Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cuppa yarn

I like tea. Between the two of us, we drink a substantial amount of it - since living here I have definitely acquired a tea-drinking habit. Can you blame me when it is July and today the sun made its first appearance in weeks - for about 30 seconds - before going away again. Tea drinking is essentially a comfortable/comforting activity.

I started saving used tea bags in the freezer for the purposes of dyeing yarn a while back, and then forgot about it. The yogurt containers full of dodgy-looking frozen teabags sat forlorn in the freezer for months taking up valuable space. When Pumpkin Spins started her series on dyeing with food safe dyes, I remembered all that saved tea, and had a dye evening.

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It turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself! This is 75% wool 25% nylon sock yarn that was originally a natural shade of white.

I followed tiina teaspoon's tutorial, sort of. I have no idea what weight of old tea I used to get this shade, but I had about 4 medium-sized yogurt containers full of the frozen bags. Several of the bags got punctured at some point in the process, so there was some loose tea floating around as well. Although I strained the dye bath before I put the yarn in, some of the loose tea was powdery enough to slip through the strainer, which meant it got caught in the yarn. I fear I'll never get it all out! Oh well.

One interesting observation was the tea's effect on the cotton string I used to tie up my skein. Since dyers also use tea to dye cotton, I figured it would dye as well. It barely picked up any colour, however. To be fair, I didn't wash the string beforehand, so maybe it was coated with something that repelled the dye. Or maybe cotton is just more difficult to dye.

Another thing I wasn't prepared for was how terrible it would smell while dyeing. When I have dyed yarn in the past using food colouring and the like, it hasn't smelled amazing, but for some reason the combination of wet wool and stale tea was incredibly gross. Still, I'd do it again. It was fun, and I'll never lack for used tea bags.

11 comments:

  1. I am amazed at the deep color shade your efforts produced - that is really stunning!

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  2. That's it, I'm saving my teabags starting now! Your skein is truly impressive, with colours deeper and richer than I imagined possible. I'd be interested to know how it stands up to washing.

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  3. Oooh, what happens if you use unused tea bags? Darker colours? murkier yarn? hmmm...

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    1. I imagine you could use fewer tea bags to get a darker colour if they were unused. One thing I'm not sure about is if it's possible to saturate the dye bath - is there a point at which it won't get any darker? Maybe worth experimenting :)

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  4. Wow- it came out great! Congrats.

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  5. That is such a gorgeous colour, I love it. Not sure I could stand the smell of stale tea but for such a beautiful result I might have to brave it ;)

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  6. Ok lady ... I've nominated your blog for a One Lovely Blog award! Go and read about it here: http://voiedevie.blogspot.com/2012/07/embarrassment-of-goodies.html

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  7. You got a much deeper color than I did when I tried dyeing with tea, it looks amazing! I'm so glad that it worked so well! I also used the same tutorial, isn't it fantastic? I also didn't have the smell problem, it just smelled like regular tea to me, I wonder if that might be because you used recycled tea bags and I used new ones? It looks amazing, congrats!

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    1. Yes, I should have mentioned - I found the tutorial via your post about tea dyeing! So thanks for the inspiration.

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  8. Oh that's gorgeous. My boyfriend drinks a lot of tea, maybe I can save his tea bags to try it...

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  9. I really like that. I don't really need another project right now, but I like the idea of tying together tea and yarn.

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