Sock yarn overdyeing progress and an indigo update

Socks are one of my go-to projects.  I’m sure you’ve noticed.  They are portable and don’t require a pattern (for me, any more) and so they accompany me on public transport, to meetings and conferences, picnics and TV shows. Admittedly, I am not usually making fancy socks.

A couple of years back I acquired a lot of pre-loved patonyle (this is a wool/nylon blend and probably one of the best known Australian sock yarns).  Patonyle has been around a long time.  When I found this lot at a garage sale some of it was in 1 oz balls (Australia gave up imperial measures in 1970–to oversimplify).  I’ve been working my way through this haul for quite some time.  Today I pulled out all my ball bands.  Some have that souped up 19760s-70s styling (in lime green and purple–at top right), the pallid specimen in the top left corner is the current 100g format, the only ball I bought new–and those ochre coloured wrappers surely predate the 1970s.  And … there are quite a few of them!


No wonder it has taken awhile to turn it all into socks.  I’ve used this wool with all manner of natural dyes, with greater and lesser success.  After the recent indigo saga began (update below), I looked at the remainder.  Some dyed with eucalypt, some with plum pine, which I now know won’t last long, a leftover black bean ball and some in the original grey.


I decided to overdye the black bean, grey and plum pine yarn with eucalypt and made my way past one of my favourite E Scoparias, collecting fallen leaves and bark on my way back from the shops.  On went the pots. One contains the fruit of past harvests… mostly E Scoparia bark.


The other contains what I collected the day I started writing this post: E Scoparia leaves and bark.  We have had sudden rain and wind after a prolonged hot spell, so there were leaves and a few pieces of bark from other trees in there and the smell of E Citriodora wafted up from this pot as soon as it came to a simmer, then died away.  The nearest lemon scented gum is only a few metres from where I was gathering.


Meanwhile, I cast on with the yarn that is already in the classic eucalypt colours…


And here are those blue, plum and grey yarns after their trip through my dye pots…


On the indigo front, here are the yarns after soaking in soy and drying.  They are lying across a nodding violet in a hanging pot so you can get some sense of how stiff they are!


I let them dry out really well and have since been soaking and rinsing.  The soy milk soak has meant that more indigo is washing out of the sock yarn, which is what I had hoped for.  I am reasoning that the soy has bonded with some of the loose particles of indigo, rendering them capable of being washed out (rather than coming off on my hands, since I couldn’t rinse any more of the indigo out previously).  I am going to keep soaking and rinsing until that stops… and then try knitting again!


Filed under Eucalypts, Natural dyeing

2 responses to “Sock yarn overdyeing progress and an indigo update

  1. I really like the overdyeing results. So, you don’t find that the nylon presents any challenges in the uptake of the natural dye? I haven’t dyed any wool/nylon blends yet, so I don’t have any experience with it.


    • I like them too, thanks! I haven’t found any problem at all with the nylon content. I think it isn’t so much that the nylon takes the natural dye. Surely in most cases (if not all), it doesn’t. But because the nylon is so thoroughly blended with the wool content in sock yarn, I think that while it may make a difference to the shade it is not one that is easy to pick out with the naked eye. Sometimes I can see a little shine in the yarn after dyeing, suggesting I can see the nylon reflecting light–but even then, I can’t pick out the difference in colour between the fibres that make up the yarn. I’ll be interested to see what you find when you try it out. Other readers might be able to say more.


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