Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Yarn Dyeing Gender Announcement

Sometimes things that you think are true turn out to be a little less true.   When I started dyeing yarn with food coloring I knew that you needed heat and acid to make the color set.  I thought that I could put together a clever video to reveal the gender of my baby by creating blue and pink dyebaths and withholding vinegar from one of them.  Theoretically, one miniskein should turn a color while the other remained white, thereby revealing the gender of the baby.   Watch the video to see what happens:

Unfortunately, I noticed something while I was taking pre-reveal photos (when no vinegar had been added to either bowl).  The miniskein of yarn that I had in the cool pink dyebath picked up a tinge of color that did not rinse out quickly.  I know from experience with space dyeing that red dyes take less time and require less acid to adhere to yarn, but at this point before even starting the experiment I had a feeling that we were doomed to failure.   (Of course, I also did not know the gender of my child yet. If the baby were a girl, things could still appear to have worked as planned.)

While setting up for this picture I first noticed that the experiment would not go as planned.  
So what happened?  Why did both skeins of yarn take up color?   We know that Easter Egg Dyeing Kits have enough acid to add color to yarn, but that the addition of acid early in the process allows the color to absorb much faster.  It turns out that both dyebaths were acidic (as measured by litmus paper), although I do not know at this point whether  it is due to the food coloring or the tap water used.   The dye was also fairly concentrated for the amount of yarn used, so this could have also affected the outcome.

Some further dyeing experiments:
  • Repeat the above experiment but add vinegar to the pink dyebath and not the blue.  
  • Vary the pH of the dyebath to see how it affects color uptake in side by side pots.  (Even make one sample basic.)  

Since the video didn't work out as expected, I had to "cheat" to create our gender announcement for facebook.

It's a boy!