You may remember reading this December blog post, where I talked about finding two pairs of 99¢ hand-knit wool socks. These are now all of $2.36 socks, thanks to the one-ounce container of Wilton’s ‘Rose’ icing color I bought for dyeing them! lol. ($2.29 Rose coloring – 40% coupon is $1.37 + 99¢ socks = $2.36)
It’s been a long time since I used Wilton coloring to dye wool, so I consulted the i die for Wilton’s dye Ravelry group and googled ‘dyeing wool with Wilton‘ to refresh my memory. Everyone agrees that adding an acid, usually white vinegar, was necessary to set the color, but some wanted the acid in the pre-soak, while others put it in the dye bath. There was also discussion about how red #3 and #40 react differently to acid (Rose has #3), with some reference to clumping (sounds very bad) if things became too acidic, but I could reach no conclusion about what the ratio of vinegar to water should be. (just how much is a ‘glug’?)
Wanting to avoid the dreaded ‘clumping’, I stirred just two tablespoons of white vinegar into four cups (enough to cover my socks) of lukewarm water in a microwave-safe bowl. Then I submerged my socks and set them aside for a one hour soak.
Next I gently moved the socks to another bowl (no squeezing or wringing, lest I tempt felting) and prepared to add color to the vinegar water. Although I only wanted to put in a wee dollop (the size of a pea) of Rose icing color, I definitely wanted to wear rubber gloves! The best way I’ve found to get the corn syrup and glycerine-based Wilton coloring to completely dissolve is to rub it between my thumb and fingertips, as if I was trying to rub in thick hand lotion. Any remaining bits of gel can leave sticky dark blotches on the wool! Ew!!
With the socks submerged in a beautiful hot pink dye bath, into the microwave they went. I set it for one and a half minutes, then let the water cool back to warm. I kept repeating those two steps until the water had faded to palest pink. That’s called exhausting the dye.
Here’s how my socks looked after the first dye bath and that’s the radioactive-looking second dye bath I prepared.
I don’t know whether I mixed three or four dye baths throughout the day, but I know I love my results!
Here is the before photo (left), the after photo (center), and December’s computer-adjusted photo (right), which showed how we thought the socks might look after over-dyeing.
Yup, I like my new hot pink socks the most!
Oh – once I pro-rated the cost of the amount of icing color I actually used, I realized they’re really only $1.19 pink socks, not $2.36. They leave me with lots of Wilton Rose for future dye projects!
Look at how well my new socks coordinate with my primrose!
What a long-lasting bloom period these perky little plants have – they’ve bloomed, nonstop, for over a month already! Watch for them to appear in your local grocery store from mid-December on. Sometimes their prices dip amazingly low; these cheerful pots of color were only $1.65 each.
Primrose care tips: they like bright eastern light and cool temperatures, water only from the bottom – not from the top, keep evenly moist – not drenched or dry. Notice how heavy a moist pot feels in your hand and only add water when it feels definitely lighter. If the plant wilts? Oops, you waited a little too long, but chances are it will recover with a little water (don’t over-water in your zeal to ‘fix’ it) and you can try again.