Sunday, December 12, 2021

Over Dyed Hand Knit Scarf

In June of 2012 I knit a Bactus scarf  using yarn that I dyed with Prickly Pear juice from the prickly pears I gathered. I remember soaking the juice from the pears in a large pot until it fermented and then immersing the yarn skein into the pot. I left it soaking for a week or two. By doing this, I didn't need a mordant and the longer it soaked the deeper the color pink I obtained. (see last photo below).

I was taking out a scarf from my closet the other day and I noticed the scarf that I had dyed with the prickly pear cactus juice was now very pale pink. I didn't remember it being so light pink. So I looked at my photo of it and it was a pretty shade of dark pink when I first dyed it. People asked me at the time I posted about dyeing the scarf if the color would stay that pink. Well I had no idea, since it was the first time I ever dyed with prickly pear juice. Now I can say the dye definitely fades over time. It was a pale pink for a few years, but not sure how many years?

So I decided to do an easy over dye. Since the scarf was already a pale pink, I needed to keep that in mind so I didn't end up with a dye that would end up turning an ugly color. I decided to dye it purple by mixing red and blue food coloring together. I soaked the scarf in water and vinegar as a mordant first and then added the mixed purple dye. It wasn't the prettiest purple, so I then added just some blue and squirted it here and there and let the colors soak and bleed as they wanted to. 

I like the end result (it could have turned out disastrously just as easily though, so whew)! The colors of the scarf are purple and a blue-green shade now. I hope this doesn't fade over the years, but if it does, I can dye it again and hope for the best.

This is the dark pink from dyeing with Prickly Pear cactus juice in 2012. This faded to a pale pink over the years. It was mostly in my closet, so not out in the sun. I guess it mainly faded with time? I really loved this shade of pink, but not the faded pink. I should have taken a photo of the faded pink, but didn't think about it.

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  1. That was interesting about the prickly pear, I didn't know one could use it in dying. Was that cotton yarn you used? Glad you could revive it into something you will continue to use.

  2. first of all I always love to see your knitting. Great job on the shawl. Secondly the dye store is so interesting. I've never dyed with prickly pear and thanks to learning from what happened to you I won't. the initial pink is lovely but I wonder if a mordant would have kept the color in longer. The over dye is perfect, I love the rusty color. great job as always and thanks for sharing the process with us, your shawl has a wonderful origin story.


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