant mixed in with the dye. Before heat-setting the dye, the two colors looked nearly identical on the yarn. Thus, sloppy-looking stripes. But still, fairly nice.
On the left is my second effort (100% ripped off from, I mean inspired by, the Daft Crafter’s efforts pictured below), striped in Cutch, Madder, Osage, Cochineal, Logwood Grey and combinations thereof. I love it shamelessly.
[Please note, the very, very serious expression on her face in this picture in no way represents the amount of fun we had. Mostly we were laughing. Also, drinking beer.]
And my last, premordanted in a mordant bath and then handpainted with a combination of the same colors as above. Pretty enough to make me resent all my other sock yarn for not being as pretty as this yarn.
The only real drawback to this whole process (besides rather more math than either of us were prepared for, and a whole lot of fussy measuring and timing things) is that you have to let the dyed yarn “season” for a week before rinsing it.
For an instant gratification type, I can see this being tough.
But it’s not as if I’ll be running out of sock yarn any time soon.