If you remember the posts "Running Away" and "Running Away Again", then you might know where this is going... If you're new to the subject of this nightmare cone of yarn that won't hold its color, then I encourage you to follow the links to see the original disaster and the previous attempt I made to fix the dye.
The Cross Burst Granny square washcloths were created from my bleeding cotton cone, and I knew to take pictures before washing them. Now the pattern is finished, and it's time to start another experiment...
On the left, we have one of the plain granny squares from my previous experiments. That one doesn't look so bad, but its twin was already used in the shower with hot water and soap... And it's fully blue now. The other two squares are the Cross Burst grannies that I'm hoping to fix the dye in. Both of those are unwashed and untreated. In today's test, I'll be using vinegar as the fixative.
I originally began educating myself about the dyeing process to learn how to handle this situation. During my investigation, I realized that I'm not dyeing yarn (duh). This is a problem with already-dyed fabric bleeding, so I started researching a different subject... And came up with some answers that contradict what some call "tried and true" methods. Here are the sources I've been using for information during these attempts:
How to Set Dye and Stop Dye Bleeding in Clothes - This is where I originally read that salt and vinegar won't stop the color from running. And the gears started turning from there...
Using vinegar or acetic acid for dyeing - This article was extremely helpful in explaining how vinegar works in the dyeing process, as well as providing a ton of science behind which fibers to use it on. (Psst... Cotton isn't one of them!) But, it didn't help much with what to do about bleeding dye.
How to Naturally Colorfast Your Clothes for a Longer Life - Again adding to the controversy, this site claims to have success with a mixture of salt and vinegar. They do say you might see dye in the water, and the previous source might explain why... You're not locking the dye in; the salt just absorbs the excess dye in the water to keep it from running onto other items.
How to get dye to set in clothing? - I found amusement in the back-and-forth answers provided on this social site... Salt; vinegar; neither will work... But the information provided by the poster "Ery" was the most beneficial. This is where I made a decision to stop my research.
So with my knowledge about dyes and fixatives broadened, I set my mind to test the vinegar anyway. I had my doubts that it would work, but I felt like I should still perform the experiment to share the results with you all.
Two things to keep in mind before we begin: 1) I'm using a new light for photos, and I had the settings on my camera set so the photos washed out some (kinda like this dye). Above you can see the item on the left looks slightly bluish, but not that far off from the item on the right. I assure you the difference in more noticeable in person...
And 2) A reader had commented on one of my previous posts asking about the condition of my water... Pictured above in the bowl is the city water we use for cooking, which is provided for free by the county because of the bad water in the area. The measuring cup contains my tap water... And this is a good day, because sometimes it looks like weak tea. I'm using the city water for the experiments, but the items will eventually be exposed to the well water when used and laundered. (Still a mystery: Could the water explain why the bleeding occurs again after use, is it because of hot water and soap, or is this yarn just hopeless?)
Time to start the test... First item: 4 cups cold water and 1/2 cup vinegar. Again, I'm keeping the unwashed items in the photo for comparison - The picture above was taken immediately after immersing the item.
Soak time: 1 hour. No change seems visible in the yarn, but the water has a blue tint. I gently removed the item and rinsed it in cold water. (No wringing!)
Compared to the other two items, this one already looks like the dye ran just as much as the previous experiment with salt. Again, it's not as bad as what originally happened to the untreated yarn... But you can see that the flecks of color aren't as crisp, and the white looks slightly dingy. We'll come back to this item in a moment...
Next experiment: Same concentrations of ingredients, but with hot water this time. I know it's against logic for getting the dye to stick; I just can't help but try. Since these washcloths will be used in hot water, I feel like they should be put to the test.
And while this next subject soaks in its warm bath, let's go check on the first one... Knowing the dye is likely to run, I'm drying my experiments on white paper towels. It saves any good towels from getting destroyed, and it quickly lets me know whether my test has worked...
Thankfully, this is where I noticed my camera settings were off and I adjusted them. Above you can see the washed-out version where the items all look pretty nice compared to my first disaster... And below you can see that it doesn't matter what my settings are, because there's blue dots on the paper towels:
One might ask why I continue these experiments at all. I'm starting to question that as well. But, anyway... The test is already in action. Let's continue even though we can already guess the results.
I considered leaving the next test to soak for 24 hours, but then noticed that the yarn looked like it had an excess amount of fuzz building around it. Lint from other yarns (and maybe some cat fur) started floating to the top of the water, as if the fibers were beginning to break down and release whatever they contained. I got worried and decided to end the experiment after a little more than an hour.
An immediate comparison of the two experiments showed the hot-water item looks more dingy than the first test subject. But - Where the white looks a bit whiter on one, the blue looks a little darker on the other. I only gave it about ten minutes before peeking under the washcloth...
And again found little blue dots on the paper towels. In my research, I learned about a dye fixative called Retayne that's rumored to work. I briefly considered purchasing some for more experiments...
Instead, I think I'm going to end these useless tests. The point was to save the yarn I have, not to spend more money. If a quick fix with kitchen ingredients was possible, I was willing to go through the work. But for the cost of a bottle of that stuff, I could just go buy another cone of yarn (from a different brand) and end this headache.
Although I'm curious to see if a commercial fixative would work, I'm getting tired of these chemistry experiments. Part of me wants to apologize for giving up so easily, but somehow I think most of you would agree that it's not worth doubling the cost of this yarn... Especially not when these washcloths will be used by my concrete-covered, truck-driving husband! Rip van Winkle doesn't care what color they are, and I'd rather spend my time working out the pattern for my latest design.