Back in the day, when I was a newbie knitter, I decided to try lace. I grabbed my trusty size 8 Susan Bateses and some Knitpicks Shimmer in the now-discontinued color Grape Hyacinth, found a few lace patterns I liked and confidently cast on.
Two years later, the shawl was finally finished and I had learned a few things:
- Knitting rectangular shawls with no change in pattern throughout is really boring.
- Casting off loosely for lace is a requirement, not a suggestion.
- Blocking is harder than I thought.
- Purls in lace rarely show up when you’re knitting laceweight yarn on size 8 needles, so don’t bother.
- And finally, most tragically: Yarn with three distinct colors will not show lace patterns.
Profoundly depressing. I still wore it occasionally, because it was warm and soft, but I was filled with regrets.
Soon after, I was gifted with the set of yarn dyes I mentioned in my last post, and I decided that I was going to fix this horrible shawl. What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose the whole thing might felt and be ruined forever, but at least then I could throw it away instead of being confronted every day by this disappointment.
I decided to overdye with the cool blue. I followed the procedure I described in the previous post, holding my breath when I added my hours of painstaking lacework to the hot water. Yikes! After the deed was done, I blocked the shawl again, using some waste yarn threaded through the garter bumps on each side to get a more even, more aggressive blocking job.
The result was Atlantis, now a sea-themed shawl with subtle purple, blue and green variegations across lace patterns of waves and seaweed.
I definitely consider this my biggest and best knitting recovery ever.
If you want to do something similar, here are two suggestions:
1) Choose an overdyeing color that is complimentary to the colors already in the yarn, rather than a contrast to that yarn. In this case, I started with cool purple, cool green, and white, so I chose blue, which falls between purple and green.
2) Err on the side of too little dye rather than too much, especially if you want to preserve the variegation of the original yarn. You can always overdye again.