Monday, June 17, 2013

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around...

So, I knitted a blanket for my friend Florina's son, due to appear in October 2013.  The Baby Shane blanket pattern, by Tanis Fiber Arts, is one of my favorites, and among the yarns I used (for the red and butter-yellow stripes) were Rowan Pure Wool Aran (yellow) and Classic Elite's Waterspun, (production discontinued), in an iodine red. I washed the blanket in Woolite in icy cold water, without agitation, and rinsed it in icy cold water, without agitation.  After draining the tub and rolling the blanket in a series of towels to absorb the moisture, I was horrified to discover that some of the red dye had bled onto the yellow yarn.

The Knitting Goddess, whom I consulted, said, "That's why you should always make a swatch." She did some research and found a product called Carbona Color Run Remover that sucks up "fugitive" dye. I did some research and discovered Carbona for sale at a nearby Walmart. I drove to Walmart.

Entering Walmart was almost as dismaying as discovering the dye damage. Why is it that the killer shark theme from "Jaws" starts to pound in my brain the minute I set foot in there? Why does everyone inside that big concrete box look like an inmate of a halfway house? Why did I have to walk the entire six mile length of the store before I could locate the laundry products aisle? Is it possible that some people are born knowing how to navigate a Walmart, or is this a new field of academic research?

At long last I found the product, purchased it, and discovered, on reading the box at home that it works only in "the hottest water permitted by the fabric care label."

Neuroknitter thought I might be able to wash the blanket in hot water if I didn't agitate it. I called the toll-free phone number on the Carbona box and got a recording that said the office was closed, and if I had ingested Carbona I should immediately call a Poison Control center.

I discussed this with H, who, under torture, will confess that he holds a doctorate in chemistry. He examined the list of Carbona's ingredients. Then he said, "I think you should knit a swatch with those yarns, wash the swatch as you did the blanket, then, when the dye runs, try the Carbona in hot water and see what happens. But if you ask me, I think the blanket really looks okay, and Florina and her baby won't notice."

I knitted a swatch a couple of evenings ago, during the CBS news, local and national. I measured the swatch prior to washing.

I washed the swatch exactly as I'd washed the blanket. Guess what? The dye didn't run.

My laboratory.

The testing ground and materials.

Woolite added to icy cold water begins to foam as they mix.

Swatch immersed in Woolite and icy cold water.

Swatch after rinsing and drying. No runs. No significant shrinkage either.

H told me that I needed to repeat the experiment until the dye ran, so I could see if Carbona and very hot water removed the color run without shrinking the blanket. I repeated the experiment.

The dye, as you can see, still didn't run.

H again opined that neither Florina nor baby would notice anything amiss. My friend Maa-gret said the effect was like a madras fabric. It looked like it was meant to be that way. Meanwhile I was thinking, suppose I do wash the blanket in Carbona and the dye comes out and the blanket doesn't shrink. That would seem the best possible result, but...did I really want a newborn to be wrapped in a chemically-treated blanket?

I showed the blanket to the Knitting Goddess, who told me that the dye must have run because the yarn was "crocked.

The Free Dictionary ( says this is a term originating in New England [possibly because of New England's historic and role in the U.S. textile industry?] meaning

v. crockedcrock·ingcrocks
To soil with or as if with crock.
To give off soot or color.

The Knitting Goddess said, "Really, it looks fine.  No one will notice the bleed."

If no one notices, then maybe the dye didn't run after all? Just like the tree in the forest, which, when no one is around, falls ever so silently...?

1 comment:

  1. Most annoying comment to a knitter facing an unpredictable palaver: "You should have done a swatch."

    Second only to "Nobody will even notice."

    Really, though, I agree with the madras comment but my mother-in-law in Ireland is always trying to get me to use this stuff, sourced from trees. I'm guessing it requires warm water but not sure. I could certainly investigate further.