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Color Transfer Catastrophe

So, I knit with two colors

Okay, so this week I was on vacation, visiting my mama, and we planned to do lots and lots of natural dyeing. I also took a little project – a child’s dress version of Classic Colorblock – to work on. I finished the front and plopped it in a nice toasty bath to soak for blocking.

I’ve been blocking my knits in hot water for about a year now. I find that it creates a truly lovely ‘memory’ for the yarn of how I want it blocked, and it tends to take shape better as I block it to my schematic. It gets incredibly soft and malleable, just lovely.

Here’s the catch – my project was a bold mustard yellow at the hem, and a white body. I saw lots of yellow coming off into the water, so I strained it, leaving it in a colander to drip out for a while and cool. When I returned, the yellow had transferred to the white.


Those of you who frequently make multi-colored objects are probably shaking your heads and rolling your eyes. But I rarely do this! I went to the internet, to my Slack group, and found a bunch of conflicting information.

Clean it with vinegar! No, vinegar sets dye!

Most wool care sites suggest baking soda, rubbing alcohol, or white vinegar to clean errant dye.

I started with medical-grade rubbing alcohol. Nothing happened.

I moved on to baking soda, creating a room-temp, thick paste and gently massaging it into the fabric. I left it to sit for 8 hours. When I rinsed it, I learned it had felted where the paste was. The mild temp change and friction from the grit of the baking soda had been enough to ruin the piece.